Authentic. Heartfelt. Honest. If you are looking for a new artist with all these qualities to add to your playlists, then look no further than Kenzie Cait.
The talented Nashville-based singer-songwriter already has a reputation for releasing deeply relatable music about life and love as a young adult - and she is still only in the early stages of her career.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of speaking with Kenzie about the trials and tribulations of being a rising artist, and why she is so grateful that other people can relate to her songs.
Meet Kenzie Cait
“Getting your heart broken for the first time is such an unnatural experience because you’re basically grieving for somebody who’s still alive.”
During our wide-ranging conversation, this was one of many considered and introspective remarks that the 19-year-old made about one of the most complex human emotions. She is speaking from first-hand experience, after all, as it was a breakup that inspired her to launch her music career.
“I feel like for a really long time I’ve just used music to process my emotions, whether it was me writing, or other people’s music," Kenzie tells me, “But I’ve written countless songs about that heartbreak and my process in general, and it’s really interesting to see the course that it’s taken from it being like anger to denial to bargaining...”
“I’m very emotional and sensitive - a lot of things make me feel. I’m also an overthinker, so I think a lot about the things that make me feel a lot!” she laughs, self-deprecatingly. “And then I turn them into songs, and turning them into songs helps me to analyze the emotions, and group them and process them.”
Before moving south, Kenzie Cait grew up in Buffalo, New York, surrounded by a music-loving family. From the age of three, she would attempt to steal the spotlight at gigs that her uncle (also a professional musician) was playing, and would later go on to perform in theater productions, as well as in restaurants and bars for her mom and her grandma.
“I think my mom lives a bit vicariously through me,” Kenzie says, “she’s like constantly stalking my TikTok and my Spotify: she’s like ‘You hit this many streams today', and I’m like ‘Oh my god, even I wasn't even looking at that mom!’”
“I have a really supportive family,” she adds, “I think they're really proud.”
Yet alongside her encouraging family network, the rising artist also cites a selection of successful stars among her main musical influences, including global sensation, Taylor Swift.
“I am unapologetically obsessed with Taylor Swift,” Kenzie asserts, “The first song I learned how to play on guitar was ‘The Best Day’ [from Swift's second studio album 'Fearless'], so I really look up to her a lot. She’s just so intelligent and her lyrics are so like the experience of growing up as a woman - and I just love that.”
“I also grew up listening to and adoring Ariana Grande, and I think people don’t appreciate her as much as they should. I just love Miss Ari, she’s just such a pop princess and I love pop music.”
Kenzie's Breakup Anthems
Spurred on by her characteristically poignant lyricism, one of Kenzie's most recent releases - 'That Girl' - has already reached over one million streams on Spotify. The single explores the emotions of continuing to love someone even after they have broken your heart.
“What if you've grown, and I would come right back if you asked me to, but I don't wanna be that girl that you know will forgive you," concludes the sentimental chorus over a series of mellow piano chords.
“It means the world to me that people have resonated with that because that’s what music has been for me my entire life and that’s how I deal with my emotions,” Kenzie reveals, “the fact that I can be doing that for other people now is just something that I can’t even process.”
“I think it’s kind of a message of I’m giving up and even though I deserve better, I just want to be with you again,” she adds.
Meanwhile, her other new single 'What I Do Best' explores love from the opposite angle: a candid account of how it feels to be the one at fault.
“Being the reason why something didn’t work out or being the reason why you hurt someone really badly isn't something people usually talk about,” she tells me, “It’s also just another part of being a human who is complicated, complex, and messy, and it’s just kind of about regretting how you treated somebody who you really loved because you weren’t ready.”
Finding Her Platform
One of the most seismic changes in the music industry over the past few years has been the growing influence of TikTok and social media - especially when it comes to promoting new music. “I’m so grateful for what TikTok has done for me because I would never have been able to reach those numbers without it. I think it’s a great way to find your audience, and to find fans, and to connect with people,” Kenzie says.
However, some artists' increasing reliance on a 15-second clip from their song going viral does raise questions about what the long-term impacts on the industry could be. In light of this, Kenzie admitted that she does also have a few reservations about the platform: “I want to write songs that are sonically pleasing and tell a story that can be told in two minutes and thirty seconds, rather than in a fifteen-second clip. That’s really important to me.”
Aside from digital platforms, the rising talent is also beginning to perform her original songs at small venues across Nashville - and the feeling of standing in front of a live audience, she says, is unmatched.
“Singing a song that I wrote about something that happened to me in my life, and people are singing it back to me, and resonating with it and screaming those lyrics (even if it’s just five girls who are obviously my friends) - that’s just such a crazy feeling. Not just on TikTok, not just on Instagram, but in real-time, I’m watching people take in those lyrics and watching it impact them in front of me.”
If her career continues to grow on the same impressive trajectory, there is no doubt that the crowds will continue to get bigger as well. Does she have aspirations of doing an arena tour in the future? “Oh my gosh, of course! I am ready to work my way up to my own Eras tour in twenty years!" she exclaims. “That would be so awesome.”
“I would also love to play at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo because that’s where I went to a lot of my concerts growing up. Or the Darien Amphitheater would be crazy because that’s where I went to my very first concert: Big Time Rush and Victoria Justice. I wore a tutu and a fedora, and I was convinced that the lead singer was going to take me backstage. I was like 'He’s totally gonna want to make me a star'! So it would be a really nice full-circle moment to perform there.”
A Bright Future
Amid the success of her current singles, there is even more new music on the horizon. One song - which has been teased on TikTok in recent weeks - is already generating anticipation online. “Oh I was too scared to tell you that I don't think I'm pretty,” sings Kenzie in the videos, “cuz I thought that you'd wake up one day and you'd believe me.”
When can fans expect it to be released? “I think it will be released at some point this summer…,” she says tentatively, “I’m really excited to put that one out.”
“I’ve been in the studio a lot. I was in the studio this morning. I think I’m just continuing to work on music that’s honest and emotional and I’m going to keep exploring new uncomfortable feelings as they happen to me.”
When addressing her long-term goals for the future, her response remains as grounded and self-aware as it has been on any of the other topics we discussed.
“My dream is to just never stop putting out music and connecting with people. It doesn’t matter as much to me being like the number one artist in the world and having the most fans and the most followers. I just want to do this forever because I love it so much.”
Keep Up With Kenzie
Be sure to check out @kenziecait on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also subscribe to her YouTube channel.
'That Girl' and 'What I Do Best' are out now on all streaming platforms.