Hayley Kiyoko is a multi-talented artist who refuses to be put into a box. Along with being a lyricist and vocalist—and a guest star on the HBO hit series Insecure—Kiyoko has added the role of being a director to her repertoire. Being a champion of the LGBTQ community is also another important hat the artist proudly wears. In terms of the outfit she rocks during our chat–a killer denim jacket embellished with colorful patchwork and upwards of 50 puka shells–that is something only Kiyoko could pull off. The quirky artist says the jacket is particularly heavy but she loves it any way. With a style all her own, she’s released her newest single “Feelings” as the follow up to her debut EP Citrine. The song serves as the first single off her full-length album that is expected to be released next year.
“So, it started out with me being frustrated with the dating world and being single,” she says of the song’s inspiration. “Everyone is so ashamed of their feelings. Why do I have to suppress my feelings? I’m human!” she exclaims. Kiyoko had a true epiphany after hanging out with a girl who made her feel especially ashamed for developing feelings. “I knew we needed an anthem! I want to leave someone’s house and be like, ‘cue the music!’”
On “Feelings,” Kiyoko sings: “I over communicate and feel too much / I just complicate it when I say too much / I laugh about it, dream about that casual touch / Sex, fire, sick and tired of acting all tough / I’m hooked on all these feelings.”
Kiyoko is celebrated for many reasons, one of them being her leadership in the LGBTQ community as an openly gay woman herself. Her introduction into the music scene came with the 2015 hit “Girls Like Girls” and the accompanying video that she co-directed, as well as her debut EP Citrine. Since then she has taken on full directorial responsibilities for her music videos, citing herself as a very visual artist.
“I’ve directed all of my videos and “Feelings” was definitely the most challenging,” she says. The video premiered on MTV’s TRL last week, and was captured in one shot. That decision, she admits, felt very ambitious. “It was very complicated. We rehearsed for twelve hours the first day and then the second day we did eight takes. The video you see is the eighth take.” Kiyoko tells me that she’s always loved the concept of following a girl down the street, a move that has been executed by male pop stars like Michael Jackson in the past, and thought a woman should be able to pull it off as well. “I wanted to make it fresh and different so I figured a one-take would be the way to go,” Kiyoko says.
The video is captivating and flirty, with Kiyoko dancing behind the girl she’s unabashedly pining for, a vision that Kiyoko admits wasn’t easy to navigate. “I originally had two girls in the video and it wasn’t going the way I wanted,” she says. “So, I adapted. As long as you can trust yourself enough to get out of a situation, you can always succeed.”
Kiyoko’s debut album is due out next year and listeners can expect her uptempo music paired with relatable lyrics. “I feel like all my songs have an undertone of sadness, but that’s because my lyrics are so blunt and straight to the point,” she says. “It just feels great to know that there are people out there who can connect to the things I’ve gone through.”
Watch the video for “Feelings” below.
Main image credit: Josh Paul Thomas