on ownership.

Discussions of plagiarism in songwriting have become rampant in recent history, and after reading this recent NY Times article on the topic, I feel a need to share my thoughts. While I understand there are legitimate instances of intellectual property theft, my response to “hey one of your lines sounds kinda like a line I made one time” is… “Seriously? You ever notice that Twinkle Twinkle and Baa Baa Black Sheep are the same song and oh yeah, they totally ripped of Mozart?”

I hate that you can legally destroy someone for emulating a vibe. (I’m not a big fan of Blurred Lines or Robin Thicke at all for other reasons, but for this particular cause I guess I’m on their side…) Every single song we have today was built on the songs of yesterday– we would not have rock music without jazz music. We would not have jazz music without classical music. And I would 100% be a different musician if I listened to different artists growing up, the same way that Picasso would be a different painter if, I dunno, Cezanne didn’t exist (art historians-did I do ok with that analogy?).

People, and especially artists, are sponges. We observe our surroundings and create value and meaning from them. We soak up the art that we find most interesting and relatable.

I’d truly be honored if somebody took a piece of my song and did something surprising with it. I love the way hip-hop encourages sampling and lyric-lifting as homage. Have at it, somebody!

Look, if I wanted full ownership of my songs I would never share them. I’d leave them locked up for only me to enjoy. Music belongs to all of us. I hope we can shift to allow more creative expression in this industry, because if you want to be militant about songwriters who borrow phrases and melodies, you’ll have to throw every single one of us in jail.



the state of music in 2018

Here’s my 2 cents on the state of pop music today, for better or worse. To be clear, I’m not saying the examples in this are bad songs! Here are some trends I’m getting bored of hearing, and then what I’m excited about:

Bleh, boring:

  • Indie Girl Voice:
    • Or, “The Halsey Effect.” The singer contorts their vowels to be all topsy-turvey, and then there’s sort of a throatiness and vocal fry in their tone. It may have been a unique sound at first, but it became ubiquitous. I’ve even found myself doing it by accident. And I really don’t like the babyish vibe it gives off. But hey, I guess all genres have their vocal quirks. Tons of my favorite artists are guilty of the Tom DeLonge pop-punk intonation.

Halsey- Eyes Closed 

Alice Merton- Roots

  • The same snap/clap beat
    • Listen to a “chill pop” or “good vibes,” any kind of new Spotify playlist and– Every. Song. Starts. With this beat. I love Lorde, but she made those homogenous Royals/Team beats when she was like 13. And they were released over five years ago. We’re still doing the snap/clap thing consistently on beats 2 & 4? Eh, it’s lazy.

Us- Carlie Hanson

Jonas Blue- Rise

  • Monster voice
    • The monster voice effect can be really chilling and unexpected in the right song (Banks typically does this well). But the effect pops up everywhere now.

Lauv- I like me better (bonus- includes the snaps as well!)

  • Brrrr ATT Drrat! noises in mumble rap
    • Look, I don’t really care if music is “highbrow,” or if it experiments with strange noises. I just don’t know what this little doot doot sound’s purpose is, because it is not moving in any way. It just sounds like they were messing around and forgot to the turn the mic off. It’s the 2008 Eyyyyy of today, but worse.

Desiigner- Panda 

  • Every commercial has a ukelele and whistling.

Enough said.

  • That football stadium sort of song
    • This pains me, because some of my favorite bands have been putting out music like this. (I still love you F.O.B.) Sometimes you need a good pump up song. But some of the songs with true heart (XO) pump me up more than something more generic that sounds like it was commissioned by NFL. I think it’s an attempt at staying relevant with rock music… but it feels canned, especially when it’s song after song of false bravado. 

Demi Lovato- Confident (Also known as the less-exciting fusion of Fall Out Boy’s Irresistible  and Black Skinhead by Kanye West. )

So now that I’ve complained enough, what do I actually like right now?

  • Big open 80s drums
    • Cool.

The 1975- Someone Else 

  • Out of tune
    • Slightly-out-of-tune sounds are so haunting and they hit me right in the heart.

Porches- Glow

  • Synth
    • Give me that synthy synth. It’s colorful and spacious and moody.

Japanese Breakfast- Face Like Thunder 

  • Full harmonies
    • I’m a choir kid, and I’m obsessed with harmonies, even though I know the artist didn’t sing them organically. They just sound warm and rich.

Taylor Swift- Delicate 

Backstreet Boys seems to have taken notes from Swift… Hope their copyright lawyer is ready. 

*BUT—note the 2013 chord progression in these!! … uh oh.

  • Tropical house
    • This has been so in in the last few years, and it’s just fun and different.

Zara Larsson- Lush Life 

  • Reggaeton / dembow beat
    • I know reggaeton has been killing it with this for a long time, so I’m certainly not saying “Hey everybody, pop artists have just invented this cool beat!” Rather, I’m excited that it’s so pervasive in mainstream radio now.

 Despacito by Luis Fonsi, obviously

Sia and Sean Paul – Cheap Thrills

  • Chopped and screwed 
    • Not a new concept either, but slipping into the mainstream more.

Kiiara- Gold 

  • Authentic voices, some without major/noticeable autotune
    • They keep all the crackles, because you can hear the truth in the artist’s voice. That gets me.

Kesha- Praying

Lorde- Writer in the Dark

  • Retro
    • I mean, we’re going to dip into the retro forever. We always have drawn in pieces of the past. I happen to be really big on 80s aesthetic, so I’m excited about that trend in synth pop and more. 90’s hip hop was not my thing at first, but I can appreciate its unique integration. It feels fresh again somehow.

Bruno Mars and Cardi B – Finesse 

Halsey- If Walls Could Talk

It’s certainly not a comprehensive list of every pop song that’s good nor is it a list of everything I’ve ever liked, just my thoughts for now, which you’re welcome to disagree with in the comments! I’ll be here waiting for pop-punk emo to return in the cycle.



my friend nostalgia, it’s been a lovely show.

I’d like to say I’ve been waiting impatiently for a year to share this music with you, but to be honest, I think I’ve been waiting my entire life.

After completing a project with a theme of “can’t let go of the past,” it feels like I’m setting these thoughts ablaze on a viking ship out to the ocean. It is scary to watch it dissipate into the water and even more fascinating to watch people drink it in.

I think you will hear the longing to be in another place or time. Frustration about never quite being able to cross that barrier. You will hear the story told by a newly-born adult, picking up the pieces of something she didn’t even know was broken.

I hope you will catch all the references, I hope you will hear your own voice.

What I appreciate about the final product most is the process. The first track was written about a treacherous voyage across the wild west. The final track was a poem I wrote on a notebook in the dark, traversing the coast of Lake Michigan over a year later. These thoughts followed me around, starting one way and writing a new ending. I’ve tracked them across the world on my shoes.

It occurred to me many times throughout this process that this album might never be heard by more than a handful of people. It has definitely run through my mind that somebody might call it tired, or trying too hard to be clever, or overly wordy, or generic pop garbage, or pandering to current trends… I could go on…

But I thoroughly enjoyed making these songs.They say things I needed to say. I think they might make you feel something, but if you don’t, find some other album and feel something else. I truly mean that.


So. My friend nostalgia, it’s been a lovely show.





laugh in your loneliness

I am not used to being alone. Young women travel in packs. We all go to the bathroom at the same time, haha! It’s actually so that we have a witness in case we get assaulted! Lol, right? Alternately, we go to the bathroom together so we can talk about what an ass you’re being.

Let me say that safety is a concern, and with the multitude of #metoo stories I’ve been hearing from my own friends long before the hashtag, it’s incredibly valid.

But I’m talking about being alone in a crowded room. Think about those moments when you’re waiting for a friend and pretending to text so people don’t look at you weird.  How many times have you gone to a movie by yourself? When you’re at a concert without your friends, do you sip your drink much more than a normal amount and wonder what to do with your hands?

It may be the social anxiety monster in me but when I go out by myself, I feel like a robot who’s been instructed to act like a human, while all other humans have been assigned to the task of discovering all the robots.

This past year I’ve been trying to spend time getting to know and love myself. When I told people I was going to New York for a solo adventure, they gave me concerned looks and told me to find a chaperone. And I get it. There are gangs and murderers there (like any city) and there may have been one or two moments where I thought, “Am I going to die here?” Most of them were during air turbulence, but still. I was observant, I stayed in well-lit areas, I had a relative I could contact in emergencies, etc.

I know it isn’t foolproof, but sometimes you have to take a plunge and trust yourself. It turns out that my old friend anxiety is very good at preparing for disaster, and has turned me into, actually, probably a more level-head in crisis situations. For an indecisive girl, choosing the right train route, where to eat—these were small victories for me. And I feel ready to tackle my own city much more because of this.

I can’t stress this enough— DON’T BE A FOOL (read Into the Wild for more on this). Make plans, tell people where you are. But *maybe* lean into the fear of traversing this big world as an individual person. Maybe find out how your inner-monologue truly sounds. You might find answers to questions you didn’t know you had.



If there is a light that never dies, what is this darkness in front of my eyes?

I read Slaughterhouse Five in eleventh grade, and this blew my mind: the idea that time was only linear to humans- we are all “bugs trapped in the amber” of time, space and life, but to this alien species, the dead are never lost to the past, because they can arrive at any point in the timeline they wish. It got me thinking about the theory that there are infinite dimensions in which all possible outcomes exist concurrently, where the dead are living, in another section of time or another dimension.
Every time somebody dies in the Slaughterhouse Five, (often) (it’s a war story) the narrator muses, “so it goes.”
Thinking myself to be an 18th century poet and big time philosopher, I began to write little niblets of this poem about a dying rose on my windowsill. Loves and losses later, I wrote the piano riff to this song in the basement of my dorm. And so it goes. As I typically do, I started Frankensteining it all into one song about being caught in the past. So I ask, is death, physical or metaphorical, truly the end?
Enjoy Bugs Trapped in Amber, another piece of the upcoming album.
on my window sill is still 
the cheapest rose 
it used to bloom in red 
but now it’s dead 
a single rose 
dead, and so it goes 
your eyes could sparkle like emerald lies 
in the right light but 
escaping from beneath a starless sheet 
i breathe and then the light goes 
or so it goes 
if there is a light that never dies 
then what is this darkness in front of my eyes 
they say when it’s over 
you will know 
i sent it off 
that love is dead 
dead and so it goes 
i’m carrying your weight in every step like i’m on house arrest 
when they let me out i was homeless 
i’ll just put myself back in again 
freedom is a happier sound 
but it’s slow 
and so it goes
music & lyrics copyright Kaia Kalise 2017

“I’mma make it by any means, got a pocket full of dreams”

When we’ve got one foot in the past and one foot in the future, we’re not all there.

I hate to ask people for money. It’s the worst. But then I remember that people generally want to help, especially when they get something out of it. They could be part of something collaborative, something brand new.

As you know, I am currently recording a new full-length indie rock album. The music sounds like this. (Similar to Regina Spektor, Paramore, Lorde…)

I have been funding it with my hard-earned money from gigs here and there, but recording is expensive! People gotta get paid. And I have so many dreams and wishes on this thing that I would love to realize, with your help.

That’s where GoFundMe comes in…

I started writing some of these songs as far back as 2012. The full structure of H.L., truly my first full-length album, has been stuck in my head since probably 2015. My ever-present dream of creating music is strong as ever, and the best part is always sharing it with you all.

The album concept:

It’s a little bit of my nostalgic heart. It’s about time. It’s about how we can time travel, but only in one direction. It’s about how desperately we cling to past versions of ourselves and yet our eyes are always on the next prize. It’s about the time it takes for pain to dissipate, or how long it takes to wade through a swamp of depression, or for a haze of panic to clear. And how it always seems to take too long. We’re always running out of time. We start to run in another direction hoping the distance will solve it. We run from our memories, but we can’t let them be.

When we’ve got one foot in the past and one foot in the future, we’re not all there.

Where does this money go?
Studio time, musicians, mixing, mastering. My goal is actually less than half of what the whole process will cost, so if we can exceed it– that will help me immensely!


Get caught up in the afterglow with me. Help put this dream as a tangible thing in my hands, and I’ll put it in yours too.

Your donation will help me and my crew finish the project, and it will be your pre-order for the digital album. THANK YOU for your support!!


the orchestra plays on

Against a background of white supremacy and nuclear war, it seems silly to be thinking about which drum beat works best. But honestly, I think it it’s important to keep creating now more than ever.

For one thing, selfishly, it keeps me sane.  (most of the time. Sometimes it makes me a little crazy.) It gives me purpose. I feel helpless in this world, but I know how to make music. I just do. It’s not always easy or good, but it’s the one thing that I can make happen.

What’s more is that if I refuge in music, others can too, and that’s why I choose to record and perform instead of just singing at home. Art gives meaning to life. We need something to get excited about, something to analyse or dance to. When my favorite band puts out a new single it gets me amped about the world for at least a few minutes.

While I admire bands who create political statements with their music, I haven’t ventured there too much because I don’t want to speak on a topic I don’t feel qualified to speak on, and it may end sounding like a sweeping generalization that ignores viewpoints I’m unfamiliar with.

I come from a privileged place. I just write the truth about my own life, because that’s what I know.

So anyway. I’ve been in recording sessions since May, but due to my busy life (band, work, volunteer, performances, eating and sleeping) it’s been fairly irregular. We’ve finished drums and piano, and some guitar and synth stuff as well. I would really like to release this album in the fall, but I would MUCH rather produce a good album than a quick one. It’s been really fun to try new things and collaborate. It’s definitely an indie rock album, but I think it’s got a wacky flavor. I’ve taken pieces from hair metal, modern hip-hop, 80s synth pop, ska, and lounge music, just to name a few. It’s truthful, but I want to have fun with it.

Oh, before I go, let me use this platform to say emphatically that there are not “many sides” to basic human rights.

Let’s keep fighting, keep writing, and be kind.


Oh please, just don’t ask me how I’ve been, Don’t make me play pretend

There’s always something under the surface, for all of us. We’re all struggling with something. But even on the day your dog dies and you lost your wallet, somebody’s going to shout “Hey, why don’t you give us a smile!” on the street.

And when you work in customer service, you’re surely not going to end a call with ” no use having a nice day… climate change is going to end or drastically alter our civilization in a meager century…”

If your coworker asks how your weekend was, and you spent it fighting with your SO, you’re going to say “It was very relaxing” right?

So we do it. We slog through the sludge. Something about bootstraps.

To be fair, there are numerous studies about how faking a smile can make you feel better (source: Mom, like a thousand times). It actually does work on occasion, for the moment. But long-term it gets very exhausting. Sometimes you don’t want to pretend. You just want to say, I’m tired and I don’t want to play adult anymore. I am actually very worried about climate change and who has access to The Button. I’m not okay. (™My Chemical Romance)

Inspired by Paramore’s perfect Fake Happy, here are some songs that wear a pretty veneer but have a softer, sadder center. Featuring the legends of Happy-Sad: The Smiths, Anberlin, The Cure, Fall Out Boy and more.






Nobody wants to hear you sing about tragedy

Since I started sharing my music I have gotten 99.9% love from you all. I honestly did not expect that. In maybe one or two occasions, I’ve received something I did expect: the Internet Troll. One grey-faced fiend told me “Nobody wants to hear your sh*tty love songs.”

Case study: Drop the name “Taylor Swift” at your next gathering. I’ll bet six people similarly will say “After all these guys you’d think she’d write a song called ‘Maybe I’m the problem lololol'” (Not to mention T-Swift HAS written such a song and it’s called “Back to December” — but I digress…)

I think that’s what this anon was getting at: “Nobody wants to hear you whine about your ex.”

Here’s what I think. I think people do. Why do you think T-Swift is one of the most successful artists of our time?

Because nearly every single one of you lucky folks is gonna get your heart broken. And you’re gonna want to know you’re not alone.

You might not be dumped as a teen, but you might lose your parent. You might get fired . You might get divorced or go bankrupt. And so on.

Love & loss are universal truths. And art and music is a common venue to share these truths. Ever wonder why we still perform Shakespeare? Over time and genres, we’re all human and we have feelings, and they are messy. You listen to music to hear from someone who doesn’t know you, but they just know you, right?

This was nicely touched on by a comedian, Chris Gethard, in his special called Comedy Suicide, about how The Smiths just get him (I do recommend the special. And The Smiths for that matter.)

Alternately, does it matter who’s listening? I write with honesty about my feelings, and it’s therapeutic for me. Sometimes it’s a love song. Sometimes it’s a hate song. Sometimes it’s about multiverse theory. I get the feeling that anon didn’t really listen.

This blog is not meant to be one of those *really good comeback in the shower three years later* situations and I honestly don’t care what that person thought. But I do think it is important that we acknowledge that art is important for healing and learning. I hope you feel the same way about my music– and if you don’t care about my sh*tty love songs, well gosh, there are millions of great artists out there. Find em.

Oh and the other point of this blog is leave Taylor alone. We needed “Forever & Always” at a time in our lives, ok?





we have gravity, the sun in harmony.

“A damaged girl can build the best damn army.”

So what have I been working on in my moonlight hours?

Thinking about this: women have been pitted against each other for all time. Your favorite rom-coms, your older sister, a popular girl, your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend. He cheats on you and you despise the girl he cheated with, and so on. Where does the bitterness towards other women come from? Could it be rooted in the arbitrary rankings we are given? Can we stop blaming each other for our insecurities; join forces to fight back instead of fighting for the number one spot?

This isn’t my story. It’s ours.

Listen here, and read the lyrics below for the testimony of a Moonlight Girl…

he puts you on a pedestal 
and then he makes you sleep on the floor
he senses that you’re starting to care
so he doesn’t care anymore

girl i know you, i know you

he sees you through a telescope
he always keeps one up his sleeve
he tells you that you thinks he’s in love
he doesn’t love you enough to leave.

girl i know you, i’ve been there too
i know it, i know it 

i’m a moonlight girl
always hiding in his roommate’s bed
cause his girlfriend sleeps in his instead
he’s the song i have stuck in my head

moonlight girl
he won’t let me go, won’t let me stay
when he wakes up i’m a world away
cause things are cloudy in the light of day.

he treats us like a felony
never mind the kisses he steals
he’s a poet with his perjury
it’s a poem that’ll never heal

girl i know it, i’ve been there too
i know it, i know it

i’m a moonlight girl
always hiding in his roommate’s bed
cause his girlfriend sleeps in his instead
he’s the song i have stuck in my head

moonlight girl
he won’t let me go, won’t let me stay
when he wakes up i’m a world away
cause things are cloudy in the light of day.

moonlight girls
time to plan for our last rendezvous
no more sleepwalking a mile for you
we deserve to see the light of noon.

cause we have gravity
with the sun in harmony
a damaged girl can build the best damn army

cause we have gravity
with the sun in harmony
a damaged girl can build the best damn army.

we are moonlight girls
wearing all your favorite shades of blue
just to see how much it’d mess with you
we’re the spider webs you’re walking through

moonlight girls
time to plan for our last rendezvous
no more sleepwalking a mile for you
we deserve to see the light of noon

cause we have gravity
with the sun in harmony
a damaged girl can build the best damn army.

Download and stream from iTunes, Spotify and Bandcamp.



Music & Lyrics Copyright Kaia Kalise