FASHION STORY "PLAY DEAD" is now available!
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Kiesza Exclusive Interview / Fashion Story "KIESZA" is now available!
Check inside for the Full Page Editorial
You have probably already heard and danced to “Hideaway,” the smash hit by Canadian singer and instrumentalist Kiesza. The energetic, young artist has also collaborated with Skrillex and Diplo for their dance record “Take Ü There,” but what may be less known to her fans is Kiesza’s beginnings as a ballet dancer, as well as her time spent in the Royal Canadian Navy. In this acrobatic fashion story, TWELV sat down with Kiesza to discuss her inspirations, quirky sense of style, and her latest single and music video, “Dearly Beloved.” Check out the exclusive interview and fashion story inside!
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You had an overnight success in February 2014 with your song “Hideaway,” followed by a collaboration with Jack Ü,“Take Ü There.” What kind of thoughts and feelings do you experience going through such an exhilarating time in your career?
Moments in this industry are little strikes of lightning, so I really try to soak them all up! Every song and every new collaboration comes with its own unique experience. I try not to compare anything. I had a lot of fun working with Jack Ü. It was amazing to have been able to be a part of launching their project and to perform with them on a bunch of occasions. They’re definitely the coolest guys in town! “Hideaway” exploded like a nuclear bomb, so it was hard to process everything as it was happening, but I was definitely having the time of my life!
I think a lot of your fans know your fascinating story of going from the Canadian Navy to writing songs for Rihanna to now making hit songs yourself. Do you sometimes think of what your life would be like if you had continued ballet, or stayed in the Navy Reserves?
I don’t think about it much. I knew very quickly that the Navy wasn’t suited for my “learn the rules and then break them” personality type, so I can’t imagine a universe in which I would have stayed in it. I enjoyed the bootcamp and training far more than the career itself. Ballet was definitely a passion that I dreamed of doing professionally for a time. It would have been a very different life, but I imagine it would’ve been a lot of fun!
Becoming a singer was your dream since you were a kid, right? What steered you in this direction so early on?
I actually don’t remember wanting to be a singer as a child, but I was obsessed with singing since about the age of two. I would sing so much that my brothers would complain to my mom to make me stop. I guess it was so much a part of my everyday life that I didn’t think of it as a career until I was a teenager. It was just something I loved to do. When I was 8, I wanted to be an eye surgeon, and between the ages of about 9 and 14, I wanted to be a ballerina. After that, I wanted to be the captain of a ship, but when I was17, I started to realize that I should consider taking a stab at music.
What are the biggest inspirations to your music?
That’s always such a hard question for me. I have so many influences that my mind always goes blank when I try to pinpoint a single source of inspiration. Definitely Michael Jackson and Prince played a big role in my desire to be a strong live performer. Some other strong musical influences are Queen, Cat Stevens, The Beatles, Elton John, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Dr Dre, Pink Floyd, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jeff Buckley, Etta James, Robin S, Damien Rice, Death Cab For Cutie, John Mayer, Alice Cooper, Oasis, The Doors, Jack Johnson, Sarah McLachlan, Bjork, David Foster, C&C Music Factory, Akon, Lauryn Hill… Honestly, the list really could just go on.
Is there an artist with whom you would really like to collaborate?
That’s another hard question! It’s often the most unexpected collaborations that surprise me as the best ones. Collaborating is all about creative chemistry, so I always try to keep an open mind about who I work with.
You trained in ballet, and you dance on stage and in a lot of your videos. Is there a strong connection between dance and your music?
Dance is extremely important. It’s another deep passion of mine. So, I decided that if I was going to be a musician, I would make music that I could dance to!
Back to your single “Hideaway,” did it take a long time to get the video right all the way through?
Actually, we got it on the second take which was surprising!
You’re featured on the song “Last Night in the City” from Duran Duran. The video was out a few months ago, can you tell us more about this collaboration ?
The story that I was told was that Simon was working out on a treadmill at his gym, and my music video came on the tv screen he was watching. He loved Hideaway and reached out to me to collaborate. I love Duran Duran, so I was thrilled and literally took my only day off from touring to take a train two hours to London. I recorded with the band, and it was really fun working with them! They are the coolest guys ever, really musical. I loved how much passion they all had. I try to jump out on stage with them whenever I’m in the same city!
Can you tell us a bit about how your collaboration with Fendi “Color Block” came about?
Fendi reached out to me in the very early stages of “Hideaway” launching. I’m really into fashion and I’m a fan of Karl Lagerfeld, so I was immediately excited about the collaboration!
You have a unique style– often wearing bold pieces and brightly colored lipstick. What is your relationship with fashion?
Fashion is just another way for me to express my creativity! It’s artistic canvas for me to explore and create. I love it because it’s so limitless!
Are there any fashion icons or designers that inspire you most?
I never really knew of any fashion designers growing up. High fashion was never in my budget. I would just scavenge through consignment stores and find things to alter. I might have seen something in a magazine that I knew I could never afford, and then try to find a way to make something similar on my own. Through my music career I have learned a lot more about fashion designers and the fashion industry, but to me, fashion is no different than a painting. I start with an idea in my head.
I know we had a really great time, but how much do you enjoy being in front of a camera or on a photoshoot set such as for this TWELV project?
I LOVE IT! I don’t know why I love it so much. Taking on new characters and having the ability to express different sides of my personality on camera is just plain fun. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Behind the scenes, I actually keep to myself a lot and spend a lot of time alone, but on camera, I become extroverted and bold.
You’ve just released a new song “Dearly Beloved” on January 6th. Do you want to tell us a little bit about this track?
This song was produced by Stuart Price, and on the day I wrote and recorded it, the father of a close friend of mine, who passed away recently, was present. It was really special to have him there. Even though its an upbeat and high-energy track, there’s a lot of deep meaning for me. I was given my friends white electric guitar when she passed away. She was a musician and went by the name “Alice and The Glass Lake.” The guitar was gifted to her by her boyfriend Adam Agati and she was supposed to play it live, but never had the chance. I vowed that I would play it in her honor. Adam is a mind-blowing guitar player and a friend. Despite being my friend, I still think he’s legit one my all-time favorite guitar players on this entire planet. He helped write the guitar parts on “Dearly Beloved,” and he taught me to play Alice’s guitar, which is why I played the white guitar in my music video.
Are there any exciting projects you have in the future that we should be on the lookout for?
Oh, yes. You don’t even know what’s coming!
INTERVIEWED BY LOUISE GUILLOT
EDITED BY HOLLIS DE LANEY
PHOTOGRAPHY: CHIAKI KATO
STYLING: HOLLIS DE LANEY
HAIR: BETH SHANEFELTER
MAKE UP: KENTO UTSUBO
FASHION EDITOR: YU WATANABE
STYLING ASSISTANT: MASAMI MURASAWA
PRODUCER: MAKIKO ASADA
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: HISSA IGARASHI
MODEL: KIESZA @CRUSH MUSIC
AGENT: SCOTT NAGELBERG
LOCATION: WEST STUDIO