Kekko is a Singapore-based psych rock/dream pop duo and married couple — multi-instrumentalist Tim Kek and vocalist Cherie Ko. Ko spent her teenaged years covering dream pop and shoegaze classics on YouTube, earning a cult following from fans of Slowdive, Beach House and My Bloody Valentine. But her musical career started in earnest with a stint as the frontperson of Bored Spies, an act that featured members of Seam.
Bored Spies managed to tour the US and Europe, including a notable stop at Primavera Sound Festival. But interestingly according to the band’s Cherie Ko, Kekko marks the first time that she has been able to fully embrace her authentic wholeness. And without self-imposed expectations and ideas of what music — in particular her music — should be, Ko feels the she now sings from a place of “warm transcendence,” where the music fully embodies who she is deep inside. Kekko’s Tim Kek is tasked with with the paradox of expressing the inexpressible through his compositions. Deeply steeped in Eastern philosophy, Kek’s work often “starts with just one night and a quiet contemplation” of how the sound makes him feel. He then builds and crafts melody-driven arrangements from his “heart cave,” a term that Ram Dass describes as “a place beyond all forms and lists, a place for letting go.” The end result is work that attempts to envision and encapsulates the expansiveness and magic of all realms of existence.
The Singaporean duo have exploded out the gate with their debut single “Past Lives,” which received praise from NME, Obscure Sound and Nevermind. The duo’s debut EP Dreaming Life is inspired by an ancient introspective musing by the ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi: Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.” The EP’s material reportedly feels strangely familiar yet simultaneously exciting and surreal.
Dreaming Life‘s second single, the slow-burning and painterly EP title track features Ko’s ethereal and plaintive vocals paired with shimmering synth arpeggios, an almost motorik-like groove and a soaring hook. While sonically, some critics have compared their sound to Tame Impala and Melody’s Echo Chamber, “Dreaming Life” reminds me of Young Narrator in the Breakers-era Pavo Pavo. But as the duo explain, the song offers a reminder to the listener: that being in control of our lives is an illusion and that this futile pursuit can be very stressful and tiresome. The song calls for an different view of our existence — that life actually happens through you and because of you and that all we can do is appreciate each and every moment we’ve got.