Artist of the Week: Hayley Kiyoko
At the end of 2016, singer/songwriter/actress/
1. You’re walking into a blind date with our readers – how do you introduce yourself?
I’m shyer than people might expect in intimate situations, so I’d probably start with – Hi, I’m Hayley.
2. For those who aren’t familiar with you, how would you describe your sound? What song should they listen to first?
I think of my ‘sound’ as ‘left of center pop.’ I would recommend listening to “Sleepover” first to hear my sensitive side, then “Pretty Girl” for my rhythmic side, and then finish off with “Gravel” to Tempo’ for my carefree, confident side.
3. You just wrapped your North American headlining tour – what was your process of bringing your songs to life on stage?
My live setup has gone through quite a few growth spurts over the years, and I am continuing to refine my sound and vision for my performances. Right now, I’ve got a full band and I play this electronic drum rig that we nicknamed ‘the tree’. It’s so much fun to be able to add instrumentals here or a couple bars there. I also like to incorporate a little hazy fog along with the lighting to really set the mood for each song, because every sound has its own color in my mind and I love for that to be represented by the lighting.
4. Your music videos are always extremely engaging and tell a story. When you’re writing a song, are you envisioning what a video may look like at all? Or do you keep the two creative processes separate?
It depends on the song. For example with “Gravel to Tempo”, I envisioned the music video while I was writing the song. I immediately pictured myself in a high school setting, dancing carefree in front of the popular girls, not worrying about what anyone thought of me. So it’s always fun to see how closely the final video lines up with my initial vision. Other times I am trying to reinvent what the song means to me. “One Bad Night” is a good example of that. Lyrically, the song comes off as a steamy story about a one night stand, but I didn’t want to do that for the video. Instead I was inspired by the literal interpretation of the title and thought it would be cool to see two people having their worst night ever. The video showcases the two characters overcoming what’s supposed to be a terrible situation by coming together in an unexpected friendship, when they could have let those bad circumstances take them down.
5. As a young, female, queer artist with a platform, do you feel a responsibility (to both your fans and yourself) to speak up about everything going on in the country right now? And how is the current political climate affecting your songwriting?
I think it’s our responsibility as a human race to stand up for one another and to protect each other from harm. There is so much conflict happening around the world that it can get overwhelming, but I do my best to focus on elevating my art to be a positive representation for my fans and for the youth in general. It is very easy to feel afraid and alone during this time, so on tour I try to use it as an opportunity to spread hope. To remind people that we are here for one another and that we believe in a better world.
6. What else is on your agenda for 2017?
Releasing my debut album and touring more.