INTERVIEW: Kiian Tackles Anxiety and Depression on "Beverly Hell"
Kiian isn't just your average pop artist. When you hear Los Angeles, most people think shallow pop music, but this 21 year old singer/songwriter is digger a little bit deeper than that. With his new EP, BEVERLY HELL Pt. 1, Kiian is diving deep into his own anxiety and depression while shedding light on the ugly side of LA. The result is an unapologetically vulnerable and raw release, one that the singer is teasing with his new single and title track from the EP. Read what Kiian had to say about the EP, and what it took to dive deep into these new songs below.
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself for any readers who might not be familiar?
I’m Kiian. I’m a 21 year old singer and songwriter. I’ve been writing songs and singing since I was 13 years old. Music saved my life and I hope to have a similar powerful affect on people that music artists have had on me throughout my life. I think it’s the perfect time for my music to come out and I hope to inspire people to unapologetically be their true authentic selves and love that person.
How did you first become involved in music? When was it that you knew it was something that you needed to pursue?
I was in middle school and it seemed like everyone had a hobby or their “thing” and I didn't know what my “thing” was. Lady Gaga was coming out at that time and she brought it out of me because I began singing covering her with a medley I created in my talent show in 8th grade. That was the first time I had ever sung and I got a standing ovation from every single person, even the ones who didn't like me, and it was then I knew that music was my “thing”.
You’re getting ready to release your debut EP, BEVERLY HELL: Pt. 1 this summer. What inspired the songs on this EP?
The concept of BEVERLY HELL began as a metaphor I created for my mental space. I became comfortable in my depression and anxiety, but really it can be whatever place your head goes that feels like it’s keeping you safe from dealing with the inevitable that you can’t control but is really slowly killing you so it feels like hell. You what it means to get better and you know what to do but sometimes its easier to wallow in your misery. It was inspired by the war in my head that was going on and from the outside everyone would just tell me how great I looked or something superficial, but had no idea what I was dealing with on the inside.
BEVERLY HELL took a new meaning when I began to hang around a lot of “famous” kids and was more in that scene, and I realized the people everyone thought were so perfect, including even myself now with my social following have a whole other side and it’s not so perfect at all, it’s quite the opposite behind the curtains. I think I created the EP because I felt trapped mentally, so I created this world in my head that kind of made sense of it all. I talk about a lot on this project. I dove into the shitty “straight” boys on the EP who fucked with my heart, fake friends, and really just growing up in LA, and a town that is so pretty with so many ugly people. The whole EP is really just this concept of an illusion and everything exists within this place called BEVERLY HELL. BEVERLY HELL is not just a clever way to phrase LA, BEVERLY HELL is a concept EP I wrote about a place I created to escape, cope and make sense of the chaos in my life and in my mind.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while working on the EP?
It was quite hard for me to write about such personal things and be so unfiltered but I knew I had to be completely authentic with the music so I just went for it. I think there’s a lot in my writing I’d never even say out loud to anyone.
On the flip side, what were some of the more rewarding moments?
I would say going into the studio everyday and having such a great flow was my favorite part of making this EP. I came in every day in one week and I wrote and recorded each song in like 10-15 mins everyday. After I wrote the song, we would cut the vocal in the same time and I was out. It was really chill because I had been in sessions that go on 8 hours and I really think you loose that artistic integrity if you're working yourself that long. Your creativity begins to take a backseat.
You also just released the EP’s title track, “Beverly Hell,” What makes this song important to you? What is the story behind it?
"BEVERLY HELL" is one of the most special songs I think I’ve ever written because it’s a pop record with really dark and unapologetically raw lyrical content. The story behind is really the theme of the EP, which is the whole body of work of Pt. 1 into this world, and that is illusion versus reality. I wrote this song about all the kids moreso, in the industry that I felt the public thought was so “perfect” and had it all together, but really they were some of the most fucked up of all.
What do you hope listeners will take away from the stories on the EP?
I hope that they can escape when they listen to the story. I put the songs in a specific order so the listener would go on the journey with me. I took everything in my life up to 20 years old, and just kinda layed it out there, no fucks given. I hope they can listen to the EP and feel like they got to escape whatever was going on in their lives or minds at the time, and know that everyone is a king and queen in BEVERLY HELL, so when they feel down or need some inspiration or a pick me up, they can play through the EP and feel like someone else gets it and is just like them.
The “Pt. 1” in the EP’s title sort of implies that there will be a second half to the story. Do you have any ideas in the works for a Part 2?
I want to focus on Pt. 1 for now, but i’m always writing, so Pt. 2 could come sooner than expected.
With the single out now and EP dropping soon, could we expect to catch a live show soon as well?
Yes, I will be announcing live shows very soon. I’m very excited to go out and give these songs the life they deserve.
Do you have any other big plans for 2017?
I really just hope to continue to build my fanbase and connect with dope people all around the world, and hopefully be a light in their life. Other than that, I just want to continue to make music and hopefully meet as many of the people that support me and play to them as possible.