The songstress pays homage to her late best friend Jillian and gives hope to those grappling with addiction on an honest record
LA indie pop-rock artist Halo Kitsch is the picture of contentment as she sits with her adorable dog in her car chatting with Substream on Zoom about her debut EP “With You (In Mind), a 6-track record that candidly covers subjects such as substance abuse, sobriety, grief, codependency, and sexuality— a project only made possible by her own sobriety. Done in a frank and intentional manner, Kitsch wants to give meaning to her life and the life of her late best friend Jillian and discuss the realities of battling addiction without exalting it. And Kitsch is equally frank when you speak with her: she is open about her journey and transparent about how it has impacted her.
Released on November 18th, the record disrupts the pop industry’s bubble-gum pop facade with brutally honest lyrics that don’t shy away from the realities of living through traumatic experiences with songs such as “Jillian”, which is an emotional ballad throbbing with the pain of losing one’s best friend and the grief that follows, “Everything I Have In My Life” which sees the singer living a life that isn’t her own, and emotional closer “No Money and No Friends” which touches on Kitch’s depression and substance abuse in a twisted lullaby. But Kitsch sees this record as more than a project that honors her late best friend. She seeks to “turn her challenges into hope” and “tell the story of anyone struggling with substance abuse.”
Hailing from Agoura Hills, Kitsch was born into a big family and a small mobile park where she discovered her love of the piano and singing, making music catchy enough to stick in her family’s minds. Music would also become an outlet for her when she began to struggle with depression during college which turned into a battle with addiction. Kitsch has headlined sold-out shows for We Found New Music and Make Out Music and has opened for The Regrettes and Baby Queen.
In these highlights, Kitsch sat down with Substream via Zoom to discuss the process of writing about grief and sobriety, what she would want listeners to remember about Jillian, and choosing to make a statement on the stigma that surrounds addiction and the ways in which society reacts to substance abuse on her EP.
On writing about the grief that followed the loss of her best friend, Jillian, on the EP:
I was putting together the record and I was actually in sober living at the time I was starting to think about what songs I would want to be in a body of work. That’s where I met Jillian, in sober living. As I got to know her, it was her perspective on confidence and sexuality and who she was as a person, I could feel it start to rub off on me and [get] into my music… I was excited to show what had come out of her battle when she came out of it, but that didn’t happen.
On the inspiration for “No Money and No Friends”, a track that tackles Kitsch’s own journey with mental health and substance abuse:
I started ‘No Money, No Friends’ a couple of years ago [when] I was in active addiction. I woke up with a horrible hangover and my guitar was next to my bed. I picked it up and I sang ‘ I wish I kissed my best friend…’ and it fell out of my mouth. I left it in my Notes app for a while. I was in sober living and had the opportunity to reflect on what it had been like before and that’s where the chorus came in. For me, I’m a lot less shy when it’s being sung and not said.
On music being a form of self-care:
I found that releasing songs that are so intimate to me is something that nobody else can do. The feedback I get in my DMs is really touching and it leads to deeply personal conversations and meaningful connections. I don’t think I would have that if I wasn’t so vulnerable in my music. Sometimes it’s stuff that I can’t say out loud— I’m not saying this stuff in therapy, I’m going home and I’m writing a song.
‘WITH YOU (IN MIND)’ EP TRACKLIST
- Hollywood *Starlette
- Everything I Have In My Life
- Daddy’s Girl
- My Heart (Might Need Stitches)
- No Money & No Friends
CONNECT WITH HALO KITSCH