Interview

Kelly Lee Owens

Only one album out and K. L. O. already stars in the top of the best electronic pop records of 2017, and now multiplies her collaborations which include Björk and Saint Vincent. Her slow and vaporous rhythms, the tricks she makes with her voice and synthesizers place this London-based artist next to solid groups such as Chromatics. So before it’s too late, we decided to grab a piece of the fun and talked with her about her future, her past and recent collaborations.

Interview by Ana Laborie
Photos shot by Trent McMinn in London, UK

 

Can you tell us something fun about yourself?

Well… I busted my ankle few years ago, I was like 28… It was in a bouncy castle…(laughs)

What are you working on these days?

Music sometimes is kind of cyclical, and it seems I’m winding down the cycle of the first chapter, which is my first album. So around November it will be the last time I’ll present my first album live. Now I’m thinking and experimenting with sounds for the second one, collecting ideas and respecting the process of writing something new.
I don’t bow down to pressure. I’ll take as long as I need to be real and honest and good for me, and that includes having a bit of time for myself because I’m not a robot. I need time to be relaxed, think about myself and experience life. I think that’s important in order to be able to give.

How do you create with artists like Yaeji and Björk?

I always find it easier to create with others. I feel so honoured that artists like Björk and Saint Vincent want to work with me and connect in any sense.
Obviously I have so much respect for Björk and when you receive her themes you are like; ‘wow, this person is trusting me to do something with this, that hopefully will be good.’
When I create I feel like every song has ten or twenty lives… and so with Arisen My Senses, I could create the best version of it. I want it sound exactly as I imagined it in my head. Björk taught me a lot about how to be intuitive and trust myselfFor example when an artist wants a remix, my logical mind is like ‘Well, they want techno’, and then my intuitive mind says ‘I can’t do that, because it would not do it justice’. So what I do is explore something else, and when I see that this works, I am very happy to have trusted my intuition.
For the remix of Björk I only had two and a half days to do it and I wanted to do something good with the amount of time that I had. I thought I was crazy to even try it! And, of course, I would change a million things, but it is like that every time, with every song.

 

Do you miss your past life as a nurse?

I miss the feeling of directly helping people. As a nurse, I’ll go to the hospital and every day I’ll feel that I have made this tiny difference to one person. So you have this feeling that you are contributing to do something good to the world. But when I moved to work in a record company I just felt so guilty because I felt I wasn’t doing anything, that I wasn’t giving any service to the world.
Music it’s helping me so much in my life, it’s a different way of connecting with people, but I still do miss this direct service.  So I think I’ll explore a way to make the two things work, and not necessarily nursing or medicine, but I need something physical.

Do you think summertime is a good time to make new collaborations and to meet new people?

In Summer I enjoy the opportunity of having the sun and the nature to relax. But I’m definitely more an Autumn-Winter person.

How do you see your future?

I’m turning 30 this year and it’s a real phase!! It’s an important time because you are reflecting back into the last decade: who I am? How did I grow or not grow? And what do I want these next ten years to look like?
I can’t just isolate myself and think that the next ten years of my life are going to be: album – touring – album – touring. I´ll just go crazy!!
So for me, it’s important to have control over my life. Music is the love of mine, but I need to live, and I think I’m getting better with it, because that balance it’s getting more and more important to me.

 

Kelly Lee Owens plays Pukkelpop on 16 August
www.pukkelpop.be