Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.
In February, budding pop-star-in-the-making Kiesza dropped the video for her debut single “Hidewaway” online. Dance tracks with a retro, ’90s-leaning house vibe are getting to be a dime a dozen these days — and that’s not to say we don’t love them when they’re good! — but something about “Hideaway” took things a step further. Aside from the hypnotic beats and shiny, bleeping and blooping synths, there’s an urgency to this 25-year-old Canadian’s vocals that have a way of pulling listeners in.
And then, of course, there’s the video, all four-plus minutes of which were shot in one take on the streets of Brooklyn with nary a budget. Still, the clip is a mesmerizing watch — more so than half the flashy six- or seven-figure visuals out there by more established song birds.
Given all this, we couldn’t resist inviting Kiesza over for a chat about her life up to this point, and what she has in store for the music-loving masses. Watch our Popping Up sitdown with her above.
NAME: Kiesza (pronounced KY-za)
HOW YOU KNOW HER: The must-watch video for “Hideaway,” which has racked up over half-a-million views over the past month.
BEFORE SHE PURSUED SINGING: Kiesza began dance classes at the age of 3, and ultimately zeroed in on ballet. To avoid permanent physical damage, she chucked her slippers for sailboats as a teenager, which eventually led her to the Navy.
HOW SHE GOT INTO MUSIC: “The most influential [artist] was Michael Jackson, because my mom force-fed him to me since the day I was born,” she explains to us. Dear old Mom even had her take part in a small, Jackson 5-like group as a kid. Dad, on the other hand, was more into ABBA.
SO WHY DOES “HIDEAWAY” SOUND SO ’90s?: Mom was also into big-throated divas like CeCe Peniston and Robin S. When Kiesza eventually landed at Berklee College Of Music, she began collaborating with producer Rami Samir Afuni. “We tried all different types of styles,” Kiesza says. “Eventually it led to kind of just tapping into what we were both really passionate about, which was the ’90s.”
FROM CANADA TO BOSTON TO NYC: Kiesza now lives in New York, and admits that she probably spent too many weekends leaving school in Boston to come to the Big Apple. Rami eventually set up the small indie label Lokal Legend to release “Hideaway.”
KIESZA’S PHILOSOPHY ON POP: “A lot of people at Berklee would talk about how pop music isn’t real music and how it’s so easy to write,” she tells us. “I once asked someone, ‘If it’s so easy to write, why don’t you do it?’ I started writing and realized it’s actually the most challenging music to write. It’s an art in itself, the simplicity of writing pop music.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Kiesza has been steadily working on more songs, not just in the dance vein. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! For now, the “Hideaway” single will be released on April 14th.
Get to know all about Kiesza by watching Idolator’s Popping Up interview with her above!
Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.