PERFECT FOR: Sentimental listeners who seek the sound of vulnerable sweetness
WHO: Mai Kino
WHERE FROM: Lisbon-born, London-based
STARTED PERFORMING: Since 2018
Born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal, Mai Kino moved to London with a background in multimedia art and dance. Recently released her debut EP Dopamine, the on-the-rise artist takes us on a synaesthesia-fuelled journey of pillowy vocals and dreamy production. It’s a beautiful collection of songs that capture snapshots of feelings from her own personal life, with title track ‘Dopamine’ and ‘Lungs’ mixed by David Wrench (The XX, FKA Twigs, Jungle). Accomplished and fascinating, this intimate 4-track EP is one that rewards repeated listening.
Mai Kino explains how her music dives into the topics of modern disconnection and the joy of new life, “Dopamine is about complicated internal states and wanting to escape them. ‘Like an angel you take me so warm and so serene’ can mean death, a drug or a lover, but it also speaks of spiritual transcendence.” She is also fond of crafting multisensory visual imagery to complement her shimmery soundscape. Already receiving a wealth of press in the run up to her debut EP, Mai Kino is bound to be the next indie sensation.
Which song on your debut EP Dopamine means the most to you?
They all mean a lot to me in different ways. The words on the title track ‘Dopamine’ are some of the most meaningful I’ve ever written. The process of making ‘Talk’ was very special. The melody came to me in my sleep and most of the demo sounds I recorded in the middle of the night made it to the final track, so I feel I really captured the rawness of that moment in time. I love the bass and beat on ‘Lungs ‘and can’t wait to play it live and ‘Swim’ makes me tear up everytime I sing it.
Dopamine gravitates towards a storytelling approach, what is your vision of this EP and what inspired it?
This EP was inspired by my life and internal states. Writing it was something I needed to do to make sense of it all. Dopamine is about feeling too much and not enough all at once.
What non-musical elements do you have strong attachments to?
I was a contemporary dancer and multimedia artist before I started focusing on music more, so I’d say I’m pretty attached to poetry in whatever form it presents itself to me. Movement, colour, words, all of it. I write and direct my music videos and design the clothes I wear on stage, it’s all an expression of the same unified vision.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
I grew up listening to Nirvana, Portishead, Tricky. I think those were the artists that left the deepest imprint on me at a very early age. I later got into singing Billie Holiday and bossa nova, and fell in love with beats and electronic music, such as Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno, Mount Kimbie. I focus more on process than form when I generate work, but I’m sure I’m driven by an unconscious mix of all these colliding worlds.
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