Whether onstage or on their frequently updated Instagram accounts, Kallula Harsynta Esterlita and Kimo Rizky have always gone for a fashionable, goth-lite aesthetic that matches the woozy electronic pop they make as Kimokal. But going heavy on black clothing can be a bit difficult when you’re based in Indonesia, one of the hottest climates on earth. Thankfully, the pair have lucked into a way to avoid getting overheated when they’re playing dance music festivals.
Kimokal on stage during Wake Up Call at W Bali
“We have this slow energy. Festivals already noticed at the beginning that our music, it’s more chill,” says Esterlita. “So they would be putting us on five to six at sunset. That’s always our showtime.”
In a few hours, Kimokal will play another gorgeous, nocturnal set at Wake Up Call at W Bali, but sitting in a lounge area overlooking the festival, the pair reflect on how playing live shows is why Kimokal went from a one-off to a real band. Harsynt Esterlita was in an alternative rock band, and was asked by Rizky to sing on a track he’d made. “It needed to be filled in with a voice, and I never believed I would do electronic music,” she says. “And in fact that it took him about two weeks to convince me to actually do it, and then I was like, ‘Okay, let’s hear the track.’”
That song, “Under Your Spell,” became an online hit thanks to Bandcamp and Soundcloud and Kimokal (a band name that comes from the pair’s names fused together) were asked to do some live shows. “We were like, ‘What should we play? Because we only have this one song,’” Harsynt Esterlita remembers, adding that they filled their set out with a cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.”
“Then in 2014, we decided to make the music video and then we decided to make a full album out of it,” Harsynt Esterlita says.
The pair is based in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, and they both visited Bali frequently while growing up. “This is like a second home to us,” she says. The music in their actual home, Rizky says, tends to be “dark dance music. So our song was really niche.”
Harsynt Esterlita agrees that they stick out a bit. “I can’t really describe my music to my mom,” she says. “It’s like, ‘Mom, can you listen to my music?’ and then she would go like, ‘What is this? I don’t understand.’”
But while they stood out amongst the EDM throb of their hometown, their debut album O won them fans all over. “And now suddenly, there’s a lot of bands doing this stuff here, this electronic chill pop” Rizky says. And then to their surprise, they were nominated for Anugerah Musik Indonesia, Indonesia’s biggest music awards. “And at that point, we were like, ‘Okay so it’s acceptable now.’”
The pair are hard at work on their second album, which Harsynta Esterlita says will be “more pop,” and they recently teased a bit of their new approach with the upbeat single “One,” a collaboration with the artist Neonomora. The new sound also sees them evolving their look a bit.
“I’m trying to change my brand,” Harsynta Esterlita says. “I won’t say ‘goth,’ I would say minimalistic,” is the look she is shooting for. But don’t worry, she’ll still stay nocturnal on the inside. “Still, black is my DNA.”