According to Kacy Hill, music kind of just fell into her lap. While working as an American Apparel model, she stumbled into songwriting when a photographer on one of her shoots asked her to join him in the studio. Together they wrote and shot the video for "Experience," which caught the attention of Kanye West while she was working on his Yeezus tour as a background model. She returned home with a deal with G.O.O.D. Music, and today she released her debut EP Bloo, and you can cop it here.
With bright red hair, alien-like eyes, and an ever-present septum ring delicately anchoring her face, Kacy Hill is entrancing. Her videos evoke an eerie surrealism, while her dreamy yet strong falsetto sweeps across futuristic landscapes. Some of her songs are big and dramatic, with cinematic pounding drums, like something from Florence Welch. However, gospel piano chords and deadening, throbbing bass that recalls James Blake.
Get to know Kacy Hill, the enigmatic new art-pop singer who caught the attention of Kanye, below.
Was music a big part of your life growing up?
Kacy Hill: I've always really been into music. When I was younger, I would constantly be on MySpace looking at new bands. And I've always been into singing, I just never thought of it as an option.
You have a lot of creative pursuits, at what point did you decide music was the path you might want to take?
It was just by chance. There's a lot of people who know what they're going to do at a very young age, and I was never like that. I wanted to be a scientist, then I wanted to be a photographer, then I wanted to be an oboe player—I never quite knew. Then Stephen Garnett, the photographer who directed "Experience," said he wanted to do a music project and asked me if I wanted be a part of it. He introduced me to [Jaylien Wesley,] the producer of "Experience," and I started writing music with him. I didn't really take it seriously at first, and then it just clicked. It's the first thing that I found that was feasible for me to do that I really connected with. Then I went on tour with Kanye West as one of the background dancer/models for Yeezus and he heard ["Experience" and went on to sign me to his label, G.O.O.D.]. It all just fell into this perfect path really quickly.
Had you ever written a song at that point?
No, "Experience" was the second song I wrote.
What are your greatest influences? How do those influence shine through in your own work?
I'm still really heavily influenced by '90s alternative stuff, like Tonic and Semisonic and the Cranberries and Third Eye Blind. That's stuff I grew up on, and I still listen to it now. There's almost this melancholy element to all of those kind of songwriters. They write about relationships, but in a way that's self-reflective. There's a dark element to the pop songs, too. There are songs that you can dance to, but then it's, like, a really depressing song! Or, just very introspective.
What were your goals going into Bloo?
It's never a conscious decision of what it's going to be like. I have a really hard time if I try to set some sort of parameter for myself. The biggest thing is making it really honest. I'll wear sleek button downs, and I like everything to be clean but impactful at the same time, in this "elevated basics" way. That [concept] translates into everything [I do]. Make something that's kind of normal and just make it a lot better. Even when I look at "Arms Length," at it's core it's just a pop song. The song itself is not that weird, but there's some element in it that has power, that makes it something bigger than just a pop song. There's something sonically interesting or lyrically interesting that makes you want to go back to it or takes it to a different level.
"Foreign Fields" was produced by Jack Garratt, how did you link up with him and what was that like?
Rick Rubin actually set us up a year ago. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect. He's blowing up right now—I'm so happy for him—but this was kind of before that. He hadn't put out a lot of music. I got in [the studio] and I was just like, "Oh my god! He's so good!" So then we ended up with "Foreign Fields." It just kind of... happened.
And how were the other songs, "Arms Length" and "Shades of Blue" written?
For "Arms Length," I had a few days with Tourist when he was in LA. The first day, we got something where we were like, "Oh this is okay." Then the second day, we just starting singing "Bound 2" and playing chords. We were like, "Let's make a 'Bound 2!' Then we ended up with "Arms Length.'"
"Shades of Blue" was written with RKCB. I've been working with them for a while, and they're just incredibly talented people. We were just messing around with sounds, put some sounds down. That one took a long time to get to a place production wise where we were happy with it. It was really, really vibey and I was like, "How do we get out of this space? How do we inject energy into it and make it interesting?"
What have you learned during your time with Kanye?
A lot of what [he has taught me] is to just be an individual. It's fine to be a cookie-cutter pop artist for a couple of years, but then no one cares. I wanna do something that's very honest and makes me feel something. If you're doing something honestly, and you put enough time and effort and love into it, at the end of the day, that translates so much better than trying to be something that isn't yourself. That's the biggest thing I've gotten from Kanye, more so than you know, like, "He's producing all of my shit!"