A California Native, pop singer-songwriter Kaerhart has quite an interesting story to tell.
Always wanting to pursue music professionally, she moved to New York for university where she was coaxed into studying communications. Sticking with her lifelong dream of being a rockstar, she wound up in a few bands which seemed to be onto big things. After a series of unfortunate events, she found herself bandless and hopeless. It was in that time she discovered spirituality, a guiding light for future years to come, and began writing and singing her own pop songs. Launching her very own boutique clothing line, Mystic Tribe, along the way, Kaerhart now finds herself re-inspired and back in her home, California. C-Heads recently caught up with the blonde-haired chanteuse to talk about her journey so far, and her brand new single, “Losing My Mind” which is available everywhere today.
Interview and Photography by Andy Gorel
Andy: So you grew up in Orange County?
Kaerhart: Yeah, I moved around a lot, but I grew up in Southern California.
Andy: And then you went to New York for school right?
Kaerhart: Yeah, I studied communications.
Andy: Was music something you always wanted to pursue?
Kaerhart: Yeah, but I came from a background where it wasn’t always accepted. I didn’t know anyone in the industry and my family didn’t really encourage me to pursue it. I wanted to study music at university and my parents just wouldn’t have it. I remember my brother told me I would have a better chance at making it in NASA than in the music industry. Like why would I waste my time?
Andy: At least that’s like a backhanded compliment for being really smart.
Kaerhart: Yeah, I guess it was. That’s funny I never really thought of it that way. I grew up playing piano and guitar and wanted to know more, learn more – specifically study songwriting. At the time my parents were like “We’re not gonna help you through college if you study that.” So I studied communications and ended up meeting this girl while in New York and we formed one of my first legit bands. Of course I was in some in high school but they were more or less just fucking around. We started recording an EP and got picked up by this producer and then I thought “Wow maybe I can do this.”
Andy: Did you say you had signed a deal, or no?
Kaerhart: So I had another band after that and we signed to a producer who had produced a lot of really successful rock records and I thought that was my big break, but it ended up falling through. It devastated me and broke my heart. I didn’t really know what to do.
“I fell in love with music through rock ‘n’ roll. Although that’s not really the music that I make, I think it subconsciously has some effect on how I approach things.”
Andy: So you came from a rock background. How has that contributed to where you are now?
Kaerhart: I think my dream as a little girl was to be like my idols, and my idols were all rockstars like Robert Plant, The Beatles, Blondie. These were people my parents listened to, so I listened to them. I fell in love with music through rock ‘n’ roll. Although that’s not really the music that I make, I think it subconsciously has some effect on how I approach things.
Andy: Who’s your favorite female rockstar?
Kaerhart: Stevie Nicks and Madonna are like the ultimate for sure. Blondie, from the 80s. She has incredible pop songs. When I was a kid I loved Avril Lavigne. Alanis Morissette. My mom’s favorite band was The Beatles and that influenced me so much. I remember as a kid, a teacher asked me if I could be anyone in the world who would it be and I said Hendrix. They were like “Ok, anyone else?” and I was like “Robert Plant.” They were like “You realize you’re naming all men.” I was like “I just wanna be a rockstar, the guitar player with mystique.” I’ve never even thought of it as female or male honestly.
Andy: What made you transform into being a vocalist and pop? And was it before or after you moved back to LA?
Kaerhart: I started singing my own songs back in New York after my last band fell apart. I had this realization, after having my heart broken so many times from putting my everything into these bands and having them fall apart on me, that I needed to become the singer. I realized if I was singing my own songs, even if nothing ever happened, that I had the power to still make music. There would be nothing holding me back if I was the singer. Also, at the time, I had a lot of producers telling me I could sing. I had all of this outside encouragement and came to the realization on my own that put me on this path of “Ok, let me just try. Let’s see what happens if I just sing.” Within a month of even trying I had this spiritual awakening, and the shaman I was with told me it was my divine purpose to sing so I thought “Ok, I’m going to fully commit myself to this.” I had nothing to lose.
“I realized if I was singing my own songs, even if nothing ever happened, that I had the power to still make music. There would be nothing holding me back if I was the singer.”
Andy: When did you become spiritual?
Kaerhart: It’s a long story. I was in a really dark place and time after my last band ended. It was in 2014 I believe.
Andy: What led you to it?
Kaerhart: Actually an old bandmate who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years was in New York and randomly reached out asking if I wanted to grab dinner. We met up and she was telling me all about this Reiki healer she had seen. I had never heard of it, but given that I was in this really bad place, struggling with depression and unsure of what to do with my life – I thought I had tried everything – I was like “Ok, I’ll give a Reiki healer a try.” I did a lot of research in New York and stumbled upon this healer, and it totally changed my life. Overnight.
Andy: When did Kaerhart become your vision?
Kaerhart: I would say around the same time but it’s taken many forms.
Andy: What about the current form?
Kaerhart: Well I wasn’t really a singer when I started out so it took me a long time to figure out, “What is my voice? What does it sound like? What do I wanna say?” And since I came from this background of wanting to just be this rocker chick, realizing that wasn’t really my strength as a vocalist, and that what I was good at was writing and singing pop songs. It was a lot of tinkering. The early days were very anthemic. Very dark pop. Then it kept morphing and morphing. I kept getting better and better at writing for myself. The first time I wrote a song that I really felt could be released was “Drain My Love.” It finally felt right after years of making all these batches of songs, and feeling really close, then at the last minute realizing, “Ah, it’s not right.”
Andy: How long were you sitting on that for?
Kaerhart: For a while. From the time I wrote it to when it came out was about 11 months.
“‘Losing My Mind’ is turning all of that anxiety into a positive feeling rather than a negative one. It’s about wanting to dance or release that energy. When I listen to “Losing My Mind” I feel really happy, even though it came from a place of darkness.”
Andy: So then you covered “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield, and are now moving onto the new single, “Losing My Mind.” Tell me about it.
Kaerhart: “Losing My Mind” is this song that I wrote that’s really just about being fed up with the human experience and the struggle that you face. Anytime you turn on the news, it’s depressing, it’s anxiety-inducing. Every single day being confronted by what’s happening in the world politically, or even non-politically, there’s a lot of depressing shit. I’m a really empathetic person, and it’s hard for me to not internalize that. Just seeing that, externally, and then everything happening inside of me like working hard to pay rent, or arguing with my partner, having just one obstacle come up after another, I felt like I had to get it out somehow. “Losing My Mind” is turning all of that anxiety into a positive feeling rather than a negative one. It’s about wanting to dance or release that energy. When I listen to “Losing My Mind” I feel really happy, even though it came from a place of darkness.
Andy: That’s what music’s about. Turning dark into light.
Kaerhart: Yeah, exactly, and I feel like we have to make the light louder. I think there is just as much, light, if not more on the planet, but we don’t really hear about that. So I think it’s really important to, instead of letting anything beat you down, to find ways to be positive and triumph through it all.
Andy: What’s your creative process like?
Kaerhart: It’s different every time but most of my songs start out on the piano. Or sometimes I will start a production on my own that I take to a producer. Honestly, my next single after this one, I just got in front of a mic while a beat was playing and sang the whole thing. It was very unexpected. “Losing My Mind” came pretty fast too.
Andy: And you do all of your own writing right?
Kaerhart: Yeah, I mostly write my own lyrics and melodies. And of course I have help from producers I collaborate with as well.
“I think there is just as much, light, if not more on the planet, but we don’t really hear about that. So I think it’s really important to, instead of letting anything beat you down, to find ways to be positive and triumph through it all.”
Andy: Who are some big influences?
Kaerhart: The Beatles first and foremost. They were the best songwriters to ever live. Of course I really look up to all the big pop writers like Max Martin, Greg Kurstin, Rick Nowels.
Andy: Max Martin is ridiculous. Do you think he leaves the studio every day and is like “Wow, I just wrote a hit.” Or do you think he just leaves like “Yep just another day at the office.” It’s gotta be like routine for him.
Kaerhart: I think it’s like brushing his teeth. He does it so much. There is a formula for him. I love Pharrell too, he’s incredible.
Andy: So now going forward, you mentioned the next single. What do you hope to accomplish personally or from a public perspective with Kaerhart?
Kaerhart: I want to always be authentic to who I am, and be a clear channel for my music to have a positive impact on this world.