KIAN is part of a new generation who make music without boundaries.
Ostensibly pop, he draws from hip-hop production, neo-soul delivery, and more, bundling this all together in a pan-genre package.
Debut single 'Waiting' caused a ruckus online, with KIAN's instant fan army pushing the track to more than 60 million streams globally.
Follow up 'Every Hour' landed with an almighty smash a few days ago, while KIAN has already supported Jorja Smith and Conan Gray.
The teenage pop auteur sat down with Clash to discuss his Influences...
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Frank Ocean - 'Self Control'
I don’t think there is a song that Frank’s released I don’t like, for me each song feels as if it unlocks an emotion or feeling that I've either never felt or didn’t know I had.
To me, this song makes me want to be with someone I love and the feeling that comes across the track is almost like someone is on the brink of losing hope, and all they want is to be heard or maybe be forgiven.
'Self Control' inspires me not only with its angelic sound, emotive vocals and incredible lyricism, but also with its structure, it's very unique, as some of my favourite parts are only sung once yet remain memorable, almost like every section is a hook.
I think it’s a great example of how music doesn’t always have to follow a pattern and it reminds me that there is no one way to approach writing, after all it's an art form and I think that really shines in this track.
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Tyler, the Creator - 'Pothole' (ft. Jaden Smith)
This song is off Tyler’s album titled 'Flower Boy', which came out around the same time that I was getting into creating my own music. I remember listening to the album on repeat, start to finish countless times and I loved every single track. The album was sonically refreshing at the time of release, and it did that while creating a cinematic journey through all the tracks. The sound and energy this album brought definitely influenced my music.
'Pothole' has always been a song I’ve liked but it’s grown and grown on me more over time. The more I've listened, especially recently, I've realised that it hits somewhat close to home with something that I’ve struggled with and something I’m sure many have had to face.
Hidden behind this musical and poetic metaphor, is the story he’s telling. To me the message I perceive is that he had people or things in his life that were holding him back, people who were stuck in and unmotivated to move forward and in order for him to find growth he needed to distance himself from those things, the “potholes” in his life.
An important lesson I’ve learnt and a lesson I think this song embodies, is that the community or people around you have a massive impact on your life and you as a person, if people don’t want more for themselves then it’s easy to get yourself caught up in that mindset when really your true potential is limitless.
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Joey Bada$$ - 'Waves'
I was introduced to Joey Bada$$ when I was 12 and I remember being so obsessed with his tone and flow that stood up and easily could be compared to some of the greatest rappers to ever come out of New York. I would listen to his music everyday almost religiously and would become a huge fan of his collective Pro Era.
I picked the song 'Waves' in particular because it’s one of the many stand out tracks on his debut album '1999', there is an absurd amount of wordplay packed into this song and it’s all strung together by a flow beyond his years and an impeccable rhyme scheme. He pulled that off and still got across his story and set a scene in the mind of the listener all while being just 17 years old at the time (the age I am as I write this).
For someone so young to have that much talent and be so on point really motivated me to experiment and put more thought into my words, flows and melodies in order to elevate a story. without my time listening to his music and breaking down his lyrics I don’t think I’d be able to write with the confidence I do now.
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Gorillaz - 'Feel Good Inc.'
My Mum was getting rid of her CDs one day when I was younger and I remember her handing me a small pile that she thought I would like, which I’m very grateful for because those four albums to this day are some of my favourites ever. One was 'Demon Days' by Gorillaz and even though the whole album is amazing I remember after my first listen 'Feel Good Inc.' stood out to me so much.
The band was genre-bending and the track felt like all my favourite music packed into one great feeling song, funk, rock and hip-hop topped off with that classic UK feel. Even now the sonics that make up this song and project influence my music heavily and make me want to bend and add all the sounds that interest me from all different eras into my own tracks to create something new and interesting.
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N.E.R.D. - 'Run To The Sun'
This song is off another one of those four albums that my mum handed me that day and can I just say I was such a lucky kid to be introduced to such amazing music at the age I was, I don’t think I realised at the time how great N.E.R.D. but in my hands I had music made by some of the most influential creatives ever.
The writing and production across all N.E.R.D.’s work was way ahead of its time and still holds its own today. They managed to create their own sound, a sound that would be adopted by artists and groups like Tyler, The Creator and BROCKHAMPTON who in turn have inspired their own generation and created their own unique sounds.
I picked 'Run To The Sun' because I think it carries all the N.E.R.D. aspects I love, everything about this track works, Pharrell’s classic vocals, smooth ad libs and song writing set the tone of the track, while unorthodox keys and guitar lines create funky undertones beneath the drums.
The attention to detail and the feel they bring in the track is something I’m forever aspiring to find within myself and my own music.
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