In Conversation With Hayku Kyah

When the air becomes too heavy, look up and talk to the moon, cry to the moon, or even blame the moon. The subject of countless songs, the moon is a guiding force for many; Hayku Kyah, a Toronto-born, Melbourne-local artist, aligns her music releases with moon phases, surrendering to the inarguable power.

Released under the full moon, Hayku Kyah unveils the newest teaser from her upcoming EP ‘I Thought You Should Hear It From Me.’ The inward-looking single ‘Swan Dive’ outlies how Kyah’s mind works with an inner dialogue enveloped by an eccentric beat with heavy-hitting drums

In our conversation, Hayku Kyah leaves all inhibitions behind and shares an honest opinion on the current algorithmic leading industry and the dead icon era. Relying on being authentic and true to herself, Kyah picked music as her constant and did not look back.

With her upcoming ‘I Thought You Should Hear It From Me’ project, Hayku Kyah will offer a sonic declaration of what she intends to do with the space she carved for herself. The genre-blending masterpiece will introduce her capabilities and impressive artistry to global audiences. Don’t sleep on Haky Kyah; she is on Noctis’ one-to-watch radar.

Hello Hayku, thank you very much for answering our questions. How are you doing today? My pleasure.

Today is a stellar day. Banana oats are on the menu for breakfast and I have some crunchy deadlines to meet for the EP, so things on this end are equal parts exciting and focused. Currently— listening to ‘Easy Baby’ by Denyah. Aaaaand I just got a text saying that my bestie is back in the city for Summer, closely followed with a notification that my skincare package is coming in today— the vibes are *high* babe.

Where did we catch you?

I’m sitting on the sofa at home in Princes Hill. North side, stand up! Sunscreen is on and I am absolutely luminous. Baggy t-shirt: on. Heater: cranked. Hair: I’m glad this is a written interview format.

Who is Hayku Kyah as an artist?

I grew up listening to artists like Lauryn Hill, Nora Jones and Macy Gray in my mom’s apartment in Etobicoke. I remember hearing ‘Late Registration’ for the first time, and being gifted Rihanna’s ‘Music of the Sun’ after I’d moved to a small town in Australia called Albury. I remember being home in Toronto as a teenager, sitting on my cousin Lateasha’s bed and her telling me that I just *had* to hear this song called ‘Still I Rise’ from a new artist— Nicki Minaj. To this day I still know every word to that song. I have spent countless nights drinking wine and singing along to Amy Winehouse. I remember driving around in my mom’s car, and we’d play the Snow Patrol album ‘Eyes Open’, singing like the world was ending.

I remember having new demos, and heading to my mom’s apartment in East Melbourne, swinging my bag down, and playing them through the sound system while I knelt on the floor. She would tell me which ones were her favourites.

As an artist— I am a series of moments that changed my life, and honestly nothing more than a hopeful aspiration that I get to share even the smallest amount of their gravity with people. This is how I process my experiences, and then connect with the world around me. It extends beyond my pen into the creative direction I do for my songs, and the digital spaces I create like the Gunfyre Gallery. I hope this all unfolds really beautiful for you all, because it’s such a pleasure to share it.

You’re born in Toronto, but based in Melbourne. Could you tell why you moved to Australia?

I moved to Australia with my mom when I was 11 years old. From Toronto, to a small town called Albury for 2 years before we moved to Melbourne. She met my stepdad in Toronto and he lived in Albury at the time. And when they divorced, we stayed in Melbourne.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

From a music perspective, my biggest influences would have to be Kanye West, Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse. They’re my constants. I’m also relatively obsessed with Orion Sun, Arlo Parks, Dua Saleh, Lianne La Havas, Saba and Bakar.

There are a lot of subcultures around the globe right now that are delivering consistent quality, too. In Australia, there’s this untapped scene of incredibly talented and mostly undiscovered artists. Some of them are my collaborators like IJALE, Kwasi and UNO Stereo. Canada is coming in hot with artists like Jessie Reyez and ODIE. The UK has a fire scene with Kojey Radical, JAY1, Elheist, Lex Amor, Rainy Milo, and Laura Mvula being some of my absolute favourites.

Outside of music— Pigmalion the sculpter is someone whose art is just easy to stare at. Pigmalion, if you’re reading this— please open up for commissions! Kermit Tesoro, Hanifa and Di Petsa, too. To name very few of the creatives that I’m really tuned into.

Could you bring us closer to how your creative process looks like?

My creative process changes. I love a bedroom set up, with the right lighting and some solitude. Just me, my midi toys and microphone. But I work with some pretty incredible producers who have studios, so that’s been the vibe as of late. It’s really easy to keep yourself busy and block out every emotion other than rage and fleeting moments of joy, but I have found that giving yourself space and time to feel the full breadth of your emotions allows you to put pen to paper in a way that transcends the obvious rhyming patterns. Like, how do you tell someone that you’re incredibly angry and your anger comes from a deep sadness, that your anger may have escalated the situation, but to neglect what made you deeply sorrowful in the first place feels like a betrayal. And continued betrayals of those kind, ultimately explain how anger has become a way for you to address situations— explaining that without a little bit of poetry? Impossible. Leaving room for your complexities is what allows you to find those odd pockets to flow through. So that’s what I do. I make a conscious effort to accept my very human nature, and then I honour that.

Also, a beautiful drop helps. A beautiful red and suddenly, any and everywhere starts feeling very homely.

I also spent many years on stage doing poetry, and something like that just never leaves you. I always have a pen and paper (and sometimes just my notes app) nearby, because situations that you’ve given space to don’t always come out of you when summoned. Sometimes it just smacks you in the face when you least expect it, and the words you’d been searching for just fall out of your mouth. Catch it, or miss it.

So when I do hit the studio— I have concepts that just seem to align with the emotions presented in different beats. And then I shape them, I jump in the booth and I recite them, and that’s my super uneventful, emotional-girl process to writing new music.

Listening to your music, it sounds very visual, referred to as part of a moon-phrase series, could you please elaborate?

It is very visual, because this is real life. I’m really out here *living*, and then baring my soul in these songs— sugarcoating nothing. So it’s an absolute pleasure to feel so seen.

The moon phases, specifically new moons (and sometimes full ones) are when I choose to drop my music.

It’s a really surreal experience deciding that music is going to be your constant. The rest of the world tells you that you’re amazing, but you should have a plan B. Or that you’re not as good a singer as Jorja Smith so to enjoy it as a (very f*cking expensive) hobby. But when you make that decision that music is going to be your constant— you decide two things.

  1. That to see your wildest creative visions come to life— you’re going to work like a dog, overtime, no days off
  2. Beyond what you can control, the rest is up to fate

So aligning with the cycles of the moon is my surrender. It’s me saying that I’m working like a dog, overtime, no days off. And the rest is with who and whatever you call God. Because the icon era is dead, and if the energy of the moon that controls the tides of the ocean can influence my music all the same— the people who need it, will find it.

The icon era *is* kind of dead. So f*ck the algorithm— be your most honest self and watch the community around you form.

How would you describe your sound of this chapter?

Eccentric. These are my many different profiles pouring out of me. Earth Angel was so vulnerable in it’s entirety. I was calling on every force of nature to resurrect me from the pitt I fell in. I needed a song like Earth Angel at that time. Something that was gentle on the spirit, spoke to my hardship with understanding and an allowance of grace. So I delivered that, and made it beautiful. Shout out to Teether for the beat, and UNO Stereo and IJALE for helping me transform that project into what has been my mantra for some time.

Swan Dive is the next step out of that pitt. Not entirely sure-footed, but there are glimpses of that in the lyrics. The vulnerability is still prevalent, though. It’s full of one-liners that I listen back to on repeat. Because I’m a Leo, and a poetic delivery on something that feeds the ego is literally a superfood for us.

No spoilers, but each song on the EP is completely different. This era, for me, is the era of holding absolutely nothing back. It’s super quirky, it’s bold in the song choices, but all of them feel like a declaration of what I intend to do with the space I carve for myself.

What main emotions are you expressing on ‘Earth Angel’?

Earth Angel is really my mantra. It’s a song about the experience of your darkest hours and who you find to catch you on your way down. Being lost in the deep-end that is your own bed when life is hitting hard. It’s about creating alternate realities through vivid imagination, when your worst nightmare is interrupted with the kindness and grace of people you’d least expect. The words speak about the need for togetherness, and bearing the brunt of your burdens with people who love you, and how sometimes— that’s enough to get us standing back on our own two feet. It honours the grace we should have for ourselves with the recognition of my own coping mechanisms. The song ends on a beautiful sentiment, though. Of having grown wings from my fall, and looking around to see Earth Angels all around me. Because no matter how far I fell, that surreal experience showed me the many hands I could reach out to.

What is the inspiration behind your new single ‘Swan Dive’?

Swan Dive is an inner-dialogue. This song started in SwissBerry’s home studio. It was so left of centre, I resonated with it. Weeks later, verses down— I found myself humming the chorus in the ICU, wondering if I’d ever see my person again. So it’s equal parts raw vulnerability, where I question if I can ever measure up to the greatness of this person, and equal parts bold statements about who I see myself to be. It played out like I was in two minds, and I love that — because I was. This is a deep dive into how my mind works, where I outline how to deal with people who present as obstacles, how to deal with the people I love who let me down, and an intricate insight into the heavy burdens that plague my life— enveloped by an eccentric beat with heavy-hitting drums.

You’re also gearing up to release a new EP ‘I Thought You Should Hear It From Me,’ would you be able to share what this project will represent and what were the main concepts you touched upon?

‘I Thought You Should Hear It From Me’ is a bold statement in many ways. It’s a reluctance to be categorized by a genre (big shout out to Kojey Radical for that memo). It’s a closing of a chapter, with the sole purpose of opening a new one— one where we’re all on the same page about what you can, and cannot, expect from me. It’s also an experiment. I sat with producers and listened to their instrumentals, and none of the beats sounded alike. But I felt a connection to each of them, so I chose them. And I wanted to give space to whatever emotions or personality came through on these songs. These are the ones that I *loved*. I hope you love them too, happy accidents and all.

We’re in the final quarter of this year, what do you have planned?

The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world. All jokes aside— I’m working with Elefant Traks and Future Shade Recordings to distribute this project. It’s like working with people who create space for your wildest dreams, and then jump in to assist with how we’re going to do that. We have some fire projects in store for you including my first merchandise drop, in partnership with Instinctively Human. And honestly, it’s just the beginning. So I’ll close this episode with “stay tuned”.

Thinking long-term, what would you like to achieve with your music? Also outside of the industry, its here any cause you would like to pay more attention to?

Long term, I’m not going anywhere— and I thought you should hear it from me. Eccentric songs with a classic feel and ample memorable one-liners are forever coming your way. And you are welcome!!I! In terms of tying my artistry to a political cause, I’d recommend listening to Gunfyre because it’s a bit of a *tell all* on my political stance. But, there are so many causes that I feel drawn to. To give a name— Sea Shepherd. They fight to protect our oceans. To give an ethos— It’s always people over profit. Economic boycotts give me butterflies. Major corporations run by bad, bad men are being supported and uplifted with the money that you work really hard for. Don’t give it to them.

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Words: Karolina Kramplova