Band To Watch: Kississippi
Kississippi’s journey began last year with I Can Feel You In My Hair Still, a collection of five skeletal folk songs that were recorded in the laundry room of Zoë Allaire Reynolds’ mom’s house. That environment bled into the mood of those tracks: whispered late-night ramblings that were as honest and open as they were intricately structured. I came to the EP by way of “Dogmas,” the stunningly vulnerable emotional centerpiece, and was completely charmed and taken with the whole project. With only a gently sliding guitar and some coos standing in for percussion, Reynolds was able to craft these huge, deep pools of emotion that felt like a warm embrace. Everything from the title on down ached with that type of enveloping physicality — fingernails scratching along the strings, hands and palms, bruised knees, deeply-held declarations. I would have been content with release after release of similarly sparse, home-spun folk, but fate had something else in mind.
Shortly after releasing Kississippi’s debut, Reynolds found a commiserate soul in Colin James Kupson after a generationally appropriate match on Tinder, and the two started to work on music together as a duo. The project blossomed from there, incorporating Kupson’s heavier musical inclinations to create big, pillowy songs that feature warm electronic flourishes, big circuitous riffs, and, of course, even more of Reynolds’ bare and evocative lyricism. The two of them went into the studio at the beginning of this year with Modern Baseball’s Jake Ewald to record We Have No Future, We’re All Doomed, the group’s second EP, but the first that really seems indicative of what Kississippi will sound like going forward. The new songs take math-rock twists, arrestingly pop-oriented turns, and balances all of that out with cutting twists of phrasing.
The grand statement of the new EP’s title gives you a good idea of the stakes we’re dealing with here: intimately personal songs blown up to feel epic and dramatic. The title was derived from a tongue-in-cheek quote that one of Reynolds’ friends wrote in her high school yearbook, and they joked about starting a band one day with that name. “It really captured his essence and described how I was feeling because at the time I was so lost, and the idea that maybe everyone I graduated [with] was feeling a little lost too was comforting,” Reynolds said. That friend passed away a short while ago, after the name for the EP had already been chosen — it was intended to be a surprise to him upon release. “Now, it’s kind of my personal memorial for him and the impact he made on my life as an artist.”
That story — a nostalgic whirlwind of emotion punctuated by loss — is the feeling that the Kississippi project as a whole captures so well. “Indigo,” the first track from the EP that the band is sharing, has echoes of that hollowness. “[It’s] basically about the big winter sad, and missing having someone to cuddle up with,” Reynolds explained. “I can’t move because it’s comfortable there/ His legs tangled in mine, legs tangled in hair,” she sings on the track. “I can’t move because he’s comfortable there.” It hints at a codependency, one that can be inconvenient but is also sorely missed. “Indigo” was put together before a show, when Reynolds and Kupson realized they were tired of playing the same old songs they had been for a while, and that creation-as-necessity is reflected in the way the song is constructed. The instruments lick around her words like hands over an open flame, filling up negative space, and the stuttering synth was added later in the studio — “written on the fly,” Reynolds says — and feels just as natural. The organic, lump-in-your-throat immediacy of “Indigo” only scratches the surface of the treasures that are on their upcoming EP, and it’s an indication of what makes Kississipi so great. Listen below.
01 “Unkempt Leather”
02 “This Song Used To Be About You”
03 “Googly Eyes”