kidLIO is a lyricist and singer/songwriter. She attends NOVA High School in Seattle. kidLIO has been part of The Residency (formerly The Hip Hop Artist Residency) at MoPOP, the SPOKES Leadership Board, and the Arts Liberation and Leadership Institute.
Tell us a little about how you discovered your love for music. What are some of your greatest influences? What made you want to write about your experiences and perform in front of an audience?
I discovered my love for music when I was maybe 11 after experimenting with writing novels and poems. I was exposed to music on the regular as I was growing up and I guess it rubbed off! I took on the role of a singer in a group that consisted of me, my older sister, and her ex-best friend. At the time, I was the songwriter, writing about being hurt in love (which I knew nothing about). The group thing stopped working after about a year. Their energy didn't match mine, and I realized I wasn't writing and singing for fun - I was doing it because I'd fallen in love with it! By the time I went solo, I discovered a passion for rapping. I idolized Eminem, Macklemore, Tupac, and recently Joyner Lucas, all revolutionary artists and storytellers, which is something I connected with as an author. In addition to these artists, I idolize Joyner Lucas the most. He rose slowly but surely with an interpretive story in every, single song that he wrote and released. Finding him in late 2017 actually did save and change my life. He reminds of the kind of music I want to create and hear from those in the rap community and music industry. What made me want to write about my life experiences was imagining that one day someone would tell me my music had changed their life for the better. Maybe they had realized their worth in being human. Maybe they were hurt, or lonely, or sad, you know? That's what made me want to perform! Man, just to see them. And by 'them,' I mean the friends. The 'fans.' The people who've come a long way to support my story because they connect to it. Because it evokes something in them. Feel me?
Tell us about your song. What inspired you? How do you hope listeners will receive your message?
"Someday Maybe" is a song about being young, black, female, overly mature, and pansexual in a world that is actively doing everything it can to shut that all down. I say the line about being an alien because after middle school, that's how I felt. Even as a preteen I knew I liked the same gender. I was overly emotional, very sensitive, yet extremely socially conscious and mentally aware. I couldn't and can't connect to my peers. I wrote "Someday Maybe" my Freshman year of high school (I'm a junior now), while I was attending a charter school where I especially felt like an alien. An underappreciated alien. The song is something I hope that young, black, female, overly mature, and/or pansexual youth can relate to. I hope listeners realize that this is only the beginning of the real shit I plan to express to the world, no censor.
What have you learned from your experience with Totem Star? What are some of the biggest takeaways?
Being with Totem Star for three years now has grown on me as an artist. It's taught me to love myself as the imperfect human that I am even though I am a fanatic of perfection, especially with my music! Totem Star is my home - the producers are the biggest part of my musical family. They push me in ways I'm still learning to push myself. They taught me that practice is key. That owning your story when you perform is how you hit the audience harder. I've overcome standards, I've stood knee deep in my dreams, I've made goals, and achieved them for myself. I've been happily human and loved for it. And that is everything in the world to forever be grateful for.
What advice would you give to other young artists?
Be your own fucking role model, but know when to humble yourself and when to ask for help. Know your foes and woes, and if you have one more than the other - balance it. I have no woes and many foes because the people attracted to me love drama and I've had to subtract that. I'm probably hated for that but I'd rather be hated than not be real, feel me? Also, do not hold yourself to a standard that is unrealistic - physically, mentally, nor emotionally. Remember your values, do not sell your soul, idolize with caution, and do your research. Listen to the gritty artists who only practice the harsh truth because it will only inspire you to do the same. Never forget that if you have tons to say, even though the world may not want to hear it, it is your duty to say it anyway.