Kacy’s Hill comes up against anxiety and ease like few others. His magnificent third album, Simple, sweet and smiling, gives off heat. Produced largely with Jim-E Stack and John Carroll Kirby, it’s a streaked LA sunset rendered like lush ’80s pop, leaning on the magnetic vibe of Kirby’s music and glitchy funk. of Stack to create something loose and without burden. At the same time, Hill’s lyrics are as dark as they’ve ever been: addressing anxiety, strained relationships and a family health crisis, this is Hill’s most personal project to date. . The title is taken from Hill’s desire for things to be a little easier: “I wish I could be your simple, sweet and smiling …”
“Easy Going” perfectly sums up the tension between light and shadow that defines Hill’s art. Recalling the best of Carly Rae Jepsen’s neon-lit synth fantasias, it’s a chamber pop anthem that draws on one of Simple, sweet and smilingThe most indelible refrains of: “I go through every movement / Oh I must be / They say the storm will stop rolling / Hope they’re right.” Like the title Simple, sweet and smiling itself, it is a mantra of manifestation par excellence – one that talks about the many anxieties of life in 2021. At the same time, it could be one of the most calming pop moments of the year, showcasing the divine sweetness of Hill, Stack and Ethan Gruska’s production. “Much of the record is written about my anxieties and my desire to be a better partner,” says Hill. “I didn’t want the music to make it melodramatic.”
Today, PAPER presents Hill’s beautiful music video for “Easy Going,” a colorful tribute to ’80s divas which was directed by Lauren Dunn and directed by Hill herself. Watch the video and read our interview below.
Can you explain to me a little how “Easy Going” was born?
I did “Easy Going” with Ethan Gruska and Jim-E Stack. It’s actually the only unrecorded song that I haven’t written and recorded on my own in my room. The three of us got together because Jim-E Stack had recently worked with Ethan on something else and showed me his song “Dialing Drunk”. I was obsessed and felt that we could do something good together.
Much of your new album sounds very straightforward, unlike some emotionally heavier lyrics, and I think “Easy Going” kind of characterizes that tension. How did you find the overall sound of the record?
There was so much heaviness in my life and in the world that I felt strongly about not adding any more weight to it. Much of the record is written about my anxieties and my desire to be a better partner, and I didn’t want the music to make it melodramatic. I think in my own life I also tend to downplay my emotions and experiences for other people because I hate the idea of someone feeling bad for me.
What role do you think “Easy Going” plays in the general arc or story of Simple, sweet and smiling?
“Easy Going” is a frustrating time for me where I feel like I’ve done everything I should do to feel better or “normal”, and I still feel anxious and unable to function well in my life. I think it’s a moment of abandonment, which brings me to a path to start again to find happiness and normality.
Simple, sweet and smiling is inspired by this very classic R&B tradition. Which records were touchstones for you while working on the album?
Mariah Carey’s “Dreamlover” was definitely an inspiration to end the production of “Easy Going”, although we did many iterations of “Easy Going” that mimicked a little more “Dreamlover” which never felt right. . Other than that, there isn’t a lot of R&B that I’m specifically inspired by. I love R&B, but I never really understand the comparison people get from my music – maybe it’s something I can’t hear because I’m too close to it. When I write, I take more inspiration from country music and artists like Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Christopher Cross and Peter Gabriel.
The video has this 80s diva thing going on. How did you decide on the look and feel of this clip, and the visuals for the record as a whole?
I wanted to delve deeper into the idea of what simple, sweet, and smiling means to me, and what I think the idea of happiness looks like. Growing up, I watched the 20 best countdown music videos on VH1 or MTV, and pop and country diva music videos have always marked me. I’m sure I romanticize a lot of this time because of my own nostalgia, but I miss music and art before social media. It all seemed a lot simpler and I think the facade of a lot of artists, especially the women, was a facade of happiness and lightness and something that seemed easily digestible. I like the idea that the visuals are almost a little bland while the lyrics of the songs are rather sad or intoxicating.
You self-published your last record and for this one you chose Platoon, which is sort of a hybrid label and artist service company. What was your experience going through these more independent channels?
I worked with Foundation to release my last album independently. The peloton is basically a cut above that in terms of the services they provide and how many people actually work in a team with me, but at the end of the day I’m still the one in charge. It’s exciting that there are so many channels for artists to independently release music now. I think most independent distributors do the same with different variations of resources and money, and it depends on what an artist wants or expects when working with them to release a record. I am very grateful to the peloton and the foundation for helping artists create avenues for bringing their music to the world.
Photo courtesy of Lauren Dunn
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