Kayla Nichols is a Blues, Rock n Roll & Instrumentalist based out of Redding, California. Her sound is the fusion of old-school blues, rock and pop. It has a cutting, electric driven vibe that is inspired by past and present blues rock & roll icons: B.B. King, Gary Clark Jr., Jimi Hendrix, Bonnie Raitt, The Black Keys, Greta Van Fleet, and Janis Joplin. Through her music, she desires to give people something real and relatable that will lift them off the ground and infuse them with hope and freedom to live life to the full from how loved they are.
Kayla Nichols released an incredibly intriguing short film documentary that tells the story behind her album. In the video, you see Kayla Nichols going through the creative motions of the project while also proceeding to give dialogue on the inspiration and meaning behind the project. This was compelling for me because it showed me a side of the artist that was more authentic and raw opposed to fabrication and transparent. She allows you to see the vulnerability behind the artistry and it was magnificent and drawn my attention to not only the documentary and Kayla Nichols but the music itself. Everything about this felt more organic and it’s something I wish more artists would do. The vibes of the video had a grunge aesthetic which is similar to the style of music Kayla releases. The video was a brave display of courage and authenticity with a raw, insight on the thoughts and feelings of Kayla Nichols alongside the passion she has for her music, and the way she takes the feelings and thoughts of her listeners into consideration. For me, this makes Kayla Nichols an incredibly relatable artist and I’m excited to see what else she has to offer us. If she spent meticulous time crafting together a documentary, what else could she possibly execute? A hidden gem, Kayla Nichols is more than artist but a creator who we need to be on the lookout for!
Watch Kayla's short film here or below, and keep scrolling for our interview with Kayla!
What motivated you to create this documentary?
I’m singer, songwriter, and a musician, but I’m a storyteller at heart. All of my songs come from my own story and have stories hidden in them.
I released my blues rock and roll album “Illusion” in the fall of 2018 and knew at that time that I wanted to create a short film telling my story behind the album. I believe our stories are the greatest things we have to offer each other. And the story of how this album came about is pretty wild.
A lot of people see me play live and think I have years of experience playing electric guitar and writing blues rock music. But the reality is that I never planned to play electric guitar or to write music in the rock genre. I picked up an electric guitar two years ago and blues rock just came to me. I had no education or experience writing or playing it. I actually didn’t even know I was playing blues. It just happened. And it happened during a really pivotal time in my life where I decided to embrace and express my real self apart from what people might think about me. But a lot of people don’t know these parts of my story. They just see me play live or hear my music and assume I’m this really educated, experienced musician who never feels afraid. I wanted to create a short film that would not only tell my story but would show people my humanity. I wanted to show people that this album came out of one of the most challenging times in my life where I chose to overcome fear in a massive way. And I wanted to show people that this album was a dream I decided to go after even though I felt really disqualified because I had no education or experience in it. We need to share these parts of our stories because people need to see and experience that who they really are and what they have to offer the world in being fully themselves is valuable and they need to see that their dreams really are possible despite their circumstances or what they feel disqualifies them.
Were there any challenges you’ve faced during the creative process of this documentary?
Definitely. I experience challenges every time I create something. Besides filming the clips, I did everything for this short film. I put together and edited the clips and transitions, recorded the story, and reproduced and remixed the soundtrack in it. This was the first time I did a project like this on my own and I had a blast doing it because I got to step into creating in ways I haven’t before, but it took me about two months to finish it. When I first started it, I only had studio clips and concert clips. Trying to tell my story with only those clips felt like I was only giving people the “accomplished” and “successful” part of my story with the album and that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to give people the whole process. I didn’t want people to just see where I am now. I wanted them to see where I started. That was when I got the idea to film clips in my apartment. I knew those clips would tie it together in the sense of showing people my real life behind the scenes - the life they don’t often know about when they see me on stage. My friend Brettley Ruggles filmed those clips for me and as soon as I started working them into the project, my vision for the film started to come to life. Telling my story was also challenging and vulnerable. I decided I wasn’t going to script it out. I wanted to be as authentic as possible which to me felt like sharing it without planning out what I was going to say. I set up a microphone in my room and hit record. I definitely felt myself wanting to stop and write out what I wanted to say in a perfect way but I knew that wasn’t what I was supposed to do. Another challenge I faced was that I started promoting the release date for the film and then I found out my grandpa was in the hospital so I flew out of town to be with him and my family. I got back into town the day before the film was supposed to be released and I didn’t have it finished. But some of my fans were telling me they were excited to see it, so I worked on it all day the day I got back so I could get it done and have it released on the day I promised my fans.
Knowing you come from a musical background of classic rock n roll, how did you aim to incorporate that into the video?
That was definitely a challenge, haha. I knew the soundtrack needed to have an emotional feel because my story was going to be vulnerable and emotional. I knew it would sound super weird to share it over an upbeat rock and roll song. So I looked around for royalty-free cinematic tracks and found this one called “Live Beneath” by Cerulean Skies. I loved the feel of it so I got the stems and decided to remix and reproduce it. I added drums and orchestral strings into it and decided to bring my lead guitarist David Harris in to record electric so we could incorporate some elements of blues and rock and roll while keeping it the emotional, cinematic track that it is. I also aimed to show my fans the process of creating a rock and roll album through the way I ordered the studio clips in the film. I didn’t actually tell the story of creating and recording the album with my instrumentalists, but I used the clips to show that we recorded it in an old-school way, the way rock and roll legends used to record stuff back in the day. You see he whole process from start to finish: setting up, sound-checking, and recording. I also decided to throw in the studio capture of us recording “Illusion”, the highlight track from my album, at the end of the film so that people could hear my story first and then immediately get an experience of the music I just shared my story about. I wanted people to feel like they were a part of my story and a part of the recording experience - like they were on the journey with me and in the room with me when it happened.
How would you describe the feelings you felt during the process in creating this?
I mostly felt excited and passionate. I’ve spent the past year recording and doing shows and concerts. I decided to take a break from shows in order to do this short film and it honestly felt really refreshing and energizing creating something behind closed doors again. I feel so alive when I’m creating, so creating this film was definitely a really fun experience for me.
What’s next for you Kayla?
Right now I am focusing on planning and producing music videos for several songs from my album. I have ideas for three of them and am starting to plan those out. I’m also starting to focus on writing and creating songs for a second album. I currently have five songs in the works and this album is definitely going to be next level compared to the one I just put out. It’s also going to have a slightly different vibe than what I just put out. I’m sticking with blues and rock and roll but I’m taking it in a completely different direction. I’m going to incorporate and show a lot of creativity in this album that people haven’t really seen from me before. I don’t think people are going to expect it at all.
Stay connected and updated about Kayla and her upcoming release via the artists website and socials: