Beauty in the Struggle
Kiara Saulters, known by her stage name Kiiara, often feels the need to pinch herself due to the huge success she’s had in just the past few years. A certain memory comes rushing back to her when she least expects it. “I had rehearsals a couple months ago, and when I got there, I looked around and realized it was the same room I rehearsed ‘Heavy’ in [with Linkin Park],” she shares. “It’s certain moments like that that bring me back.”
Now, Kiiara is gearing up for the release of her full-length debut and can’t wait to show the world what she’s been working on. As seen in her recent music video for “Open My Mouth,” Kiiara has grown and is introducing us to her artistic growth. As opposed to her last low kii savage, Kiiara’s new album was crafted with multiple different writers and producers, creating a new sound for the 24-year-old singer (“There’s so much growth sonically”). She also looks forward to performing live again and sharing her feelings with fans, both new and old. While Kiiara gets antsy when not on stage, it was not always so easy for her to put herself and her feelings out into the world.
Growing up in Illinois, Kiiara always knew that she wanted to be a singer. Singing was – and still is – very therapeutic for her but sharing her talent with the world was entirely another thing. She experienced a lot of self-doubt, thinking that she couldn’t write her own music because she didn’t know how. However, with tons of practice, patience, and trial and error as well as the support of friends and fellow writers, her hit tune “Gold” began being played on radio stations across the country.
Being still very much an introvert, Kiiara says it’s nearly impossible to try and change herself but she worked hard to figure out what made her comfortable and pushed herself to move forward in her career. Now, she feels at home whether she’s writing or on stage performing. “You learn who you are, and that’s what I’ve noticed happening over the years,” she opens up. “It’s amazing.” The opportunities she’s been given have made all of her hardships worth it. To this day, she still cannot wrap her head around the fact that she was chosen to work with her longtime idols Linkin Park during such an impactful time in their career (2017’s “Heavy” was the band’s last single to be released during Chester Bennington’s lifetime before his suicide in July of that year). She practically gets dizzy trying to make sense of it all – even years later. “I’ve learned so much from them. They’re like my brothers,” she says.
The collaboration not only fulfilled a dream of hers, but also opened her up to speaking more about mental health issues. This is something that is still relatively new to Kiiara as her own mental health was something she didn’t discuss often. It’s never easy dealing with the emotions that arise from speaking on triggering events but Kiiara finds that the result outweighs the struggle.
Kiiara aims to continue the conversation on mental health and let others know that they are not alone, hoping that her music can help others with whatever they’re dealing with. “Sharing my music, seeing reactions, and being able to share moments [are] an incredible feeling. Nothing really compares to that,” she affirms, referring to the fact that her music could affect her listeners in the same way as it helps Kiiara in her own life.
Writer: Tara McDonough
Photographer: Natalie Walsh
Stylist: Marni Seabright
Hair: Miles Jeffries
Makeup: Rob Scheppy
Videographer: Mason Kim
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to PMK•BNC (@pmk_bnc - www.pmkbnc.com) & Benny’s Tacos & Chicken Rotisserie (@bennystacos - bennystacos.com) & EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)