Check out our interview with Los Angeles indie-pop vocalist KiKi Holli who just released her new single “New High.”
“NEW HIGH” song is a celebration of simple pleasures, finding solace in your happy place and a returning to love after a time of hardship. With soaring vocals singing sunshine-dipped melodies over lush and blissful pop rock soundscapes, “NEW HIGH” is a welcome sonic escape, collaborating again with Allen to create a landscape of music that pulls the listener into the neon glow of a surreal joy ride down the coast of Malibu.
Holli’s debut single was a breathtaking cover of Roxy Music’s “More Than This”, a raw and intimate version of the celebrated 80’s hit. Collaborating with acclaimed producer Ethan Allen (Throwing Muses, Tricky, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club), she was inspired to release her own version of the song in the midst of dealing with intense grief and loss.
Follow Kiki @kikihollirock
Hi KiKi, please tell us a little about you?
I am a Los Angeles-based vocalist, songwriter, musician, actor and playwright who writes soulful indie-pop with intricate emotive storytelling that hopefully guides the listener to a captivating and cathartic experience. I am an empathic person and always coming from a place of deep feeling in my work.
I do my best to create beauty and vulnerability in my music. I often focus on themes of connection, healing, personal growth and living in the moment. You know, Amor fati- love your fate, love whatever is in front of you and embrace the moment.”
I know what it’s like to have your heart broken, to feel shattered or to lose one of the closest people to you in your life. I hope that somehow my music brings comfort and helps leave the world a little bit better than it was before.
Currently, I am collaborating with Silver Lake based Grammy nominated producer Ethan Allen (Ben Harper, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Tricky) to create these landscapes of music. We have a lot of fun together in the studio and I hope that joy translates to the people who hear it.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Funny, Creative, Loving
We’re sure you have been asked this million times but how did you get in the industry?
I have been singing since I can remember and started writing songs when I was a teenager. I worked on a film that brought me to Los Angeles. I did some Film and Television work as an actor, starred in a movie musical, did a lot of plays and sang at various venues. While I was working at University of Southern California Film School, I received a small grant to develop my musical about Dusty Springfield. I performed the show at USC, and then it ran at the fabulous Renberg Theater, part of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Then I decided to take it to New York City.
FOREVER DUSTY was an awesome success Off Broadway and we had coverage in Reuters, Entertainment Weekly, NY Times, Associated Press—lots of cool places. As great and challenging as that experience was, when the show ended its run, I felt like it was time to focus only on my original music.
I worked with a couple amazing producers and learned a lot by working and writing with them in the studio. Then I met Ethan Allen and things really clicked in a way they hadn’t before. I thought that now was the right time to start releasing my original music. Ethan has worked on a few of my songs and I strongly feel like they are in a good place and ready to be out in the world.
How has this changed your life?
Music is everything to me. I thank God every day that there is music in my life and that I am able to sing/write and express myself in that way. I don’t take any of that for granted. I think music is the fabric that helps to keep a society from completely imploding in on itself. It’s a common ground where no matter what race, sex, gender identity you are, there will always be music, a place where we can all find some common ground.
The entertainment industry or the business side of music is another thing. I strongly feel these days that there are far too many places that say that they have “the answer” that will get you where you need to go. They are all far too eager to take a musician’s money, and I feel that is very wrong. We artists have to guard our creativity better. That is our gift, that is what will heal people and the world.
Describe your sound in 3 words?
Captivating. Emotive. Vulnerable
Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music?
It’s tough to name your influences all in one interview. There are more than this and I am continually inspired, listening & learning new things every day.
PRINCE is like my church and I listen to him daily.
Dusty Springfield. I just love her on so many levels and am very grateful I chose her as a character study/muse in my life.
John Lennon and The Beatles in general. I love who he was as an artist and songwriter.
David Bowie- For his artistry, his originality, his voice, his songwriting, performance and he was a great music businessman.
The Cure. Just everything about Robert Smith really. He makes my heart ache.
Stevie Nicks- the goddess of rock
Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Siouxsie is a badass of epic proportions. I feel like she is the architect of Goth.
Debbie Harry and Blondie. Just an amazing band and Debbie is a stunning talent both as a performer and a songwriter. I just wanted to be her. And she came to the opening night of FOREVER DUSTY and I got to meet her.
I listen to a lot of new music too. I love Ethan Allen’s band ASHRR, the freakin’ rock. Leon Bridges is amazing. Khruangbin, The Black Pumas, Dua Lipa, John Baptiste, Wolf Alice & Billie Eillish are incredibly inspiring.
I choose to make music because maybe it will help someone mend their broken heart, take them out of their day, make them smile, to feel something, to dance and laugh. All the things that music, musicians and artists do for me.
Tell us about your new single “New High?”
I think that ‘NEW HIGH’ is a good song for all of us, transitioning out of our houses and from looking at each other through screens. That separation really does a number on your brain. ‘NEW HIGH’ is saying that we’re going to be alright, we’re making it through and coming out stronger.”
I crave those long trips down the coast from Highway 10 to the PCH, during those twilight hours the sun and the waves overtake you and the world just seems right. That’s my happy place. It helps me find my center again in these unpredictable times. I took that drive a lot with a dear friend who has since passed away. It was our solace. Now I take it a lot with my husband whenever things just don’t feel right and it seems to get our head in a different place.
I worked with Ethan Allen to create a landscape of music that pulls the listener into the neon glow of a surreal joy ride down the coast of Malibu.
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
Don’t quit before the miracle. No matter how bad things get or how hard they may seem, there is always something new on the horizon. Just hang in there, this too shall pass.
How would your best friend describe you?
Ha! Definitely quirky and funny. A bit eccentric with a heart of gold. Sometimes a little too serious. Someone you want to rock out with on the dance floor.
What’s next for KiKi Holli in 2022?
I have a couple more singles that I will be releasing, and an EP in the Fall. I am rewriting a screenplay I wrote, which is a female-driven sex comedy. It’s hysterical and really makes me laugh. I hope other people dig it.
Please go to my website for more information www.kikiholli.com and please sign up for our mailing list. I have some awesome freebies and will send you an MP3 of NEW HIGH. I will be playing live shows in the coming months and can’t wait for people to hear more of this music. I live for connecting with an audience. It is one of the greatest gifts a performer can have.
What is your favorite healthy food?
A good organic vegan protein smoothie. Kelp or zucchini noodles. So much possibility with them. You can throw in some pesto or marinara, cherry tomatoes. Yum!
And your favorite cheat food?
DeSano’s Pizza in East Hollywood. You have to go! All the ingredients are imported from Italy, even the ovens!! They also use Double Zero flour so no gluten reaction.
Best advice ever given?
Don’t take things too personally. There is a lot of rejection in this business and you just have to pick yourself up and keep going.
Also, if you are wearing a lot of hats, performer, producer, director, writer, businesswoman, make sure you know which hat you have on for the situation you are in.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
Hopefully my music has connected with millions of people across the world. Enough that I would have my own world tour with amazing musicians, manager, road crew and audiences. Doing some cool film and tv work with some crazy talented people. Creating more music with amazing producers and musicians that people can really love and that makes them feel better in some way.
Favorite song? Why?
One song… that is almost impossible!! Okay, I will play. If I had to pick one song it would be PURPLE RAIN (also my go-to karaoke). “Purple Rain” is everything you could ever want in a pop song. It can make me happy if I am in that mood, or it can make me cry. (I am a member of the Prince Cry Club—haha!) I never get sick of hearing it. This version is everything from the AMA’s. Gives me chills every time (complete with kicking over the mic stand and a standing ovation at the end). Honorable mention is the Beautiful Ones live. Sometimes I just weep listening to the end of it.
Book: Really hard to narrow it down to one.
Fiction—The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
Non-Fiction—My husband Jonathan Vankin’s books Conspiracies, Cover ups and Crimes or Based on a True Story but with more car crashes.
Music education—All You Need To Know About The Music Business by Donald Passman, and Ari Herstand’s book, How To Make It In The New Music Business
My late great Acting coach Alice Spivak wrote an amazing book called How To Rehearse When There’s No Rehearsal. She passed during COVID. I miss her.
My former therapist wrote a very helpful book called Carefrontation by Dr. Arlene Drake.
I’ve read four books on Prince recently. The Beautiful Ones is cool.
My husband worked as an editor for DC Comics for many years in NYC and we read a lot of comics too.
Quote: When I was a little girl I’ve had this one in a poster in my room and it kind of stuck, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”
I saw this one recently that I love…
THINGS I WISH I KNEW SOONER:
You don’t have to be kind to people who are mean to you
Most people are projecting their own stuff, its not you.
Be more selfish about your health and boundaries.
Don’t underestimate what you can do in 1-5 years.
Don’t overestimate what you can do in a week.
Love yourself, you are your own best friend.
The ball is always in your court
Trust your gut feeling
Be more consistent
Don’t be a victim
And Amor Fate from the Stoics.
Movie: I LOVE MOVIES. So that’s a really tough one. La Dolce Vita, Some Like It Hot, Until The End of The World and Purple Rain (duh )
TV Series: Another toughy—I think we have all watched more TV than we care to admit during the pandemic. Peaky Blinders is amazing. I love HACKS. Really enjoying Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Mandalorian was genius. Guilty pleasure Outlander. LOVE Ted Lasso!
Favorite Food: My Grandma’s recipe for sauce, gnocchi and ravioli. My Mother is all Italian.
Travel Destination: Any decent beach really. I love Japan, I lived there for a year. It was amazing. I would love to go to Tahiti and Fiji.
Sports Team: I am from Pittsburgh, so I love the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins. I love going to Dodgers games in L.A. It’s such a fun time! My hubby is from Massachusetts, so the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins are on in rotation at my house.