I’ve heard it before. “She’s mature for her age”, “She doesn’t perform like a little teenager” “She will impress you, I promise!”, yet it often times ends the same. She looks like a child, sounds like a child and performs like a child. When the email came to me to check out fifteen year old Kaya Stewart on the Kevin Says Stage at Warped Tour with the line “You would think she’s in her early 20’s the way she carries herself on stage...” I was prepared for the same outcome and to be honest almost disregarded it completely due to the long list of bands I had lined up already. Boy, would I have missed out if I had!
She was addressing her audience as I made my way into the photo pit. She showed so much grace and maturity just by the way she held her self and interacted with those that surrounded her. There were no awkward giggles, excessive stammering or uncomfortable silences.
Once the music started, she further showed the maturity she possessed. Her stage presence was that of someone who was far beyond her age and she commanded the attention of the crowd with her energetic essence. She had so much power behind her vocals and truly put passion and force into every note. I was impressed.
Her set list was comprised of well selected songs to best show off her abilities and set the tone for who she is as an artist, complete with her most well know single “In Love With A Boy” and a cover of Blondie’s “Call Me”.
We unfortunately didn’t have the time on location to chat, but recently did an online interview with Kaya, which you can read below!
SR: You just finished up Warped Tour, how was that experience for you?
KS: Warped was amazing! I got to meet so many fans and so many bands in the space of one month. These people wait all year for the tour to come to their city so I felt extremely lucky to be a part of it.
SR: Were there any bands in particular that you were excited to be touring with?
KS: I was definitely excited to be touring with Pierce The Veil. They have such a huge following, especially on Warped, and their show is so much fun to watch. I got a chance to talk to Vic after one of their sets, and he was super nice.
SR: As one of the youngest artist on the lineup, did you feel like you had to work a little harder to prove yourself?
KS: I think one of the great things about this tour is that everyone is equal. I was working just as hard as all of the other bands on this tour, so I don’t think there was a need for me to prove myself. This tour is all about your hard work paying off. The more you put up posters and hand out flyers, the more people come to your show. The more you talk to your audience, the more they stick around.
SR: Having had access to so much music knowledge with who your dad is, what is one thing that you can say you may have learned about the industry out on tour?
KS: The main thing I learned on Warped was that kindness goes a long way. Even if you are having the worst day ever, it’s important to always be nice to people, especially your fans. No matter how much my day sucks or how exhausted I am, I try not to show it.
SR: As an artist in the early stages of sort of finding your groove and working to nail down your signature sound, who are you finding as your biggest inspiration?
KS: Growing up, I listened to a lot of old soul and old rock music (Etta James, Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin) and there are definitely hints of that on my current EP. But recently, I’ve branched out into a lot of new music. Right now I’m really into Frank Ocean and The Weekend.
SR: Everyone wants to talk about “In Love With A Boy”, for good reason, but when I heard you performed “Jonah” on Warped Tour I was blown away. Your vocals and the emotion in that song performed live were fantastic! What inspired this song?
KS: Thank you! Jonah is probably one of my favorite songs on the album. The song is all about trying to help someone close to you who keeps shutting you out. At the time, it was definitely something I was struggling with. But usually when I write a song about something I am upset about it makes me feel so much better about it, especially when my fans tell me they can relate.
SR: You put so much heart and soul into performing. Has it always come naturally or was stage presence something you had to work on?
KS: Performing is my favorite thing to do. I think growing up around a musical family made the stage less intimidating, but it didn’t just come naturally to me. I was always practicing in my room and singing whenever I could that by the time I was ready to perform, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
SR: So why Blondie? What about “Call Me” made you want to add it to your set?
KS: Debbie Harry has been a huge inspiration to me. I’m always trying to collide pop music with a punk rock style, and live performance. I feel like Blondie did that better than anyone else. “Call Me” has always been one of my favorite songs and adds so much energy to the show, so I decided to put it in the set.
SR: What can Kaya Stewart fans expect in the near future?
KS: Right now I’m working on the launch of my full length album and everything that is coming along with it!
Check out "Jonah" below and see more photos from Kaya's performance at Warped Tour here!