Get to know the New York-based artist, KYOSi! She recently released her impassioned EP, Negative Space.
“The 3-track ethereal pop EP sounds equal parts haunting and dreamy, but it’s much more than just beats. Each track delivers its own message serving as a stepping stone to the next one. It’s easy to hear that the EP is not just a collection of songs, but a carefully crafted anthology that serves as a political commentary on the current administration and the injustices being faced nationwide. ”
(Run the Trap)
Receiving high accolades from Substream, EARMILK, and more, this collection of songs is a blend of ethereal pop, folk, and nods to jazz. Negative Space takes listeners on a journey through grief and anger by exploring themes ranging from class politics, race and gender issues, to the coercion of capitalism. The EP serves as a political commentary on the current administration and the injustices being faced nationwide.
Learn more about KYOSi in the following All Access interview-
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you?
My pleasure. I’m at home in NYC today.
Now that we are at the end of the year, how has 2019 been treating you? What are some goals that you have for yourself this year? How close are you to reaching them?
2019 has been great so far. My hope was to release Negative Space and that it would reach folks who like my music, and that’s happened. It’s been an amazing and moving reception to a piece of art I worked really hard on.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Music was everything. It was the only thing I cared about. I don’t remember there being a precise moment I decided to take this road, it always felt like a given that I’d do anything I could to make music, learn more about it and work in it. So in addition to not being a tough decision it didn’t feel like a decision at all, it just was.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
That’s a great question. I saw a job posting some years ago for a “Chief Digital Nomad” position at a tech company. It was basically about traveling to meet other remote workers who are running their own businesses from a hammock in Thailand or Portugal. I guess I’d try to go for something like that!
Why did you decide to be known by something other then your own name? How did you come up with KYOSi?
The name KYOSi came out of a series of dreams I had some years ago. I started having dreams in which the word would appear without context, then dreams that gave it an emotional feeling. I was teaching beat making at the time and my whole life revolved around that. When the dreams came to a boiling point and I decided to look into the word I found out it meant teacher. Once I decided to make music seriously it seemed like a no brainer to use that word.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
I guess the biggest surprise has been that there are so many paths available in music, if you’re willing to take them. I am someone who mostly says yes to projects and opportunities and those that come my way are awesome, and continue to build on each other. The challenge is overcoming self-doubt.
What did it feel like releasing your EP, “Negative Space”? What was the process like of putting it together? Did anything surprise you about that overall process?
It felt great! I’m so proud of the music and video for this EP. The process involved my and my collaborator Todd Brozman, who I’d worked with in the past on some other things but we never released anything together before. By the time we decided to put it together we had a pretty even workflow going so it was as seamless as it could have been. I wasn’t necessarily surprised by this but I think it’s worth noting that when you work with someone like that you have to be truly open to their contributions. There were times I heard what he did, re-saved as a new project, deleted it all and then went back to what I had there. Then a few hours later I’d listen to what he had done and loved it. It takes a while to hear someone else’s fingerprints on music. Staying open to his sensibilities and remembering why we decided to work together in the first place was clutch.
What was the inspiration for your EP’s lead song, “All I’ve Had”? How does it compare to the other songs on this collection?
Immigration. It was an attempt to imagine what it may have been like for my great, great grandparents coming to this country or what it’s like for people now. Compared to the other tracks it’s longer, has more empty space and a more naked vocal.
Where can people see you perform next? Do you plan to tour at all this summer or later in the year? What has been a favorite performance of yours so far?
I will be announcing gigs in 2020 so you can watch all the spaces for that! In the past I’ve loved performing in spots like Trans Pecos. Spots that have a vibe.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music?
I guess it’s cliched but I’m better. I know how to practice, I know how to execute the ideas in my head. I’ve gotten a lot better at just working, vs. figuring out how to work.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now? What has social media done for your career so far?
I go in and out of phases. Sometimes I really enjoy the process of staying up with my socials and sometimes I loathe it. I make it a point to do whatever I need to do in the moment and if that means I delete an app for a few days I do that. I try to protect my headspace as much as possible. It’s been cool to have fans get in touch directly and tell me what they music means to them. Especially lyrics, that always gets me. I love that people listen to the words and adapt the meaning to their own lives.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Anything by Thom Yorke or Bjork is gold. Would love to work with Arca and Frank Ocean.
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
It would be shiny and full of 3D renders of dreamscapes.
What has been the coolest place/TV show/commercial that you have heard a song of yours? Where would you still love to hear a future song of yours played?
I’d love to have some of my music involved with a fashion week one of these days. In the past few years I’ve been paying closer attention to fashion as a political statements and would love to have my music used in a new collection of clothing.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I hope they enjoy it and bop their head, even a little bit.
Would you like to share anything else with our readers about your music?
Mostly that the DMs and emails are so sweet. I never imagined that the people listening to my music would be so kind and forthcoming with their experiences. I’m grateful for that.