Interview & Photos by Yising Kao
Based in Los Angeles, Kiian is a pop singer/songwriter who recently released his debut EP called Beverly Hell! He draws influences from artists such as Halsey and Troye Sivan. If you’re into synth-pop, you’ll love his songs full of soothing vocals and strong rhythms.
Congrats on your release of Beverly Hell! Can you describe the theme of the EP? Did you already have a theme in mind before making the EP or did it come together throughout your songwriting process?
The theme of the EP is the concept of the public perception about people in the entertainment industry vs what really goes down in private, along with songs that go deeper and all explore a different part of Beverly Hell. I found it fascinating and very inspiring, and I don’t think anyone has talked about this subject before and been so real about it. As far as having a theme, I came into the studio with just notes in my iPhone, and in the week I wrote and recorded my EP, the concept kept getting stronger and stronger after each track, and on the second day of working on this project and writing Beverly Hell, 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 messed with my heart, users, fake friends, and really just growing up in LA, a town that is so pretty with so many ugly people.
“Betch U Will” has a powerful synth-pop style which makes it the perfect opening track! What inspired you to create the song this way?
Thank you! Beverly Hell is a concept EP and the order of the tracklist was very important to me, because it tells a story from top to bottom. I felt “Betch U Will” was the perfect opener sonically production wise, melodically and lyrically because the beginning of the story had to sound big. I wanted the opening of the EP to be a very strong synth-pop driven, larger than life production, electric pop record. I was inspired by the experiences I had gone through with my “straight” friends that led to being more than “friends,” and them still viewing us as just friends. It is an honest song about the lines that were blurred for me with these men, and me calling them out. It’s also a double entendre, because I’m calling them a bitch essentially for being cowards, but in the Hollywood accent I was around all the time that sounded like “Betch” while also saying I “Betch” you will get in my bed, because we are not just friends.
What inspired you to write “Party Friends?”
“Party Friends” was actually the last song I wrote for my debut EP “Beverly Hell.” It was inspired by the concept of illusion vs reality in Hollywood. It’s a little dive into dirty showbiz, behind the curtain. The song also talks about relationships with fake friends in the past, and one night stands, which is why I referenced James Bond. It’s an honest anthem about being sick of the superficial stuff and wanting more, but living in a world that is chaotic which makes it hard to find real relationships, which is why the lyrics of the chorus say “We’re party friends, if we can be anything”. I was inspired by the madness of it all, and that’s how the song was born.
What made you want to choose “Party Friends” as one of your singles for Beverly Hell?
It’s probably my favorite song on the EP, because it is so blunt, honest, and raw lyrically. I originally was going to use it as my first single, but decided to put it out now because I needed to grow as a human being and artist, and the time came this year where I grew into the person I was meant to be.
Even though Beverly Hell has a theme exploring the dark side of the entertainment industry and LA, what are some of the good parts about working in the music industry in LA that you’ve experienced?
I’ve met a lot of creative kindred spirits that I connected very strongly with which led me to find my tribe. Creating this project also opened me up to collaborating from scratch for the first time and having my vision as an artist understood and accepted a hundred and one percent.
You wrote your “Party Friends” music video and also directed it along with JDM Creative, and it turned out truly amazing! What was your process like planning it?
I appreciate that. It was the fastest shoot I ever did. I am involved in absolutely everything with my name attached to it, so writing this video treatment was nothing new. The process of planning it was really just me executing my creative ideas from my brain to my computer to my director. I work very quickly, and usually if it’s not quick, it’s not great and I toss it out. I worked off of how I visually saw the song coming to life and the video was born.
In addition to making music, you also design your own clothes, which is awesome! Do you find yourself creating a fashion line or designing merch in the future?
Fashion and music go hand in hand for me. I would love to have a line one day, and I have already begun designing merchandise. I am a show, not tell kind of artist, meaning I’m a walker not a talker, so many of the projects I work on, I keep top secret until I drop them. However, I can say I will be releasing Beverly Hell x Champion hoodies I designed in the fall.
What do you hope to achieve with your music?
I hope to have my music be an inspiration, escape, and outlet for my audience. I am my fans and they are me. I want them to all be themselves, free, unapologetically and if I can give them the bravery to spark their fires, I am content. I will never be anything but honest in my career. I try to stay in touch with as many of my fans as I possibly can. I want them to turn on Beverly Hell and find themselves through my work. We are all superstars and they are all a part of this journey with me. I know how they feel, and it’s an honor to be their inspiration. I feel I am following my purpose in life. I hope to grow as large as possible, so my fans can see impossible is nothing. I will never stop executing my creativity, work any less, ever get comfortable, and I will always show my fans they have me, and I believe in them.
Favorite song off of your EP?
My personal favorite would have to be a tie of “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Party Friends.”
Who’s your dream collab?
I would love to write/record with Lana Del Rey. She is someone who is one of my biggest inspirations, and she has always been very kind and supportive to me.
Last album you listened to?
Chromatica by Lady Gaga
Who’s your fashion inspiration?
I don’t have just one, I am inspired by many artists, designers, etc. I would say Alexander McQueen is my favorite designer. Most of what I come up with fashion wise comes from my brain though, and I sketch it out and collaborate with designers I believe in to bring my ideas to life. I do however, get inspired by certain pieces and eras in fashion, but I like to make everything my own.