Willow Kayne’s genre-smashing music will make you feel more confident
Willow Kayne is here to make you feel like a badass. Hailing from London via the rolling hills of the West Country, the 20-year-old is taking no prisoners with her endlessly sassy putdowns, quick-witted rapping and genre-smashing sound. Fresh off the release of her debut EP, Playground Antics, Kayne’s thinking bigger than taking over the world — she’s out to build her own, and have a hell of a lot of fun doing it.
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What’s the most important thing you’d want someone new to your music to know about you?
My music is quite gobby! But if you want to feel a bit more confident about yourself, listen to it. I like to make music that would soundtrack you walking down the street like a boss. I want to make you feel like a bad bitch!
What attracts you to making music in this sort of eclectic, genre-fluid style?
It’s definitely down to the fact that I listen to a lot of different genres, but it depends how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling pissed off, I’m gonna make a hard tune — I just like to match it to how I’m feeling at the moment. If I’m feeling shit, I will just go and make a song because it’s just like therapy. It’s my anger management. It seems to be going down a treat, to be honest, until it comes to playlisting because all the playlists I’m put in are like “Misfits” or “Outcasts.” They just need to make up a new genre.
Your music is so full of sass and confidence. Where does it come from? Have you always had that?
I don’t know if I’d call it confidence, but I don’t have an issue with doing my own thing. I’ve always had that, since I was a kid. But I definitely haven’t always had that confidence. If anything, coming online has shaken me up more than I ever have had in my life. I’ve never really been told to kill myself all the time or that my music is the worst thing on the world. I’ve never faced random dickheads on the internet before, but if anything, [it] actually motivates me to just make more music. But if you’re reading this, though, please don’t leave hate so that I make better music!
How and when did you start laying the groundwork for your debut EP, Playground Antics?
Most of those songs I made a year ago. I was basically very cocky. I’d just signed a record deal, and all the people who used to tell me that I wouldn’t be able to do music, this was my moment to be like, “All right, mate?” There’s a childish theme for all of it because when music started becoming a career, it was just interesting seeing people’s reactions. It was literally like playground talk. It was just childish. I thought it was ironic to do it to just speak about these adult situations in this child form to show how fucking petty it is.
Your aesthetic has drawn plenty of attention. What sorts of things inspire it?
Do you know what’s weird? I feel like everything comes back to stuff [I liked] when I was a kid. Do I just have some unresolved issues from my childhood? I used to be obsessed with Tank Girl and Gorillaz in terms of graphics and aesthetic, really. I basically just wanted to be a cartoon character most of the time. I love the old futurism from when rave first started out. But the reason I fuck with that kind of style so much is because when rave music first came out, it was just out of this world, and no one knew how to describe it. I love that.
You seem to be quite connected to your child self. Why do you think that is?
I just want to fulfill my childhood dreams, basically, and now I actually can. I’ve got to heal the inner child. [My generation has had to] grow up so quickly. [My childhood] was the purest time in life that I’ve experienced and probably never will ever again. I look back on that as a golden time.
Looking toward the future, what are your ultimate dreams for your prospering career?
I’ve recently realized that if I had the opportunity to have an influence on the direction that popular music went in, that is just complete success to me, to be honest. [The idea of being] a pioneer in the direction that genre goes, I just think that is so cool, so that’s probably the ultimate dream. But for me, it’s not just about the music. It’s about a visual side of things, too. I want to create a whole world.
Is there more music on the way in the near future?
The sound of this new project, I feel, is more Willow. It’s an upgrade, and you can really see the growth from the first project. All I’ll say is if it was a color, it would be orange. It’s colorful and bright and exciting. I make music almost every day. I’ve got about 100 songs right now, and maybe 10 of those will see the light of day.
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RECOMMENDED SONG: “Two Seater”
This interview appeared in issue 404 (The Modern Icons Issue), available here.