Portland musicians Amenta Abioto, Dan Talmadge and Akila Fields, Kileo means nothing but love.
"I'm just lucky to play with them," says Talmadge of his bandmates.
Each of Kileo's three members are established musicians in their own right. With Talmadge on synths, Fields on keys, and Abioto on vocals, Kileo's sound organically evolves with each performance. Kileo sounds like Abioto mixed her own vibey, low-key R&B with traces of Minden and Shy Girls, two of the groups claiming Talmadge and Fields as their own. Abioto's voice layers with twinkling keys, '80s synths and spacey FX, making Kileo sound like lounge music from the near future.
Talmadge met Abioto when she performed with his hip-hop-oriented project, Amani, in 2017. They kept in touch and, last year, started jamming together, along with Fields whenever he's available. Abioto, who had previously played only with musicians she met through Craigslist, was blown away by how different it felt playing with like-minded friends. "It feels really refreshing and positive to have a relationship to build the music off from," she says.
Kileo is Abioto's chance to focus solely on her vocals and frontwoman showmanship, while Talmadge and Fields craft music around her voice. Their local supergroup status might be the only thing they disagree on. Talmadge is reluctant to accept the title, while Abioto welcomes it. "I feel like we're all super-talented," she says. "It feels like we honor what we're doing, we've got a handle on our instruments, and you know I got the vocals on lock."
The trio have played a handful of Portland shows this summer, some with Fields and some without. Talmadge says the shows have each been different, bringing out new qualities for Kileo to experiment with during their rare rehearsals. "My confidence in her goes up every time," Talmadge says of Abioto.
Unlike some of their other projects, Kileo is more free-flowing, with no planned trajectory. It'll be a minute before the band releases any studio-quality recordings, but Talmadge is updating his recording equipment, so Kileo won't have to worry about costly production time interfering with their creative flow.
Kileo is indirectly named for a friend of Talmadge's, but the name is at least loosely related to jealousy. Despite the band's lighthearted, collaborative dynamic, Abioto says Kileo explores some darker human emotions with unblinking honesty. Rather than brood, though, Kileo's breezy sound, plus Abioto's relaxed stage presence, makes them a contender for sound of the summer.
"Addressing the shadows is important for all of humanity," says Abioto. "We all feel it, we all feel jealous moments, so it's just about transforming the energy. It's powerful, it's one of the gifts we have as human beings."