Words by Jasmine Bourgeois
With a name that translates to “who is that, anyway?” in Turkish, Istanbul dark bass-synth duo Kim Ki O embody a truly DIY ethos. Ekin Sanac and Berna Göl were friends long before they became Kim Ki O. The two started off by renting cheap studio space and playing covers in middle school, but eventually took a hiatus. They reconnected after college with a more intentional approach: They wanted to make an all-female band; a band that not only made music people weren’t used to hearing but also helped translate their experiences living and growing up in Istanbul. Like most underground projects, Sanac and Göl got their start making music for fun and selling handmade CDs to friends. Now, Kim Ki O plays shows all over Europe. But it hasn’t always been an easy ride.
Since meeting in grade school, Sanac and Göl have drummed to their own beat, writing music that isn’t afraid to be political and explore the woes of the world. Many of their songs are written about grappling with the ever-changing political, economic, and social landscape of Turkey. “We usually sing about things that we do not appreciate in the world and how we deal with them,” says the pair in an email interview.
They are self-described as a bass-synth duo with electronic beats, and the experimental nature of their work has always set them apart from other musicians in their scene. “When we first started playing gigs, it took a while for some of the audience to accept or get into what we do. No guitars? No drummers? No rock? This wasn’t as welcomed back then,” they told Tom Tom.
Kim Ki O beam with a unique sort of musicianship—they write about what matters to them, create sounds that feel right, and foster an attitude of lo-fi experimentalism that’s reminiscent of early bedroom rock. They make music in times of uncertainty and near constant threat of collapse, but they don’t seem to get lost in dread. Instead, they write songs that question the norm and find value in the world’s commotion. Their newest album, ZAN, is unabashedly political; directly unpacking the heartache that comes with the threat of violence from a turbulent government.
Featured in the ‘Bands We Like’ section of Issue 33. Purchase a copy here.