Her heavenly, airy vocals are somehow also filled with the pangs of teenage angst. Her lyrics are a guide through her journey in trying to figure out who she is, though it seems like she always had an idea since high school.
Growing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, the Def Jam signee, born D’kyla Woolen, always knew that school wasn’t for her. And after trying, she knew that working a regular job wasn’t for her, either. “I want to chill, make some dope music and just be able to live my life,” the singer told Uproxx over the phone of her decision to commit to making music.
So far, that decision has been working quite nicely for her. Last year, she had Kylie Jenner lip-syncing to her Billboard hit “Love Songs” and impressed with her EP, Parked Car Convos. Opening up to Uproxx on the creation of Teenage Fever and the agony of teen growing pains, Kaash told us that ultimately, she just wants those tuned into her vibes to feel something.
Teenage Fever. What does that mean and why did you title this project that?
I thought of Teenage Fever because I’m 19 years old. It’s really my last year of being a teen. I just wanted to put every emotion that I went through in the lyrics and the songs. In the production, I feel like the songs and the energy just makes you feel either super excited or moody.
To me, this sounds lovey, but also kind of emo. How would you describe it?
I would describe my sound as euphoric. My music makes you feel a certain type of way. I love when you can listen to a song and you can feel high or feel sad or feel happy. That’s capturing music. It just captures a moment in your life where you have emotion. I want my music to make you feel a certain type of way.
How much are you a part of the process of picking out your beats and then putting together the tracklist?
In the end, I’m all hands on. My bro, he’s in college, I just went to his dorm room. We recorded all those songs in a dorm room and just pretty much just vibed out. Take which one would sound good to transition into one another and just produced them all together. The majority all my homies did my beats for me, and I was there every single time just on the keys.
It takes some people a while to know what they want to do, but it sounds like you knew early on in high school.
In middle school I wanted to be like everybody else, because everybody else was cool. I didn’t know that being yourself was the best.
When I got to high school and I started really getting to know myself, I’m like, damn, what do I want to do? I wanted to go to college for track and I wanted to be in the Olympics, but I was like I can’t keep doing sports. Practice is tiring as hell. I just don’t want to do that. I want to chill, make some dope music, and just be able to live my life. I was sending my shit to record labels knowing they’re not going to respond back.
It was God’s timing. This man reached out to me on Instagram. He was like, “I want to work with you. I want to fly you out to New York.” I’m like, damn, n****’s lying already. That’s crazy.
I had got a call when I was in the garage with some of my bros. They’re like, “I think you’re amazing. I want to fly you out to New York.” I’m like, “Bro, what? Why are you playing on my phone?”
So I called my mama. I remember three days before that, I went out to eat and my mom kept texting me saying, “You need to get a job.” I had jobs, but I really couldn’t stand them. I was just quitting jobs. I don’t want a job and I don’t want to go to school. I just felt like my life was going to change. Then it was literally those days after I got that call.
What does your mom think now?
She cool now. My mom, she wasn’t strict, but it was like I couldn’t do music. The only way I was doing music was when her and my real dad were together and he used to record me in the little studio that we had in the house. Whenever they got a divorce, I kind of had to sneak my way to studios. I would tell her I’m going out to eat in Dallas with my friends. Lowkey, I’m really at the studio recording some shit for SoundCloud.
What jobs did you work that you quit?
The first job I ever had was Cheddar’s.
I love Cheddar’s!
Cheddar’s is fire. I was getting free food every day. Then I worked at Journey’s. I worked at Zumiez. Then I worked at Pei Wei. Then I worked at Salata. Then I worked at Chicken Express. I worked at Chicken Express for a damn day though.
I can’t work at food spots. The day I quit Salata, somebody was like, “Yo, can you clean?” It was something like cleaning the trash cans. I said hell no. I was like y’all are tripping. I had to quit. I was like, “Bro, I can’t do that.” I do that at the crib, you feel me? That’s nasty to me. I was just like I just don’t want a job.
What happened at Chicken Express? Is there something we should know?
Chicken Express is fire. It’s just the simple fact like everybody there was too pushy. They took it too serious. The food was good, trust me. I was going home like, “What y’all want to eat?” But nah, not my type of vibe. Zumiez, the way they pay is based off of commission. It was weird. The first Zumiez I worked at, I worked there for probably two days. I got fired because the girl thought I was flirting with her girlfriend, which is another manager at another Zumiez, because she hired me.
I remember when you did that interview on The Breakfast Club and people in Dallas were in your head about you saying you didn’t really know any of them because you don’t really listen to any Dallas artists.
Yeah, it’s like y’all can’t be mad because I don’t. Dallas has some crazy creatives. Everybody out there is talented, but it’s like when you’re so focused on yourself and your grind instead of trying to be a crab in a bucket and worry about somebody else and them failing, you don’t have time to worry about that. I was just too focused on trying to get where I needed to be. I feel like that’s what everybody’s heads should be like.
Man, focus on yourself. You’re worrying about somebody else’s grind, you not going to get nowhere. You’re not going to ever leave.
Also I noticed that your fans call you by your real name instead of Kaash. How does that make you feel?
I’ll be lost. They really be saying my whole government name. When somebody is a fan and they support you, they’re going to do their research and know everything about you, because they love you. I’ll be thinking it’s one of my cousins or something, but I’ll be like, oh shit. Thank you so much. I love you too.
Has it happened to you in person?
I be so damn high I just don’t be remembering like that. I just do not remember anybody calling me D’Kyla in person at all. I do remember getting chased by some kids at a gas station.
They chased me to my car. It was dumb cute. They were singing “Love Songs.”
Let’s talk about “Love Songs,” because that’s the first time I ever heard a song of yours. Kylie posted herself singing it on her Instagram story, too. Where were you when you saw that and what was your reaction?
I was in LA about to do my Genius interview. I was on the call with my A&R, my project manager. Everybody kept sending it to me like, “Bro, Kylie’s blasting ‘Love Songs.’ Bro. You’re up.” I’m looking at all the stories. I just keep seeing “Love Songs.” I told her I appreciate her, but it’s like she’s not going to respond back to me. Just to even bring awareness to that song, it was just love.
— Def Jam Recordings (@defjam) November 24, 2019
How does it feel to have a billboard in your hometown of Dallas?
It lowkey feel live. I’m going to go back. When I go back it’s going to be so much love in this city. It’s going to be overwhelming as hell. That’s a major accomplishment. I’m 19 years old, that doesn’t really come too often. I’m just really appreciative and just like, is it going to keep going? To be honest with you. I want way more. That’s one, but I want billboards around the whole city.
Then the Times Square one.
Yeah. That was crazy as hell. There was people on Times Square that knew me. Just to see my first album be on a big ass billboard. That shit was hard, just being there in the flesh.
It looked pretty live.
We were so lit. Right after that, literally I went number one. Me and my team were going bananas in New York. That trip was literally for two days.
You went down there just to see the billboard?
Yeah, because I was having a party in LA the next day. I had a party for the release. It was a crazy party. It lasted from 8:00 to 4:00 in the morning. Everybody was blasted. Buddy was gone. Guap was gone. Everybody was too out of it.
It sounds like you had a good time! What’s your favorite song on the album?
My favorite song on the album has to be “Soul Ties.”
What is it about that song?
I know how it feels to be super attached. Attachment sucks. Especially if you know that person not good for you. When I made that song, I’m really into bass lines. That’s what I got from Drake. Drake is a major influence. So just feeling like you’re melting when you hear that bass line. Sitting in a car hotboxing, you’re going to feel that. You’re going to feel literally the vibrations going through your body. Whenever you listen to it, you can feel the soul ties. I just really love that song.
Right now there’s a lot of people putting out deluxe albums. Are you going to be coming out with a deluxe?
I don’t know. I feel like I might, but I’ll be so onto the next. I got hella bullets in this clip. I know I’m going to keep going and putting out more fire. I for sure want to milk Teenage Fever and just get people more aware to that album. I got crazy singles that I want to drop too, so who knows.
What types of things are you going to be doing in place of live performances and shows as we’re in the pandemic?
I have an opportunity to livestream perform in Atlanta in September. I think another one in Atlanta with Morehouse College. I’m just letting stuff come to me and just really just thinking digitally how we can go crazy. I’m trying to sell my own cartoon show on Adult Swim, so I’m really just trying to do a lot of different stuff that doesn’t really involve music as well. Being in the house, digital is all we have. So let’s just go crazy digitally with music videos and video games.
How’s the Adult Swim cartoon show going?
I’m literally with my team right now. We just making the characters. It’s going to start going crazy. My whole plan is just to set it up and bring it to my team’s attention and be like, yo, let’s try to do something with this, get it on Netflix or whatever. I’m super creative and I just know that show will be dumb funny.
What is it going to be about?
I want to call it something like Dinner With The South Five, kind of like how South Park is, but it would be based literally being in the South and it would be regular show mixed in with Adventure Time, so there would be aliens. It would just be super diverse and it’ll be about my life as an artist and just all my experiences, the crazy parties, just anything. First time smoking, first time doing anything.