Los-Angeles based musician Ko Lee, aka ko aka koala, has recently released her new EP titled Chef’s Kiss. It’s a project imbued with free-spirited creativity and unrestrained artistry. What makes Ko so interesting as an artist, is that freedom she has to really do her own thing, and it’s an amazing feat to see. Taking a largely DIY process, Ko has crafted a fascinating world for her music to sit within.
This new EP is not only centred around the music, but also the surrounding visuals, which were created entirely by Ko herself. This solidifies the vision, creating a work which is eccentric and hilarious, whilst also being extremely cohesive. The comedy in the project may be easy to overlook, but when matched with solid songwriting and production from Stefan Ponce and Shintaro Yasuda, the ko aka koala world is vast, poppy, ironic, and creative. Ko has been busy assembling her identity as a musician over the past few years, and her recent work is a testament to this. We had the opportunity to chat to Ko about the recent project and her wider career. She has a new single releasing today which is available to stream now.
Hello ko aka koala, great to be speaking with you! Congratulations on the Chef’s Kiss EP, could you tell us a bit about the project and how it came to be?
Thank you! It's my first EP ever. I really wanted to create this project because I wanted to share all these songs I wrote. These songs just made sense to me to put together. They tell a story of emotions that I go through everyday.
The EP serves us multiple absurd and hilarious tongue-in-cheek innuendos. I was wondering which Chef’s Kiss line is your favourite. I think mine might be “Got the cake like the Great British Bake-Off”.
"Fly me out to Paris eat me like charcuterie" might be my fav because I love a good charcuterie board and it makes me hungry. The whole song makes me hungry actually.
Can you tell us a bit about your process for creating visuals to go alongside the music? The art for the EP, as well as music videos such as the stoptryingtohavesexwithme video really solidify your aesthetic. I’ve heard a lot of this takes a DIY process?
Yes, I created my own visual art for this project and directed the music videos. Originally, I actually had the cover of me as a mouse on a cheese wedge as the cover (the Chef's Kiss single cover), but I had this vision of me coming out of an egg that I just wanted to do for absolutely no reason. So, I created that and then I just knew that had to be the cover.
Music videos are probably the most complicated part of being a DIY artist. It's a lot to manage everything and put it together and also remember the choreo. I was styling myself, the dancers, and the cast. It's kind of improvised because I never plan out everything. I like to leave some room to be creative in the moment and see what I feel like doing. In between scenes, I'd be like curling the dancers' hair. I filmed those two videos the same day in about four hours. It was so chaotic but I'm super grateful for everyone involved.
From what I have read about you, it seems you began your career DJing. Do you think you have the club atmosphere in mind when creating music now?
I don't think I kept that in mind when I was making this specific project.
DJing really introduced me to so many different genres of music, but I do plan on dropping a club or dance project one day.
This is maybe a similar question, but on the new EP, you weave different musical styles together really effortlessly, and I was wondering if this was a talent you may have developed from being a DJ?
I've always had eclectic music taste, and DJing expanded that even more to an extreme degree. When you make music, people really want to categorise it and you're definitely encouraged to pick a lane and stick to it or else audiences may not like it. I found it really hard to do that, so I just created anything I wanted to as long as I like it.
You worked with producers Stefan Ponce and Shintaro Yasuda for Chef’s Kiss. How was it working with them, and what do you think it brought to the EP?
They are both super talented musicians. They're also good friends, so I always have fun working with them. I can be a little shy in the studio, so it's nice to work with people I'm comfortable being myself around. I think it brought a silliness to the EP, because we would just be joking around a lot and ideas would come out of that.
I have seen your music categorised in so many different ways such as hyper-pop, or futuristic. But if you were to summarise ko aka koala in a genre, what would you call it?
I love to see how other people categorise, because to me it's just my music - so the category is Ko. Maybe I'd call it infinite pop - a genre where there's no boundaries, a limitless exploration of sound and creativity within the pop realm. Infinite pop embraces innovation, diversity, and the constant evolution of musical expression.
More generally, have you got any upcoming projects in the works you would like to tell us about?
I have a new song called tic tac boom and it comes out on Feb 6.