Thanks to a few international superstars that have emerged from it, Toronto's music scene is competitive; and a tough one to break out of. That said, KILLY seems to be having no trouble making his mark on the 6. It’s been slightly under a year since he first popped onto the scene, yet he is quickly ensuring that he's here to play a major role in the city's cultural output.
Although boxed in as a SoundCloud rapper and having his music categorized as belonging to the current wave of “emo-rap,” KILLY initially caught listeners' attention through Youtube with the success of his 2017 breakthrough single “Killamonjaro”. His reign as the one to watch solidified with the release of bangers that turned viral almost effortlessly, such as “Distance”, clocking millions of views and increasing his cult-like fanbase.
After ending last year strong, KILLY has kicked off 2018 with an even bigger bang. Earlier this month he released his debut album, Surrender Your Soul, and he's announced his first tour to support, including stops at a few major festivals - such as Rolling Loud in Miami, VELD Music Festival in Toronto and Osheaga, the ‘Canadian Coachella.’
A few days after the release of his debut, the 20-year old artist sold out his first headlining show, bringing his lively performance to 1,400 hometown fans. Although the project had hardly spent time out in the world, that didn’t stop the crowd from chanting back every lyric while breaking out into various mosh pits throughout the historic night.
Highsnobiety got to spend some time with KILLY prior to his Toronto show to discuss his evolving style, a few of his favorite brands and what stands out about his aesthetic as a Canadian rapper.
So your debut came out a few days ago and tonight you’re playing a sold out hometown crowd. How you feeling?
Good! You know, it sold out in two minutes. And it feels good - been a long time coming.
You peep the feedback on your record yet?
Yeah, I mean it’s pretty good. I fuck with the reaction it got, it's expected though.
What particularly stands out to me is your brand. As an artist, your fashion style has a unique approach. Do you style yourself?
Yeah, I have my own style. Even before I had dollars I’ve always had my own style. As I get bigger, I meet people who want to advise me with fashion. I also have people in my camp that are fashion heads – they’ll be putting me onto the rarest of rare.
Has your style evolved since the music? If so, how has it changed?
As the music gets bigger, and the bags get bigger I start to wear the clothes I’ve always wanted to wear. Before, I used to buy the version that was ‘modeled after’ the Rick Owens. Now it’s cool because I’m able to wear what I want and push the envelope as well. I wear a lot of crazy different shit.
Last grail you copped?
The Nike AF1 x Ricardo Tisci. Have those come out yet? Nike sent me those, so shoutout Nike for that one. I don’t know if they dropped, I think they’re early. Also the Balenciaga Triple S’s.
What would you say stands out about your fashion taste and style?
I’m not afraid to wear what people are afraid to wear. I’m not afraid of criticism when it comes to wearing certain pieces. I did a show in a baby blue fur hoodie – and that was Women’s FENTY by Rihanna, but I don’t give a fuck ‘cause it still looks sick. I’ll still wear it. Like for me, fashion really doesn’t have a gender to it. I usually wear whatever I think is cool, and if that means it’s a women’s fur coat, then it’s a women’s fur coat.
What’s your fave streetwear brand at the moment?
I really like Cav Empt a lot. That’s one brand that I always wanted to wear but never could – also, because it’s hard to find, I always have to order online, you know those ones? Cav Empt is something I’ve been wearing a lot lately.
Do you have any ‘icons’? Anyone who influenced or helped mold your style?
Definitely Young Thug. Young Thug is super sick when it comes to fashion. I see the best of everyone and get inspired and get influenced by that. But Thug, Young Thug is crazy.
What do you want to see brought back into fashion?
It’s kind of already back, but I was wearing Von Dutch and Ed Hardy, that whole scene early, like from two years ago. Those are brands I used to wear as a kid. Something I haven’t seen in a very long time - that I used to have as a kid - was PNB Nation. They covered a lot of sick streetwear clothes. I have this one hoodie and I’m about to bring it back.
We know you literally just dropped your debut but what should your fans expect from you next?
World tour, that’s what’s next. More content, more everything.
For more of our interviews, read our chat with rising London MC Ms. Banks right here.