- Natalie W
TONE444 Vol 5 - Kiya Lacey
This week, we caught up with Nashville bred, Atlanta based Afro Latina artist and entrepreneur, Kiya Lacey; a singer, songwriter, & event curator who enjoys celebrating southern culture & art in Nashville, ATL, & Toronto.
Kiya’s entrepreneurial pursuits have been quite fruitful. She started her own business in the beginning of the pandemic called Fruta Mami, using fresh fruits with chamoy, vegan treats, and all natural cosmetics. Fruta Mami has made appearances in various local markets, & vending pop ups. She also hinted at a second round of merch dropping very soon, and we CAN’T WAIT.
She is a trailblazer in more ways than one. Kiya was the first Black woman on the cover of Native Magazine, a prominent editorial in Nashville, Tennessee. As well as the first Afro Latina to be featured in the mag. She was also the first female RedBull Sound Select artist from Nashville. You may also have seen her in a Journey’s campaign that was featured on the second page of the Juice WRLD XXL edition. She’s even done casting work and booked extras for the Rico Nasty STFU video; directed by Spud McKenzie and did assistant booking for FKA Twigs’ We Are the Womxn. Her Not My First Rodeo Dinner in collaboration with RedBull gathered local artists, event curators, and creative women in general. She partnered with Afro Punk for social media and created reels content for them. As of lately, she is learning how to DJ, and DJing for another Atlanta based artist, Siena Liggins. Today, she is the community manager for one of the hottest parties in Atlanta, Code ATL.
Ladies and gentleman,
1.) I’ve seen you go through such beautiful phases with your hair; from pink to blue, from locs to afro. What’s the significance of the color blue for you?? As well as the significance of hair in general.
“I think it’s so funny.. I transitioned from pink to blue because I started making music when I was 15, and I felt like the pink era was a soft girly version of myself. The blue prepared my audience for a more adult, less censored version of myself. I love expressing myself through hair colors and different styles. I-D MAG wrote a whole article on how I changed my hair color, and how women are moving on from the color pink to expressing themselves as anyway they see fit. Blue is actually a really calming color. Turquoise is my favorite color. It’s calm, and it represents me shifting into being a more mature artist.”
2.) What got you started singing? What or who inspired you?
“Growing up, both of my parents always had record players. My dad would make mix CDs of artists like Kanye West… all explicit from bearshare. I had young parents who didn’t really care what I listened to. My favorite mixes when I got my first CD player were Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child, & Missy Elliot. My cousins were into the Neptunes, Pharrell, and N*E*R*D. My mom grew up in Virginia Beach, so she introduced me to that stuff early, too. They were also into Three Six Mafia. My mom also had her neo soul phase – Jill Scott, Bob Marley, etc. My parents had a very wide variety of music they listen to, so I was always listening to everything.
I think the biggest influence as to why I lean towards nontraditional R&B was Tumblr. I was a big Tumblr kid where I got introduced to FKA Twigs, Bjork, Kate Bush, & Arca. Kate Bush influenced all the girls. You can definitely hear FKA twigs is inspired heavily by Kate Bush. When I discovered Tumblr, it opened my eyes to other possibilities and I learned more about NYC culture, Afro Punk, and more. Since I went to an all-girls private white girl school in Nashville, Harpeth Hall, it forced me to dive into my own creativity and figure out what kind of sounds and music I like.”
3.) What are four words you would use to describe your personal sound aesthetic? I feel like I would be doing you a disservice by putting your music into one genre.
“Alternative. Experimental. Industrial R&B.
I def aim to make things cinematic because I believe everything is about creating an experience. I want someone to feel something when they hear my music. A lot of my stuff is sexual, but a lot of times that’s the emotion I want people to feel through the music.”
You’re great at facilitating experiences, with Not My First Rodeo, Fruta Mami, and your live performances. What inspired this? Where do you get that from?
“I think that comes from wanting people to be heard & creating safe spaces for people to be themselves.
NMFR celebrates southern culture and art… It is an event that welcomes any and everybody as long as you respect each other. There is no judgement as far as clothing, age, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. We’ve had people come through in wheelchairs. This girl got carried in a wheelchair and people were twerking on her and everything. She was so in theme. It’s really a judgment free zone. We welcome anybody as long as they are respectful of others. Cowboy hats, chaps, bowties, you can really wear whatever u want. We typically give rewards for best dressed. It was a Redbull sponsored event series that we are planning to relaunch soon. We would create Redbull cocktail mixes called the Yeehaw, the Old Town Road, & the Jolene. You see what I be wearing… like thongs and chaps. I just want people to feel comfortable dressing however they want to. Crazy hair & make up. The DJ is open format so we play pretty much anything that will get people dancing and having fun. That’s really the main goal; to get people dancing & having fun.
Fruta Mami is celebrating Afro Latinx culture. Because you don’t see that often in Atlanta. You see these “business girl boss brunches. I try to be truly my authentic self and provide open conversations for people to experience something new. I do get a joy from music.. to event production.. to food. I get a joy out of creating an emotion and creating an experience; whether that’s sonically or through your taste buds. I enjoy seeing someone have an experience. That’s the satisfaction for me is watching the people experience things.
As far as music stuff, I do have some upcoming singles releasing produced by Chris Link. He is a really known guitar player in Atilla, which is a metal core rock band from Atlanta. But, he’s been venturing out to doing alternative R&B on my singles. He actually mixed and mastered my last project, 6.”
Be on the lookout for new music dropping soon!
For more flavor like this, follow Kiya Lacey here.
Natalie W, The Sound Series