The Dilemma of Cool: Kilo Kish on Ditching Social Media for Music

The musician and social fixture on why she left New York for L.A. and gave up on social media: “I don’t like feeling like a brand.”

Kilo Kish

At the age of 24, Kilo Kish has had just about every entry on her resume — model, artist, DJ, designer, rapper, and singer — to help turn her into an Instagram star and a fixture in the fashion world.

Two years ago though, after she grew sick of vapid dinners and the unending social obligations of New York, Kish not only went West, but also deleted her Instagram account. She’s spent her time in Los Angeles working on her album, “Reflections In Real Time,” which dropped February 29th. A mix of upbeat pop, jazz, and electronica, the album also features a tracklist that reads like a Psych 101 syllabus: from “distractions I. the opposite sex” and “distractions II. the dilemma of cool” to “existential crisis hour!” In an interview, Kish opened up about the moment when she stopped feeling like a blogger and started acting like an artist. The dilemma of cool, indeed.

What made you want to move from New York to L.A.? It’s a lot easier for me to be creative out here. In New York, there are lots of events and quick jobs. In L.A., you can really settle in with projects and get them going without a lot of distractions.

What were you thinking about when you were making this album? What does “Reflections In Real Time” mean to you? I wanted to make an album that was a time capsule, or a thought capsule, of where I was between the ages of 23 and 24-and-a-half. For example, I would go to these fashion dinners and I explored what was going through my head while at those events. Like, this is all about small talk; I wish we could get to know each other. Or I wish I didn’t have to wear these clothes at this event. Or I wish people were less stuffy here. They’re just really human topics. This is an age when you’re trying to figure everything out.

One of your songs is called “relief! (my answers so far).” Do you have any advice for twentysomethings? I’ve learned to relax. I’m an intense person. If you listen to the album, it’s all very overthought. I don’t overthink the way I dress, but when it comes to the way you treat yourself in your own mind, I think it’s best to relax and allow yourself the time and the patience to become the person you’re going to become.

You deleted your Instagram recently and started over. What was the impetus behind that? I do social media less now because I’m trying… Well, I’m trying to be an artist. For me, social media boxes you into your ideas. Maybe I felt like this on January 22, 2007, but I don’t necessarily feel like that anymore, and you’re still judging me and perceiving me based on however far back you can go on social media. Emotions and ideas are fleeting; they’re not set in stone. With social media, I’m presenting this very curated version of myself for you to consume, and I don’t want to be consumable in that way all the time. Sometimes, yeah, like anyone else you want to show people the cool things you did that day or what you’re working on, even what you’re eating. But when it gets to the level of you making a different person out of yourself online, it takes away some of your freedom. I’m not anti-social media; just for myself, I’d rather not be on it that much. Although I do look at Twitter every night before I go to bed because I like looking at memes.

Was there a specific social media tipping-point for you? I did a lot of work with different companies on social media activations. It started to feel very manufactured to me; I don’t like feeling like a brand. I just feel like people deserve honesty from artists. For bloggers, that is their business, but I am not a blogger. I am an artist. For me, my goal is to be as open and free as an artist as I can be. The way that I was doing social media, and the necessary things I was doing to make money, became impossible because they wouldn’t allow me to be free. So then I just stopped doing it. I’m not knocking anyone for whatever makes them happy, but in my own life, I’m able to make better work when I’m not a part of that world.

What are you listening to right now? I’m listening to Life of Pablo a lot right now. I try not to listen to stuff though while I’m working on my own songs because I don’t want to accidentally get influenced by it.

What do you when you’re not working on music? When I’m not working on songs, I’m thinking about the vinyl and CD packaging, which I do myself on Photoshop. I’m also working on my home products and apparel brand called Kisha, which will launch this summer.

Photos: The Dilemma of Cool: Kilo Kish on Ditching Social Media for Music

Kilo Kish. Photo by Emmanuel Olunkwa.

Kilo Kish. Photo by Emmanuel Olunkwa.

Kilo Kish. Photo by Emmanuel Olunkwa.

Kilo Kish. Photo by Emmanuel Olunkwa.

Kilo Kish. Photo by Emmanuel Olunkwa.