[Q&A] Mai Kino Connects with Her Spiritual Self in Debut ‘Dopamine’ EP

By Alissa Arunarsirakul // August 12, 2020

Mai Kino has always been one to connect with her spiritual self, and it’s about time she enlightens us with her touching discography. With dreamy production and Kino’s utterly stunning vocals, Dopamine is the mesmerizing debut EP brought to us from the gods. Without further ado, we invite you to do some much-needed self-exploration with Kino’s lovely offering: Dopamine.

On Dopamine, Mai Kino explained,

“‘Dopamine’ is about complicated internal states and wanting to escape them. ‘Like an angel you take me so warm and so serene’ can mean death, a drug, or a lover, but it also speaks of spiritual transcendence.” 

To celebrate the release of her new music, we recently chatted with Mai Kino about Libson’s best venues, synesthesia, and of course, Dopamine.

HH: Ever since you were a child, you’ve wanted to perform in Lisbon’s most notable venues. Now that you’ve been exposed to more of the world’s hot spots, what have you added to your list? 

MK: I’ve been very lucky to have played two of my favorite festivals in the last couple years, Primavera Sounds and Nos Alive. Some of the best shows I’ve ever watched were at Glastonbury; there’s this intense electricity in the air so I’d love to perform there sometime… and tour the whole world one day.

HH: How does it feel to finally have your debut EP out in the world?!

MK: It feels great to have so many people connecting to my music, the reception has been amazing so far..  I’m working on new material already and can’t wait to put out more music and visuals soon.

HH: Can you describe your creative process for Dopamine?

MK: I have synesthesia which means I experience music visually, so I often translate color, texture, and movement into soundscapes and words.
Also my subconscious mind plays a big part in my creative process, in the sense that my work is often informed by things I see and feel in dreams or melodies that come to me in my sleep, alongside snapshots of my real life of course

HH: Obviously, “Swim” is one of our favorites off the EP. Do any of these songs resonate with you more than the others? 

MK: They’re all very close to me in different ways. “Talk” is one of my favorite songs to play live and the process of writing it was really special – the melody came to me in the middle of the night as I was falling asleep, and we used that 3 a.m. phone recorded piano sample on the final track. 
The words on the title track Dopamine are some of the most meaningful I’ve ever written… “Lungs” has reincarnated a couple times and I love the bass and beat we came up with in the end, I can’t wait to perform it live… and “Swim” was mostly home produced in this really immersive state which I feel makes it even more intimate and unique.

HH: You’ve shared that the EP is all about wanting to escape complicated internal states. What’s something that brings you back to your happy place?

MK: Being creative, dancing, moving… going for long walks late at night.

HH: If you could turn back time and write any hit song, which would it be? 

MK: “Glory Box” by Portishead or “Hell Is Around the Corner” by Tricky – it’s all about that incredible Isaac Hayes bass sample….
“Nothing Compares 2 U” – the Sinead O’Connor version is one of the best heartbreak songs ever made.

HH: What are your three hidden hits?

MK: “Asher Wolfe” – Shygirl 
“TNT” –  Nayana IZ
“Under” – Nui Blanc

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