KIAN burst onto the scene and into the hearts of his home country Australia after beating out 11,000 other hopeful contestants to win triple j’s 2018 Unearthed High competition in search for the next global superstar. On Friday, just over a year since this life-changing moment, KIAN has dropped his debut EP ‘BLISS’.
Having grown up in Australia with supportive singer-songwriter parents and being gifted a guitar at the tender age of seven, music lives in KIAN’s blood. His first taste of mainstream success came when he jumped on the chorus of Baker Boy’s debut single ‘Cloud 9’ in 2017. He then decided to dabble in his own solo projects, and it was his song ‘Waiting’ that changed his life overnight at just 16 years old when he was crowned the winner of Unearthed High. The soulful and angelic track has since gone on to rack up over 38 million streams, landed at #20 on triple j’s 2018 Hottest 100 chart and earned him a 2x Platinum certification.
His star has only got brighter from there. With getting signed to the biggest record label in the world, gracing the lineup of some of Australia’s most prestigious festivals, mentoring from Vance Joy and scoring the opening slot on Conan Gray’s UK/Europe tour, KIAN’s well on his way to the teenage dream career.
He’s since added to his catalog with his debut project ‘BLISS’, a fusion of indie alt-rock and RnB soaked melodies, featuring breakout single ‘Waiting.’ The six tracks showcase maturity beyond his years, tackling issues such as youth mental health, solitude in adolescence and handling his newfound fame. The title of the EP and it’s reoccurring theme is based on the proverb ‘ignorance is bliss’ – he says, “I believe heavily in karma, so when something really good happens then there has to be something bad happen in the world… You have to accept every aspect of yourself and the life around you. That’s sort of where [the title] came from, life’s beautiful but there’s also dark aspects.”
The self-assured EP boasts his global potential and proves that he has more to say with his “forever evolving” sound – “I want to try all different genres and sounds, but I think at the moment it’s kind of alternative pop with a bit of RnB/hip hop influences in some of the sonics and melodies.” One of his first songwriting experiments happened just days before his 15th birthday – he wrote ‘Waiting’ – the song that kickstarted his career. It touches upon the yearning for a crush to be reciprocated and how it can affect one’s insecurities. He describes it as, “That feeling of uncertainty when you don’t know if they like you back – I know it’s childish but I reckon everyone has found themselves in this insecure hole at some point in their lives no matter what age.” And he’s spot on! The lyric integrity of the song and it’s undeniable storytelling has resonated with audiences across the nation and over the ditch. He credits artists such as Frank Ocean and hip-hop in general as the main source of inspiration behind his songwriting – “I’m really inspired by hip-hop and rap. It has really inspired my writing. I write in the same way as someone writing a rap and then I’ll broaden it out melodically.”
Title track ‘Bliss’ shapes the core theme of the EP by reflecting on how youth grow up in today’s complex world. Powerful lyrics “how you gonna say I’m not a man? / telling me take it like I am” shout the message that it’s okay for boys to cry, that it’s okay to show vulnerability. KIAN’s gentle vocal surrounded by airy acoustics make for an inspiring opening, showing us the way in which he views the world.
Latest single ‘Childism’ shows a different side to the EP, using a lo-fi beat discovered on YouTube. It tackles issues of youth vulnerability in a society that holds such high expectations, through lyrics, “wake up, eat, school, repeat / wake up just to fall asleep / no idea what I wanna be / same sh*t like every week.” In a recent interview he reveals, “I think that in my adolescence I have experienced things, both good and bad. So I just want to express that for myself and get those emotions out. But also let other people relate and feel like they’re not alone.”
Closing track ‘Telephone’ details his personal hardship by incorporating playful skits of recreated phone conversations over a smooth RnB infused beat. The song is about “facing the problems put in front of you. I was dealing with some stuff in my own life, and for me, hanging up my telephone meant avoiding the problems and disconnecting from the negative things that were in my way.”
Interlude ‘Reminiscence’ and track ‘Summer Insecurity’ delicately round up the EP with themes of solitude and dimly lit optimism – “I’m still caught in the summertime / that’s why I cry when the sun arrives / they say it’s greener on the other side / maybe I’m just colour blind.” Both with soft-spoken vocals and whispered moments mixed into dreamy soundscapes.
KIAN’s humble attitude towards his swift success is what makes him so special – “I’ll be satisfied if I can create a body of work that I’m super proud of and other people can relate to, understand and respect. I don’t really want to have to make these big goals. I’m just sticking with these short-term goals and trying to keep grounded.” After his run of shows in the UK and Europe, he will return home to Australia to play iconic festivals Splendour In The Grass and Spin Off Festival, before commencing on his ‘BLISS’ headlining tour. Fingers crossed he adds some New Zealand dates!