From "Cheap Headphones" to Over One-Thousand Streams: Introducing Kye

Adolescent heartbreak and a bittersweet sense of nostalgia seems to be the blueprint to many great and personal pieces of writing, as it is often rooted in our own personal reality. They are also the basis by which Kye is currently producing her own body of work.

For those of us who have met Kye, we are aware of her capabilities as a great performer, as she indeed performed on her high school cheerleading team for her high school career. The transition from such a demanding form of sport into songwriting, a demanding form of art, is one which Kye sees little correlation in, although in our talk there seems to be one common thread: passion for the craft.

Seeing songwriting and performing as parts of her overall artistry, Kye has been able to turn that aforementioned melancholy into beautiful lullabies. 

Shortly after the release of her debut single “U Only Love U,” I was able to have a chat (and by “chat” I mean everything done via Google Doc - because social distancing) with Kye regarding her process, her passions and an overlook into her artistry. Read more below and check out her song “U Only Love U” on Spotify and all streaming platforms.

Hi Kylie! As you and I both know, we met somewhere along the way in high school (Ramona High School - Riverside, CA). There, if I am recalling correctly, you were already a performer - performing for our high school cheerleading squad. We sort of lost contact afterwards, and next thing I know here you are writing and recording your own music. Can you tell us more about where your love for music came from as well if performing in something like cheer helped facilitate your entry into the world of recording and performing?

Miguel! I’m so honored to be doing this first of all thank you so much! and yes, the high school days in AP Lit!! I will cherish them forever. You have always been such a good friend to me even back in those days during class; we’d always be laughing. ☺ Well I’ve always loved music growing up. I spent a lot of time in different houses, different cities, even different states! I grew up in Colorado and made my way here to Riverside with my family in the middle of my 7th grade year with literally whatever we could fit into our car. We each had to pick basically our “essentials” and whatever we could fit into our four door car. Whatever we could fit were the only things we could take with us (there were 5 of us btw). I found a lot of comfort in music and lyrics during this time because it was hard. It was hard to leave my friends and the only family I’ve ever really had behind. I listened to artists like Paramore, A Day to Remember, All Time Low. Bands that helped me just get through these really difficult changes in my life. Coming here I suffered from some pretty harsh depression and mental health issues that only ever seemed to cease when I had headphones in. Music saved me in a way. It always reminded me that I’m not the only one feeling the way that I feel or going through whatever I was going through.  I was young back then so everything felt like the end of the world ☺ During high school, yes!! I did cheer and no one ever believes me! I joined cheerleading because it was something I had done all of my life and I loved to dance! It was always such a cathartic experience for me and a way to let out my emotions. As far as performing though, not too much of a correlation. If anything I was always so nervous to go out and perform in front of everyone! The one thing our school had though was passion. Passion and pride like I had never seen. I had some really supportive and dedicated friends that showed me the importance of just being passionate about what I loved and doing everything with my full capability. They showed me how to care when I didn’t want to care about anything at all and I will always remember that. 

Aside from “U Only Love U” I see that you also have a song on the “Better Days” record that was released last year. Both songs are very melancholy and beautifully written, giving off a similar vibe. Is it easier or harder for you to write for your own projects than it is for someone else’s or do you find both to be as equally demanding?

Well luckily I’ve been able to work with my amazing and talented friends that make the writing and recording process so comfortable. Better Days was my close friend Jo’s (Jive Taco) project and I was honored enough to even be asked to contribute! He sent me the song and asked me to write to it, which, as a singer/songwriter is so ideal. He allowed me to come in with my own lyrics and my own ideas. He even attempted to read through my journal of messy lyrics. I do find both just as equally demanding in terms of writing because in each instance I just want a good song that both myself and the producer can be proud of at the end of the day. Jo has always helped me push out of my comfort zone as an artist and even as a person. He’s an amazing musician so I was really lucky to get to be on his album. 

Touching up again on your ties to cheerleading, which is very heavy on the idea of “spotlight” as it requires an audience, do you currently find yourself itching to perform for audiences or are you more of a “behind-the-scenes” kind of person?

I’d love to perform one day! I love singing and playing the guitar so I hope performing is in my future. I do feel as if I’m a bit of both. Like I said before, even performing in high school.. I mean I did it all the time! For four years and even by my senior year, I’d still be a little nervous to go out and be in the spotlight. I know I’m more of a “behind the scenes” artist, but if I ever get the opportunity to perform.. I’d accept it in a heart beat. There’s something about live music that I admire. That communal experience in an audience is just unmatched. 

In “18 Hours” - the song off of “Better Days” - you describe longing as an emotional extreme: “I can never dip my toes / I just fall in deep / I surrender nicely to thoughts of you.” Here you seem to be headed headfirst into love, or the idea of love. If we fast forward to “U Only Love U” this relationship seems to have suffered, “So keep me in your dreams, that’s as close to you as I’ll ever be.” We seem to be following you on your journey into love, sadness, daydreams and heartbreak. How much of your writing is a reflection of you (as in autobiographical) and from which experiences, or emotions do you draw from?

I strive to make my music as honest as I possibly can. With “18 hours” I did feel a little more reserved, but with “U Only Love U'' I was as open as I’ve ever been. I wanted to be honest with my listeners. Even with my spoken word at the end of the song, it feels as if I’m speaking directly to a person and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to let listeners into my life and my world. I felt as vulnerable as I have ever been. All of my music is autobiographical. ``18 Hours” came out almost a year before, “U Only Love U” and the lyrics have only exemplified how I’ve grown and learned since then. I want to show every side of myself to my listeners and give them what so many artists have given me: comfort, honesty, and vulnerability. I draw directly from experiences when I write. I do a lot of daily journal entries so if I ever feel stuck on a song I can look back and channel the emotions I was feeling on any given day. In “U Only Love U'', I talk about LA and listening to certain bands and songs. Looking at lights on my ceiling. all of those were direct experiences for me that, at the time, meant so much and I wanted to channel those moments again. I’m really into sad music as everyone knows, so as negative as it sounds I try to always pull from my sad, empty, or disappointed emotions when I write. But that’s how I get the best lyrics! ☺ I’m an emotional person and I will never hide that


What made you decide to release “U Only Love U,” as your debut release? How is the song an accurate representation of you?

I wrote and recorded “U Only Love U'' with cheap apple headphones and my phone outside in my garage! It is such a raw and vulnerable part of myself that I have never really shared, but I knew I wanted to.  Even at the end of the song when it's just me talking I feel like I’m opening myself up to the world and it’s scary but I knew this is what I wanted to do. Music has always been so honest with me and that’s what I wanted to channel here. I have found so much closure and peace in writing that I knew I’d never get otherwise. This song is me. This song is how I feel. This song is what I’ve gone through and experienced. This is how I feel. This is something I’ve told myself over and over again. The idea of giving so much to someone that just loves themselves, it's hard but that’s me!! That’s what I do. This was my first attempt at writing and recording my own song and I hope it resonated with at least one person outside of myself. I took my song to a close friend, Angel (@soundbysol) and he helped me bring it to life. I am forever thankful for him and his talents. He always takes my visions and magnifies them by ten!

Speaking of “U Only Love U” - I saw that after only a few days you have had over 600 streams on Spotify. First, congratulations! Second, how does it feel having people listen to your song and adding it to their playlists?

It is…Insane. It has been so insane! I woke up yesterday to 450+ spotify listeners and over 600 streams!! Then today (Thursday) I have surpassed 850 listeners on Spotify and over one thousand streams. I was blown away. Seeing so many people listen to “U Only Love U” and adding it to their playlist I feel so grateful! I couldn’t even believe it. All I’ve ever wanted to do was write songs that people can relate to, so this means the absolute world to me. I love seeing people vibe and sing along -  it's indescribable. I had streams in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Honolulu, Atlanta; even Canada and Japan in about 3 days. I can't even say how thankful I am. I’ve had some really great friends help me along the way and seriously without them none of this would be possible. I am forever grateful.

I did mention the concept of autobiography - a writer’s own personal account of their life, as told by them. Now, excuse the weird question, but how similar or different are Kylie Coats and Kye? What would one reveal that the other would keep a secret or is there no distinction?

I love this question, I’ve never even thought about that!! Kylie and Kye are the same but different. Kylie is going to be emotional while Kye is going to do something about it. Does that make sense? I want to use my music to say and express things that I feel like I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. Kye is letting out everything Kylie has been holding in for so long. 

The circle of singers and songwriters that you are currently working with, if I am correct, are almost all from the Inland Empire and you are all friends. How do you manage your personal relationship with the professional when it comes to writing and recording?

With “U Only Love U”, I wrote and recorded a demo to that song in my garage like I said and my friend Angel (soundbysol) helped me bring it to life. I met Angel in college about five years ago and we went from seeing each other almost every day to seeing each other about every few months but we always make it work. Every time I see him it feels like no time has passed since the last time! Working with such a close friend has felt so easy and laid back. I feel like I can be 100% myself with him and share ideas or thoughts no matter how personal. Angel has always been so open and understanding to all of my nonsense feelings or lyrics so I am so thankful to have met him. 

“18 Hours”, my song with Jo (Jive Taco), came so naturally I feel like. I’ve been friends with Jo for almost eight years now so it’s always incredibly easy to come to him as either an artist or as a friend. He always gives me such good feedback on whatever I’m working on and we can talk chords for hours or just hangout/go out and not think about music at all. Having someone in my life that knows me so well on so many different levels is really comforting. Starting off as friends makes the professional process that much easier.

When it comes to writing, as an art form and not just as the monotonous school load, I lack experience. However, in my time as an english major I have caught on that our creative writing majors - the storytellers and poets, etc. - have a strenuous writing method where they will write, edit, then maybe take the work to someone for revision, edit it again, maybe perform live for feedback, do another round of edits, get the work published, then hit the drawing board again. My question to you is concerning the method for writing song lyrics. Do you find yourself able to write quickly or does it take a while? Also, is it more of an individual thing where only one person can write a whole song or is there a great deal of collaboration? 

It all depends! Sometimes the lyrics come right away and sometimes I’m at a complete mental block. There are times when I can be like: okay I want the song to sound like this, I want it to be about this, I want that sound here, I need these lyrics here etc. But other times I walk into a recording process with absolutely nothing! Collaboration is my savior when I’m stuck. I don’t think I’ll ever release a song on my own. Everything is collaboration!

Who are some of your favorite musicians currently making music and why?

As far as musical inspiration, I’ve been listening to a lot of Victor Internet, Pity Party (Girls Club), Dominic Fike, Dandelion Hands, Cults and Almondmilkhunni. These are kind of my “go-to” artists right now when I get ready to write or make a song. A lot of their music is simple but thought provoking. I really admire that and I try to learn from them. But my favorite artists that just get me through each day are The Story So Far, Turnover, Tigers Jaw, Citizen, Knocked Loose, Balance and Composure, Movements, Joyce Manor, and a lot of Ariana Grande…everything unlike my music hahahaha ☺ These are my favorite musicians; they just make me happy. 

What can we expect from you in the near future?

More music!!! More sad jams, more collabs, more everything. This is my year. 

Author: Miguel Vega

April 18, 2020