Popping Up: Kaya Stewart
Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.
Yesterday Idolator premiered “Feel Good,” a new track from Kaya Stewart‘s In Love With A Boy EP (released today). The 15-year-old vocal powerhouse first arrived with the EP’s title track acting as her lead single, and she comes from pretty good stock: Her father is award-winning musician David A. Stewart, one-half of Eurythmics, and her mother is an accomplished Dutch photographer.
Kaya stopped by our office in the spring to discuss her old-school pop sound and the album she has waiting in the wings, produced by her dad. Head below to learn all about this up-and-coming pop force, in her own words.
NAME: Kaya Stewart
HER PARENTS: David A. Stewart of Eurythmics and photographer Anoushka Fisz
HOW YOU KNOW HER: Kaya’s debut single, “In Love With A Boy,” was released by Warner Bros. in the spring.
HOW SHE CAME UP WITH THE SONG: “I was 13 and we were taking a test in math class,” Kaya tells Idolator. “There was a boy in my class, of course, who I really liked. I had this piece of paper and I started writing the lyrics. I was already writing by then, but I wasn’t really telling anyone that I was a songwriter and that I loved singing. It was just something that I did when I was at home or in the studio. But I remember coming up with this song idea — I was getting so frustrated with it, and the minute that I finished writing it down in that 40 minute class, I ran home, didn’t do any homework, and was up till 2 o’clock in the morning having spent the entire day recording. It took me two days to finish that song. I was like, ‘This is it…this is the song that’s gonna start the album!”
ON THE “IN LOVE WITH A BOY” VIDEO: “I filmed the video with [Jean-Baptiste] Mondino, who’s one of my favorite directors and photographers of all time. It was like a dream come true to actually be working with him. I flew to Paris, and he’d written the treatment…I was on the phone with him for three hours just figuring it out the day before, exactly how I wanted and he wanted everything to go. It took a day to film the whole thing.”
ON HOW SHE DECIDED TO BECOME A MUSICIAN HERSELF: “I was born while my dad was on the road,” Kaya says. “So always, my whole life, I’ve been touring. I figured out I wanted to do music when I was 10 or 11 — it’s when I first started songwriting. Growing up, I’d always been around songwriters. Those were the only people I knew. So I think songwriting was in my blood.”
HER UPCOMING ALBUM WILL BE OUT IN SEPTEMBER: “Eighty percent of the album is written by me,” Stewart explains. “I co-wrote a couple times. My dad produced the album, so he helped me co-write on a couple songs. There are no big collaborations, it’s kind of people I’ve met along the way.”
ON WORKING WITH HER FATHER: “Honestly, I was so lucky to have someone I get along with so well to work with in the business. We collaborate on literally everything, but he’s also my manager and my producer — so anything that would go through me also goes through him. He understands music so well. I’m lucky to have someone so smart to help me get through it.”
THE MUSIC KAYA LISTENED TO WHILE GROWING UP: “My family is so musical,” she says. “I think we all appreciate music so much. Growing up, I actually really got into older music when I was younger — Tracy Chapman, Stevie Wonder, all of these amazing songwriters. I grew up listening to people who wrote their own songs, which I related to a lot more. When I was younger I only listened to soul music. That was what really spoke to me, and I tried to incorporate that into the album, that very soulful singing — which Annie [Lennox] had as well.”
HER TIMELESS SOUND: “I think that was the goal, because now I listen to Eurythmics songs from back in the day and they would still be hits on the radio now,” Stewart notes. “If I heard ‘Sweet Dreams’ on the radio now, I would LOVE it, and add it to my Spotify playlist. That was was the whole goal — I wanted people of all ages to listen to [my] album.”