Meet Kilo Kish, Quiana Parks, Dermot Kennedy, and VanJess.

Welcome to Ones to Watch, a new quarterly series where we highlight brilliant individuals making their way in the music industry. From artists to producers, A&Rs, DJs, managers, etc., theyre all talents you should keep your eye on. Pretty soon, youll be seeing their names *everywhere.*

Hailing from Orlando, 28-year-old singer Kilo Kish, born Lakisha Kimberly Robinson, grew up straddling the music, art, and fashion industries. She attended both Pratt Institute and the Fashion Institute of Technology, and upon graduating, decided to focus on music “for a while.” Kish released her fourth EP, Mothe, last year and is now gearing up to go on tour alongside pop group Wet. Her résumé also includes features on songs with Childish Gambino, her good friend Vince Staples, A$AP Rocky, The Internet, and more. But Kish hasnt abandoned her interest in fashion and art. She debuted a fashion line, Aggy, at last year’s ComplexCon and designs all of her own tour costumes. Impressive, no?

SHE’S HAD MANY MUSICAL INFLUENCES:

“Growing up, I listened to whatever was on TV—they used to have those MTV wake-ups and all that, so I would listen to a lot of pop. Then my mom played R&B and soul classics. Once we got the internet, I was able to browse different music types. You’d have Limewire and stuff like that. That’s when I first started listening to Björk and Regina Spektor and Red Hot Chilli Peppers, random projects that I would find online [or] on AOL music.”

HOW SHE DESCRIBES HER SOUND:

“I would say it’s leaning towards indie pop. I’m moving into a space [where] I want to have more fun with the music I make. It’s conceptual still, but I want the songs to feel big and full. Learning to perform and doing more shows made me want to make songs that are fun for me [to play live]. I get bored really easily, so I want to always feel excitement.”

HER MUSIC IS ALWAYS NEW AND DIFFERENT:

“I get nervous to release music because I know that I’m always doing something that I [haven’t] fully seen yet. I take a lot of risks, and I don’t know if people will get it or [if it] will be too weird or far off. It can be a little nerve-racking just based off of what the public might think of it, but I’m generally pretty happy with the projects.”

SHE CONSIDERS HER ENTIRE CAREER SURREAL:

“It’s not something I had initially set [out] to do. I’m not someone who needs to be the center of attention. I will be quiet until someone talks to me, so I think it’s weird to have a body of creative work and almost a hundred songs. For people to care about it, that’s pretty crazy in general. It’s easy to get caught up in your own world. I’m one of those perfectionist people who, once the project is done, I don’t really do the greatest job of taking inventory on how it’s affected me or what I’ve learned from it.”

HER TOUR PREP IS WELL UNDER WAY:

“I try to go boxing and do more cardio leading up to it. Then I’ll design my costumes. I usually start a month and a half before, and I’ll go get all the fabrics and have dresses made and [then] figure out the makeup looks. It’s really fun dressing yourself up for tour. This Mothe tour is organic, there’s really no choreography, it’s just raw energy.”

BUT DON’T WORRY, SO IS HER NEXT ALBUM:

“I did two weeks in January [of] just making music. I went out to the desert, to Joshua Tree, and started working on my next record. I’m slowly beginning to get a feel for what it sounds like, and I’m pretty excited about it. It’s a bit different palettewise, but it’s moving in the same direction as Mothe and beyond. I’m figuring out conceptually what I want it to say. Once I get off tour with Wet, I’ll probably know a lot more, but for now it’s just doing demos and stuff.”

From her visual art and impressive DJing skills to the fact that she uses her platforms to share her story of battling cancer, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone not blown away by New Jerseyborn Quiana Parks. She immersed herself in painting from a young age and made the decision to seriously pursue DJing when she was 27. Parks now balances the two, painting in the afternoons and DJing at night, curating sounds for Nike, Ray-Ban, and Vogue, to name a few. At her most recent solo exhibit, curated by Vashtie, Parks donated the proceeds from one of her paintings to the Cancer Society for patients with leukemia. If you’re ever lucky enough to run into Parks as she hustles around New York, we suggest you make it a point to say hello.

MUSIC HAS ALWAYS BEEN PART OF HER LIFE:

“My mom sang in a cover band, [and] when I was a teenager, we met my stepfather and he was a DJ. Although I couldn’t sing, I tried to put a group together out of my friends in grammar school. They could all sing, and I was kind of like their manager. Jamboree was the name of our group. Then hearing Hot 97 for the first time on the bus on the way to camp. I was only 10 years old, and I didn’t even know what hip-hop really was. I heard Lauryn Hill and Nas, ‘If I Ruled the World.’ It was the first hip-hip song that I had ever heard in my life.”

BUT SO HAS PAINTING:

“I’ve always been an artist, I can’t really remember when I started painting. I went to high school for painting, but it was when I got sick that I actually started to dive into it. When I was a kid I wanted to be a fashion designer, but with my battle with cancer, I felt like I was going through real shit, and painting helped me get through that. Oddly enough, I was painting about music then, and there’s this one painting I have of me and my sisters, that I call Sisters, and it really means a lot to me. My sister’s five years younger than I am, but when I got sick, she was a huge support system for me.”

HOW SHE SPLITS HER TIME BETWEEN THE TWO:

“I don’t sleep [laughs]. No, I try to balance out my days. I don’t really do too much in the morning, I answer calls or I’m laying around and eating, going to the gym, and then after 12 I like to paint. I DJ at night, but my schedule always varies, so it’s really hard to have balance.”

AND THE MENTORS SHE’S HAD ALONG THE WAY:

“So many. My first mentor was Sapphira Molina, she used to be the brand manager for Beyoncé. I met her at 21; she owns two bars in Brooklyn, and she’s incredible. I live in the same building as her, that’s how close we are [laughs]. Then, as far as DJing, I had DJ Kiss as my mentor when I first started, and she was a huge influence over my career. I aspire to be something like her. Honestly, there’s been countless others. The DJ community has been incredible. DJ M.O.S., DJ D-Nice, DJ Clark Kent—honestly, the list can just go on and on.”

ON USING HER PLATFORM TO TELL HER STORY:

“With me surviving cancer, I think it’s vain to think that it was just for me. I think that I’m here so I can share my story and help other people, not even just from my cancer, but also being a black woman in America. When I was 12 years old, it would have been nice to see someone speak openly about where they were at that age. Also, when I was going through my cancer, it would have been nice to read and connect with someone who had a similar story to me. It’s important to me because when I was going through it, I was very, very lonely. It’s also about the awareness. It’s important to share your story when you go through something like that. It’s not just my story, it’s our story.”

THE STORY BEHIND THE PAINTING IN THE PHOTOS:

“I grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, and I grew up as a tomboy. There weren’t many girls that I really hung out with, I mostly hung around guys. Not even just in my neighborhood, but in high school, everything. My boys were always my friends, so that’s basically what that painting was about. It’s my boys in Patterson, [how] they’ve always been there for me and the friendships that we had.”

Quiana is styled by Katherine Mateo. Look 1: Dress, Frankie Shop; Top, John Elliott; Boots, Maison Margiela. Look 2: Turtleneck, Walk of Shame; Top, Nanushka; Pants, Material Tbilisi.

“When I wrote my first songs, I knew straightaway that it felt right to express myself in this way, and I’ve always known that it was what I wanted to do.” Dermot Kennedy began his musical career busking on Grafton Street in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland. He’s always been someone hyper-focused on his craft, and that dedication led to the alternative folk singer working on his latest EP with famed producer Mike Dean. Kennedy’s music will have you tapping your toes and dancing in the shower, and at Coveteur HQ, we’re convinced he’s about to make alternative folk mainstream.

YEARS OF BUSKING TAUGHT HIM A LOT:

“I learned so much. I learned how to throw my voice across a crowded street, I learned how to gather and keep a crowd. It also gave me thicker skin and taught me to just be happy [by opening] up my case and playing my songs in the street, whether people liked them or not.”

HOW HE DESCRIBES HIS SOUND:

“I would say it’s music that’s inspired by great singer/songwriters like David Gray and Glen Hansard, but somewhere down the road the amount of hip-hop I listen to has started to find its way into the production.”

ON WORKING WITH MIKE DEAN ON HIS 2018 EP:

“It was awesome. To see how someone like that works, and especially to see him vibe off of my music and be into what I do, was crazy. He’s been involved in sooo many game-changing projects, so it was very inspiring. It was an honor to have him work on my stuff.”

HOW HE KEEPS HIS MENTAL HEALTH IN CHECK WITH SUCH A BUSY SCHEDULE:

“We’ve got a really great crew on the road. Everyone’s very close, and we’re a tight-knit group at this stage, so there’s always somebody to talk to, which is massively helpful. Aside from that, looking after yourself physically can help an awful lot. Even just making sure you’re not hungover the morning after a show counts for a lot, so you can be up early and go see the city you’re playing in. Just to leave the tour bubble of bus to venue back to bus again is a really good thing, in my experience.”

TWO ARTISTS HE’S HOPING TO COLLABORATE WITH ONE DAY:

“Drake. Or Justin Vernon from Bon Iver. Those two would both be top of the dream list.”

THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE HE’S EVER RECEIVED:

“Glen Hansard once told me to never get too caught up in the fact that it’s your name on the poster. To always be conscious of why you make music in the first place. For the love of it, for the feeling, and for the connection. To never get too high on self-importance. For him to still live by that, considering everything he’s achieved, was very inspiring to me, so I try to carry it with me.”

Nigerian-American sisters Ivana and Jessica Nwokike could never have guessed they were about to strike gold when they uploaded their mash-up cover of Drake’s “Headlines” and Frank Ocean’s “Thinking Bout You” to Youtube back in 2011. But the duo, better known by their stage name of VanJess, did just that, becoming a viral success story which led them to self-releasing their studio album, Silk Canvas, in July of 2018. The R&B and soul duo has been nonstop with appearances and shows since, sharing their sisterly bond with the world. More times than not, you’ll catch them with wide smiles on their faces, laughing with one another. That was their exact energy when they walked into our studio one afternoon. Our time with Ivana and Jessica confirmed what we already knew to be true: Before you know it, you’ll be adding them to your list of favorite artists.

IT WAS NATURAL FOR THEM TO BECOME A DUO:

Jessica Nwokike: “Being sisters, we’ve always sang together, but we naturally started to work together, and it felt right.”

Ivana Nwokike: “Once we developed our [sound], we felt like there was something unique that we could bring to the space of R&B.”

 

THEIR MUSICAL INFLUENCES GROWING UP:

JN: “Some big ones were Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson. Lots of funk music for sure, and a lot of ’90s R&B.”

IN: “And all the divas: Mariah [Carey], Whitney [Houston], Toni [Braxton], Brandy.”

 

THE PROS AND CONS OF WORKING WITH A SIBLING:

JN: “Pros [are] being able to be as candid as possible and never feeling weird.”

IN: “Con is having petty disagreements, but we always get through those.”

 

THE ONE SONG THAT WILL ALWAYS GET THEM ON THE DANCE FLOOR:

Both: “‘If’ by Janet Jackson.”

 

ON EACH OTHER’S STYLE:

JN: “Ivana is very soulful and laid-back in her music and her style, she always keeps it comfortable.”

IN: “Jess is kind of the same with being laid-back, but in music and style she loves trying different things. [She’s] like a chameleon in a way.”

 

IF THEY GET NERVOUS RELEASING NEW MUSIC:

JN: “We definitely do. I think it’s natural, but it goes away when we remember we only put out what moves us and we truly believe in.”

 

WHAT THEY’RE CURRENTLY WORKING ON:

JN: “We’ve been in the studio so much working on new music. [There’s] nothing set in stone yet, but we are open.”

IN: “You never know, I think a project is possible [this year] for sure, with all the music we’ve been making.”

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