Kady Rain is an Austin, Texas based rainbow bubblegum pop star in the making. After having NPR proclaim her hit single R.A.D. Moves the song of the summer in 2018, and performing at ACL Music Festival in 2019, she’s been on a mission to redefine pop music as a more authentic and inclusive genre, writing songs about her experiences with sobriety, domestic abuse survival and being queer (when I asked her about her pronoun preference, she said, “She/her is fine. But you can also call me “Sir.”) So without further ado, here’s my colorful interview with the lovely Sir Kady Rain.
If someone just stumbled upon your music, what are three things you'd want them to immediately know about you?
KR: I am queer. I do not do this for the attention of men. I do it for the girls, the gays, and the they’s, number one. Number two is that I make music. Three, I’m very colorful. (Colorful is probably an understatement. She’s currently donning a rainbow mullet and pink extensions).
Is the rainbow/colorful vibe more of a persona, or is this the full you?
KR: It’s totally me. My inspiration for the pink rainbow mullet came from @fractalstars. They always have great hair.
Your social media bio is, “Pop artist. Vocalist. Alien. Feminist. Sober. LGBTQ+. Survivor. Black Lives Matter. Never be afraid to be yourself.” How do you want to inspire people to be themselves?
KR: By literally just being me. I was a really weird tomboy in elementary school. I had really bad body dysmorphia growing up. But then I started wearing fairy wings when I was like, 13. And then I wore them every day for three and a half years. People called me a freak and made fun of me. Then I got out of high school and turned 16. And I thought that I was too old to wear the wings. So I retired them and I started trying to dress like everybody else. One day I was sitting outside a coffeeshop and a girl walked in front of me, and she was wearing the exact same dress that I was wearing. And I was like, “OMG. I can’t do this. I’m not being myself. I can’t do this anymore.” And then I started making music and being able to express myself. And so I just, again, started embracing the weird. I just want to bring people joy and I'm not afraid to be myself. And that inspires people.
People will stop me on the street and ask me where I got my clothes. I’ll tell them and they're like, “No, I couldn't wear that.” And I'm like, “Go buy it right now!” People will comment on my hair like, “Oh, I could never do that. I’m too old.” I'm like, “Do it! You’re never too old!” So by being unapologetically yourself, you give people permission to be themselves no matter what that is.
Looking at your music videos, I immediately saw Katy Perry meets Miley Cyrus meets bubblegum pop. Who are your musical influences?
KR: The two artists that got me really wanting to sing was Selena Quintanilla and the Spice Girls. I started listening to Selena when I was five and Spice Girls when I was six. And as soon as I heard them, I was like, Oh my God. I learned Spanish because of Selena. I bought all of her albums and was obsessed with her. And then the Spice Girls, I would make coordinated dances to everything. Neighborhood friends and like every sleepover that I did, I had to do a coordinated dance. So yeah, Selena and the Spice Girls were really huge influences on me as a kid.
Tell us how you got into music.
KR: I always wanted to do music, but stuff had always gotten in the way. I was in a band in high school that I ended up quitting because my boyfriend at the time thought it was lame. And then in college, I did a little bit of music. But I was mostly focused on school, and then I was just drinking and doing drugs and distracted by boys. But then I was in a really abusive relationship. And he ended up nearly killing me and I ended up in the hospital for 10 days. And I came out of it. And I got a protective order against him and moved out.
That was a turning point in my life when I was like, “What do you want to do with your life? You're spending this time drinking, you're hanging out with people that are not good for you. Like, what do you want to do with your life?” And as soon as I asked myself that question, the immediate answer was music. So I just started making music. And a year later, I released my first recording, and then a year after that was the first EP, and then it's just never stopped.
Wow. You being willing to share that story is so empowering, especially for people that might have gone through a similar situation.
KR: I've written a lot of songs about it, and I've released two songs about it, Rue The Day and It Wasn’t The Roses. They're both about my experience with domestic violence and trying to get out of a relationship that you just can't get out of, because you're trapped in it. I I want people to see me as an inspiration for sobriety, domestic abuse survival. And I try to make music that makes people feel things. Like if it makes you cry, like, that's awesome. But if it makes you dance, that's awesome too. And, you know, I am those things, but it doesn't define me. It's only made me stronger because of it. And I wouldn't be where I am today if those terrible things hadn't happened.
What's your songwriting process like?
KR: Some songs just come to me fully formed. I'll just have the song and the melody all come out at the same time. If I'm working with somebody else, I'll have them play a progression. I'll help them pick the progression that I want it to be. And then I just start singing over it, saying like a melody or start seeing words that come to my mind. And within anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes I've got a full song.
Do you conceptualize the concepts for your music videos as well?
KR: Usually I'll just have a vision or idea of something that I want for a song cover or video. But with R.A.D. Moves and Lovestruck, the director Chaz Harpman called me one day out of the blue and he was like, “I have the entire music video; it's in my head!” That was all his idea. And then I got with a costume designer to help me design my outfit. So it was definitely a group effort.
For Lovestruck, the director Timothy Cole Burris had been playing around with stop motion and I wanted to do a music video but COVID was happening so I knew I couldn’t do it with other people. So I was like, “I am a pop star Barbie and I want to drive a pink convertible!” and that’s how we came up with that. He did it all by hand, and it took like six or seven months to do.
What kind of impact do you want to make?
KR: If I could be on a national campaign against domestic violence. Or if I could--I wrote You Got Me to be a universal LGBT love song--so if I could spread that message out to more people that love is love. I want to continue to make music that I can stand by, and that helps share some of my story.
Tell us about what new projects you’re working on right now.
KR: I’ve been writing and next weekend I’m recording two new songs and they are more pop punk. I have a bisexual anthem I love called Fruity. I have just like a straight up pop banger called Love Me Loud. I want to hopefully release an album by the end of this year, it just all depends on recording and like whether or not we can tour. But yes lots of exciting things in the works.