G.O.O.D Music

6

Kacy Hill Doesn’t Want to Sing Trendy Songs, Just Good Ones

To see more photos from Kacy, check out @kacyhill on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

Kacy Hill’s (@kacyhill) proverbial “big break” was being cast as a dancer on Kanye West’s Yeezus tour — which is ironic, considering she can’t dance.

“I’ve actually never been a dancer,” she says cheerily from her kitchen table in Los Angeles, where she’s sitting while chatting on the phone. “I went on tour with Kanye as a — I’m doing air quotes right now — ‘dancer,’ but actually they hired three American Apparel models to work with nine really incredible professional dancers. Basically, they wanted three people who could not dance at all. I fall in the category of ‘cannot dance at all.’”

Such a down-to-earth attitude is charming in a former controversial model and an about-to-be-a-big-deal artist, especially a 21-year-old singer that Kanye signed to his G.O.O.D. Music label off the strength of one (and at the time, only) single, “Experience.” But it doesn’t take more than a song to recognize that Kacy’s soprano is like a bird’s at dawn, bright, pellucid, insistent. Less than a year after he scooped her up, her debut EP Bloo is out and she now can hire background dancers of her own.

Growing up in Phoenix, Kacy played the saxophone and oboe and sang in choirs, but she also was so practical she didn’t think music was a viable career. Besides, she was “super” into school and the trajectory of her young life was toward attending a distinguished college. But when she graduated, she realized she didn’t have enough scholarships. “I just didn’t have the proper funding and I wasn’t really able to get myself into debt that young with student loans. I couldn’t support myself being in school and trying to work full time,” she explains.

She might be sensible, but she was still 18 years old. So she set off for L.A.

“I moved out here with $1,500 and my little ‘97 Camry,” she says, laughing. “I think the thing that was appealing is that [L.A.’s] still really close to where I’m from. There was always a safety net that if s— really hit the fan, I could drive home.”

Because she had very little cash, no job and no desire to live in a dump, she turned resourceful, sifting through Craigslist posts until she found a lady who was willing to rent Kacy her living room. One of her first pals in the city was a photographer who was friendly with the creative director of American Apparel. With her amber hair, roses-and-cream skin and the dusting of freckles across her scrubbed-clean face, Kacy was a no-brainer for the company. She was ecstatic, less because she loved to model than because she needed money.

Soon, her crew included creative sorts like Jaylien Wesley, who produced “Experience,” and Stephen Garnett, who directed its video. “I thought my voice was kind of weird. They initially created this spark in me to be like, OK, I think I’m half decent at this,” she says. “It was something that kind of fell into my lap and I decided to go for it in the biggest way I possibly could. And it worked out!”

Of course, after Yeezy heard “Experience” and set up a meeting with her, she wasn’t feeling quite so Kanye-confident. “I was definitely nervous. I couldn’t stop sweating,” she says.

Now that wooing Ye is out of the way, however, her biggest challenge is staying true to herself.

“At the beginning of recording, I was really focused on what’s ‘cool’ right now,” she admits. “I don’t think that’s the right way to write songs because at the end of the day, they’re just gonna go out of style. I don’t want anything to be trendy. I just want them to be really good songs.”

— Rebecca Haithcoat for Instagram @music