Even the most enthusiastic searchers for new music occasionally let releases slip under their radars. You could be subscribed to a million music publications and follow a ton of labels, but there will always be something you don’t spot. Most of the time the problem exists by simply following your favourite genres and missing things that exist outside of your peripheral vision. I’ve advocated for a long time that people should be free to listen to whatever they choose. We shouldn’t be bound by our music tastes and thankfully the various cliques that existed at the turn of the millennium have mostly vanished. Terms such as ‘emo’ and ‘goth’ are fortunately a thing of the past.
It’s easy to say but I’ve always tried to broaden my musical spectrum and it’s interesting to see how many different genres I’ve flirted with. I’ve always aimed to give everything a chance before I decide if I like it. Only this way was I able to determine that I quite like bands like Coldplay, whereas artists such as Pitbull frankly should never have been born.
I had no prior knowledge of Illinois singer/songwriter Kiiara (real name Kiara Saulters) before hearing one of her tracks a month or so back.
It’s a bane of my British existence that great new music from across the pond just isn’t promoted over here enough. The only way you’re going to stumble across new music is to actively search for it and even then you’re bound to miss something.
I’ve always had a frosty relationship with major UK radio stations. I don’t know if this applies to the rest of the world but here they tend to play the same thirty or forty songs until by the end of the day you have the lyrics to every Adele single permanently tattooed on your brain. It was because of a major UK station though that I first discovered Kiiara’s music. Huw Stephens is one of the few BBC Radio 1 DJ’s I actually respect and fronts a three hour show called ‘BBC Introducing’ which is aired three times a week. This show is essentially the last bastion of new music being aired on a major station and serves as a taster of the kinds of things we may soon see released in stores and hear from support acts at gigs.
“Feels” was the Kiiara track in question that Huw Stephens played late one Tuesday night, a track featuring breathy vocals overlapping a minimalistic trap beat. The stand out feature though was the actual vocal prowess that Kiiara possesses. While it isn’t the strongest voice, it’s the sheers amount of vocals she can command in one breath that impresses you the most. “Feels” became a gateway drug to Kiiara’s debut E.P Low Kii Savage, released back in March.
Low Kii Savage is six incredibly polished and well refined tracks, ranging from electronica and pop to out and out trap.
Each track showcases Kiiara’s unique vocal talents and provides an adequate background for her singing style. “Tennessee” is mellow and aesthetically pleasing, overlaying a crisp, electronic beat with a more melodic vocal approach than the one demonstrated in “Feels.” The build up from the verse is so well done, pausing for a brief moment before breaking into an energetic beat heavy chorus section.
“Intention” is a powerful reminder to Tinashe’s Aquarius release from 2014. An impressive vocal structure is again on display here, especially during the verses. On other hand ‘Say Anymore’ is a massive throwback to UK Garage from the 90’s. It’s well produced and the few drum samples that are used all sound sharp and vibrant.
Lead single “Gold” is arguably the biggest track on Low Kii Savage, although initially I wasn’t impressed. The intro is deceptively heavy with vocal loops. As with many ‘grower’ tracks though it rewards you the more times you listen to it, especially after hearing the rest of the E.P. Eventually, “Gold” became my favourite track from the record, one of its many strengths lying in its dark and mysterious vocal tone. Its key strength though is its minimalist nature, as there’s barely anything going on other than Kiiara’s delivery and a handful of drum samples.
Regrettably Low Kii Savage slipped under my musical radar upon its release and I’m very much making up for lost time.
Kiiara is a name we should all learn to become accustomed to hearing in the future however, as it’s a name that is surely destined to blow up on the back of this E.P. There’s no doubt that there is a planned album release not far on the horizon, although Kiiara has been candid about any news regarding a potential full length follow up. One thing’s for sure though is that Kiiara has made one hell of an entrance with Low Kii Savage. It’s polished, well produced and brilliantly executed.
Freelance writer still stuck in the 90’s.
Favourite albums; Young Americans, Hours, Out From The Vein, In Utero.