halo kitsch interview
photo: Dillon Jordan / press

Halo Kitsch

For Los Angeles-bred artist, Halo Kitsch, there is nothing more important than being herself and feeling everything. With music in her heart and veins, Kitsch was as young as two years old when she first started playing the piano. By the age of 19, she had composed a collection of over four dozen songs made from every spark of inspiration the driven artist could find.

Following her gut and leaving college behind, Kitsch set her sights on making music her career. Her work as a waitress and a bartender allowed her to save up enough money for her first studio session. What followed was the creation of a collection of achingly beautiful, vulnerable, yet incredibly memorable singles that reflect Kitsch’s artistic visions and beliefs in the way only her music can. Tackling subjects like emotional abuse, failure, addiction, societal labels, and mental manipulation, Halo Kitsch is an artist ready to take on the music scene with nothing but the conviction of the human being she is.

“Do You Feel Like A Sinner Yet?” is her latest single, and one that taps into Kitsch’s style of songwriting thrown under the umbrella of bluntness, honesty, and vulnerability in a way that no other song has.

Ever since a young age, you’ve been drawn to music. You left college three years in to pursue it. There’s obviously a certain magic calling you to create. When did you realize music is the thing you needed to pursue and were you afraid at first to pursue being an artist?
I love that! Magic calling me! Thanks for having me. Thanks for listening to my shit. Great question.

I was so bored in college, wow. Soo bored. College is cool! It just wasn’t for me. I couldn’t fake it anymore. I wanted nothing to do with printer ink. I had always wanted to make music, my whole life. I was one of the little girls who said “I want to be a singer when I grow up.” I was just scared, yes. Scared of failing and scared of succeeding. I thought I was being “realistic” by going to college – turns out I’m still a dreamer. That’s the thing. Miserable people do stupid shit, & it usually makes them more miserable. I got sick of being detached and sad, I got over being afraid, and I got out of there – to at least give it a go. Life’s rough enough already to be wasting time and energy on something irrelevant to you.

Do you have any artists that you loved when you were younger that still influence the music you make today?
Sheryl Crow– The way she can tell a story. So narrative-ly, so specific, and still so relatable. It takes wicked talent to balance lyrics like that. Lenny Kravitz– “Fly Away” was the first song I ever sang along to on the radio. I used to bring his CD with me on sleepovers.  Kesha– She’s my queen of pop. I think I idolized her in high school a little too much if you know what I mean.

“Do You Feel Like A Sinner Yet?” is an amazing, bold, and heartbreakingly honest track. What’s the story behind this song? Which lyric means most to you?
Firstly, thank you. I’m really touched. What makes this song different for me is the bluntness. I didn’t disguise anything prettily like I often do with a metaphor or an innuendo. It’s very straightforward. I think the story is really spelled out. That’s not necessarily my comfort zone but proved to be tremendously cathartic. I wanted to talk about “what happened to me,” and I wanted to blame somebody for it. Hard to pick a favorite line. 

Maybe, “Do You Feel Like a Sinner Yet?” because that one transformed through my process from an outward to an inward question. I grew through hearing that line back. All of a sudden I was like– who me? Do I feel like a sinner yet? Shit. 

My runner up is “My knees hurt for forgiveness.” I felt like it vividly described the weight of walking around life with guilt and the soreness and aching of desperately praying for the chance to make up for what you’ve done. 

“Do You Feel Like A Sinner Yet?” places the “protagonist as also the victim and the antagonist.” I noticed also that the album artwork for this song, as well as your previous singles look like comic-book drawings or cartoon art. How inspired are you by other forms of storytelling to arrive at your own version of storytelling?
Art is art is art, baby. I love it all. That includes photography so I’m not knocking working with photographers. But 1. COVID, 2. There are fewer limits within the fictional world of cartooning. I can be butt naked without getting butt naked. I can have wings! And I find it more interesting to look at someone’s interpretation of my face than my face. I see my face all the time. Ha.

I’m not always super confident in front of a camera. I also love an element of mystery. That’s where the cartoon art came in conveniently handy. I leap at the chance to add another layer of visual media to the project; that’s why I’m really excited that “Do You Feel Like a Sinner Yet?” is my first song with cartoon cover art, a lyric video, a photograph, and our first music video. Layer layer layer layer. Every layer is a space for more of the message and clues to the story.

Genre is becoming less and less relevant for many artists in music. Most artists say they just make the music they want to make and don’t like to be labeled, but for your listeners, how would you describe your music to them in your own words?
Ah, yes. Hell yes. As they should. As we all should. Do what we want. Harry Styles said something neat in an interview once about how he made the music he wanted to listen to. I wanna do that. The gradual eradication of status quo “genres” is sort of a beautiful component of the industry’s constant evolution. Or, should I say, the world’s evolution? I think so. Fingers crossed. 

My music! Gritty. Girl. Power. Pop. Sad anthems. Sandthems (joke). Break-up “bops.” (Not) Love songs. I don’t know. The cool thing is, we’re still playing around with our potential.

In your song, “(Un)even,” we hear you singing about an “uneven love.” Can you tell us what that line and what the song meant for you?
Kinda like a teeter-totter, or an hourglass. You know how if you’re playing with them both, they can’t stay balanced. We just weren’t ever meant to be balanced. I ran dry, we took turns. Like I say in the song – tug of war. Cat and mouse. It’s that constant chase of the unobtainable? It just sorta flip-flopped back and forth like a never-ending game of tag. We couldn’t find the same page. It’s likely that we never will.

Songs like “(Wasted) on the Moon” and “All (Your) Fault” touch upon deeply introspective topics written from your perspective, but they feature a sort of catchy energy and production that captures the ears of listeners. When developing songs that have bigger energy like these, what is the product or music development like for you?
That sort of dichotomy is kind of my whole goal. I love an unlikely combination. I’m an unlikely combination. I want my music to sound like how the inside of my closet looks. Dirty, ripped jeans, floral, black and pink and glittery, fringe, denim, lace… Feminine grunge. I want to reinvent emotion. I want to pick up my own hammer and join in the movement breaking down barriers of societal norms and labels. Nothing is one thing. Feel?

You describe your journey into making music as getting “bored of being broken-hearted” and turning it into art as an avenue for people to relate to and essentially, cry along with you. “f l a w l e s s” is a really deep song about you admitting how no one can be perfect – What made you decide you wanted to put a song as honest as this one?
I drove past what looked like a car accident one morning on the way to work. I was young, I didn’t know what to do, I was passing it quickly, I was running late so I didn’t stop. Nobody did. I felt so disgusted with myself. I hated myself for it. At the time I was in this odd sort of relationship where I felt as though I was being seriously admired – and that I was seriously undeserving of it. So in f l a w l e s s, I basically just listed all the reasons why I sucked as a human and why I shouldn’t be loved. So that he’d know, at least I warned him. Or something.

For me, there’s nowhere else to put honesty like that. It’s sort of super awkward to say and for whatever reason, less awkward to sing. No doubt it was scary to upload – but there’s no beauty or satisfaction in being well received for what you aren’t. That’s fake. If you want to feel less alone, you want people to connect to who you are. The real you. That means – you’ve gotta be real. And that’s what I told myself. That’s even sort of what the song is about – there’s a lot of layers in there, but that’s at the core. “This is me. Take it or leave it. I’m really really flawed.”

Where do you find inspiration for lyrics, music, or melody when you feel like you’re in a creative block? Is there a place you go to or an activity you turn to when you can’t complete a musical idea?
I get more so stuck on a song or two at a time – but that just means I move on to the next one and come back to the tricky shit later. I’m always writing 5 or 6 songs at a time. I never force myself. That’s usually crap work. I just pause. That’s where co-writing gets cool. I’ve just started co-writing recently and I’m sort of obsessed with the ebb and flow of two minds in productive imagination. Creativity is contagious and it’s so neat to be supported by and supportive of another artist. 

But I don’t want to sound like I never stop writing, that’s not really true. I have depression, pretty bad. In the last four years, I’ve seen every single episode of Grey’s Anatomy at least three times. That’s an embarrassing amount of hours to be curled up in bed, numbed and isolating. When that kicks in I stop everything, not just songwriting. Again, I pause. I often turn to television when I feel low. Unlike movies, you get to grow up, bond longer with TV characters. I pull inspiration and strength and comfort from relating to fiction. I marinate. Oftentimes, that dark mood is my perfect muse. And usually, eventually, I’ll start to write my way out of the low vibration. 

In a way, this is a big intention behind my music. I don’t want to connote emotion, I want to celebrate it. Feelings are dope, and a privilege – even the “uncomfortable” ones. I want my music to emphasize that you can be everything. You can be sad and powerful at the same. exact. time. You can be vulnerable and badass too, no? Maybe I sound like a misunderstood supervillain. I’m babbling. My point is, humans are wonderfully multi-dimensional. I want my songs to capture that. 

This year has been amazing for you already with four singles under your belt already and now, “Do You Feel Like A Sinner Yet?” about to be released. What kind of message do you hope your listeners take away from your album?
Hmm. All of the above. I don’t want to sound corny with something like, “It’s okay to not be okay.” (Which, it is.) I really just want people to value themselves. I want lovers to value themselves. I want to value myself. I want people to value emotion. I want to share how I value mine. Sad, nostalgic, reminiscent songs can be bangers too. I want to provide an outlet to feel your feelings at the top of your lungs, without rules on what they should look like. I wanna make space for a community vent session. I wanna talk about stuff openly and honestly. And I want to encourage others to do the same. Shake shit off.