For fans of: Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Lady Gaga
Left to right: Katherine Hillson, Kylah Floen
Photo by Unfolding Creative Photo
Next time you’re walking around downtown, you might notice a luminous pink smoke faintly seeping from a manhole cover. If you spot it, get down on all fours in the dark street, lift the cover, and allow yourself to slowly tip down into it. There you will discover the dizzying, neon, twisted, toxigenic world of Khilllah Khills. Pronounced killa kills, the name was born out of the unflinching coiling and mashing of the duo’s names: Kylah (Khillah), and Katherine Hillson (Khills). If the name doesn’t already intrigue you, the darkwave trip certainly will.
Khillah Khills have conjured a world that is equal parts dangerous, enchanting, introspective, and haunted with their dark synthwave sonancy. Their sound has been fondly described as a mixture of Kylie Minogue and The Pet Shop Boys. But the story of Khillah Khills did not begin with a sudden exorcism of these records, but rather it was born out of the duo’s previous dream rock group, Lashes. Katherine and Kylah honed their songwriting chops on the band’s demo, with their songs “Florida” (sung by Katherine), and “Nightfall” (sung by Kylah). One can certainly hear the influences of both writers in their respective songs, in Lashes, and especially on Khillah Khills 2020 eponymous EP. “I'm drawn to pop stars like Madonna and Lady Gaga, and I’ve always loved Blondie,” says Katherine. “Lately I’ve been into Grimes, Gary Numan and Boy Harsher.” Kylah also has a grand scope of influences, citing her “ultimate” ones as Elton John, The Talking Heads, Janet Jackson, and Sofi Tukker.
Listen to our picks from Khillah Khills' EP on our April 2020 playlist on Spotify
Khillah Kills released their 5 song debut EP on all streaming platforms in early 2020, but teased us with the first single “Toxigenic” in the latter half of 2019. A chilling dancefloor stomp, the song is the perfect springboard into Khillah Khills sound, and identity. “It [the song] was written about personal disasters using the metaphor of the apocalypse. I wanted it to sound dark and feverish. I suppose it's taken on even greater meaning now. The lyrics ‘now i'm suffering through your pandemic, everywhere I look toxigenic’ feel strangely prophetic,” Katherine details. The song was illustrated with a music video on February 13th, which aggrandizes exactly what you hear in the lyrics. “We had a vision of throwing a toxic disco,” Kylah discusses. “We were aware of NoFac3’s work [visual artist in Calgary], we got into contact with them, bounced ideas, and our music video shortly came to life. Shooting with them was an incredible creative inspiration.”
“It [filming the music video] was surreal,” Katherine continues. “We were in the living room of a house completely transformed by pinks, neons and iridescent materials . NoFac3 and the club kids featured in the video created a toxic dreamworld.” What a perfect way to describe the aesthetic of the group. When asked about the live show, Katherine says “we want to make people dance!” Check that off the list, as anyone with a pulse can’t help but move during a live performance of theirs. Kylah adds, “we hope to continue to build on our live performance to bring something that is equally visually exciting as it is sonically.” The two also detail how they want to create lyrics for listeners to bond with, just as they have bonded with one another over their shared experiences.
So what’s next for this captivating pair? Kylah tells me, “We are currently collaborating with the incredible Artist, Alyag, as a producer/engineer. We are hoping to have new music as well as a new and improved live set by the time summer rolls around.” Katherine adds, “Our music video release party is planned for this spring, but we’ll have to stand by and see what’s possible given the pandemic.” Hopefully there is only one pandemic that you fall victim to this year, and that pandemic is the delirious and feverish world of Khillah Khills.
Listen to Khillah Khills, as well this month's other artists, on our Spotify playlist