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Interview: 2016 Must-Know - Kacy Hill

Interview: 2016 Must-Know - Kacy Hill

The release of Kacy Hill's debut EP, 'Bloo', marks an important moment in musical history. The three songs, and two remixes are intimate insights into the mind of Kacy - whose music explores ideas about relationships, balance, and more.

Signed to Kanye West's record label GOOD Music [alongside artists such as Big Sean, Pusha T, Mos Def, Q-Tip + many more], Kacy has toured with Kanye as part of the backup dance crew - a gig she got due to her work with American Apparel as a model.

2016 is likely to be a big year for Kacy - with a debut album on the cards, as well as debut shows to be played.

We spoke to Kacy about the 'Bloo' EP, her songwriting process, and what to expect from her debut album…

"...the only way you learn as a person is to be influenced by the things around you... you take what you want to be influenced by and what you don't."

COUP DE MAIN: I absolutely love your 'Bloo' EP. 'Arms Length' is my absolute favourite, especially the lyric: “I don't want half of your love." How important do you think it is that in relationships, there is a balance between two people?
KACY HILL: I think that's the entire point of being with someone, is that you both get something out of it. I think that's the only way you can be functional, whether it's a romantic relationship or a friendship, I think the entire world revolves around having an equal exchange in whatever it is - love, or power, all of it. It all applies to relationships, and it all goes back to that balance.

CDM: You also sing, "Your absence won't define me now." Do you think that there's a social norm which habitually defines women by their past relationships?
KACY: Absolutely. I think you become a bi-product of all of your past relationships, especially as women, and I think there's always been this social construct that you want to be-- you always want to be this pure person, or all of that. I think even emotionally, people want someone who doesn't have a lot of baggage, that's not weighed down by those things. I think that line was about growing out of that, and being your own person separate from your past experiences - and growing from them, as opposed to being defined by them or that becoming your whole existence. It's just, "Alright, that's just part of me, but I am more than that."

COUP DE MAIN: In 'Shades Of Blue', the colour blue is very prominent - and you've said that your upcoming album has more of an orange/red feel to it. What colour do you think represents where your music is at now?
KACY: I don't know. The colour thing wasn't really a conscious decision, it was just when I was writing the songs for that EP, I thought that they sounded very blue, or there were some greens in there too. And then some of the stuff that I was writing after that was orange or red, but I'm not a person with synaesthesia or something, I don't see colours. It was just kind of a feeling. And I feel now I'm less-- I don't get a colour feeling, I'm just focused on being really honest. For now, I don't feel colours. Not that it doesn't mean anything to me, but I just think it was just at that moment specifically I was feeling a very certain way.

CDM: How does your songwriting process work?
KACY: For me, I'll usually go in with a different producer and just sit down. I'll decide on chords and a bit of a song-structure, some sounds to go off of, and then I'm not very talkative in the studio. For the most part, I just sit back on my laptop and write lyrics and melody and stuff - depending on who I'm in with, I don't work with a ton of people, but depending on who I'm in with, we'll bounce off melodies with each other. I'm really precious with lyrics, so I don't really show them to anyone until I feel really confident in them. That's kind of my process.

CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
KACY: My phone is just full of notes and little words and phrases that inspire me. I'll take whatever, if I hear something that I really like - I'll write it down. I always have different ideas in my head for songs. When I write, I make two tables - the left side is all my ideas and stuff, and then on the right column, I write the actual lyrics. It's not a stream of consciousness, it's just if a song's been written when I go to the studio and am emotionally charged and have something to say - I just say it then.

CDM: You've said that 'Foreign Fields' is about finding people in your life that help you move forward in life. You sing, "Take me higher than you'll go." Do you think that that progress and moving forward in life is entirely self-enforced - or can it sometimes only happen through other people?
KACY: I think a lot of it is through yourself. But I think the only way you learn as a person is to be influenced by the things around you. It might sound like you're not a free person or you don't have your own free will, 'cuz you definitely do, you have choices - you take what you want to be influenced by and what you don't. Whether you see something you don't like and you're like, "That's what I don't wanna be,” but I think no matter what, you learn from what's around you. That's how humans evolve - even as kids. It's a healthy mix of both.

CDM: When can we expect to hear the Kacy Hill debut album?
KACY: I'm working on it right now - I'm actually in the studio finishing up one of the songs that will hopefully go on the album. We're just gonna roll stuff out next year - so probably late in the year, next year. I'm gonna work on it.

CDM: For the next few questions, just say the first thing that pops into your mind… If your album were a dog, what dog would it be?
KACY: Pug. But I don't think that's true, I think I just said that 'cuz I love pugs.

CDM: If your album were an emoji?
KACY: Probably the cat heart face - but I don't think that's true either, it's just the first one I thought of.

CDM: If your album were a food?
KACY: It would be ravioli with pesto.

CDM: You've said that, “Good pop music is something you can dance and cry to at the same time.” What do you think is the best pop song of all time?
KACY: My favourite pop song of all time I think is 'Call Your Girlfriend' by Robyn. It's always between 'Call Your Girlfriend' and 'Dancing On My Own' - I just think that those are probably my two favourite pop songs, and I realise they're both by Robyn, but I love them so much.

CDM: You've said that when you write music you imagine visuals going alongside it. How important do you think the relationship is between music and its visual accompaniment?
KACY: I think it's a huge part of writing music today - just because the way we consume music is so different from fifty years ago. Everything is basically at our fingertips with the Internet, YouTube, and all of it. So I think it's important to be multi-faceted, and have something other than really good music to rely on. I think that there's something to be said for offering some visual element to music, because it further conveys your intention in writing the song.

CDM: You're yet to play a Kacy Hill live show - when are you planning to play your debut live show?
KACY: I'm working on that now. But I think at the top of the year, we'll probably have a few little shows.

CDM: Obviously, you've got a background in dance. Do you think this is something that you'll incorporate into the live performance?
KACY: It's funny, 'cuz I'm not a dancer. I went on tour with Kanye as his background model thing, but that was through American Apparel, so I was one of the people that can't dance. I'm actually a very bad dancer - but I can move. I'm a functional dancer. So I can move, and I can do that. But I think my biggest focus is just making something visually cool, and making sure the music is really good, and that everything sounds amazing.

CDM: What's the best advice that Kanye West has ever given you?
KACY: It's less directly said to me, and more just he's not been very closely involved in everything in my career - and I think that that's been really helpful for me to figure out how to be my own artist, separate from someone else. I think that's kind of a struggle when you sign to someone - like Kanye, who obviously has a massive career - and has some really amazing artists on the roster as well, and it's like, "Okay, how do I set myself apart from those people? And how do I make myself just as interesting and just as enticing to listen to, and to look at?" I think a lot of it has just been giving me my creative freedom and my space.

CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your music?
KACY: I want people to feel inspired. I know that sounds really cheesy, but it's really true. I get so excited by listening to music that I love, it makes me wanna go in the studio and make something that's good. I think there's something really amazing being able to feel something from a song - sometimes you just wanna feel sad, or you wanna feel happy. I just want people to feel inspired.

CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
KACY: I think, feeling and intention. There's a lot of good songs that don't have a lot of emotion, or don't have a lot of honesty - I think the best songs are honest and raw and they're almost invasive for the songwriter. Where it's like not something that you would just talk about with someone. There's a level of openness and honesty.

CDM: What was the very first song you ever wrote, and what was it about?
KACY: Probably 'Pensive'. 'Experience' we put out last year was the second song, which is funny, but the first song was called 'Pensive'. It was about forgetting the way someone looks, after you haven't seen them in a long time, which sounds really weird - but it was about kind of being in love with someone, being infatuated with someone so much that at one point you can basically describe everything about them, and you know every part of them; their personality, their face, all of it. And then letting that time pass where you move on, the feeling of how weird it is. 

CDM: If K.A.C.Y. were an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
KACY: That's hard. The only K letter I can think of right now is kangaroo, but I'm not a kangaroo. Everything I can think of that starts with a K actually starts with a C. I'm gonna say Kangaroo. Always on time - not always on time; I'm not actually always on time. Clammy? I'm not clammy. I'm gonna say taCo with a capital C. And then Y stands for yams? I like yams. I'm really having a hard time finding these. Yams probably works.

CDM: When can we expect to see you in New Zealand to play a show?
KACY: Hopefully sometime - I've never been, and I would love to go. So I dunno, hopefully sometime next year. I'll give you a shout, certainly.

CDM: And what do you have left to achieve on your bucket-list?
KACY: Gosh, a lot of stuff. I would like to be taller. I feel like I wanna get really, really good at something, other than music - something really weird. I've never been a person who's an adrenaline junkie, so I don't feel like I could jump off bridges or out of airplanes. I don't think I have a bucket-list. I just wanna do really good music, and make really good music, and I'm not the type of person who's like, "I need to do this before I die." If I died tomorrow I'd be really happy - I mean I wouldn't be happy, but I would feel satisfied with my life up 'til this point.

CDM: Your bucket-list can be coming to visit us in New Zealand!
KACY: Yeah, absolutely.

KACY HILL's debut EP 'Bloo' is out now - click HERE to purchase it.

Watch the 'Foreign Fields' music video below…

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