Don't miss Kilissa when she returns to the Buffalo Indie Market tomorrow at 12PM.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: name, where you grew up and where you live today, and any interesting facts!
My name, Kilissa, is from an ancient Greek play. I grew up on the South Side of Chicago—Barack Obama voted at my old elementary school!! Now I live in Black Rock—the next "up and coming" neighbor of Buffalo (check it out!). My cat's name is Sarah. I named her after Sarah Vaughan, my favorite jazz singer.
What brought you to the art of music?
I always had a deep fascination for sound. I started early on piano but switched to flute in school. I also sang in the Chicago Children's Choir. I liked to create my own music when I was young, too. Singing and dancing!
What type of music do you play and who have influenced you?
I have classical training—and I was immersed in the New Music scene when I studied at SUNY Buffalo. But I am more drawn to jazz and rock & roll—and I also love African and Caribbean music. Rhythm really draws me in. My songwriting is influenced by the Beatles and Carole King, but I also like more out-there writers such as Kate Bush and Frank Zappa.
What are some of your favorite local shops and restaurants or cafes?
The Falafel Bar has great food. Betty's is great, too. I get all my gardening supplies at Urban Roots. The Comfort Zone Cafe on Elmwood is really nice. I play there, too.
What is your favorite Buffalo made product, food/merchandise?
Favorite Buffalo made product? Umm..Mentholatum...? But seriously, I think Buffalo makes a lot of great music!! Like Harold Arlen—who grew up on the East Side. He wrote the music for The Wizard of Oz. That's amazing. Aretha Franklin lived here when she was little girl. And of course—
Goo Goo Dolls
Gurf Morlix—and so many more talented musicians of all genres. Music could be a major export around here! I'd like to see more of us have success on that level.
What is your favorite thing to do that you can only do in Buffalo?
Drive to work in 10 minutes. I rarely get stuck in traffic. But otherwise, I think our parks are an amazing asset. I'm also psyched to see the waterfront renovation.
Are you signed on a label or would you like to be in the future?
I'm independent now, but I'd consider working with a label. It would be nice to have a team behind me. But, realistically, you end up having to do a lot of the music biz stuff yourself anyway. Musicians have to be kind of savvy and entrepreneurial. At the moment I make my living by teaching music because I have a young child. I used to tour and I really miss the traveling. Hopefully that will be in the cards again one day. The internet changes everything, anyway!
What do you like most about the Buffalo Indie Market and what it stands for?
I love the way Buffalo Indie Market supports local artists and gives them a place to do business. The collective model is the way to go—artists and musicians collaborating and helping each other out. As well, for people who appreciate hand-made, locally-made arts and crafts, it's a really pleasant shopping experience. It has a social buzz to it. It reminds me of the marketplaces of the olden days. And you can get something to eat while your there. I'm glad BIM includes live music, too. It's a nice way to bring my music to people who otherwise would not know that I exist!
What does Buffalo mean to you?
Buffalo is kind of my adopted home, so I appreciate that it has so much to offer while at the same time it's not overwhelming or too crowded. I have a lot of good friends here; many good times. I like to travel, but Buffalo is great to come home to.
Where can we find you playing next after the Buffalo Indie Market?
Comfort Zone Cafe, Friday, December 19th, 8-11 pm. 1002 Elmwood Ave at Potomac.
My website is: www.kilissa.com