Kristina Bazan is a woman of many talents. From starting her world-renowned fashion blog, Kayture, as a teenager, to being chosen by Forbes in 2016 as one of the 30 under 30 most influential personalities, it is difficult to imagine something Bazan is incapable of doing. So, when the fashion socialite and best-selling author announced she would be focusing solely on music, it first came as a shock. However, upon further inspection, music does not exist as some experimental detour in the life of Bazan; it serves as her starting point and a place she always seemed destined to return.
Before the fashion and fame, Bazan was an introverted teenager who took up songwriting at the tender age of 13. She even went so far as to join a rock band at the age of 15, in which she would play rock covers in her friend's garage. However, it was around this time that her fashion blog, Kayture, began to take the world by storm, and overnight she would become fashion's "it girl." Now, some odd ten years since first picking up songwriting, Bazan returns to the art form that originally captured her heart with the release of her debut EP, EPVH1. The striking six-song collection is an introspective examination of our relationship with technology scored by transcendent moments of pop and electronic influence.
We had the chance to sit down with fashion "it girl" turned rising artist Bazan to speak on what has always arguably been her calling-music-and making that at-times terrifying leap into a new medium.
OTW: What was it like seeing yourself listed as one of Forbes' 30 Under 30?
Kristina: That was the first time my dad was like, "Okay. Now I respect you." Before that, he was not really approving of what I was doing. That was the first time he was really like, "You were right for doing this, for working so hard."
OTW: Besides being a part of Forbes' 30 Under 30, most people know you from your fashion blog, Kayture, or the fact that you are a best-selling author. However, songwriting has always existed as a passion of yours.
Kristina: I knew I always wanted to be a singer, but it seemed like such an unrealistic fantasy to have. Especially because I was born In Belarus, and I kept moving around a lot, and in Switzerland, we don't really have a music industry there. So, it was just absurd to even think about it. But throughout my childhood, and when I was a teenager, I was always writing songs, dressing up, and willing to put on a show for my family. I gravitated so naturally towards it.
OTW: Let's talk about your teenage rock band for a second.
Kristina: Wow! You've done your research. It was really funny. It was only with dudes, and we played "Seven Nation Army." I thought I was so cool cause I was the only girl with way older guys in a garage playing rock. The band was called The Few. I ended up quitting because of the blog, but they actually started performing in Switzerland. They're really cool. I'm friends with them on Facebook, so when I share stuff about my EP, they're commenting, "Yes! We knew you from back then!" I wish people knew me from that period, because it makes so much sense. Exactly the way I was at that period, is the way I am right now. I had this period in the middle where you're playing the game. You've got to make yourself a career, to make people know that you exist.
OTW: Your passion for songwriting really does span quite some time. It's something I noticed even comes up in a few of your past interviews, even when the focus was mainly on your fashion.
Kristina: It is actually what I love the most. Vocally, I'm not Whitney Houston. I think I have a nice voice, but there are vocal singers who just blow your mind. My forte has always been telling stories. I'm such a dreamer. My imagination is running wild all the time. I feel the absolute urge to put it into something. And music is such a beautiful format to tell stories.
You give music to people and they can make anything out of it and put their own memories onto it. It's so beautiful.
OTW: Would you say your music taste evolved a great deal from teenage you to present you?
Kristina: I always loved electronic stuff. I'm actually super geeky. Growing up, I always played a lot of video games. I would prefer staying in and playing The Sims over going out with my friends. I got really into Myspace and blogs, and that's actually how I got into blogging in the first place, because I've always been an Internet nerd. Musically, I had a huge obsession and still do with Crystal Castles and Daft Punk. Daft Punk is like my fucking religion. I just love discovering indie, underground electronic bands.
OTW: Your debut EP, EPVH1, gives off this moody '80s, almost Blade Runner-esque vibe. Did you attend for there to be an overarching theme to your debut?
Kristina: Well, actually, I was wondering, from my point-of-view, what can I bring to the table that's new and fresh and that hasn't been done. It's such a hard question because there are so many incredible artists that are releasing music, and we're just flooded with content. We barely have time to digest it. I was really wondering what I can do that actually makes sense. How can I turn all of these years of experience, of being a blogger, working in the digital world, and having this public image into use?
I wanted my whole EP to have this underlying subject manner of technology and the relationship we have with technology. And how it affects the way we live but also our relationships.
OTW: The examination of our relationships to Instagram must be particularly prevalent to you, as someone whose youth was formed alongside social media a popular blog. Did you find writing from that viewpoint allowed you to tell a very unique story?
Kristina: Well, yeah, because from the age of 17, I was literally sharing my diary with the whole world. I think that a lot of people grew up with me. I had really incredible experiences where followers approached me and gave me letters where they said seeing how I succeeded with the blog gave them the inspiration to pursue something they always feared doing. If you have great ideas, you put them into use, you believe in yourself, and you work hard, nothing should stop you.
I'm really proud that was the position and perspective I was defending. But at the same time, I don't know why the word blogger has such a negative connotation nowadays. I was really ashamed to say that I'm a blogger, that I'm an influencer because it meant that I'm narcissistic, my life revolves around sponsorships and brands, and that it's kind of an illusion. Honestly, it kind of is an illusion in a way. Your whole life revolves around portraying a certain lifestyle, portraying a certain image. At the end of the day, you make money off selling and this entire system behind it.
For me, there was a point where I completely lost the point of it. I don't feel like it's authentic anymore, even though I kept writing a lot. I always took a lot of time to write profound articles and really share things that meant a lot of me. But I knew that maybe 10% of my audience was really reading them. At the end of the day, what people wanted was just really pretty pictures of me in the streets, which is nice, but I don't think it's long-lasting. I don't think that's what people are going to remember in five years. While with music, if it's good enough, it can have a really long life.
"At the end of the day, what people wanted was just really pretty pictures of me in the streets, which is nice, but I don't think it's long-lasting. I don't think that's what people are going to remember in five years. While with music, if it's good enough, it can have a really long life."
OTW: And by the time people have read this, you will have just finished performing your first three shows - in Paris, Los Angeles, and New York - how does it all feel?
Kristina: Amazing. I love being on stage so much. It's incredible. It's like you're meditating with people. It's an exchange of energy. There's really such a beautiful and strong connection. People are chill, they're here to listen to music, they're open. For me, it's the most beautiful thing ever. Since I've spent all of these years behind a computer screen, I cannot even tell you how nice it is to have real people in front of me and to see people connect to the music. I saw that some people know the words. Like damn, I wrote those words on my bathroom floor! It's so crazy to be able to bring that and let people make it their own. It's wonderful.
"Since I've spent all of these years behind a computer screen, I cannot even tell you how nice it is to have real people in front of me and to see people connect to the music."
OTW: Now that you've fully embraced becoming an artist, what can we expect from your forthcoming debut album? Will it be similar to EPVH1?
Kristina: I think that the EP set the bricks of the aesthetics and the sound, but it was so interesting for me to get the first feedback. I was cultivating this whole visual and world for so long, and I kind of lost some objectivity at a certain point, because you're so in it constantly. I just needed the point-of-view of the audience. I just wanted to have the opinion of random people I've never met. What does it make them feel like? What does it remind them of? And that really influenced the way I kept working on my album.
To me, the EP isn't dark. For me, it's really introspective and deep in some way. I wanted to touch a cord inside of you. It's filled with light and it's really positive. It just questions things. I had a lot of people tell me, "Why is it so dark? Are you gothic now? Are you punk?" Look at me! Do I look gothic to you? [laughs] People said that I was a Satanist cause I had a song called "The Devil." Guys, we're in 2018, can't you play with this word and make a beautiful story out of it. In reality, it's a love song. So, as much as I don't find it dark, I want to show something lighter and sunnier on the album.
OTW: Do you find there's a very different process when it comes to sitting down to write a blog post as opposed to writing a song?
Kristina: Very different. When I write blog posts, it's like I'm in a trance and just write everything that goes through my mind. I literally cannot see the time pass. It's really like you're opening up and saying everything that's on your mind. Music is different because you have a format. You have a certain timeframe, rhythm, syllables, and pattern that you have to respect. So, you have to synthesize your message and be really clear about what you're trying to say so people can have a story to follow. You have to have a really clear idea about what your song is about. Often times for me, it stars with a word or a concept and then I have one hook. It builds almost like a movie. You're imagining the colors around you, what people are doing, how does it make you feel. It makes you go into a lot of places in your head. It's so much fun.
OTW: Who are your Ones To Watch?
Kristina: I love Timber Timbre. It's really one of my favorite bands right now. I keep playing their stuff on repeat. Very chill but very sexy. It's perfect for any occasion.
OTW: Any last words?
Kristina: Stay tuned for the album because it's going to be filled with really beautiful surprises. And I can't wait to see everyone during my performances. I hope as many people as possible can come.