Evanston native Kweku Collins precedes Pitchfork performance with new single


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Collins performing at Lollapalooza in 2017. Playing Pitchfork this July is a “trip,” the artist said.

Rachel Kupfer, Reporter

For producer and artist Kweku Collins, Pitchfork Music Festival is, and has been, his big thing.

“That was the festival I went to in high school and, after I graduated, that’s my hangout when it comes summertime,” the 21-year-old said. “That’s the one I rush to get tickets for. Like, ‘Pitchfork tickets are on sale? Bet, we lit. Let’s go.’”

Now, this July, Collins, an Evanston Township High School alumnus, gets to experience the weekend from the stage instead of the crowd. Not to mention it will be his second summer in a row performing for friends and family at home, after playing Lollapalooza in 2017.

The two festivals bookend a busy year for Collins – one that included headline shows across the country and in Europe, a tour with Dillo Day alum and Chicago-based band Whitney, and a Bonobos commercial.

Most recently, on July 6, Collins released his new single “Sisko and Kasidy” with rapper and friend Ajani Jones through their label, Closed Sessions. It’s the first single for his new project, which will follow albums “Grey” (2017) and “Nat Love” (2016).

“Sisko and Kasidy” is about summertime relationships and the possibilities they may hold for the future, Jones said. There’s also an undertone of consent, Collins said, because it’s one of the keys to having a successful relationship in the first place.

The name comes from a couple in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” — a favorite of Collins’ growing up — to reflect the love story and the “spacey” vibes of the track, he added.

“I would call this song nostalgic, in a way. Nostalgic and breathtaking,” Jones, who Collins called the “glue” of the track, said. “It’s all about being timeless.”

The song is some of his best production work, Collins said, due in part to the traveling and performing of the past year. He said it created an opportunity to observe a crowd’s emotional and physical reactions to his “art” – information he could use to improve.

Cooper Fox, Collins’ photographer and occasional tour manager, toured with Collins this past year and said he saw this growth firsthand.

“We’ve built a little group we can bounce ideas off of,” Fox said. “We’ve gotten a lot closer. I’ve seen him grow as an artist, and he’s seen me take on more responsibilities as well.

A lot of the changes were not only artistic, but personal, Collins said. He added that most of it comes with being 21 because a lot of growing up and maturing happens then in general.

He also said he is more aware of his place and role in the world, and of the people around him. Collins stressed being “not a box kinda dude” and enjoying the huge spectrum of art that music falls into.

“Sisko and Kasidy,” reflects those changes, he added, and the lyrics provide insight into his views – his outlook, feelings, self-education and world education.

Since the track’s release, Collins said he feels even more motivated to keep moving forward. The future holds “a whole lotta new,” including a music video for “Sisko and Kasidy,” a tour in the fall, and the upcoming project in general.

“It’s like, ‘Yes, and?’ It’s very improv,” Collins said. “‘New’ means an energy that you feel, that’s inside of you. And it makes me antsy, anxious, happy, sad and nervous. It sits in my legs, like I’m a runner and I’m waiting for the gun to go off. But I’m the one that’s supposed to pull the trigger on the gun, so what am I waiting for?”

Before any of that, it’s time for Collins to once again perform at home. Chicago’s proximity to Evanston provided him with influence, motivation and acceptance, so Collins said playing Pitchfork is a chance for him to thank the city.

After Lollapalooza last year, he is both nervous and excited to again be in front of familiar faces. All crowds have a profound effect on him, he said, but there’s just something different about playing something like Pitchfork.

“It was crazy just to be like, “I’m here, and you’re there. But, like, you have my phone number,’” Collins said of Lollapalooza. “To have your friends there supporting you, and to love you like that, that’s some real strong, strong feeling.”

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Twitter: @rachkupfer