Q&A with emerging scintillating songwriter, Nastiya Kai
Rising pop songwriter Nastiya Kai unveiled her dark, hypnotic single ‘Bury Me’ on October 27th, 2023. ‘Bury Me’ is a teaser to her forthcoming debut album, set for release in early 2024. With her music garnering more than 141 500 streams and counting, Nastiya Kai is making waves in the industry and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. The single received support from CLASH Magazine and EARMILK Magazine. With a sound that has been compared to Caroline Polachek and Sub Urban, Nastiya Kai finds inspiration in a vast range of genres and artists, citing the likes of David Bowie, Daughter, The Naked and Famous, Crystal Castles, The Prodigy and Bob Dylan as but a few who have influenced her. Carving a place for herself in the ever-expanding universe of pop, her music is for fans of avant-pop luminaries such as Billie Eilish, Grimes and VÉRITÉ.
Listen to ‘Bury Me’ and read our interview with her below.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
Why not? I’ve always been a creative. Designing, painting, diy-ing, music, writing. I need to have an outlet to express myself. I always noticed the little things like colors and patterns. I don’t actually know what to do with my life if it’s not anything arts-related.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
Depends on the song, but mostly the idea. I need to know what I’m writing about from the very first second as that sets the mood for the entire track. Even if I’m working off a sample or something then I’ll always combine this with an idea of a lyric or a progression that I already had and didn’t really know what to do with.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
Not yet! But I’m looking forward to collaborating with other musicians in the near future.
What’s on your current playlist?
I’ve been listening to M83 on repeat this week. I heard ‘Midnight City’ blasting in someone’s car the other day and it really brought me back. I saw them live in NYC last spring and it changed my life. Probably one of the best live performances I’ve ever been to.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I’d say all of my music is quite experimental. We never settle on a genre or a specific sound. Like I’ll add acoustic guitar to the most industrial track or strong vocals to a ballad that aren’t really supposed to be there. Every song is a journey to me and I just follow where it takes me.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
As of recently we stopped actually producing in the studio. I personally find it difficult to work in dark and cold spaces and most studios here are in the basement. It is a good place to be cut off from the world and not be distracted but it depresses me long term. So we work from home now and only go to the studio to balance the track and record vocals and live instruments.
Regardless of where I’m writing/working, on the day I stretch, have a matcha, wear something really cozy. My dog goes everywhere with me so I pack her stuff too. I try to walk/take the subway to the studio when it’s not too cold outside. It helps me clear my head and take the world in. When in the studio it really depends on the day. There are days where we just stare at the screen for hours and there are days where we can’t stop writing. It always feels like a weekend at home with friends though. We write, have snacks, walk the dog, watch YouTube, record, write more. It’s very chill on days where we’re not on a deadline.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
Always. I don’t remember not wanting to make music and perform. It’s always been there. Whenever I get asked this question I always try to pinpoint a moment where a lightbulb lit up in my head but honestly I think this was too early for me to even remember. Every time I derailed I went back to music. Every time I decided on a different career path I ended up going back to music. I went to concerts alone. I traveled by myself to see my favorite artists live. I once sold T-shirts at a merch stand by myself for free only to listen in to a Kyla La Grange‘s show. Everything I’ve ever done was connected to music one way or another.
Any emerging artists on your radar?
I feel like she’s an established artist already – but Suki Waterhouse! Absolutely obsessed with her music.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Feeling things. Good or bad. Going out, traveling, meeting people, having random conversations, driving, being on my own, movies. Everything life is. I love to live. In all honesty. And I lose myself on the days where I haven’t experienced anything, even something small.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
To be honest I don’t have anything except for 2 mics and an Akai midi now. I write on my old Casio keyboard that they don’t even sell anymore and my prized possession, a Gibson Hummingbird my dad gave me as a gift for getting into college. My parents have the most beautiful piano in their apartment so I sometimes go there just to play a little or record something.
Any side projects you’re working on?
I have so many ideas and things I want to work on but I’m trying to not get distracted. Music is a priority for me and I want to channel all my energy into it.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
When I first started I didn’t know anything at all. I didn’t know how to produce, I was a horribly self-taught guitarist, I didn’t know how to play the keys at all. Now I practice whenever I can, I recently started producing myself little by little. Deep inside I’m a farm grandma and technology is wild to be. I prefer instruments, a mic, a synth, but when it comes to software my mind is blown. For perspective, I don’t even update my phone. So producing is a massive step for me. I have my producer to thank for that as he’s been very patient with me asking a million questions. I’ve been working on my range and how to control my voice. I’ve been practicing piano and guitar. Guitar has been the most difficult as I’ve been playing it the way I saw fit for 12 years and I am actually very bad so I have to unlearn everything and start over.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
I’m almost finished with my album! This is my main focus right now. We’re shooting the cover next week. I received two masters this morning, and am shooting a video in 2 weeks too. After that I want to take a small break from writing to re-charge myself. And then I really want to finally start playing live shows!
Famous last words?
“Good enough” doesn’t exist, and you’re the only person in the world that knows what’s right for you.
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