Brooklyn based newcomer Kaelin Kost continues to build the rising excitement around her name with the reveal of her third single in the dreamy 4AM. Showcasing breathy vocals over slowly building production, the track is complemented by a stellar video, further showcasing Kost’s unique artistic vision.
4AM follows Kaelin Kost’s previous releases, Mulholland Drive and Lightning Love, tracks which saw her gain support from Wonderland Magazine, American Songwriter and inclusion on playlists across Spotify & Apple. With plenty more on the way, keep a close eye on Kaelin Kost.
Tell us your story
I’ve been singing and writing songs since I can remember, but when I went to college to study Textile Design, I sort of stopped doing music all together. I was still writing songs in the form of acapella voice memos on my phone, but I didn’t have any outlet for them. At some point I realized a huge part of my identity was missing, and luckily I ended up falling back into music almost by accident.
I was in LA for my print design job, staying with my friend and her boyfriend who works as a songwriter there. She mentioned that I sang, and he suggested I come into the studio to work on and record a song he wanted to pitch to a female artist. That’s when I recorded Mulholland Drive with my now executive producer Shaun Lopez, and it was the first time I’d been in a professional studio space.
The artist didn’t end up taking it, but the song got a huge response from the different labels who had listened, and I guess a lot of people were asking who the singer was! Since then, I would send voice memos to my producer to build tracks around while I was in NY. And everytime I was in LA for work, I’d go into the studio at nights and on weekends. We built up a little archive of songs fairly quickly, and it’s been a huge passion project of ours since then!
How do you think trauma, anxiety and discomfort influence your creativity ?
I feel like I’m often a little too influenced by this side of the emotional spectrum to be honest. I don’t think I’ve ever written a truly “happy” song, and sometimes I wish my creativity wasn’t so directly tied to emotional turmoil or discomfort. In this way however, writing has always been very therapeutic for me. It’s a way to push through the discomfort, analyze it, and eventually let it go.
What’s a musical guilty pleasure of yours?
Hmm well I went through a relatively hardcore emo stage growing up, and I can still passionately sing every single word to My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge album…
What are some sources of inspiration for you?
For both music and design, I’m always inspired by the past! I’m super into 90s trip hop artists like Tricky and Sneaker Pimps, as well as 70s legends like The Mamas & the Papas. I love the 70’s era for design as well. My grandma has this inane retro floral wallpaper in her kitchen (which literally hasn’t changed since she moved in 50 years ago), that I’ve always felt drawn to. I just love that sense of nostalgia.
Who is an artist that you look up to more than others today?
First artist that comes to mind is probably FKA Twigs. I love that she is just as much a dancer as she is a singer and musician, and she puts everything into her craft. Her visuals and aesthetic are always surprising yet cohesive. She’s just a true artist all around.
I want to achieve something similar with my project when it comes to merging both of my worlds: music and design. I just hope I’m able to integrate it all, and continue to identify as a visual artist as much as I do a singer.
Favorite activity to blow off some steam?
Aside from writing songs, I can’t say I have any healthy solutions for this at the moment haha. I’d love to start kickboxing or Krav Maga lessons… some sort of outlet for this inner rage!
Tell us about your latest release and how it came about
My latest single, 4AM, is about a panic attack. And it was actually written while having one on the train home from work one day (lol). I went through a really dark stage with my anxiety where I just felt like a shell of a person. I was having panic attacks almost every night for no specific reason, unable to eat due to constant nausea and racing thoughts, and was overall exhausted. Since then, after accepting that part of it is a simple chemical imbalance, genetic, and out of my control, I’ve been on medication. I know that’s not a solution for everyone, but it’s changed my life drastically.
Anyways, I wanted to write a really chill song about something really chaotic, and in the moment it was a way for me to collect my thoughts and push through. It’s cheesy, but I hope it helps someone feel less alone when they’re going through it, even at that super lonely hour of night.
What are some things you do to deal with anxiety and creative blocks?
I think it’s true that the only way out is through. During quarantine, I didn’t write a single song for almost a year. I felt so much pressure to “create” with so much sudden free time, but also felt like I didn’t have a creative bone left in my body. For me, I only felt relief when I stopped trying to force it and just gave myself some actual time off.
I learned to be kind to myself in a way, and once I did I slowly felt the urge to write again. I remember my first writing session after that, and was so proud and so shocked that I managed to write a song I loved by the end of it (part of me really thought I’d just lost the ability). Sometimes you just need to give yourself space to breathe for once.
What’s the future looking like for you?
My EP is next (soon!), and then I can’t wait to put together an album. I feel like I have so many songs in my archive at this point, that now it’s really about selecting something cohesive and true to who I am as an artist.
I have big design plans for stage setup, merch, and maybe even my own clothing label eventually. I’m a raging virgo, and my mantra is always “I want to take my talents as far as they can possibly go.”
What inspires your visuals, videos, looks etc?
Again, always inspired by a feeling of nostalgia. I’m usually wearing vintage, and look to icons like PJ Harvey for performance inspo and general ~vibes~.
There’s usually a certain darkness to my visuals as well. I’m a huge fan of horror and love having a subtle element of creepiness in the mix.
What is the most embarrassing memory and most proud moment of your career so far ?
One embarrassing but hilarious memory was when I first met with my label, 300. Kevin Lyles introduced himself with a big smile and said, “Hi I’m Kevin.” I was so nervous that I shook his hand and accidentally said “Hi I’m Kevin” back LOL. Of course I was immediately like, “I MEAN KAELIN.” It was a ridiculous but funny icebreaker and hey, they signed me anyways.
Being on playlists like New Music Friday NZ and Pop Edge have obviously been huge, but I am genuinely most proud that my friends and family can finally stream my music on public platforms instead of digging through our texts for Dropbox links like they have for years. It’s been such a long time coming. Like, how do you beat hearing your 89 year old abuelo say “Hey Alexa, play Kaelin Kost” ?!
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
As a woman especially, it’s to stick up for yourself and your craft. I’m glad this is all happening now in my life rather than when I was 18/19 years old, because I think there would have been a lot of situations where I could have lost myself in the process of trying to please someone else.
If you feel disrespected or manipulated, you’re not a bitch for standing up for yourself or for protecting your vision.
Where do you think the music and entertainment industry is headed after this past year?
This is a tough one.. and it’s hard not to feel pessimistic about it sometimes. These days it feels like you have to be a social media influencer as well as a musician in order to succeed. Without a huge base following on TikTok or Instagram, it can feel like an uphill battle. There’s a ton of pressure for that viral moment, which is tricky in such an oversaturated market.
I guess in one way, fans can connect to their favorite artist on a more intimate level by witnessing their day to day online. But in another, you feel extremely exposed. I have hope though! I am noticing a slight shift from “influencers” to “curators,” behind the scenes tastemakers sharing their aesthetic/what’s up and coming. Who knows, maybe the blogging days will return!