Kiana Ledé has been singing her entire life, literally. From the moment she learned to sing the alphabet, discerning the melodic sentiments that come along with the nostalgic childhood tune, the 22-year-old artist relentlessly immersed herself in forming her velvety voice into what is heard on her latest release, Myself.
The six-song EP is completely Ledé, save for a resounding verse from Migos member Offset on the summer-ready bop “Bouncin'” and relationship advice being dropped by the legendary Jenifer Lewis on the acoustic track “Heavy.”
Comprehensively, Myself encapsulates feelings and emotions of anxiety, dread, love, hurt, and pain into a neat package for anyone who thinks they’re alone. Kiana’s honesty and soothing voice warmly wraps around the heart as if to say, “It’ll be okay, keep going.” Through her music, Kiana wants to empower and sing confidence into the hearts of those who listen.
Speaking with the burgeoning R&B singer about the making of Myself, Kiana was vulnerable enough to open up with Uproxx about her past relationships, the road to discovering who she is, and dealing with mental health. Read an edited and condensed version of our conversation below.
When was that moment you realized you wanted to be a singer?
There wasn’t really one moment. It was kind of something I always knew I wanted to do. I tell the story of me singing the alphabet and changing the melodies and I just never stopped. It became like a third language. I was getting in trouble for a long time and my mom taught me how to use it as a superpower, not a weakness. I started to get focused on music at a very young age.
Knowing you got signed to RCA at 15, left the label and had to start on your own as an indie artist, what did you learn from that situation?
Just to trust myself. I think I spend so much time in a short space of my own. In my brain, I failed on account of somebody else’s belief and vision for myself. Now, if I fail I can say that I at least did it out of respect for myself and I did it because I really believed in it. I think it’s better to fall on your own sword than somebody else’s. So, just to trust yourself, believing in yourself and going with your gut.
What do you hope your old fans and new fans alike get out of listening to Myself?
I want my fans to feel the growth between Selfless and Myself and feel confident within themselves to feel like the most extreme version of themselves that they can be. I want to empower them to be a goddess and also be the anxious girl who is being vulnerable about her feelings and finding strength in that.
“EX” is obviously one of my favorite songs on Myself and it’s also the first song that I ever heard by you. It’s very relatable! Who is the song about? Do you still talk to them?
I sing it about somebody differently than who I am thinking about now. Before I was singing “EX” about my first ex which was more of a physical relationship where I obviously kind of wanted more serious things with him but I think I missed the more physical aspects of that relationship. Now I sing it about my most recent ex and the end of our friendship, the support he gave me and we showed each other. I think I have shifted it so that it still feels good to sing in front of people.
Watching some of your interviews and hearing you sing, you sound confident. Not like you’ve totally figured life out, but you’re kind of okay with yourself and you understand that you’re still figuring things out as a young woman. Do you think that you’ve definitely found your sound or do you foresee yourself constantly trying to discover something new each and every time as you evolve?
My core sound will always be R&B, but I say alternative R&B because it gives you a little bit more space to grow, maneuver, and work. I’m very mixed so I like to bring every part of my culture and background of who I am into the music. I feel like that is very, very important for me to do to give myself room to experiment and explore. As I change as a person, I’m sure that my music will change, the things that I listen to will change, and the way that I make music will be a little different. But my core will always be R&B.
In the past, you’ve been really honest about dealing with anxiety and your mental health. You are a singer, you’re in the spotlight, and you’re an actress as well. What are some ways that you’ve chosen to deal with that?
I’m still trying to figure that out but I definitely feel a lot better. I started going to therapy and just taking more time for me in my off time. I know in this industry there’s no off time, but like answering e-mails, answering texts or phone calls. I literally wake up and go to bed on my phone trying to get things done. Now I’m learning to take time for myself and do things I really enjoy that have nothing to do with music.
Unplugging is the thing has really helped me, like not scrolling on social media as much. No matter if you’re an envious person or not, your subconscious mind is constantly comparing when you see the happiest people and their happiest moments on social media. I think taking unplugged time for myself is probably the main thing. Spend time with friends and make sure you’re surrounded by a good group of people.
Myself EP is out now on via Heavy Group/Republic Records. Get it here.