ky vöss | dream-pop for the damned
Who is Ky Vöss, and what does that name mean to you?
Ky Vöss was initially the name of a character/persona I created a few years back. I was initially just seeking some variety of mask to hide behind musically and artistically. Somewhere along the line, I discovered that playing the part of “Ky Vöss” full time in my day to day life was incredibly empowering. It was in the midst of a wildly difficult time. Existing as a ghost-like character in my brain was so much easier than continuing on as a human.
We’ve read in other interviews that you are a classically trained violinist. When did you start playing and what other instruments can you play?
I picked up the violin when I was 6 or 7, I think. I didn’t attend school growing up, so as time went on I was able to put a lot of time and energy into it. Lessons/rehearsals/practice became the only things I cared about.
What other instruments... I guess it depends on your definition of being proficient in an instrument. I started recording when I was around 14 when I discovered Audacity (a free recording software). I realized I could create whatever I wanted if I could just fake knowing how to play various instruments. I just started playing them to the best of my ability. Outside of the violin, I’ve spent the most time with piano, cello, guitar, bass, and mandolin.
Ky Vöss, who are your biggest influences, and who would you say that you sound like?
Honestly, classical composers like Dvořák, Ravel, and Bartók play a massive role in the way I write. Outside of that, some incredible artists/bands that inspire me include FKA Twigs, Daughter, Purity Ring, Grimes… I could go on for a while.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process? How do you write your songs?
I generally start with a beat and a certain vibe in mind for what I what the song to come out like, lyrically and notation wise. I start with the chord structure and arrangement. After that, I kind of freestyle lyrics over what I’ve written. I keep the theme of the song in mind until I find something that feels right.
What are your lyrics about?
My lyrics tend to be personal to me, either in events in my life or themes relating to the persecution of humans throughout history and just being completely over it and angry.
Are there specific social issues that you feel you have a unique voice through which to change the world?
I think that as a white person in America that fits a specific mold, I systematically have a louder voice than many other musicians. My goal is to acknowledge that and use it to create music with themes relating to social injustice, capitalism, and other general large scale humanitarian issues.
You’ve talked to us a little about your experiences playing in bands, how has your music evolved since going solo? What do you like about being solo? Is there anything you miss about being in a band?
Going solo has allowed me a lot of creative freedom that I didn’t always feel I had. It allows me to write and perform more personally than I would have felt comfortable doing in a band setting. I love the fact that I don’t have to run anything by anyone or feel like I need to confirm things with others. Also: fuck rehearsal scheduling. I do get lonely though, having a built-in little music family is really dope.
What are your favorite things to do when you aren’t making music?
I like to make physical objects a lot. I started making these little ghost characters that I sell at shows just out of sheer restlessness and a desire to give things in my mind a physical embodiment. I’m also slowly but surely working on a small graphic novel/zine to accompany my lyrics. Considering that both of those things do in some way or another relate to music I guess the long answer to that question is… I’m not really sure.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
A while back I released my lyrics in a private document online and sent the link out to whoever wanted it. The response was bigger than I anticipated, and a few weeks later I started noticing people singing along to my songs at shows. That was wild. The fact that people understand and relate to what I’m saying means so much to me. I’ve never felt so supported as a musician and individual.
How do you handle other people classifying or categorizing your music? How do you handle criticism?
I’m commonly equated to literally any solo female/non-male artist out there regardless of genre. Hate that. Regardless of how cool another artist is, if the similarity in our presentation is the only thing you find notable, I probably don’t like you. Outside of that, I love it when people truthfully classify me in a genre I enjoy. I find inspiration in specific genres, and I don’t mind when people tell me I fall into those categories at all.
Criticism sucks, it just does. I can take things personally, but that motivates me to make improvements on something that’s objectively lacking. I would way rather know if there are obvious improvements to be made than not.
What could you never do without?
(I could never do without) Sunglasses. As little facial exposure to people and the sun as possible. I am so grateful for sunglasses.
Do any of us really escape our pasts? What advice would you give people going through their own personal metamorphosis?
Some people might, but I’ve only ever existed as myself and personally I don’t want to think of it as “escape” anymore. I’m more in the process of accepting it and moving forward. Faking it was a huge part of that process and transition into the future. The ability to grow and change is huge. Pick who you want to be to yourself and others and just fucking fake it until it becomes a reality.
You self-released your eight song first album, Space Cadet, what was that like? How did you record it? How did you know when you had enough songs, that it was a complete idea?
From recording the first track to getting everything finalized, it only took five months total. I produced and recorded it in Logic in my home studio. A solid 1/3 of the vocals were recorded on a podcast mic, and the other 2/3 were recorded on borrowed equipment from a coworker. It was a very experimental album for me that I didn’t anticipate many people listening to.
I initially planned on releasing a four-track EP, but as those were in the final stages, more kept coming. Every track holds a lot of emotional value to me, and once I completed Swallow The Batteries, which feels like a huge summary of who I am as a person, I felt like I had said all I needed to for that chapter of music.
What are your plans for the future, what’s after Space Cadet?
I’m currently working on my second record, which contains many prequels to the songs on Space Cadet. I spent most of this year out playing shows and making connections, so I’m excited to hole up for the winter and focus on the new shit.
What is your favorite record to “play alone?”
I’ve been obsessed with Daughter’s record “Not To Disappear” since it came out in 2016; at least once a year, it becomes a daily listen… and that’s where I’m at right now with that.
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