“We try and tell stories in our songs
by what we are feeling at the time.”
Have you heard of KOKO yet? A three piece alternative dark pop band from Bristol, UK. KOKO are Oliver Garland (vocals), Harry Dobson (bass/synthesizer) and Ashley C (synthesizer, lead guitar), who formed in 2017 after meeting at a Party in Bristol. Inspired by different sorts like hip hop, electronic music, indie rock and pop, the three of them are involved in every songwriting process and the result is an experimental beautiful symbiosis of three different characters combing and melting in their songs.
We met Ollie, Harry and Ashley in sunny Berlin and had a chat about their upcoming EP, time travels and fashion, of course!
You just played at Reeperbahn Festival. How was the experience being back on stage, but with restrictions and other things during this global pandemic?
It was alright. We are used to having crowd reactions with people jumping around and having a good time so it was quite a challenge to get people moving but managed to get hands waving in the air and clapping which was all they were allowed to do. We played in an old bunker which was also a crazy experience.
What’s your favourite song to play live?
The one we just released actually. ‘So Nice to Meet You’.
Harry: Stream it on all platforms haha! (laughs)
Do you hav any specific festival, venue or place you would like to play in the future?
Glastonbury would be the obvious choice. Reading and Leeds dance tent would be pretty sick. KOKO in Camden would be awesome hence the name, KOKO in KOKO haha.
Did you ever want to become musicians as a youngster?
Ashley: My uncle got me into playing the guitar when I was 5 years old.
Ollie: During my teenage years at secondary school, playing with bands. I think you kind of know if you are a musician from a young age. You don’t really choose to do music, it sort of chooses you I think.
Do you have any childhood heroes?
Ollie: Iron Man, although, if we are talking musicians then Elvis Presley, huge Elvis fan.
Ashley: Not sure if you can say this anymore but Michael Jackson, I loved listening to ‘Earth Song’ as a kid.
Your second EP is arriving late October, what can we expect and what inspired you to write the new tracks?
We try and tell stories in our songs by what we are feeling at the time. A lot of energy and a mixture of emotions. It’s weird because it actually fits with whats going on at the moment with the pandemic. Our first EP it was dropped during isolation with the first track called “All Together Now” and with the new track from our latest EP called “So Nice to Meet You” when we can all go out and meet people again so it all kind of fits with the time.
How does it feel having a well established fan base in Germany, especially when it comes to radio plays and streams?
Amazing! The support over here has been nuts which is why we love coming over here. We would rather be in the city where we were receiving most love. Very blessed to have German fans they are absolutely great and we are definitely going to come out here more to interact and meet with fans.
Alternative dark pop is quite a niche genre. Why did you decide to go down this route?
We started off more on the electronic side. We’ve always had dark material which was more guitar driven similar to bands such as The Neighbourhood. We wrote loads over last year and then wrote ‘Freak’ at which point we thought “That’s it, this is our sound!” We weren’t looking for a sound it just happened and now means we can experiment more with different noises. Definitely going to write more with dark elements. We are quite open minded and don’t want to stick to a single genre. Just write and see what happens. Go with the flow as we love writing.
The artwork to your music videos and graphics is very unique and on point. Who came up with the ideas for the graphics?
A guy named Jack who we know very well. We pretty much just send over our ideas back and fourth to him. We want to come across as cool and approachable with that dark element to it.
Do you have a favourite good morning shower song?
Harry: TopLoader – ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’.
Ollie: I can’t get that Jason Derulo ‘Savage Love’ TikTok song out of my head at the moment haha.
If you could pick another decade in time to travel to, would you go backwards or forwards in time?
Harry: Back to the 80’s. Always back.
Ashley: I’d go back to the 40’s and write the biggest Michael Jackson song and then release it myself.
What means fashion to you and how would you describe your style?
Ollie: Harry likes chains and wearing his Grandads clothes haha.
Ashley: Ollie is just a Road man.
Ollie: A chav as we call it in England.
Ashley: I just wear lampshades on my head haha. I love hiphop so I guess I dress that way.
Do you have any indispensable pieces of clothing?
Ashley: My socks and sliders haha!
Ollie: A beanie I guess, It’s always on my head. I don’t know what’s under that beanie it’s been a while haha.
What did you pack in your suitcase, do you have any travel essentials?
Harry bought an oversized XXXL T-shirt which he thought would look good on stage but looked ridiculous, 30 quid down the drain haha! We are actually sharing a suitcase to keep the costs of travel down. Ollie’s Anker speaker and our Camcorder which always comes in handy.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
A couple of beers and a little huddle pre show.
______________________________________________________________________________Thanks for taking the time to have a chat with us guys! Ears and eyes wide open for KOKO’s new EP, which will be released by the end of October this year!
xx smoke and echoes
in cooperation with made records