Every aspiring artist is out there to do one thing: share their art with the world. This is certainly true for pop singer-songwriter KayBe who just premiered her new song “Too Close” this past week with an accompanying music video! “Too Close” and her forthcoming album Lovesongs is the brainchild of KayBe who wrote and produced her entire album. One listen to her latest single will make you pause, maybe think of a former relationship, or maybe you’ll randomly tear up like we did! We sat down to chat with the talented gal herself to chat about her upbringing, her battle with the whooping cough, and the future of her new music!
The Young Folks: For our readers just hearing about you, please tell us a bit about yourself and one random fact about you!
KayBe: Thank you so much for the interview and listening to my new single! I’m KayBe. I’ve been in LA for 4 full years. Moved here from Nashville and grew up in St. Louis. I love being in the sun, doing puzzles and I love working out equally as much as I love eating pizza and mango sorbet! I’m the oldest of 8 (3 brothers and 4 sisters). I love when people tell me jokes (and I’m the best audience, because I ALWAYS laugh). A random fact: I can do 10 pull-ups by myself. I’m pretty proud.
The Young Folks: You grew up in a household that was very surrounded by music. How or when did you come up with the decision that this was the career you’d be putting all your attention towards? What was your first step to reach this goal?
KayBe: Everyone in my family is super musical, we could probably start our own band. However, since I am the oldest, I was the first person who really paved the musical path. Although, my mom liked to sing and taught music for religious education for a few years. I just knew I loved to sing. I would sing everywhere and spend hours in front of my mirror pretending I was in a music video singing to Britney Spears or my mom’s Disco Classics. I didn’t even know I was ‘good’ or even think I wanted to be until my mom and dad and everyone else started asking me to sing. They would set me up on the fireplace and record me singing whatever song was my favorite at the time. I just joined every choir and music group I could because it was fun! I was part of the St. Louis Children’s Symphony Choir at a young age and sang on Sunday mornings as a cantor in my church.
The Young Folks: I read about your scary moment with having the Whooping Cough! What were the thoughts running through your mind going through that? How did you continue remain so positive despite the unfortunate circumstances?
KayBe: The whooping cough was AWFUL, but I really didn’t realize how horrible it was until I had to start working through the aftermath (for years) and the effects the cough had on my vocal cords. At first, I was super excited to get to stay home from school for a whole week – mandated by the State – but I didn’t realize that a few weeks of coughing so horribly would destroy my voice the way it did. I don’t think my voice was ever able to fully recover. I continued to put strain on my chords throughout high school as a cheerleader and choir. I didn’t give it the time to heal that it really deserved. I was so excited and involved about my activities that I didn’t realize how poorly it could affect me down the road.
I remember going through high school and then college being super frustrated with myself and seriously wondering “What’s wrong with me!? I know I can sing these notes. I know I can get higher than this and sing stronger,” but the sound didn’t match with what I was once able to do. I used to be able to sing almost all the way up the piano and I couldn’t do that for years. So I had to relearn how to sing with my a new voice and adapt and it was hard mentally especially since I knew what I was once capable of.
The Young Folks: In 2015, you released a self-written EP and two years later, here you are with your brand new album! What have you learned in this gap of two years from your previous EP to your upcoming new music?
KayBe: My 2015 EP Wax. was awesome. It was my first real release! I worked with an amazing producer, Dane Diamond, whom I loved and gravitated towards because of his raw percussiveness (and we still work together). I also got to work in a gorgeous studio with phenomenal musicians. It was fun to collaborate with other artists and make music. I learned a lot about constructive criticism […] you reach levels you didn’t know you could because you have other people pushing you to do better than you thought you could! Wax. is what I like to describe as Bubblegum pop. Listen and you’ll know what I mean.
In the last two years, I have learned more than all of my years combined and many things I had been taught had finally come to fruition. My songwriting has reached an entirely new level and through improving my avenues as a songwriter, I simultaneously taught myself to produce. Not to mention, my voice has improved tremendously over the past couple years from the whooping cough. And most importantly, I lived so much life and had so many experiences I hadn’t had before Wax. so taking all that into account I have so many new things that I brought to the table for my upcoming album. I literally sit in my room and write ALL DAY to churn out song after song after song. People kept asking me when I was going to release new things and I’m thinking, “Well, I need to get with a producer and make it happen.” I showed my songs to some producers and they said, “These songs are done.” And I was like, “Did I just produce and album?” I went back and finessed a lot, but I’m pretty proud to say that I wrote, sang and produced ALL 14 songs!
The Young Folks: How do you think your music has evolved over the years as an artist?
KayBe: I think I’ve matured a lot. As a girl and as a singer. Vocally, lyrically. These songs I would say are a bit more eclectic. Still just as percussive, but ethereal and super vocally heavy. All the songs are piano driven because that’s where they all started. But they’re still just as sassy, innocent and vulnerable as before. But with time comes improvement and new innovation, so I can’t wait for everyone to hear.
The Young Folks: How would you describe your music to a first time listener of your music? With your new album, what do you hope the listener will take away after listening to it?
KayBe: First time listeners, my music is definitely a conundrum pairing unlike adjectives together. I’ve got a pretty clear voice singing over some raw beats. I’ve been told I have a purely, sultry voice being compared to singers like Stevie Nicks and then Jewel and then Rihanna. How do all those artists fit in the same sentence? My style is fresh, encapsulating rhythm and blues, a touch of 80s pop and clever lyrics. Listen to every word, I’m proud of them. I started writing music to fill in the gaps of what I was missing. I was feeling a certain way and there wasn’t a song to match, so I wrote it. We’re all beings living on this earth and art is all about experiencing. Literally basking in experiencing our experiences so music is one way to glorify that and really soak that feeling in. I hope that’s what people can take from my music. It’s all honest. If I’ve felt them so has someone else.
The Young Folks: How long did this new album take you? What has been the best thing going through the process of creating a whole new album? What was the hardest part?
KayBe: Some of these songs I have written a couple years ago and some more recently, but all of them I wrote in Los Angeles over the last 4 years. I’m a perfectionist to a fault and it’s taken me WAY too long to complete this album. But, because I’m the only one working on it, no one tells me to stop and move on. I keep going back to correct or improve things. It takes me hours to write a song. Then I go back and reproduce it. Then I record the vocals and the backing vocals. It’s like writing a new song. Then I’m communicating back and forth with my engineer on the mix and the process just doesn’t end.
The hardest part is moving on and labeling a track finished. I’m definitely proud of my final tracks, but I’m an artist and I’m creative and I’m always like “Wait… What if I tried this!?” The best part? Every time I finish something. It’s like “Cool! I can’t believe I just did that, not sure if I’ll be able to top that.” Then I take that as a challenge and I do it again.
The Young Folks: Your newest single “Too Close” is so beautiful. What inspired you to write this and choose this as your somewhat introduction back into the music industry?
KayBe: Thank you! Actually this was probably one of the most recent songs written on the album in 2016. I was definitely going through a transition period. As you can maybe tell from my past releases and as you will be able to tell from my recent album, I’m pretty head-over-heels obsessive about my crushes. So I was super into this guy and that ended. As I was exploring the possibility of moving on, I felt so guilty. This song justified everything I was feeling. I had invested so many hours into loving this guy (basically through my hours of songwriting) and the idea that I should think about moving on seemed so wrong. And there’s definitely truth in all the lyrics and that’s exactly how I felt. No metaphors or hidden meanings.
I chose this to kick off my 2018 releases because I wanted to share my raw vocals especially after the great recovery and because it was true to how I’d been playing my live shows. I also want to give a shoutout to Brendan Nagle and Drew Ganyer who directed and shot the gorgeous music video!
The Young Folks: As an artist, what do you hope to accomplish the most in your career?
KayBe: I love everything about being an artist. Singing, writing, playing, creating, whatever. And I love being independent because I can do that however I want! However, this year I do want to explore more of the publishing side. Of course I’m releasing my material my way (my recordings, vocals and production) but I want to explore more of getting my songs heard through any other avenues whether that’s through music syncing, selling my song to another artist, being published on a commercial, TV show, etc. I don’t want to limit my possibilities because I feel like that’s selfish of me. God gave me a gift and I wouldn’t want to inhibit that in any way. If someone else wants to sing my song because it spoke to them, good. I’m doing my job and living my purpose and that should be shared.