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Interview: 2020 Must-Know - Kiana Ledé

Interview: 2020 Must-Know - Kiana Ledé

Los Angeles-based artist Kiana Ledé recently shared her debut album, 'KIKI', an introduction to every side of herself to the world - from the empowering opener 'Cancelled' she wrote for her friend (the introduction samples TikTok user Jasmine Orlando and her speech which includes the lines, "Fuck men these days, fuck them all / They will hurt everyone's feelings and fuck them all"), to Ledé's all-time favourite song of hers, 'Attention', a piano-ballad in which she earnestly declares, "I'm tryna keep you around / Don't go walkin' out on me."

Originally from Arizona, Ledé grew up learning classical instruments, singing and performing in talent shows, and eventually covers turned into original music, with Ledé's unique voice shining through with her own words.

And her words have been connecting, with over four million monthly listeners connecting to her songs - which Ledé hopes will make people feel that they "can all be strong and vulnerable, bent but not broken, and able to move forward."

MUST-LISTEN: 'Attention', 'Cancelled', 'Mad At Me', 'Forfeit'.
YOU WILL LIKE, IF YOU LIKE: Jessie Reyez, Kehlani, Jorja Smith, Tinashe, Mahalia, Victoria Monét, Sabrina Claudio… and blocking his number because you are a single queen.

COUP DE MAIN: 'Cancelled' is such a powerful opening song to your debut album. Was it important for you to write a song for your friend which reminded her of her own beauty, and that she doesn't need someone in her life that is toxic?
KIANA LEDÉ: It was important to tell that story, not just for her, but for myself and for the listeners. Sometimes when you try to wake someone else up, you get a wake-up call yourself.

CDM: In 'Protection' you sing about sharing so much of yourself with another person - "You wanna help me, you know all about me / I know that you got me, I know that we solid." Do you think that being able to share the deepest parts of yourself with another person is the ultimate way to connect, and form a strong bond?
KIANA: If we can’t share our most vulnerable parts, then yeah, it's hard to connect. That doesn’t mean it's easy. I have a hard time with it. Maybe putting it into a song made it easier for me.

CDM: Is there a song on 'KIKI' that you were most excited about sharing with your fans?
KIANA: The thing about 'KIKI' is that the entire album is one experience. So, honestly, those songs are like my children, I don’t have any favourites really, they all serve and satisfy a different need or purpose.

CDM: How does your songwriting process work?
KIANA: I’m a stream of consciousness writer. I don’t like to sit and think too much because my thoughts will get in the way and lead me astray… oh that rhymed ;) …I start with melody, for sure, because that’s where I find the emotion inside of myself.

CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
KIANA: I have concepts and ideas that I jot down and carry with me, for sure, but I would say 90% of the time the music hits me and the melodies come out and from the melodies come the words.

CDM: In 'Crazy' you sing about slashing tires on someone's car, and ask, "How the fuck you get me to this point?" Why do you think that love can drive people to emotions like anger and frustration?
KIANA: Well, when you expose your inner self to someone and really show them who you are, emotionally, physically, or sexually, and then they take advantage of that trust or don’t honour your commitment or respect your vulnerability, then that creates these high, emotional-danger levels. The people we love hurt us the most. That’s just how it goes, and so the reaction to that hurt is going to be the MOST extreme.

CDM: In 'Skiterlude' you sing a lot about a guy acting a certain type of way. Do you think that people often 'act' as a form of personality, as opposed to showing who they really are?
KIANA: Oh I truly believe that people TAKE ON the front they’ve created for themselves. Breaking the habit of pretending to be something you aren’t takes a lot of time and courage and many people would just rather 'act' then 'be'... I work really hard on not 'acting'... I’m just me.

CDM: Lyrically, what's your favourite song that you’ve written?
KIANA: 'Attention' is my favourite song I’ve ever written.

CDM: 'Attention' is such a heartfelt and vulnerable feeling song. Did it feel cathartic to be able to express such raw emotions in the writing process of the album?
KIANA: Absolutely. Getting that song out of my head was important.

CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your debut album?
KIANA: That we can all be strong and vulnerable, bent but not broken, and able to move forward.

CDM: I saw you've been reading 'Untethered Soul' recently - have you read any other good books recently?
KIANA: Not any other books that made me feel the way this one does.

CDM: If K.I.A.N.A. L.E.D.É. were an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
KIANA: Kinky, Independent, Assertive, Natural, Always Late, Emotional, Deep, Energetic.

CDM: If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
KIANA: Something from Area 51 so that I could know for sure that aliens are real and then I could find a way to communicate to them and give them their shit back and then they would be so grateful that they would offer to help us clean up the earth.

CDM: What are your top five necessities for isolation/quarantine/lockdown?
KIANA: My PS4, puzzles, my piano, and a book.

CDM: You’re one of our 'must-know’ artist picks for 2020… who are yours?
KIANA: Serpentwithfeet, Sinéad Harnett, SHRETA.

Watch the 'Chocolate.' music video below...

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