Bristol three piece KOKO will release their brooding alt-pop EP ‘All Together Now’ via Made Records on October 30.
The EP includes the brand new song ‘Why Can’t You See Me’, along with three tracks which have been released over the course of the last 2 months. The band made a triumphant return to the stage last month at Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival.
In contrast to the driving beats and basslines of the rest of the EP, ‘Why Can’t You See Me’ strips back their sound to simple sustained pads and an acoustic guitar, with no percussion at all - they are a band unafraid of bringing the light and shade. “This song is about choosing between right and wrong,” say the band “There is a time in everyone’s life where you have to make that decision for the best of a relationship.”
2020 started optimistically for KOKO. They had already released their subversive and creepy electronica anthem ‘Freak’ to critical acclaim, and were gearing up for the reveal of their debut EP ‘Follow’. With a sold-out London show in January, KOKO cemented their ‘hype-band’ status with a riotous performance, replete with sweat-soaked walls, earth shaking bass, hyper-active crowd-surfing and an audience so animated that the venue considered calling in security reinforcements. “We wanted people to walk away feeling something,” say the band, “That might be happiness, excitement, anger. Who knows. We just want to spark a reaction.” They got their wish with that debut show. All the pieces were in place for a stellar year, more shows were planned around releases, showcases in London and Berlin were booked. Then as we all know, 2020 had other plans.
While their music releases continued, all other plans were on hold - no live shows, no studio sessions, and only remote writing via Zoom. This wasn’t the only obstacle in their path though, as singer Oli contracted Covid-19 fairly early on in the pandemic. “Harry and I had been to a boat party celebrating my birthday. Upon returning home I felt like I was 4 days into a hangover” he says, “Before I knew it, I was bed bound for 8 weeks. It was horrific. I’m just so glad to be out the other end. I was still jumping on writing sessions and doing everything I could but it was just so unpredictable. There were moments where I felt I was getting better, then bang, the next day I was back in hospital. I’m almost back to 100% and so keen to get back to it. Won’t take any of it for granted, that’s for sure.”
The title track of their second EP, ‘All Together Now’ coruscates with a dulcetly soft beat drop right before the title lyric.”It’s about positivity,” the band tell us “No matter what life throws at you, you have to have a positive outlook. Surrounding yourself with good people and good vibes in everything that you do.”
While the EP was written before lockdown, its themes resonate more than ever now. ‘So Nice To Meet You’ brings in a deep reggaeton vibe to the band’s already pumping basslines. “It's all about meeting someone for the first time and getting that excitement...the butterflies. It’s a feeling we’ve missed for a LONG time this year – so it’s definitely a song with a lot of optimism for the future”.
‘Silly With It’ is an adventure through electro with razor sharp synths and a four to the floor beat. Thematically it follows ‘So Nice To Meet You’, forming the next part of a story. “It’s about the building of an early relationship and getting lost in someone. Having all the fun and excitement with that one person” say the band. The song has been selected to appear in ‘Dirt 5’, the latest game in the Colin McRae Rally series.
Three years ago, Oliver Garland (vocals) Harry Dobson (bass, synth) and Ashley C (synths, lead guitar) met randomly at a party in Bristol. Ollie, who had grown up in Thailand, was on the path to becoming a professional bare-knuckle boxer. Harry D had picked up a skateboarding sponsorship before an injury cut his extreme sports career short. Ashley C was forced to take a different approach in his teens, locking himself away for months on end whilst battling severe anxiety. “We had all gone out with separate crowds that night,” say the band, “All three of us ended up at a venue called ‘The Louisiana’. As the venue was closed for the night, rumours spread of a house party on the other side of town. We arrived separately at an unrecognisable block of flats, bass seemingly pumping out of the sky. It was chaos inside. It was the 12th floor of this block of flats where KOKO began. The three of us got chatting and clicked instantly. We hung out for hours, exchanging stories and talking music until the sun came up. Before finally deciding to return home, we drunkenly agreed to create a band. We exchanged digits and agreed to meet for a ‘jam’. Two weeks later, we met up in Ollie’s garage and everything clicked. It was so clear that our vision was aligned”
Drawing on a rich heritage of musical output from the city, the band are keenly aware of the legacy laid out before them. “The Bristol scene most certainly inspires us and there are some incredible bands who we admire. The passion and drive from bands in and around the city is there for everyone to see,” they say “We believe we are quite different to most of our local contemporaries. That’s the great thing. We are all following our own paths but the support for one another is well and truly there.”
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