Singled Out: KYOSi's All I've Had
KYOSi recently released her brand new single "All I've Had" and to celebrate we asked her to share the story behind the track with us. Here is the story:
I try to produce a sketch a week to keep my production and creative flow fresh. More often than not these sketches are put into a folder and not looked at again but every once in a while I revisit them to see if anything sparks interest. I probably have hundreds of 90 second sketches, sound pallets and mini-universes just sitting in dropbox. To me, the sketch process is the most sacred and most vulnerable. Any little sound or automation has the potential to deeply influence direction and thus the life or death of the track. When I did return to the sketch that became this track, I was pulled in by the synth line that acts as a sort of howl. It sounded like mourning-- like the cry of loss, the sound my synth would make if it lost its brother or beloved pet. That sentiment was enough for me to move it from the "sketch" folder to the "in progress" folder and bada-bing, the work began!
My process of late has been entirely collaborative, namely with my friend Todd Brozman who is an incredible jazz pianist and producer. I always joke that he's a sonic chameleon, which is what makes producing with him so much fun. He can make anything from tech-house to commercial jingles sound authentic. We've been writing together a bunch in the last few years, but this track is the first of those collabs being released. It's also the first track off a forthcoming EP, Negative Space. Collaborating can be hard work, sometimes more so than the writing or production itself. Managing expectations, egos, schedules, communication styles...there's just so much room for conflict and difference in opinion. Todd and I stepped all over each others toes, erased each other's work, put it back, reverted to different versions, re-recorded vocals and keys, but it was done with respect for each other and the material, which I believe comes across. The only non-collaborative effort was the lyrics, which I wrote entirely and showed him along the way. Producers who work in the box often report loneliness and feelings of isolation during the work process and I can see why: we toil over so many details. Hours pass and you're still working on an automation or mixing the background vocals. Progress can be slow when you work alone, and ears get tired quickly. So having someone to gut check and add things is a breath of fresh air. Add to that a good working relationship and someone you feel chill around and it's an unstoppable combo.
Process aside, the song is about class. It narrates an imagined, reconstructed memory of trauma, anger and narrates what I think my family of a few generations may have faced when journeying from southern Italy to the United States. As such, it is also a commentary on my feelings of the current political climate in America. Children in cages, endangered peoples being turned away, bodies on the shore... Those images have been on repeat in my mind for over a year now. It's exhausting to watch, much less to experience first hand. My heart breaks and tries to make sense of it all by thinking back on what my great great grandparents experienced. They settled into a hostile country and made it work. Only in more recent generations have we become part of an "accepted class" aka "white" and that's now all I know. My current family, now distinctly Italian-American vs. Italian, remains divided over immigration. I perceive many of them to be unwelcome, uninviting, and racist. It infuriates me that we've become so disconnected so quickly. The lyrics of this song aim to ask the question "if any human is not free, how am I?"
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself right here!
Singled Out: KYOSi's All I've Had