INTERVIEW // kai on her new EP "like water"
So what kind of rhythm were you writing this new EP like water?
I mean the oldest song on the new EP, I wrote back in 2017 when I moved to LA and the newest song, I wrote probably I think in 2019. So it was a span of two years, a lot of life lived and a lot of growth happens. So it's a collection of songs that felt like they fit in this world that I called, like water.
What significance does water have in your life?
It's very layered from me. But on the nose, over the last couple of years I've definitely been learning a lot about myself and healing, a lot of healing. I'm really big into astrology and it's been an incredible tool for me, it can be very healing when you start learning about yourself. One of the main elements that make up my chart is water. I'm a Pisces and I have a lot of water in me. So this body of work also sonically just sounded like water.
Yeah in literature, water is definitely known to represent healing and fluidity. Did the writing process feel like a reflection of that time period?
Definitely. I feel like every song I write has that intention. it's mainly for me to heal some sort of, part of me that I feel uncomfortable with. For example, A Little Too Much, that was like a crazy healing song for me. That's kind of the way I felt my whole life. It's also about owning that divine, feminine energy that I really rejected for a long time.
How did you come to find it?
A lot of teachers and healers in my life. Right when I moved to LA, I felt like I was encountering a lot of teachers and magical women who have just helped me along that journey of understanding what that even looks like and feels like. Honoring that.
Photo by Franc Fernandez
Was moving to LA a turning point for you?
I was traveling to LA a bunch for years to write. I would come here for a couple of weeks and then fly back to Toronto. And I came out here in 2017 in February for the Grammys because Never Be Like You was nominated. It was a very different trip from any of the other trips I had taken. I started changing. I remembered this feeling was so strong that I couldn’t go back home. I have to stay here. If I go back, I will forever be stagnant.
What did you find in Los Angeles that you didn't find in Toronto?
I mean, a lot of it had to do with just leaving the comfort of my family and the nest.
Who I used to be and who I thought was. I was really like creating my own identity away from all of that. LA is just a magical place. I feel the energy and frequency here is really special and I really aligned with it, at least at this point in my life.
Totally, you have to experience new things to learn about your full potential.
We take a lot from our families. When I moved to LA, I started really realizing a lot of me was not even me, It was my mom and my dad.
Totally, sometimes you have to wipe the slate clean and start over to see things clear.. How is this project different from your past work?
It's just mine. In the past I’ve done a lot of features and I wrote the songs for people but in terms of choosing the Sonics and all of that, I didn't really have much say. With this project, it's me and the collaborators, Isaac Valley producing it. It's just authentically me on a level that people haven't heard.
Do you write your music alone or with others?
I write it completely alone in my home.
Is that the most comforting place for you to do so?
Yeah that's how I started when I started writing songs, I bought my first guitar and I was just writing in my bedroom.
I was introduced to co-writing for the first time. I was being sent on all of these trips, all over the world and it was like speed dating, meeting new people every day, trying to write a song in the studio with strangers. I'm an introverted person. I'm a highly sensitive person to people's energies. I felt like I had to assimilate at that time and I'm really happy I did because I learned a lot from those years of these speed dating co-writing sessions, but I kinda lost my joy and love for making music.
When you work with others, you're kind of creating a persona that's matching the other person. Not giving up part of yourself, but lending yourself to someone else's ideas.
There's a lot of energies and everyone wants to be a part of the idea. When it comes to my writing process, I believe we're all channels. When we create, were connecting to a higher energy. I have to be in that quiet space where I'm just completely listening what I receive in here.
I found it really hard to tap into that space and ground myself in those environments. I deal with social anxiety and so in meeting new people, my head was super loud. I just was not able to give what I know I could give in that environment. So I had to really exercise boundaries at a certain point and say no to things. Reclaim my creative process. Now I just like, love making music again. And I love writing songs and I have my process and I know it really well now.
What's something like you do to prepare yourself, Do you carve out time to write or is it a spontaneous process?
If I feel like I have written in a long time and I start feeling anxious about it. I will set aside time and play around. What I found with that is if I write from a place of fear or expectation of like, I need to write something good, nothing ever good comes from that space.
I just found the best stuff for me has come when I've been listening to artists that inspire me, it starts to motivate me. I feel this tap on my shoulder to just open up,
Is it more of a difficult process to try to find the production that fits into a song that's already been written on paper?
Sometimes it gets challenging. With Eyes specifically, it was the first time I met a collaborator that it felt like he could read my mind. We have such similar tastes and our favorite artists growing up are pretty much identical. So it's pretty effortless with us.
What were some of those artists that you bonded over?
We're both obsessed with Timbaland and Pharrell, Neptunes, Kanye, We love that pond
What's your favorite song on the project?
I would say my favorite song is A Little Too Much because it was the hardest, most vulnerable song for me to write. It was uncomfortable for me to write.
Why was it so uncomfortable for you?
I'm not the best with being vulnerable, my music is where I feel the most comfortable being vulnerable. A Little Too Much was like the first time I felt like I was really opening up, uh, a space in my woundedness to and sharing with people than I have before.
A little too vulnerable.
A little too vulnerable (laughs). Yeah that how I felt.
Listen to the EP here.
KAI TO PERFORM SPECIAL LIVE STREAM PERFORMANCE
VIA MOMENT HOUSE
NOVEMBER 18 AT 5pm PT / 8pm ET
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