For Kiiara, fame seemingly popped out of nowhere. The singer-songwriter was sleeping on a friend’s couch in Los Angeles, working on her music when, in the summer of 2015, Atlantic Records released her now hit single “Gold,” a crisp and sensual call out to an unfaithful lover. One year later, the song landed Kiiara her first spot in the Billboard top 100, solidifying the small town girl’s spot in music history.
Raised outside of Chicago in Wilmington, Illinois, Kiiara saw music as a way to simply do more in a town where, she admits, “there just wasn’t much going on.” She split her time between creating music and a disenchanting summer job at a local hardware store. It paid off, though. Shortly after nailing her spot on the charts with “Gold,” Kiiara released her debut EP, “Low Kii Savage,” a spaced-out collection of six songs rooted in R&B.
Since then, the now-23 year old continues to establish herself on the music scene, attracting the attention of major artists such as Linkin Park and Cheat Codes along the way. And she’s still cranking away at her own music, too.
Fresh off the release of her new single “Messy,” Kiiara stopped by the Aaptiv office to talk all things music industry, stress relief, and Tom Cruise. Read on for more and then head to the Aaptiv app and look out for a new class in the outdoor running category featuring Kiiara’s favorite workout hits.
Musically, you’ve been compared to the likes of Lorde and Jhene Aiko. In your own words, how would you describe your musical aesthetic, your sound?
“It’s vague. My sound gives off a lot of summer feels and it’s really minimal—but it constantly changes. I’m really fast, and I love moving onto the next thing. So I would just say it’s really unexpected and left field—a little bit of everything. Sometimes I’ll say stuff and it makes sense to me, but I think you can make sense of anything if just explain in the right way.”
You’ve worked with some successful and well-known artists. What is that experience like for you as a young artist?
“It’s mindblowing and also really hard to grasp. No matter how much or how well I do, I always wonder ‘how did that happen? Is this real life? Someone pinch me.’”
Has there been a moment for you in your career thus far that signaled to you that you’ve made it as an artist?
“I would say working with Linkin Park. They have been my favorite band since I was five years old. To meet them and work with them was amazing. They treat you like family, and it was such a real and genuine experience. Never in a million years did I think that would happen.”
The music industry is notoriously tough. What is it like, for you, being a young woman in that space right now?
“You just have to stay true your opinions and what you believe in. Stick to that and don’t have too many outside influences. A lot of it is just trusting yourself. It’s important to be confident in every decision—even if you mess up seven or eight times in a row.”
How do you relax and keep your health and fitness in check while you’re working?
“I’m a creature of habit, so I try to eat the same thing every day. It’s something I can control. I also run, which I really enjoy. Also, if I’m feeling stressed, I’ll watch any Tom Cruise movie. I don’t know why, but it lowers stress on every level for me. Maybe it’s his voice.”
So, what’s next for you?
“Next, I would say keep an eye out for songs dropping randomly. Other than that, I’ll just be recording and hopefully will be able to release an album soon.”