After releasing her debut single only two months ago, Kaiit has captured the ears and hearts of the Australian music scene. The funky jazz-soul track is full of personality and passion and is an exciting first taste of the young Melbourne artist.
After leaving high school in Year 10 and completing the final grade equivalent at Tafe, at just 19, Kaiit Waup is focussing on her creative expression in all forms. “I express myself in many different ways. I make earrings, I like to rip up clothes and style myself in different ways, I love hair so playing around with that, and I love makeup too. All kinds of stuff,” she enthuses.
“I’ve always loved music, I love singing and listening to music, but I’ve been writing songs for a while. It got to the point where I’d be performing and afterwards people would be coming up and saying ‘Do you have stuff online’… No!” she laughs. “Putting music out has been a little while in the process, maybe not so much consciously knowing that, but it’s exciting.”
Natural Woman – her debut and current single being splashed across airwaves – is layered and lyrically dense. The process itself was both lengthy and built on collaboration. “Writing it was very natural, pun intended,” she jokes, “but I guess experiencing all that that song is about, it went on for maybe a year, but during that process, the song came very quickly to me. I had a friend who originally wrote a beat, and I wanted to jump right on it. I guess it all just depends on the beat too, if I’m really vibing an instrumental then I’ll really go ham on it.
“Usually I like writing to beats that have already been made, which can be a bit tricky cause I’m very picky with the beat that I really do vibe with. I mean, there are really good beats out there but they’re not so easy to find. So being able to find that and connect with the beat has been a little troublesome for me, but I’m surrounded by many talented people and I’m sure many talented people I’ll be meeting in the not too distant future, I hope.”
Collaborating in this sense is something that comes easily to Waup and is at the core of her music, but she is also very aware and intrigued by every other step of the process that her music goes through. “I try and be involved in things as much as I can, and my opinion is always heard with the people that I work with and it’s always taken into consideration, which I am blessed for that. I try and sit in on a lot of things, even getting my track mixed and mastered, so that everything is swinging past me as well.”
Natural Woman is an incredibly bold introduction to Kaiit as an artist, showcasing her lyrical honesty and intelligence. It’s packed with killer lines about McDonald’s, reaching for the stars like Galileo, and other girls wanting her man – “all the white girls want your baby” – all of which gives us a taster of who Kaiit is. “I’m just writing off experiences but they can become more powerful than I intending them to be,” she muses. “Like I said, my music is just a form of expression, me dealing with my own stuff and wanting to share it with people or talk about it. But I mean, the white girls did want his baby!”
Despite her young age, Waup is incredibly aware of the power her voice and music has, even if it has had more of an impact than she expected, and this is something we can expect to see more from her project in future releases. “I feel like being put on platforms, even if it’s just like having a little speech at fed square, it’s just a chance for you to express yourself and what you believe in, and putting power to things that may not usually get that spotlight. Not only if I’m not writing it too much in my lyrics, or you can’t really understand what angle I’m going in about it, I love showing that visually. So even just Natural Woman, even though it’s simple, fun and feel-good, there’s more layers to it than that, so representation of minorities that don’t get represented. And the next video which I just finished filming is going to have a lot of representation which I’m very excited about.”
Natural Woman has an incredibly fresh and new sound to it with a tonne of sass, vocal dexterity and old jazz traditions thrown in for good measure. It’s something that her eclectic music taste and influences have guided: “To start off, Amy Winehouse – shout outs to her, love her with all my heart,”Waup begins. “She was just such a hopeless romantic and her music was so vulnerable, and the lyrics were just so real. It inspires me so much, if I ever need inspiration I’m always putting on her music. Also, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and I grew up with a lot of alternative music like Pink Floyd. Also the Black Eyed Peas, I love their older stuff.”
One of the big elements that makes Natural Woman stand out from other music is the incorporation of scatting. Commonly found in jazz music, it’s a refreshing and exciting component that not only adds a spark to the track, but also reflects the influence jazz has had on Kaiit. “I guess that does show how inspired I am from that kind of stuff, even just the beat and the way it’s super flowy. I mean, you should’ve heard Natural Woman when I was first recording on Garage Band, it did not sound like that!” she laughs. “I guess through performing it enough I got a real feel for what people liked and more importantly what I liked as well, and just get a feeling for the track.
“Natural Woman is the only song I have out that is completely 100% me and I want to represent me. I think that’s why I’ve haven’t been posting stuff for a while, because I didn’t know how exactly I wanted to be represented, and I wanted to be completely proud of the stuff I’ve been putting out, and when people hear it they know ‘Oh yeah that’s Kaiit.'”
Despite only releasing her first track in June this year, Kaiit has been in Melbourne’s live scene for much longer, where she was able to grow her confidence and sculpt her music for release. “I performed a lot thanks to MzRizk [Melbourne-based DJ], she is amazing. She has gotten me a lot of opportunities to perform, to play around with what I’m doing and feel comfortable. She runs an event at Ferdydurke every Tuesday called Gallery, and she gets young, upcoming artists in Melbourne – predominately females and women of colour – to perform. It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come through that. I wouldn’t even introduce myself before but now I’m just doing my thing, and having people come out for me which I find so wild. So live performance has had a huge part in who I am as an artist.”
Natural Woman‘s release was shortly followed by a stunning visual accompaniment starring Kaiit’s friends and family, and giving her the avenue to explore other layers of the track. “It’s with my beautiful friends, and my twin brother was in there too. I think that Claudia who shot it did such an amazing job of being able to see that. This is the first single we’ve ever worked on together, and we really get each other and each other’s ideas. If we don’t like something, then we will tell each other straight out. We both had the same idea for the concept and understood what we wanted to show. She was down for everything that I was putting in, my little two cents, and I’m so happy that has come with everything for this release.”
With all the hype and attention that Natural Woman has been seeing since its release, it’s no surprised that Kaiit is excited to release her next single and the accompanying video, something that is sure to back her place as an artist to keep your eye on. “I have finished recording the next single which will come out in good time, and we filmed the video for that which is so unreal and I can’t wait for that to touch eyes of people. This is just the start!”
11 August, The Gasometer Hotel