Kiiara is the Anti-Pop Star Spinning Songs into Gold

Kiiara is the Anti-Pop Star Spinning Songs into Gold

The elusive artist behind 2016's hit "Gold" steps in front of the camera in a rare shoot for V.

The elusive artist behind 2016's hit "Gold" steps in front of the camera in a rare shoot for V.

Photography: MICHAEL RAY ORTIZ

Text: Ian David Monroe

Kiara Saulters, better known as the mononymous Kiiara, was easily one of the biggest breakout artists of 2016 with her EP, low kii savage. Her debut single, the infectious “Gold,” has already gone double platinum in the U.S., Australia, and Canada. If you haven’t heard it blaring through your radio, you’ve likely caught the instrumentals soundtracking an Apple Watch commercial.

The David Singer-Vine and Felix Snow-produced hit came as a gritty, trap-infused counterpart to contemporary pop songs. Far from bubblegum, Kiiara's lyrics, much like her Twitter feed, are far from the family friendly sexual metaphors that have proliferated pop radio for decades. Her hundreds of millions of Spotify plays, though, prove that there are plenty of people connecting with her seemingly loner aesthetic.

Low kii savage tracks like the aforementioned "Gold," "Tennessee,” “Feels,” and “Say Anymore” quickly became the anthems of social media-fatigued Millennials with prescription pills everywhere. “And I got way too many feelings, way too much emotion/All this Xans inside my body, I say fuck it keep on drowning,” she sings on “Feels.” On “Say Anymore,” she sings “As long as I got you in between the sheets/A bottle of that red and some blue weed.”

Most recently, Kiiara joined Linkin Park on their track “Heavy,” which details the psychological effects of alcoholism. The music video sees Kiiara and Linkin Park frontman, Chester Bennington, grapple with what appears to be alcohol abuse. At one point, Bennington starts beating up his doppelganger in what is a clear message of self-abuse. The feature comes as a bit of a surprise given the band's rock leanings, but the stars align in the subject matter.

Kiiara is far from your average pop star and shows no signs of conforming to expectations. By doing so, the rising rebel is bringing new and deeper dimensions to an often superficial genre.

If there’s a formula for pop stars to make it big—sex appeal, TK, and TK—Kiiara isn’t following it. In 2017, rebels are welcome. The louder their truth, the better.

Catch Kiiara on tour with the Chainsmokers (schedule here) and at this year’s Coachella in California and Panorama in New York.

SWEATSHIRT DANIELLE GUIZIO
Credits: HAIR HOLLY MILLS (TIM HOWARD MANAGEMENT)  MAKEUP SUZY GERSTEIN (HONEY ARTIST)  PHOTO ASSISTANT TYLER KUFS  Production Hannah Huffman  PRODUCTION ASSISTANT DANIEL EVANS  LOCATION DRIFT HIGH LINE

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