Killy Kilford is a British painter, author, and activist. As a sound-color synesthete, Kilford sees colors when he hears music, and spent eight years painting music live on stage during the performances of musicians and performers like Robert Plant, Buena Vista Social Club, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Iggy Pop, and more.
After moving to New York City in 2013, he started painting large canvases of street signs that included happy phrases to express his own feelings for New York. The paintings inspired the production of “Happy Street Signs™,” which he installed 200 of in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn, and his latest installation is currently on display at Soho Grand Hotel.
Kilford is currently creating his next series of “Happy Street Sign™” paintings and various mixed media art works from his studio in TriBeCa.
What would the title of your autobiography be?
“Honk Less Love More”
What’s your favorite travel destination?
Antigua. My girlfriend (Alex Davis of Cobra Society) and I rent a house there on the edge of a secluded bay. There’s no people, just great sunrises.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon in NYC?
Walk around the city with no plans.
If you could choose one person to show you “their New York City,” who would it be?
Madonna, because she rocks.
What or who has inspired you recently?
My muse and girlfriend, Alex. She’s the reason I moved to New York and has since inspired what I consider to be my most important paintings to date.
What are your favorite NYC restaurants?
Ogawa for sushi, Los Americanos for lunch, Red Cat for steak, and Dell’anima on Eighth Avenue in the West Village. Their lamb is spectacular.
What’s your go-to spot in NYC for drinks?
What are some of your favorite NYC brunch spots, and what do you order when you go?
The Smith for chocolate doughnut holes.
Where do you get your art fix in NYC, and do you have a favorite artist?
I recently visited one of my favorite artist’s studios, Chuck Close. Chuck’s use of color and wise words are a great source inspiration for me.
What are some of your under the radar must-do recommendations for NYC visitors?
A “Museum Hack” at the Met – Google it.
What are some of your favorite NYC stores?
Da Vinci Art Materials on 23rd – it’s like a toy store for me – and I love Other Criteria, Damien Hirst’s new store in Soho.
What music are you listening to these days, and who are some of your favorite musicians?
I’m binge listening to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and The xx at the moment. Also, Oasis will always rule for me.
What album or song would you consider your personal soundtrack to NYC?
“Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
When you think of NYC, are there any particular emotions or memories that immediately come to mind?
Love, happiness, and honks.