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Sound Off: Kiiara


Oct 9, 2020

With over 1 billion streams and counting, Kiiara has captured the attention of millions worldwide. The multi-platinum pop-sensation continues to impress her dedicated fanbase and international listeners with new releases, including her debut album Lil kiwi which dropped today. With countless new tracks featuring a catchy chorus and undeniably relatable lyrics, the “I Still Do” singer is definitely an artist to keep on your radar going into the new year. 


Kiiara has been working diligently on her debut album for the past five years. By perfecting her craft at a steady pace, the general anticipation, and eagerness to hear a full-length project has grown both naturally and exponentially. Lil Kiiwi features collaborations with popular artists such as black bear and Felix Snow. It includes 13 tracks as well as her popular single “Numb” featuring DeathbyRomy and PVRIS. 


With over 4 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, it’s clear that this is only the beginning for Kiiara. Her attention to detail and passion for the music she creates continues to capture the attention of countless international music fans. In an exclusive interview with PopularTV, Kiiara opens up about her brand new album, visuals, and more.


1. Tell us about your new releases ”Never Let You” and “Numb”. 

“Never Let You” is about me going through the “I want to quit music” phase. For a couple of months, I was really questioning why I ever started making music. I was wondering what my life would have been like if I had never picked up a guitar and written “Gold.” It’s one of those the ‘grass is always greener’ moments.

“Numb” is about a couple of different scenarios that I fused together. The first one is that too many people have tried to control me over the years, and it began to take a toll on me. I was mentally exhausted and drained because it felt as though no matter how many times, I tried to explain myself, people just wouldn’t see it or listen. It’s as if they’d wait for me to be at my weakest and most vulnerable to swoop in and manipulate my opinion. It made me numb and left me with no confidence in myself nor my opinion. In other words, it was debilitating, and I felt like I was in a tunnel all alone. I shut down completely. The song “Numb” is also about how in some relationships it’s the other person who can end up controlling you without you even realizing it until you are literally on the ground crying in the corner of the room because no matter what you say or do they’re controlling every aspect of our emotions all the way down to the point where our brain feels numb. Even when you try to let go and move on it’s as if they can sense that and at that very moment, they decide to show up again and reel you back in and you begin tumbling further and further into this toxic “love” pattern. It’s one of the most toxic traits a partner can have. That’s what inspired the lyric: “You show up when I’m all alone when I’m stuck in this zone when I’m falling in faster than I breathe….”


2. Your debut album just released! Define it in three words?

reckless, emo, unpredictable


3. How long have you been working on this album? Did you have any challenges?

I have been working on this album for the past 5 years. The process wasn’t smooth. There were a lot of things happening in my personal life that really slowed down the album. I was dealing with loss and trying to grieve properly. It’s really f*cked up now that I look back. I was being asked to do interviews about a friend of mine who passed away before I even knew he had passed away. Imagine finding out like that. It crushed me. I felt like I was in a million shattered pieces. I cried every day for an entire year and even deleted my entire Instagram for a while. I was also dealing with severe anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, and self-medicating. I nearly overdosed a couple of times.


4. Tell us about the concept/creative process behind the “I Still Do” music video.

The concept/creative process behind the “I Still Do” music video was carefully put together by David Camerena and me as a way to bring people in and out of a specific chapter of my life. We wanted to create these flashback moments between present-day me and the ‘lil kiwi’ version of me which is who I was towards the beginning of my career. Earlier in my career, I was very closed off and said no to a lot of interview opportunities because I wasn’t ready. No other reason than the fact that I just wasn’t ready at alllll. I was overwhelmed and the amount of attention aimed at me, which pretty much happened overnight, made me insecure and unsure of myself. I just wanted to hide from the world and make music without being asked any questions. I wanted the music to speak for itself. How was I supposed to let the world get to know me if I didn’t even know myself? It didn’t feel right and integrity is very important to me. Early in my career, there were so many people telling me what to say, how to dress, how to wear my hair, how to act… with all that noise and outside input I did the complete opposite. They’d tell me one thing and I’d do the other. And that’s how ‘lil kiwi’ came to be. Pink hair and all LOL. I showed up one day to a music video fitting with pink hair and everyone was like…. “okay….we’ll go with it….” And from that point on I continued to act on a whim, was reckless, and not the most pleasant person. I’m not proud of that chapter of my life, but I wanted to share that era with my fans and really allow them to get to know me better.


5. You’ve accumulated over 1.4 billion streams worldwide. Looking back, did you imagine this success?

Not once did I ever imagine this success. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I worked with and traveled the world with Linkin Park. They’re actually real rock stars and are the kindest/most humble people I’ve ever met. I also never thought I’d ever have songs with Lil Wayne, Future, Steve Aoki, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, David Guetta, etc, etc… It’s wild to me. It really doesn’t feel real when I say it out loud. My friends have to remind me especially when I go through my “do I even know what I’m doing” phases.


6. Your song “Gold” is ICONIC and it’s broken more than a few records. How your life changed since its release?

After the release of “Gold,” my life changed overnight. I moved to LA. I signed to Atlantic Records. I signed a publishing deal. I started going on tour. I began traveling all over the world. My perspective changed in a very drastic way.


7. You’ve collaborated with incredible artists, such as David Guetta, Ty Dolla $ign, and Steve Aoki. Is there an artist that you have never worked with and would love to?

I would love to work with Taylor Swift. Her storytelling and the way she carries herself is so inspiring and motivating.


8. Who is/are your biggest inspirations in music?

My biggest inspirations in music are Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Eminem, and Linkin Park.


9. Tell us something most people don’t know about you!

Most people don’t know that I’m afraid to go outside. I have severe separation anxiety and don’t like going anywhere alone. If I’m not with someone, I have to be on the phone with someone.


10. What was the live performance you got most excited/nervous for?

The live performance I got most nervous about was the Echo Awards in Germany with Linkin Park. We performed “Heavy” on live television and I was sooooooo nervous I could barely move. I think I stood in place behind my mic stand for the entire performance. I wish I could go back in time and re-do that. I had little to no confidence back then and was very intimidated when there was no reason to be. I needed to believe in myself more. Looking back, I realize that I need to be easier on myself and not put so much pressure on myself.


11. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

The best piece of advice I have ever received was from Chester [Bennington]. As we were walking off the stage after performing on James Corden, I asked Chester when this would all get easier and he looked back and was like ‘when you quit giving a fuck… when you go out there without a care in the world and be like yeah this is me this is what I do and it’s awesome.’


12. How has living in and around where you have pushed you and your career/life? 

Living in LA for the past 5 years has allowed me to meet and work with numerous creatives, some of who I’ve been fans of since I was really young. If I wasn’t in LA, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to the studio with Mike Shinoda which then led to our collaboration on “Heavy.” I am so grateful for this adventure even though it may be really far from home. Home being Chicago.


13. Do you think quarantine influenced your creativity and career?

Quarantine definitely pushed me to learn how to record my own vocals. I really took having an engineer, in every studio session, for granted. Now I can confidently record my own vocals though, so there really is a bright side to every situation.


14. If you could give advice to someone that is starting the music career now, what would you say?

I would tell them to stay focused. Not to lose themself in the process. Make sure to surround yourself with genuine people who have your best interest in mind. Believe in yourself, stay grounded, and be skeptical. People have to earn your trust.


15. Tell us about your future plans and what you are planning to do it for the next couple of years!

Hopefully to be back on the road touring next year!!


Don’t forget to follow Kiiara all over social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) and go listen to Lil kiwi.