R&B Siren Kiana Ledé Opens Up About Second Chances, Her Love for Leon Bridges, & Making People Cry [Q&A]

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Kiana Ledé’s strong sense of identity fuels the art she creates. The young artist boosts an impressive vocal range and her Selfless EP serves as a perfect example of her work: strong, slick, and smart. The ability to emote through music and share her message of empowerment has garnered Ledé an active audience.

Ledé is a new kind of multi-talented artist. She excels at expressing herself, not just through music but also through acting. As an actress, Ledé has starred in MTV’s Scream, Netflix’s All About the Washington’s, and is set to co-star in the animated film Next Gen with James Franco. As a singer/songwriter Ledé has seen success in her single release of “Big Spender” earning a spot on the chart-dominating official soundtrack for Fifty Shades Freed and her single “Fairplay” has amassed more than 10 million combined streams and even attracted A$AP Ferg for the remix. 

Now her single, “Ex,” is currently making the rounds – revealing Kiana Ledé’s fiery R&B passion is here to stay. Ledé’s debut EP Selfless, released in 2018, has already received acclaim from Complex, Baeble Music, and Refinery29 just to name a few. In the end, Kiana Ledé uses her raw wistful art to create a lasting connection with audiences where nothing is off limits, and nothing is held back.

Get to know the budding artist in our exclusive interview below.

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OTW: Whether it be crafting the perfect #SoulFoodSessions acoustic covers, starring in MTV’s Scream and Netflix’s All About the Washingtons,or hustling on creating your debut EP Selfless, you have been working hard to break down walls in how people perceive a “singer” and an “actor.” What do you love the most about each medium?

I really love to sing. I have major ADHA and anxiety, and when I’m in the studio it’s just me and the music. I love acting because I get to emote. At the end of the day I just want to make people feel a type of way or be able to see themselves in me or my situation. That sort of togetherness lets me do the same thing as music but with a different paint brush.

OTW: What made you pursue music as fearlessly as you have?

Music is just something I will never be able to get out of my system. I have been singing since I was 16 months old, and it became a second language. There were times I wouldn’t be able to focus in school because all I could hear was a song playing over and over in my head. I’d have to put a melody behind to get it out or else I would go crazy. My mom really helped me by putting me in art school and has supported me the entire way ever since.

OTW: Speaking of your mom, she is of Mexican and Native American decent, and your father is of African American and Native American decent. You see being mixed race as a “superpower” which is fantastic since a lot of people are, how do you go about communicating that through your music?

I think a lot of it comes out in the soul that I bring to my music, lyrically and melodically.

OTW: Your music is a fiery fusion of R&B, pop, alternative, and indie. What drew you to these genres?

Everyone has a genre that just speaks to them, whether be from your childhood or your past experiences. Growing up my parents listened to R&B and soft rock. What my mom listened to around the house definitely influenced me and my music. I don’t seem realize it though until someone says, “Your song sounds like an Erika Badu song” and then I’m like oh my god they’re so right.

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OTW: Your lyrics are the perfect blend of confessional and catchy. What does your songwriting process look like?

It starts off with a conversation that I have had or am currently having in the studio. It’s usually based off personal experience whether it happened two weeks ago or a few months ago. In the conversations I’ll say something like, “Oh my god did I really just say that? That has to be cause for a song” and then we’ll go from there. After that I’ll start free-styling and end up saying gibberish words that make sense once we revisit them a little bit later.

OTW: The launch of #SoulFoodSessions has generated over 50 million-plus views in addition to a storm of coverage. What did you love about that project?

I love this project because it’s how I got my second chance. I was dropped from a label at 17 and was unsigned for a year. I essentially started back at square one in LA. I was terrified of not knowing what I was doing. So, I came up with something creative for an unsigned artist to do. I love #SoulFoodSessions because it was able to give me a whole new beginning and just allowed me to sing. I didn’t have to worry about the structure of a song and just got to focus on my passion for singing.

OTW: What song would you cover right at this moment?

I wouldn’t change this one around too much, but I really love the song “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand” by Leon Bridges.

OTW: You’re still on a high from releasing the smart and soulful Selfless, what’s something you want people to know about the eight-song set?

The main thing I want people to take away from it is that this whole EP is not about my ex. It’s about feeling too selfless with my ex and me learning from that. I still want to be a caring and open person but I’m learning to be a little more selfish with myself. The rest of the songs are about me hooking up or seeing other people. You learn a lot about yourself when you’re in a relationship, and I had never done that before in my entire adult life. It was the first time I was learning what I like, what I don’t like, and what I needed from my partner.

OTW: What is something you learned while making Selfless?

I learned that I am really open. A lot of people have will power to not text back immediately or not go over there every night. I am not that way, I won’t stop myself from being happy. Basically, I have learned I am addictive and very impulsive which I see as a blessing and a curse.

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OTW: You moved to LA when you were 16 years old to pursue your dreams. What’s a piece of advice you’d give to a young artist who has or is considering moving out to Los Angeles?

First, I would say get a job and save up some money, because it is soooo expensive. The second thing I would say is to stay true to who you are. You are always growing, learning, and adapting but at your core you’re always going to have the same values. Los Angeles will eat you up if you let it. You have to be able to fight back because if you don’t then you’ll become a lost soul. I promise that if you put in the work, you’ll make it through.

OTW: You’re currently on tour with Jessie J!  What can people expect from your live shows?

People can expect great vocals. I try my best to sing my face off because you know that Jessie J and Ro James can sing their faces off. Also expect a personal connection because I love connecting with my audience. I love making people feel a type of way and if you’re crying, then its a plus for me.

OTW: What is your favorite song to perform live?

My favorite song to preform is probably “Take it All” or “Wicked Games” because I love a good ballad.

OTW: Which artists are you really into right now? Who are your Ones to Watch?

I really love Leon Bridges and Snoh Aalegra is great.

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