When Kiesza released the video for her single, “Hideaway,” she was hoping maybe a couple of her friends would share it on Facebook.
“I was definitely not expecting it to go so big so quickly,” says the 25-year old singer, who actually filmed the video with a broken rib. “I remember being shocked when the video reached 10,000 views.” With a style akin to a Paula Abdul video, the voice of a happier sounding Adele and tattoos like Amy Winehouse, Kiesza’s video has now racked up a whopping 74 million views and is still counting.
At her United States debut show in New York, the Calgary-born artist donned a black sports bra underneath her skin-colored sheer shirt and gave the sold out crowd her all. From the opening song, “No Enemiesz,” which has the vibe of Madonna’s “Vogue,” to Kiesza’s hip-hop influenced rendition of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah,” it turns out that she just might be cooler live than on recording. “My first show in New York was one of the most exciting shows that I have done so far,” she enthuses a few days after the performances. “The energy in the room was incredible and people were really enthusiastic. New York is special to me because that’s where I discovered myself as an artist. In many ways it’s home.”
Starting out as a dancer, music was always a part of her life but singing became more prominent “when mom attempted to recreate The Jackson 5 with only three very shy children.” Kiesza eventually obtained a scholarship to Berklee School of Music in Boston, where she started out pursuing folk music. After college she took the plunge and moved to New York City, where she harnessed her more up-tempo sound. Many music critics praise Kiesza’s current releases for bringing back the spirit of '80s and '90s dance music. As she puts it so eloquently, her music can best be described as a “throwback to the future.”
“My music pays homage to the early ‘90s, as that era of music was a big influence to me growing up. My own music combines that sound with modern elements.” Featuring echoes of deep house, “Hideaway” rides a wave of fresh nostalgia. The video, filmed in Brooklyn, was co-directed by Kiesza herself and features all her friends as dancers. “It was fun, really fun. It was a lot of work but truly fulfilling.”
Kiesza’s runaway success comes as a surprise to many since when “Hideaway” was released, and indeed right up until she reached no.1 in the UK, she was unsigned. Though she is now a part of Island Records in the US and will be releasing her debut album on the label, the singer expresses that she feels independent artists becoming mainstream “creates so much more diversity in the industry, as people are able to discover music on their own terms.” She adds with gusto, “I am very excited about the movement. It allows for artists to have more control, to express themselves freely and develop their own fan base in a way that was once exclusive to signed artists.”
Kiesza is not only a singer and dancer but also writes songs as well, with credits for the likes of Kylie Minogue, Rihanna and Icona Pop. Regarding the process of songwriting, she says, “It’s different every time. But often, I start with a chord progression, which then inspires a melody. The melody holds the emotion and from there I am able to create the story.” Later this year, Kiesza plans on dropping a single with EDM kingpins Diplo and Skrillex on their new mixtape as Jack U. “I ran into Diplo and Skrillex in Ibiza where we were all performing. We stayed up all night writing a track together and talking about Godzilla.”
Though the album does not have a release date yet, it's foundation have already been laid. “The common thread that ties the album together is the soulful melodies,” Kiesza reveals with a smile. “I am really excited to share it.”