Meet Kibi James, frothy Atlanta-based indie pop group whose whimsical tunes have been pouring out of your local scene crush’s battered over-the-ear headphones all summer. Following the release of dreamy singles “bender,” “fuerza,” and “go outside,” the group has dropped their debut album, delusions.
Known for their lush instrumentation and bilingual harmonies, Kibi James has – for good reason–been hailed by many as one of the most promising upcoming bands of the year. The band, composed of Mari (guitar, keys), MJ Corless (bass) and Pomi Abebe (drums), has demonstrated a unique ability to distill the achy apprehensions and triumphant successes of youth into discrete sonic elements: an echoey verse here, a minor chord progression there– it all harkens the memory of some distant elation or some muted longing, packaged in a wonderfully addictive three minute song.
Perhaps the band’s superb musical compatibility is exacerbated by the fact that they’re not only friends but also roommates: the three met in school and now live together in a house in Atlanta, as evidenced by the visuals in their most recent single, “bender.” The three cite the idea of “home” as the impetus for their distinct sound: home, to Kibi James, is a shared house, is the Atlanta community, is each other. Home is ubiquitous for the trio, a sentiment that is intrinsic to their hazy, warm brand of pop.
Turn on delusions when it’s raining and your roommates are laughingly searching for a bucket to place under a pesky leak. Turn on delusions to impress your crush. (Do that obnoxious thing where you cite their 2019 Azúcar EP to subtly demonstrate how long you’ve been listening to the band before they got big. It won’t even be that obnoxious because that EP is actually really good). Turn on delusions when your bestie unwittingly sits on wet, peaty ground at the local park and you have to pretend it doesn’t look like they pissed themselves. Crank up delusions on your battered over-the-ear headphones, laugh with your friends, cry by yourself. The best people you know are already big Kibi James fans. Catch up!
Besties, roommates, bandmates: How did you all meet?
We met when we were all in school in Atlanta through going to shows and mutual friends. We went on a camping trip and made plans to play music together under candlelight in the tent. We have been close ever since.
Are there any particularly strong memories that inspired tracks on this album?
Before we went to go tour the house we all live in together, we wrote the first verse of “mister g” as a kind of manifestation. The listing online was only a picture of the front door, there was no other photos but we had a feeling it was the perfect place for us. We signed the lease that day… Who knows- maybe we wouldn’t have gotten the house if we hadn’t written the song.
How has living in Atlanta informed your sound? What’s the scene like there?
We wouldn’t have been able to play music if we didn’t have friends to lend gear to us when we were just starting out. We write a lot about our shared experiences in the city. Atlanta has changed so much since we all met and there’s a lot at stake here. We are really influenced by the Defend the Atlanta Forest movement and all the ways the city has come together to stop cop city. The underground scene here is extremely prolific and we are really inspired by the community and art being created under the increasing state repression and police violence.
The “bender” video is incredibly creative and funny. How did you come up with the idea, and can we expect more videos of the same uncanny caliber?
Our friend Rebecca came up with the concept, which was informed by our life at our house (and the bed) the past couple of years. It was so fun working with all of our friends on this project and want to experiment with other kinds of storytelling through video
You all live together and make music together. What’s the chore rotation?
Pomi is the artisanal chef. Mj is the handyman. Mari is the interior designer/ collector. We are lucky to have struck a really good flow and balance with living together let alone also being in a band together. We all really value home life and communal living and having the home as a medium to look out for each other has been really generative for our practice as musicians and our friendships with each other <3
When’s the next bender?
The next bender is when we start touring. These songs were created in such a bubble for us, performing them is inevitably going to transform our relationships to them and we are excited to explore them in that way with you all!