Kayla Nichols is a blues rock and roll singer and songwriter, and as well as a multi-instrumentalist based out of Redding, California. Kayla’s sound is a blend of pop, rock & roll, and old school blues. Kayla’s inspiration stems from both past and current artists such as Janis Joplin and Greta Van Fleet.
Jumping straight into this driving track, “Illusion” brings the listener a unique sound of driving blues and rock & roll. It is guitar heavy with a leading riff along with a lot of guitar solos aided by distortion. The guitar solos really add a bit of kick to song in which it is implemented in between shorter breaks than rather just the usual three bar guitar solo. It is very inviting to see the vocalist and lead guitarist share the spotlight in this song. It picks up further into the song as the guitar becomes more heavy with with full strumming and even an addition of some horns or what might be trumpets that really give it a mightier and fuller sound. Although we hear some of her influences,
Kayla Nichols is able to bring a kind of motown blues, Americana rock & roll back in style. Her vocals accompany the band nicely in which she also has that drive in her and enough edginess to keep it going. From her music, we hear Kayla’s thriving passion and with that her goal is to create music that will lift people and change them.
Listen to "Illusion" here and get to know Kayla Nichols in our interview below!
Care to introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Kayla Nichols and I’m a blues rock and roll artist in northern California. I’m a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist putting out sounds inspired by past and present rock and roll icons such as B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Gary Clark Jr., Bonnie Raitt, Janie Joplin, Queen, Joan Jett, Michael Jackson, and Greta Van Fleet. I believe rock and roll is one of the most authentic and iconic styles of music that deserves to be brought back to the surface in my generation. In a world where everything can be computerized with the touch of a button, people are craving authentic music more than ever today. I want to give people real sounds that have real meaning and pull people into real freedom. In the words of Bono, I believe “music can change the world because it can change people.” Music saved my life in a lot of ways, so I am constantly driven by the possibility that my music could save someone else’s life. I want to give people an authentic, relatable, and hope-filled experience through my music that feels like freedom and inspires courage.
Can you give us a brief history of your music career?
I’ve been in love with music for as long as I can remember. When I was a toddler, I would pull the pots and pans out of the cabinet and set them up like a drum set and play them. The first instrument I learned to play was violin. I played violin from 4th grade until the 8th grade and then decided I wanted to learn how to play guitar. At the time, my favorite band was Aerosmith. I really wanted to learn how to play electric guitar. I would run around my room jumping off of stuff and playing air guitar pretending I was a rock star. My parents started me out on an acoustic guitar and as I started learning it, I think I subconsciously believed that electric guitar was going to be too hard for me to try to learn, so I never really pursued it. A couple years later, I picked up drums. I decided I wanted to go after indie-folk music, so I pursued that intentionally for several years. I put out an EP and an album in that style and started learning how to orchestrate music from a producer’s mindset as a multi-instrumentalist. Two years ago, a friend of mine looked at me and said, “I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this, but I feel like you’re going to play electric guitar and you’re going to step into the rock genre.” I was blown away when she told me that because I hadn’t told anyone that that was my dream as a teenager. Honestly, I had shut that dream down to the point where I had completely forgotten about it. God was the only one who knew about that dream, and I felt like He was telling me that even though I had forgotten it, He hadn’t. I decided to explore it. I picked up an electric guitar and within a month was writing blues rock songs. I had never listened to blues before. I couldn’t even name a blues artist when I started writing blues. It’s surreal to me that I’m now hopping up on stages playing blues rock and roll music on electric guitar with a full band in front of crowds of people. My story as an artist is a story of dreams that I thought were impossible being made possible in front of my eyes. And I hope it inspires people to go after their dreams and to pursue what feels impossible for them!
Do you write your own music? Can you tell us a little bit about your writing style?
Yes, I write all of the lyrics and orchestrate almost all of the instrumentation for my songs. My writing style is definitely driven by my love for humanity. I write songs that personify real life experiences. I always write and tell stories through my lyrics from a place of wanting to give people something real that their humanity can connect with that will leave them better off than before they heard my music. I usually tell stories through my verses and make statements through my choruses. I tend to hammer those statements in my bridges. For this album specifically, I listened to artists in this genre for inspiration when it came to my lyrics, structure, and instrumentation. I listened to Gary Clark Jr., B.B. King, and a lot of blues “greats” to get inspiration for the sounds and structures for my own songs.
We’re really into your new song Illusion! Can you tell us a little bit about it? Where did the inspiration behind Illusion come from?
Illusion is the first break-up song I ever wrote, but I didn’t write it about a person. In Illusion, I personify a relationship with things that we think will give us a real experience of love, but are actually just an illusion. It’s a song about choosing to break up with those things in order to step into a real experience of life and love. I wrote this song about things like pornography, drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships, etc. The music video for the songs also expresses that in underlying ways. I wanted to create a visual illusion for the song by having the music shot in the dark with glow in the dark aspects. I wore light-up glasses in the video to show that even if you feel like in you’re in the dark with something that feels like a real experience of love, it doesn’t change the reality that you have the ability to see that it’s an illusion. I creatively directed the music video by bringing in more and more light aspects the further you get into the video, giving off the vibe that the person is waking up to the reality that they’re in an illusion. I also wanted a neon feel for this music video because it looks electric, and that’s the whole vibe of my album. I chose this song as the highlighted track and opener for my album because it was the song I got the greatest response from at shows. It’s definitely the most unique song on the album because it has a pop flavor.
Where did the inspiration behind Illusion come from?
This album is honestly the result of me choosing to fully embrace myself for the first time in my life. I’ve always been a courageous, adventurous, out of the box personality, but I always felt like that was wrong and like being myself would be too much for people. But I actually realized that I’m doing the world a disservice if I’m not being fully myself because I was created to affect people and to bring change through who I really am. This album is the most authentic album I’ve put out in the sense that it fully embodies my personality, my heart, my passions, and my processes. I also feel the most like myself when I’m playing electric guitar. So I essentially created this album because I wanted to fully embrace myself and I wanted to inspire others to do the same.
What are three things you’d love your fans to know about you?
I would love for my fans to know that I have little to no music education background. I can’t even read sheet music. Because I write, sing, and play multiple instruments, people assume that I know everything there is to know about music, but I don’t. It’s really important to me that people know that because I want them to feel encouraged that they don’t have to have an education or experience to pursue something creative. I’ve honestly experienced that education and experience comes the more you choose to take a risk on yourself and go after something. I often learn and soak up information and experience as I go. I also want my fans to know that things aren’t always going to be easy or perfect when you decide to pursue your dreams. I have days where I feel like I’m on top of the world and I have days where I feel really discouraged. You have to continually remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing and keep moving forward. You’re also going to have people who are going to love you and you’re going to have people who are going to criticize you. You have to expect that and accept it and choose to keep being yourself and doing what feels the most authentic to you anyway. Lastly, I want my fans to know that I am already writing songs towards a second album and these songs are going to be a fusion of pop and rock and roll. The artists I’m currently drawing inspiration from for my sound and writing style are Queen, Michael Jackson, and Joan Jett.
Any upcoming shows? For someone who hasn’t seen you live yet, how would you describe your performance?
I am planning on doing weekend tours this coming Spring. My goal is to start in northern California and work my way into Oregon, Washington, and southern California. For those who have not seen me live, my shows are unique in that I bring an old-school experience with a modern flavor. My band and I create a soulful, electric atmosphere that feels like freedom. I have a drummer, bass player, lead guitarist, trumpet player, and keys player. I orchestrated all of my songs to have solos in them so that listeners would experience each instrumentalist rather than it being a one-man show. Because I’m so moved by music, I’m an energetic performer on stage. I move around the stage, interact with my instrumentalists, and crowd-surf when I have the opportunity. My shows are also a visual experience in that I incorporate light-up accessories into what I wear on stage and also have professional concert lights that are rhythmically programmed to my songs. They are run by Tumanello Productions. If you want to catch a live show, I post where I’m playing and when on my website! (www.kaylanichols.com)
What’s next for you?
My goal for 2019 is to tour and build my fanbase by creating more exposure for who I am as an artist while I write and create new music for a second album that is going to be bigger and better than my current album.
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