Last week, Kilo Kish resurfaced to the grid with her Mothe EP. The six-track project encapsulates her metamorphosis as an artist since the 2016 release of Reflections in Real Time. Not only did the responses to that album change Kish’s perspective on music and her ability to be relatable to people on different levels from existential meltdowns to social awkwardness, but it ultimately altered the course of how she should steer her career. During the time between Reflections and Mothe, Kish was focused on performance art installations, video work, and gallery pieces.
When Kish was ready to make music again, her mind was flowing with new concepts that came from a more transformative place. The process of putting Mothe together was like opening a door that lead Kish to fully explore her creative spirit and wound up being a “big leap mentally and tone-wise.” First came the title and from there she wrote a short passage with a neon green background to set the mood for her blossoming vision.
Whereas Reflections was about working through insecurities and finding answers, Mothe is about moving on, leaving those anxieties behind, and not being afraid to change. Kish describes the EP as her way of creating “specific feelings like the palpitations of butterfly wings” while also pulling from the animalistic sensations that humans experience through physical contact with nature. While the main inspiration for the project stems from spirituality, nature and technology, she attributes the catalyst of the sonic influence to pop, hip-hop, and trip-hop music from the ’90s, and specifically cites the soundtracks for video games during that era like Square Enix’s “Bust a Groove.”
“People always ask singers what their musical inspirations are in general and I never really know how to answer that because I don’t ever aim to make music that’s ‘of the time’ really,” she said. “Usually, it’s really hard for me to find my musical inspiration so I actually was trying to go down the rabbit hole of figuring that out. I’m more interested the subconscious references that people have, things related to memory and different moments in time… That kind of vibe, I was really trying to find with this.”
Highsnobiety recently hopped on the phone with Kish to pick her brain about the project and learn more about the intentions behind each song. Scroll down for the full track by track breakdown.
“San Pedro” is named after a street that I used to live on and the majority of the beats and the music was written and recorded in our apartment. There is a common thread going through the whole project where it’s about this bug or a moth that’s in a chrysalis. This project has a lot of push and pull and tension in it because I felt that I’m in a middle space in my career. I’ve made a lot of different choices, some have been good, some have been bad, but I’m in a place where I didn’t give myself an exit. I really took risks and I think this project was a mantra to myself to give me the strength to continue to take risks.
“San Pedro” is a dragging song. It’s about feeling not necessarily stuck, but feeling like things are hard to get over. I feel like every step of the way in my journey there’s always something that’s saying “no” or “wait” or “hold on.” I deal with that all the time. I don’t have the same perspective as a lot of artists, so a lot of times I have to deal with a lot more questions about why I want to do the things I do or why it has to be this specific way. That’s a song speaking to that a little bit more. It’s a reaffirmation to myself and it’s kind of an “Oh, brother” song where I’m like, “Why does this always happen?”
That song has a little bit more energy, the beat is a lot more energetic. I’m mainly speaking to the people on Reflections and it’s more so talking about our relationship with nature and technology which is another theme with this project. It has a bunch of different themes and they interconnect sometimes. I’m talking about our consumption and what people want from me, what people want from artists, what people want out of themselves, the pressure that people put on nature, the pressure that we put on ourselves and the robotic-like way that we can go about things sometimes. The beat lends itself to that as well.
To me, “Void” is the most energetic song in the project. It’s the part where you actually break out of the cocoon a little bit. It’s an interesting song because at the end there’s this BPM change that keeps going incrementally faster and faster. It’s one of those songs where the music is more important than the lyrics themselves, at least for me. It’s a song where I really try to be as minimal as possible because the music is going somewhere and I just want to be a facilitator to where it’s going as opposed to being the director of it. Toward the end, I’m just speaking and then it kind of creeps up on you a little bit.
“Void” is more so the answer to Reflections where all of this time I’m running around in my head about things, but really I do have the power to get rid of all of that. And I have the power to change all of my surroundings and change all of my perspectives as many times as I want. I didn’t realize, but when you perform a song so much they kind of give you therapy about the thing that you’ve been going through. From performing Reflections so much and beating myself up on stage, breaking briefcases, and running around like a crazy person, it actually made me a lot less crazy. I wanted to make something that was empowering for myself. Hopefully the things that you make for yourself can resonate and be the same for other people as well. When I performed live, I wanted to feel more power. I didn’t want to feel like this anxious fool. I wanted to feel stronger than with Reflections. The music, the actual beats and things like that, are centered around that.
“Alive” is an interesting song for the project. It’s one of the more laid-back songs that I’ve ever made. It’s about a lot of things, but for me right now it’s about staying true to what you’re doing and kind of a reminder to myself that not everything is easy. It’s not wrong if it’s hard, it’s just hard. It doesn’t make it wrong though. A lot of the pacing and the mental fortitude it takes to see your projects out from beginning to end, from the first Pantone sample to the last digital booklet or merch design or anything that you’re working on or any project as a whole, completing it and conceptualizing it and executing it to your best ability, it’s really hard. It’s hard mentally to keep explaining things and to keep it, keep it fresh in your mind.
The hardest part throughout making projects is being in control of every aspect of it and having to hold true to the initial thought that you had and trying to do justice to the initial thought that you had. When the idea of Mothe sprang into my head, it’s like “How do I hold that feeling throughout the whole course of the life cycle of this project?” It’s a song for creators and for people that make things. I think everyone is creative, but it’s really a love song to art. Sounds sappy as hell, but that’s what it is. It’s not really a person, specifically.
“Elegance” is purely just about being a person in 2018. I love the music so much that I was really minimal about what I did over it. I was like, “Let me say a few things that are interesting to me right now.” I’m talking about God, I’m talking about people that helped me to create the things that I’m able to create. It’s really a song of gratitude and a song of thankfulness to everybody that makes everything work. Every little nut and bolt in the system that keeps everything running. Like the person that keeps the water running in the faucets and the way that the earth turns and how, it’s an ode to invention and the power of the human mind, and not only the human mind, but the collective mind as a whole. It’s really just a song that’s thankful for that and really excited by it, and excited by nature and excited by all the plants and animals that we have and excited by all the new technology that we have and not being afraid. Just really happy to be even a speck in all of that. That’s what “Elegance” is about.
“Prayer” is a voice note kind of thing that I was playing around with for a long time. The first half of the song was kind of something that I was telling myself that I was okay to change. And I think that was something that took a really, really long time for me to be comfortable with. I always change, but I was never really comfortable with it and that was a song about being the comfort of changing to be the next level or the next version of who you can be. And that’s the beginning half of that song.
Then the second half of that song is kind of a prayer and also–I don’t want to say affirmation because it’s not really that–but it’s another mantra to myself and to whoever’s listening. It’s a poem that I wrote at the beginning of making the project–I was sitting in the dark in my living room and I wrote this poem so I use excerpts from it for the end of the song. We added a lot of background vocals as well to that so that it feels more like multiple persons. I wanted it to feel ritualistic. I wanted it to feel even kind of spooky in a way at the end of the song.
It’s really just a poem that’s about saying that this is my lot. For a long time, even before with Reflections and even before then, I was so frustrated by the fact that I think different. I was like, “Why do I have to deal with myself and why can’t it just be easy? Why can’t I just get over my own convictions and be what people see me as?” For a long time I was super frustrated with that. I think this was claiming my lot that that’s who I am and it’s the place that I create best in and being accepting of that. I guess that whole end part is just saying that whether people understand it or not or whether I grow to be an influential artist or not or whether people stream in or they don’t, it’s like this is the place that I exist best. This is where I’m supposed to be. That’s me.
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