KOKO are the Bristol three-piece making waves in the alt-pop scene. We catch up as they drop their EP 'All Together Now'.

Formed of Oliver Garland (vocals) Harry Dobson (bass, synth), and Ashley C (synths, lead guitar), KOKO first met three years ago at a party in Bristol and instantly clicked. Whilst hazy promises of forming a band may be long forgotten once morning comes, these three knew they had was something special.

 

Writing from “a situational point of view”, the trio aims to make their listeners feel like the centre of the story in each of their songs. Starting from the beat, KOKO build the song up from there.

 

Their first single, “Freak”, released last year – an eerie electronica number – was followed up with the subversive alt-pop “Eyes So Wide” this year. KOKO then dropped their debut EP ‘Follow’ and later, a run of singles, including the bass-driven “Silly With It”.

 

As they release their four-track EP, ‘All Together Now’, we spoke to the band about their new release and the importance of sticking together through tough times.

Your latest song “Why Can’t You See Me” has a stripped-back sound, compared to your previous releases, which are driven by energetic beats and basslines. What was the decision behind this?
On our first EP ‘Follow’ we had a ‘ballad’ style song called “Tell Me Do You Care”. We like the idea of including one on each release, as it shows a different side of our writing and what we can do as a band. We can also build them up to big crescendos in the live set too! 

The track is about deciding between right and wrong and reflects on a relationship. Do you find it cathartic to share your experiences through music?

 100%. We tend to write from a situational point of view and people can see themselves in the story. We love it when we get a fan comment or message us about how our music has helped them get through, or they relate to the lyrics – that’s the most cathartic thing about music!

In terms of your creative process, what role do you each take when making a new song?

We all contribute throughout the whole process. We tend to work from a beat and go from there. It’s all about the atmosphere in the room and the vibe we get that day, and when we get that moment where a lyric or a chorus clicks into place, it’s magic!

You’ve had quite a difficult few months – what with lockdown separating you, then Ollie contracting COVID and being in and out of  hospital. What kept you going in those tough times?

It’s all about sticking together. We are on the phone as a 3 every day, and we were all really worried when Ollie was sick – he was out of action for almost 3 months. We’re a band of brothers at the end of the day, and if one of us isn’t involved, it never feels like Koko. Knowing we’d have something to look forward to on the other side of lockdown was the driving force.
You got the chance to play a headline show in January before the pandemic shut the live music events down, returning to the stage last month at Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival. What was that like?
It felt like we were really on to something after January. We sold out the Waiting Room in London, there was crowd surfing, and a packed room – it feels like a different world now! 
 
Reeperbahn was a huge blow-off for us just to be able to play a show again after 8 months, and despite the scenario being a little strange (outdoor shows with 2m boxes for people to stand in sprayed on the floor and seated club shows), we had a blast. The German crowds were really excellent and supportive in that scenario too. Everyone was just so happy to see live music again! We love performing and playing live, especially in a packed room. We can’t wait for the normality of that and to get back to more and more shows

What kind of energy do you want to give off when you perform live?

Like a night out! It’s not just a gig, it’s a full-on experience having a night with KOKO!

Do you prefer writing and recording or performing and touring?

We love it all! We live it being in KOKO. Writing is exciting as you have this open book and never know where it could go, but that adrenaline rush of being on stage… nothing beats it.  

You’ve said that the Bristol scene inspires you; what else sparks creativity within you?

Our backgrounds I suppose! We’re fully involved in the artwork and the creation of the world of Koko.  All of the animation and videos are done by us too, so it’s a fully immersive world!

You’re set to release your second EP ‘All Together Now’ soon. What can we expect?

It’s out this week! It’s more dancey and electronic than the ‘Follow’ EP, each song is a story in itself. We wanted to push ourselves a little more in that direction, seeing people dancing to our music is a big buzz!

The EP was written before lockdown. Given that a lot has changed, do you see the record differently now?

 It’s funny. The notions of ‘All Together Now’ and ‘So nice to Meet You’ resonates in a slightly different way than when we wrote it, but it all kind of makes sense for this exact moment – we are all in this together and trying to all come together! Everyone wants to let loose and still get “Silly With It”, even if it’s only until 10pm!

Listen to KOKO's music below:

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