Interview: Kyndall Gets Personal on "Still Down" EP
Mon, 06 Apr 2015 06:27:54
Kyndall tells us all about the personal process behind her debut Still Down EP. The six songs comprising the Houston native’s first official release thread together into one captivating narrative. The story comes to life over sizzling R&B production carried by the singer and songwriter’s immense voice. Throughout the project, you get the entire scope of a relationship vividly recounted through cinematic lyrics and undeniable hooks. Kyndall took her time getting it right, and that attention to detail really paid off. It’s a breakout moment for the singer and a crucial body of work for 2015.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Kyndall discusses Still Down, finding inspiration back in H-Town, getting personal, and so much more.
Did you approach Still Down with one vision for all of the songs?
It’s definitely my first love story chronicled. There are the ups and downs and the in-betweens of a teenage first love. You get the infidelity, but you get the reconciliation. You get more fighting, and then you’re back together. I wanted to start the EP with that first phone call, “Call Away,” because it symbolizes the beginning of the relationship. Everyone is sweet in the beginning. Once you get to “Still Down,” we have had some issues. There’s “Playing Games,” which is definitely about cheating. I planned to have a story follow the music.
It feels really personal too…
During that four-and-a-half years of trying to find my sound, a lot of it was self-searching and trying to find my voice, my writing voice, my vocal voice, and my tone. I figured out that if I’m going to write the EP, talk to my fans, and expect them to be honest with me, I need to be honest with them. I had to write all of the bad things I was going through with my relationship and be super honest, vulnerable, and weak at times just to get that point across. Everything you’re hearing is definitely honest and coming from a true place. I’ve been through every single song on my EP.
What’s the story behind “Bullet?”
“Bullet” is one of my favorites. I was randomly like, “I haven’t sampled anybody. I want to sample someone.” We started thinking and Sting came to mind. “Shape of My Heart” is one of my favorite records. I’m a huge fan of Sting and The Police. I love them. We got in and started messing with the beats, production-wise. It just came together. The vibe of the record is very, “I’m desperately in love with you,” so I wanted those lyrics to match. At the time, I was going through exactly that. It was super easy. When the vibe is right, it just flows.
Where did “Still Down” come from?
By the time you’ve gotten to “Still Down,” you’ve gone through “Playing Games,” which is about infidelity. I’m always out of town so any relationship I’m in is going to be a long distance one, which is hard enough for married couples and grown folk. Here I am at 18-years-old in this long relationship. I come back, and I’m looking through my significant other’s phone, and I see something I don’t like. That burnt “Still Down.” At the end of it, I give you this vibe like, “I know you cheated, but no one’s perfect. Ultimately, I know I was away, but I want to be with you.” That’s where the reconciliation comes from.
What artists shaped you?
I’d have to say Janet! I love Janet Jackson. I find myself doing a lot of her covers. Other than Janet, I really love Jhené Aiko. I love Kanye West too. Those are my top three right now. I’ve loved Janet since I was a baby. I just love Jhené’s vibe since. Kanye just stayed strong since he’s been out. I really just appreciate everything they’re doing creatively.
What inspires you outside of music?
I really got a lot of my vibe from my city. I took such a long time off from really doing anything to take a breather in my city and really be in my culture. When I first got signed, I was working in L.A. I was away from Houston, the vibe, the culture, and the feel of everything’s slowed down. It’s swaying in the streets. The whole vibe of Houston is different, so I wanted to re-submerged back into my culture. I did that. I was hanging with Slim Thug, Paul Wall, and Kirko Bangz—just the O.G.’s of my city. I really discovered a new side of Houston. I wanted to carry that into my music. If you take the Still Down EP through the streets of Houston, you’ll understand what I was going through. You’ll feel connected. It’s all very Houston- and Southern-based.
Houston is like no other place…
It really isn’t! That’s the thing. I wanted to show that. I really don’t think there have been too many female artists coming out of Houston and really doing the damn thing. Usually, you get the rappers. That’s great, because it’s very indicative of Houston culture too. I wanted to take it to the streets, take it to the rest of the world, and show everyone why I love my city, what my city’s about, and why we deserve to be heard.
If you were to compare Still Down to a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
It would be a movie musical. We have some scenery going on in there. I’ll take that to my live show too. I come from musical theater, so we’re definitely going to incorporate acting and some theatrics in there. I’d definitely say a movie musical!
Listen to Still Down