A Conversation With ... Kaiit

At 21, we think future-Soul and RnB singer, Kaiit, is doing pretty damn well.

Since her first single “Natural Woman” went viral, the Melbourne-born Indigenous artist has been co-signed by two Neo-Soul legends, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu, as their musical love child from down under. Attracting them and the rest of the world with her honeyed vocals, honest lyrics and groovy tunes.

With the release of her Debut EP, Live From Her Room, in 2018, she was named one of the best rappers under 25 by Red Bull Music and Best Female Musician for the 2018 Age awards. More recently, she made the 2019 YouTube shortlist.

We caught up with Kaiit after she returned from touring Europe and America, and spoke about her music, aspirations and self-care routine.

BYO: What drew you to R&B, soul and hip-hop as a musical form?

Kaiit: It’s strange, I grew up on a lot of alternative music from my mum, so nothing to do with hip hop or RnB. But she had a couple of things that had a hip hoppy kinda vibe. But it wasn’t until my uncle gave me my Miseducation of Lauren Hill CD, and put me onto Amy (Winehouse) as well. Through that I was like, “what? you can search more music than what I’m just hearing right now?” and I didn’t really liked the radio, because in primary school and high school, all everyone was listening to was The Fox..I mean The Fox cute, but not really the vibe I wanted. I wanted words that mean and feel really real, which at the time, didn’t for me. So I think it was a lot about discovering for myself and I was in a hip hop mentoring program that was that was being run through Art Centre Melbourne, and I think that’s definitely where I got introduced to hip hop and everything.

BYO: I've read that you say that you're picky about the beats that you want to write to, what makes a beat work for you and how do you find it?

Kaiit: When I was first writing, and I’m doing a lot of writing now, the best way to communicate with producers overseas, and interstate, was just to send beats. And I remember people saying to me “what kind of beat do you like”, “what kind of vibe do you like?” and all I remember literally saying is an Amy Winehouse, Lauren Hill baby. It’s hard for me to express verbally the type of sounds that I like. But sonically, if im feeling something, that’s all it is. Feeling. I just know that the music we’re creating, whoever creates, whether its art or any creative form, that it’s there forever. I know that and I’m conscious of that, and I know that when people are listening to my words, they are able to relate to it and feel it, and help themselves and cure themselves. So I know my words have so much power, and I just want to make sure that everything I’m putting out is purely me in spirit.

BYO: I also saw you mentioned that you use the "bad things" that happen in your life to write lyrics - is song-writing a form of therapy for you, and about relating to others?

Kaiit: I think if I wrote music so that other people can relate, consciously writing like that, I just don’t think that would work. I need to create for myself, what feels right for me and what I’ve been through. And if people can connect to that, that’s beautiful. But I create my music for myself and to help people if that can. Like sometimes I be stressing too when I’m writing, it’s kind of like a job now. And I need to write for people and just keep releasing and stuff. I’m just trying not to have people in my head on the business side of things, saying what kind of music I need to create. It’s like, nah, I can right whatever I want.

BYO: Exactly, and I think it’s good not to rely on other people’s reactions, because then you’re not going to get that satisfaction.

Kaiit: Yeah exactly, you’re just going to keep trying to catch that.

BYO: You've been touring throughout Europe and now the US - what's that experience been like?

Kaiit: Super hectic, when I see people that I look up to, travelling, you see them going around the world and doing these amazing shows, you’re like omg, I want to do that. And I do want to do that. But you realise how much expressing yourself creatively not for yourself, or your friends, but for people you don’t know, can be really tolling on yourself and your creativity. I just had to remind myself that I’ve always wanted to do this, and it’s crazy that we were out there. And the people are so lovely, and it tripped me out. The London show sold out, it sold out like a Melbourne show. It was absolutely unreal. I just need to look after myself and buy some throat-coat tea.

BYO: I’ve noticed you’re big on self-care, which is super important, especially when travelling, What does your self-care routine look like?

Kaiit: Definitely very tolling (travel). It’s beautiful talking to people but, that can take a lot out of you. Travelling, and shows in a row, its beautiful, but when I’m needing to look after myself I just check up on myself. Don’t be waiting for someone to go, are you good? Make sure that you’re good. What I do when I’m in Melbourne is – there’s a little forest In my area – and I love going there and putting down a blanket, mad food, just being there, just listening to my thoughts. I realise that sometimes my thoughts aren’t really nice, I’m not being nice to myself. So it’s important to be conscious of your thoughts and turn your damn phone off. Sometimes I want to write, if I don’t want to write I will not. And I can do that and not do that whenever I want, but definitely being in my own space, being with myself. And sometimes, don’t talk to people, I feel like we’re quick to hit up people and ask for their opinions before we even process it.

BYO: It seems like you've got a really strong and supportive network around you- how does having a network like that support you artistically and musically?

Kaiit: It definitely does help, it’s really important that the people around you just want to hustle for each other, like you all just want to see each other shining. Communication. That’s one thing I’ve learned. Because things happen real quick.

BYO: 'Live From Her Room' seems to speak to that particular place we all have to go to where we feel comfortable expressing our creative selves, what does that place look like to you? I know you do a bit of jewellery and clothing design.

Kaiit: I love drawing, I’ve got a little book and I’m always squiggling in it. I feel like drawings can speak words – what I realised is that I do a lot of self-portraits, even sometimes they might have one eye, 3 eyes, they’re actually drawings of myself.

BYO: What can we see from you in the future?

Kaiit: Music that I love, I’m just ready for it to be heard, any kind of creativity, I just want to do it. I want to connect - the purpose to all of this is much higher than music, so figuring out what that is exactly. And representing my people and this country.

Kaiit will be performing at Splendour in the Grass 2019 and nationally on her Miss Shiney Tour. She is also supporting SZA at her Melbourne show. You can check out her recent single here.