Confessional and captivating, kenzie’s left-of-center pop contains the kind of lived-in detail that immediately stirs up massive emotion. Whether she’s reflecting on a recent heartache or opening up about common struggles like anxiety, the 18-year-old singer/songwriter infuses every song with immense sensitivity, along with the same disarmingly genuine presence that’s earned her a major social media following. But as the Los Angeles-based artist reveals, gaining the courage to speak her truth took years of self-discovery and quietly building up confidence.

“When I was younger I’d go into songwriting sessions and feel like my opinions didn’t matter, even though I was the artist,” says kenzie, “but at the same time I was also writing songs alone in my bedroom, and it felt so therapeutic to get my feelings out. Finally I decided I wanted to start putting out music I’d written myself—I had a feeling that people could relate to what I was talking about in my songs, and maybe it would help them in some way.”

Newly signed to Hollywood Records, kenzie matches her unguarded introspection with a moody and mesmerizing sound that endlessly spotlights her spellbinding vocal work—an element she first began honing as a little girl in Pittsburgh. “My mom put me in voice lessons when I was six because I was constantly singing around the house,” says kenzie, who also started dancing at the young age of two. “Once I learned how to sing, I ended up falling in love with music.” Soon after moving to L.A. at age 11, she began collaborating with hitmaking co-writers and producers, releasing an album in 2018. But it wasn’t until the depths of quarantine that she created the first song that truly represented her as an artist: an ethereal yet emotionally raw track called “206.” “I was going through a period where I felt very lost and cut off from my friends, which I’m sure a lot of people were dealing with at the time,” she says. “I remember sitting on my bed with so many thoughts and needing to let them all out, and it turned into a song about overcoming fear and trying to be better for yourself.” Recorded with Phil Simmonds—a London-based producer —the result is a prime introduction to the understated poetry of kenzie’s lyrics (from the chorus: “206 of the bones in my body/Trying to be better now”).

Her debut single for Hollywood Records “100 degrees” expands on the radiant emotionality of “206,” unfolding as a dance-ready breakup anthem built on fuzzed-out beats and shimmering synth tones. “That was my favorite session,” says kenzie, who created “100 degrees” with an all-female team of co-writers, including her frequent collaborator/producer Lenii. “Most of my favorite songs come from working with other girls; I always feel so free to say whatever I want. I love that one because it’s a breakup song but it’s so upbeat, something you want to dance to with all your friends.” Meanwhile, on “paper,” she offers up a stark but hypnotic slow-burner that perfectly captures the pain of watching the one you love move on. “I put a snippet of that online, and people told me how much they related to the feeling of seeing your ex with another person and automatically comparing yourself to them,” says kenzie. “I love the way it came out because it’s so organic—you can hear every breath and every break in my voice, and it just feels so real.” Another upcoming track, “biting my tongue” illuminates kenzie’s more offbeat sensibilities in its dreamlike atmospherics and gorgeously warped textures. “I wrote that at a time when I was losing a lot of friends and figuring out who my real friends were, and we added in these strange and dark sounds that are so different from anything I’ve done before.”

As she continues to piece together her next body of work, kenzie has begun broadening her musicality by teaching herself to play ukulele and taking up both piano and guitar, in addition to sharpening her craft as a songwriter. “One of my friends got me a little journal and now I take it everywhere,” she notes. “I’m always writing down lyrics and song ideas, especially when I’m traveling—I love just putting my headphones and going into my own little world; it makes me feel so at peace.” And as she delivers her most vulnerable output to date, kenzie looks forward to revealing even more of her vast inner world. “I’ve been on social media for so long and I still feel like there’s so much people don’t know about me,” she says. “I hope that by sharing my story, I’m able to show everyone that I’m a regular teenager who’s going through all the same things they’re going through—and I hope it makes them feel like they’re not alone.” 

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