Text & Interview: Alec Coiro
Photo: Olimpia Dior
Collage: Brian Close
If you were in the crowd and saw Kiki DJing late one New York CIty night, it might never dawn on you that she has written two novels. If you were relaxing in your Tokyo living room, cracking open Kiki’s novel Parody of the World, it might never occur to you that right that very moment the author of the book you were reading was getting her Chi-So lunch deliveries ready. But if you know Kiki just a little bit—even just from reading our interview here—there is little that will surprise you when it comes to her versatility and the extent to which she approaches each aspect of her life journey through the world as an opportunity for creative expression.
For this interview, though, we focused on the Chi-so. Everything about Chi-so, from it’s flavor to its healthiness to it’s packaging is an improvement on everything I’d ever come to expect from lunch. When I brought my packed lunch to school as a lad, it would be a sandwich that was either drab with peanut butter or soggy with something else. It would bent from being jammed into a bag that got jammed into a backpack that got jammed into a locker. And it would be accompanied by some nasty apple. Chiso, on the other hand, comes in very special jar designed so that you can see the many tiers of beautiful colored treats that lie within (you can have them be all shades of yellow if you are in a sunshiny mood). The layered look is inspired by Japanese sushi, but Kiki designed the flavors to suit the intensity of New Yorker’’s tastes. And if all that wasn’t enough, the whole meal is all natural and all vegan.
Kiki told us all about her lunchtime masterworks. Read on and then head over to Dimes to try one for yourself!
Outside of Chi-So, you are (among other things) a writer and a DJ. What type of writing do you do and what sort of music do you DJ?
Well, I’m an “outsider” writer I think. I’ve been writing about music, art and subculture for industry outsiders 🙂 I have 2 novels ( “Parody Of The World”, and “7 Sisters Sensation” ) 1 art critic book (‘Post No Future’) by Kawade Shobo- Shinsha which is Japanese published, mostly they release novels. They created kind of a young novelist movement called J-BUNGAKU in 2000. They released many Japanese Avant-Garde Pop novels back in the day. I was accidentally a novelist in the J-BUNGAKU movement and I made 2 novels with them. I think my style is sort of Avant-Garde Pop? Definitely Experimental and Metafictional. Kathy Acker was my biggest hero when I was into making stories. Also I used to look for Cookie Mueller’s piece and Gary Indiana’s novels to translate into Japanese. I used to love crazy and hopeless stories, They were so lovely for me….But I won’t write a novel again though. I still writing about Art for Nylon Japan + Ecocolo.
I grew up in the dance music society in Tokyo since the 90’s. There were so many good DJ’s around me and I leaned music from them. They were party hard, always digging for music. Actually I started to DJ when I moved to New York in 2011. I just brought my favorite clothes and a lot of CDs to NYC. Because, that was a way I could explain myself without language (English!) I play mostly techno, rave, hardcore, acid, minimal, dub-step, grime, jungle and weird music.. I love beats.
How does someone with your background get into food?
I love cooking for my boyfriend and friends. Brian and me are living together. He’s always making music/animation anytime and I’m cooking mostly everyday for us. Music and food that makes us to be creative and having a fun time, also healthy living 🙂
How did you develop the Chi-So recipe?
Basic idea was Japanese pressed sushi as original layer food. I thought that would work with glass jar because might be looks beautiful food. I was into how I could make beautiful layers in a jar with more flavor.
I’m trying to make a strong flavor. Because, so many people loves Juice Press Volcano extreme style, New Yorker’s love intense flavors – that is my guess. lol and Yes, People loves Japanese food as well.
Is every Chi-So the same, or do you change it from week to week? How do you decide what changes to make?
I have 2 kind. I’m making called Classic Chiso for Dimes now. Another one called Yellow Chiso that made for The Casual Art Fair by Hester Street Fair last year. They asked me something arty food. I made all layers with a different yellowish color and flavor. That became Chiso’s New flavor after that 🙂 Key is Chiso has to look beautiful. I’m always looking for colorful veggies which can be made into a beautiful layer. No messy !
Chi-So is vegan. Are you a vegan? If so, how long have you been one and what inspired your veganism?
Yes, Chiso is vegan, I’m a vegetarian since 2005 🙂 🙂 Crazy news makes me think about eat …
Part of the fun of Chi-So is picking up your jar. Can you tell our readers how they can get their Chi-So and what they should expect when they arrive?
You can get at Dimes Deli (143 Division Street ) basically every weekday Monday – Friday around 10:30 arrive 🙂 i still open for a group order ( from 10 jars ). contact me http://chi-so-nyc.tumblr.com/