Get ready for a new generation of musicians such as Troye Sivan and Hayley Kiyoko, who make no apologies for who they are. They are out and proud while creating music that speaks directly to their fans.
Kiyoko started performing at an early age with movie roles in Blue Lagoon: The Awakening, Jem and the Holograms, and Scooby-Doo!
Her band, The Stunners, opened for Justin Bieber; she later released solo music.
Windy went backstage at House of Blues to talk about her album, Expectations, and much more.
Windy City Times: When did you first start performing?
Hayley Kiyoko: When I was five years old I got my first drum set, then I started songwriting and always wanted to be onstage.
WCT: Did your mom teach you dance moves, since she was a choreographer?
HK: No. she wishes. I would always show her cool hip hop moves.
WCT: So no one pushed you be in the biz?
HK: No. My parents were happy with whatever I would find to do. They came to my Santa Ana show and were just over the moon.
WCT: Did you see Beyonce when you were at Coachella?
HK: I did, but from very far away!
WCT: I heard it's a desert out there.
HK: It is. You have to breathe through a bandana so you don't choke.
WCT: How is this tour going?
HK: It has been going great. It is my first tour bus tour so I am living on the bus and following the schedule. The fans have been amazing and the shows are just electric.
WCT: Talk about your music videos. You self direct so why did you want to be that hands on?
HK: I was hands on because I had to be. I wasn't able to hire the directors that I wanted to.
I really enjoy it. I love writing music, seeing a story in my mind, and being able to execute that, from the wallpaper to the color of the floor I am able to show what I feel to my fans.
WCT: Your videos are personal?
HK: Yes, because it is my life. It is not going to be an over sexualized one time thing. There is nothing wrong with that, but for myself it's my life. I get my heart broken and get in situations just like everyone else. It's important to have that presentation across the board.
I really focus on doing as many videos and storytelling as possible.
WCT: Is "Curious" about exploring sexuality?
HK: No. It can mean whatever you want it to be, but from my point of view it is about me dating this girl and seeing her doing the same thing with this guy, For her she is in the question area, but even if she is just be up front. Is it a serious thing or is she just doing it with everyone?
WCT: Well, sometimes people send mixed signals.
HK: Yeah, or you think you are in one place but really in another or not on the same page. The song really calls it out.
WCT: How do you want to be identified?
HK: I am gay and I like girls. I don't like labeling myself though. People call me the "Lesbian Jesus." I am open to changing the stereotyping of what those labels mean and the labels that we are so afraid to attach ourselves to.
The same reason that I never wanted to be labeled lesbian or gay, and instead as 'likes girls" is because of the heavy weight of what those mean and what comes behind those words. By attaching those word to myself hopefully I am changing what those words mean.
WCT: Why did you feel the need to come out of the closet?
HK: I never really came out. I've always liked girls. I did the "Girls Like Girls" music video, which I would say is a coming out, but there really was no coming out. That was the whole point of the music video, because it wasn't about me. It is the subject and storyline of falling in love with a woman and fighting those fears, standing up for what you want, and going for it.
WCT: Do you think people make a bigger deal of being gay than it really is?
HK: It depends. It's an important thing to talk about because we are everywhere. It is a big deal on that level, but also I am the type of the person that doesn't feel it needs to be in the conversation. I would love it to not be. To just take it for what it is and normalize it. The word normalize is important for me because that is what I try to do with my art.
WCT: You must hear incredible things from fans.
HK: This tour has brought me the youngest fans ever. I had an 11 year old girl tell me she came out to her mom and came with her to my concert. She said I made her feel comfortable enough to tell her mom about her liking girls.
I knew since I was five years old, but I would never say it out loud. That is my purpose to encourage people to live their truth as soon as possible.
WCT: Tell me about the "Gravel to Tempo" comic book.
HK: You have to get it. I am selling it at the merch table on tour. We developed it and I am so excited about it. It is the beginning of something.
We took the music video and that is in the comic book, but expanded on it. We went deeper into the story. I want to do more.
I have never had a tangible form of a music video or one of my stories. People can see it with the colors and it comes to life. I am so stoked about the comic book. I would love to do one for every video. It is the beginning of something fun.
My fans are very talented artists so it feeds that world.
WCT: Speaking of comic books, if you could have one superpower, what would it be?
HK: To fly.
WCT: Me, too!
HK: Did you skydive?
WCT: I did, but was scared.
HK: I did it twice and loved it.
WCT: Was it better the second time?
HK: Yes; the first time I thought I was going to die, but the second time I just enjoyed it.
WCT: I met one of the team that helped you with the comic. You have a great team.
HK: I have a team of female Scorpios!
WCT: Now I am working why is touring such a male dominated field?
HK: Honestly the lifestyle of it is really intense.
WCT: What else do you have coming up?
HK: I have a TV show coming out on Facebook Watch that is called Five Points.
I have a lot of new music and videos coming out this year. I will be touring with Panic! the Disco.
WCT What great opportunities are coming for you…
HK: We work really hard from the bottom up. My fans know this. I did pledge music for my first EP and they funded it. It was a very slow process from the beginning to be where I always wanted to be right now.
WCT: Did you feel a lot of pressure with crowd-funding?
HK: It was a lot of work. I would never do it again! [Laughs] I still have fans coming to my shows that funded my first EP so it was worth it.
WCT: What do you want to tell people that haven't discovered you as an artist?
HK: It sounds cheesy but there is a song for everyone on my album. If you like Coldplay there is "Molecules." If you like Mumford & Sons then you would like "Let It Be" or hip hop there's "Under the Blue." I have a lot of pop genre bending songs. My influences go all over the place. Whatever kind of music you like you will find on my album.
Kiyoko returns to Chicago Tuesday, July 17, at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., at 7 p.m. See HayleyKiyokoOfficial.com .