Behind The Scenes With… Halo Kitsch
Los Angeles-based Halo Kitsch is unquestionably a true ‘90s rock baby, with the low-rise jeans, bra straps, and heavy eyeliner to match. She fell in love with the piano from a very young age, and the instrument quickly became her favourite songwriting vehicle.
Her latest EP, “With You (In Mind)”, pays homage to her best friend Jillian, who passed away in January 2022. It is safe to say the EP is a meaningful project that tackles issues such as substance abuse, addiction, sobriety, and depression.
To learn more about her unique music and life journey, we caught up with Halo Kitsch in the run-up to the Amplify Into The Metaverse final.
What are some of your earliest musical memories?
My earliest memories… I can think back to quite a few – my piano teacher I thought smelled bad, recreating dance numbers from High School Musical, learning the trumpet, etc. But a specific three come to mind. The first one I always mention fondly… singing along to the radio in the backseat of my grandmother’s old yellow Volvo with my sister.
The second is holding my biological father’s CD for the first time. My mum had given it to me, but I was too young and nervous to listen to it. And the third, perhaps my favourite, is my best friend’s elementary school slumber party, where I brought two special items: my favourite stuffed animal and my Lenny Kravitz record.
Who inspires you?
My sister. She chose not to attend college after high school, but instead pursued her artistic endeavours – I thought she was the coolest, bravest person in the world for that. I left college shortly after to do the same.
Machine Gun Kelly, I tattooed the words Life in Pink (after his documentary) on my forearm because I struggle with major depressive disorder. I’ve baggage alert been placed on a 5150 before. But hearing him open up about his own suicidal thoughts, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “What if he had quit?” He never would have seen the other side or accomplished what he has in the last two years. That thought pushes me when I’m in really dark times.
My producer – Ben Zelico. He has continued to believe in me, push me, and encourage me even when I lost everyone else on my team. It is a very rare occasion that I have a problem my mother can’t solve – but when I do, I call Ben.
Julia Michaels – In my opinion, Julia Michaels is arguably the sorceress behind the curtain of our generation’s pop music. She’s the writer behind every legendary song of the genre and has written for everyone. Yet somehow still… no matter who is singing, or whether the song straddles country, rock, alt, etc., you can hear her in the writing.
Who is your dream collaborator?
Currently, (besides Machine Gun Kelly or Julia Michaels) Nessa Barrett and her producer Evan Blair. Specifically, I think they’ve mastered a mix of Madison Beer and Billie Eilish – totally badass. But I imagine Nessa & I would also really connect as people – we both lost our best friends to overdoses last year and want to speak up on the culture of drug use to make a difference.
Highlight of your career so far?
My very first show, closing the night at We Found New Music by Grant Owens in West Hollywood. I’ve never felt so high on living. The room was packed, it was so hot and sweaty. The crowd sang my own songs back to me. Bewildering, even still. I felt so much love in that room… pulsating through the people. I felt like a rock star, even though the stage was only four by four feet (the smallest one I’ve ever played). It was the perfect night.
Who else should we listen to from your local scene?
You should listen 100% rush to listen to Rokeaux, unbearably underrated. He moved here from the Virgin Islands – but when I met him through Instagram, he was coincidentally living three blocks away from me. Double local. He randomly DM’d me asking if I wanted to feature on a song, and I swear one of his demos gave me goosebumps up both my arms. Obviously, I agreed, and that song became our collaboration Funeral Decor.
Tessa Rae! She’s also local to my location and – dear to my heart. She makes beautiful art, is a beautiful person inside and out, and the next tracks she’s dropping are total bangers!!! Can’t get them out of my head.
If you had to change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
AHAha 🙁 Answering this without raising my voice, cursing, and waving my arms around in the air will be difficult… and narrowing it down to only one thing is close to impossible. I would change the algorithmic approach of defining quality by numbers, rather than raw, pure, old-school talent. Record labels are investing in data rather than artists.
I find that the result is stifling individuality – people copy what’s big or popular because it works for a while, they’ll get streams or attention… but in 10 years, artists who have emulated The Weeknd for example, won’t be remembered. Only The Weeknd will be remembered. I try really hard not to consider what’s trending temporarily, so that my music stays true to me, and therefore, timeless.
Any projects in the pipeline that you’d like to share with us?
I’ll take this opportunity to plug my debut EP With You (In Mind), which came out last November. I’m not quite finished with this chapter yet. I hope my listeners will find it to be the gift that keeps on giving.
I just dropped my first feature on the record with Cowboy Mugshot… and I have more coming. I’m resisting the pressure of the industry’s, as I called it before, “algorithmic approach” to move on to the next project too quickly.
There is an urgency in our society’s war of content that I think doesn’t allow for a complete absorption of one’s message. I’m not finished saying what I need to say with this project. I’m in no hurry to move on to the next “era.” I plan to give this EP the life it deserves as long as that takes before moving on to anything else!