Interview: iamkyami

Our favourite local breakout pop artist iamkyami returns, with brand new single ‘Internet Friends’! Out now via Heist or Hit, the bouncy, synth-laden bop was born from Ky’s experiences and thoughts during lockdown, cleverly addressing the apathy that solitary confinement breeds. We sit down with our former radio host to talk about being a genderqueer mixed race person within the music industry, as well as life signed to a label and dreams of cartoon voiceovers…

First of all, congratulations on your signing with Heist or Hit! How have things changed for you as an artist since (if at all)? 

Thank you! I feel really lucky to be part of the Heist or Hit family. Since I’ve signed, I feel like a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m not saying every artist needs to be signed but someone like me, who doesn’t come from an affluent background, would struggle to financially support my music without a label. But it’s so much more than financial support, the guys, Pat, Martin and Mick, have helped me understand so much more about the industry and my potential. 

Can you tell us a bit more about the ideas behind new single ‘Internet Friends’? 

I initially wrote this track over lockdown (not sure which one tbh) and I sort of wanted to write a song about the experience. Instead of writing about the actual lockdown, I wrote about how I felt so distant from my friends, even though I had access to them online. It’s weird, I spoke to so many more people online during this time, some that I haven’t seen since school. I really enjoyed reconnecting with some people but at the same time, I felt like I was missing part of the connection that you get when you’re with that person IRL. The song is about the nuances of friendship I suppose, but I’m really excited for the rest of the project to be released! There’s loads of other stories I’m sharing in this first release with my new label. 

You’re also running an interactive Instagram campaign to celebrate the release. Can you tell us a bit more about that? What do you think the key is to building a dedicated fanbase? 

Contrary to what ‘Internet Friends’ is about, it prompted me to want to do something nice for a few friends that I interact with online a lot and help me navigate that digital space. There’s a lot of aspects about being online that can be damaging to us, so I thought it would be a good idea to try to bring something wholesome to my page. I’ve created the Internet Friends Awards with 4 different categories. It’s just for fun really, but I think doing things online that aren’t just about yourself is important. I don’t have a massive following but I think the key to building a dedicated fanbase is about being the real you. I know, it sounds cliché, but I really do stand behind this. I try to be authentic with what I post even though we all know everything online is curated. I’m still trying to understand the changes in social media we’re experiencing all the time, but as long as I can have some fun with it, I don’t mind it at all. Plus, I really enjoy engaging with my community. They’re all super nice and very supportive. 

The single anticipates forthcoming EP, ‘The Kenny Klubhouse’. What can we expect from the record? 

I’m so excited about this project! When I was creating this, my mind was in such a weird place but I remember just wanting to make something that sounded like who I am as a person; quirky, unique, unexpected and colorful. I think a lot of what you’ll hear on ‘The Kenny Klubhouse’ is just an introduction to who I am as a creative person. I’m in the stage of pushing my creativity and experimenting with different sounds – I want to be known as a genre-bending songwriter and producer and this project is just the start! I hope it pushes me beyond the boundaries of what I’ve been labeled as in the past, opening doors to new opportunities in the future. 

It’s LGBTQIA+ month, woo! Can you tell us a bit more about your experiences as a queer person of colour within the music industry? What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? 

As a genderqueer, mixed race person in music, it’s easy to feel like there are a lot of barriers because there are. I’m trying to embrace my differences and adopt them as my strengths. I have a unique point of view to most people and I think that gives me perspective for creating music for myself and others. Growing up, I always over romanticized everything and in a way, it does seem like a very queer thing to do haha! I loved watching coming-of-age films growing up and that’s inspired a lot of the way I write. Whether it’s a true story or not, I still like to write my lyrics as if it were from a scene in a movie. 

Personally, the only real challenges I’ve had in the industry so far have been dealing with people who try to box me in and label me. I haven’t had any really terrible experiences so far and I’m thankful for that. I hope that my label and my future managers, booking agents, etc. continue to support and protect my authenticity because it is at the center of my music and who I am. 

Is there anything you think LGBTQIA+ allies could be doing more to support the community? 

I think it’s important that people with power be mindful about opportunities they have or can create and give them to LGBTQ+ and POC individuals. It’s hard enough to exist, so we need people to celebrate us in every way possible! It’s also important that we celebrate people from marginalized communities. While the history behind the LGBTQIA+ community can be filled with struggle, we don’t always have to talk about that. It’s also Black History Month in America this month! So whatever I do to celebrate the momentous moments in our history and the people that shaped today, I want to do it with joy. 

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice before starting your music career, what would it be? 

Let go of who you think you need to be! I spent so many years doubting myself and that’s probably because I had not come to terms with who I really was as a person. Suppressing yourself only stops you from being an artist that is authentic and people can tell when you’re being fake. I wish I could go back and give myself a hug and tell myself that everything was going to be okay. I’d tell myself that we still had to work really hard and the work doesn’t stop at getting signed, but at least we got here now! I’d tell myself that everyone at uni will try to ruin you for the sake of their own egos, but it’s not true. And finally; keep going.

What else is on the horizon for you? 

I have realized that I have a big mouth and some things are better left unsaid. There are so many things I want to do so let’s start there. In the future, I want to be the voice of a cartoon character! I could see myself as a new gem in Steven Universe. Along the same lines, there’s Sesame Street – I know it sounds stupid and my first mentor laughed when I said this, but I wanted to be a musical guest on Sesame Street! I loved the show ever since I was a kid and with the recent popularity in Elmo and Rocko’s feud, it’s really reminded me how much I still want to cross that off my life. 

I want to collaborate with fun brands that do good like Crocs, Lucy and Yak, Lazy Oaf and maybe even design my own print for a special garment. I love Lucy and Yak boiler suits, so it would be a massive honor. Anyone who follows me knows I love Hello Kitty and I’m hoping to be involved with the brand in any capacity in the future. Please, Sanrio PR team… notice me. Finally, after all this big dream talk, I hope that soon I’ll be able to work in the creative industry full-time. Whether that be by starting my own brand of clothing or being the voice of a new cartoon character, or finding my way in the music industry, it’s something I want more than anything else. It would be my ultimate accomplishment to know that I’ve built a life for myself that I can be proud of.

‘Internet Friends’ is out now – check out the video below, with EP ‘The Kenny Klubhouse’ out 29th April via Heist or Hit. In the meantime, follow iamkyami on Instagram to find out the winners of her Internet Friends Awards!