Questions Swirl as Kai Nanfelt Delves Into The Beautiful Expressions of, "Head Rush"

Kai Nanfelt is a singer-songwriter who first began singing and writing at 18 years old. The Boston University graduate picked up the guitar at age 21, at which point he began struggling with anxiety and depression. Writing then became his outlet and he began pouring his emotions into his lyrics and developing his vulnerable sound.

Nanfelt places a heavy emphasis on mental health and other sensitive topics in his writing, including substance abuse, domestic violence, abortion, and suicide. With his heart on his sleeve, he hopes that his music can be an outlet for others while making music for the aimless and anxious.

Thriving in the warmth radiated from Kai Nanfelt’s most recent single “Head Rush,” we are immediately greeted with open arms into a universe that is inviting and cordial. You can’t help but feel the heartrending essence of Kai Nanfelt as soon as he opens his mouth and meaningful timbres come pouring in through angelic waves.

The minimalistic approach of the instrumentation plays into the simplistic traits in life that should not be taken for granted. With each profound guitar chord strummed, we feel surrounded by a blanket of familiarity as the songwriting that accompanies this arrangement touches on the question we ask ourselves as we overthink. ‘I keep on making problems up in my head, it ain’t no wonder why I can’t get out of bed,’ grasps the entire quintessence of this grippingly raw track.

Kai Nanfelt takes musical inspiration from genuine artists such as John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, and above anyone else, Brandi Carlile; and we can feel that in the way he conveys his message. Focusing on more than just releasing another track to be put into the world, you sense the authenticity of Kai Nanfelt through a series of lyrical motifs more wholesome than the last.

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Kai Nanfel, and congratulations on the release of “Head Rush.” This song in its entirety is beautifully constructed, could you please take us into the moment or story that inspired the song’s meaning?

Thank you so much for having me and supporting me during my songwriting journey! “Head Rush” is by far the most vulnerable song I’ve ever written. It’s an incredibly personal song, offering both deep and direct lyrics into what I’ve experienced more recently due to my anxiety and depression. I wrote it during a very dark time in my life when I experienced immense personal and internal loss. These struggles led to further mental health issues, and I was soon after diagnosed with OCD. I struggled with this diagnosis and decided to write a song in order to cope. Thus, “Head Rush” was born. When I originally wrote this track in June of 2020, it was insanely depressing. The melody and chords, alike, were enough to put you in your feels for weeks. Soon after completing the first draft of “Head Rush,” I realized that many listeners (myself included) prefer to listen to upbeat songs. Because I felt the massage was so important, I knew that I had to change the melody to make it more universally palatable. I ended up keeping the original lyrics but decided to make the melody itself much more upbeat in order to reach as many listeners as I possibly could. This strategy was originally inspired by the song “Pumped Up Kicks” - which is, undoubtedly, an extremely catchy song. However, it also covers a very serious topic in school shootings. I found this song to be the quintessential example of the perfect balance of message and melody. What are you hoping that your audience takes away from the message portrayed in “Head Rush?"

My main focus with this song is to de-stigmatize conversations relating to mental health. There is so much shame surrounding mental illness, and it’s time for that stigma to end - once and for all. Some people may find it “weak” to discuss mental health struggles, but I find those willing to discuss said topics to be very, very brave. However, I would also like to see much more of this “bravery,” so I decided to set an example. I found this to be especially pertinent as a guy, where most men feel too “macho” to talk about their mental health battles (even with their closest friends). People need to realize that being open about these struggles is the only way to resolve them. One day, I believe therapy (for example) will be seen in the same light as working out/exercising. Ultimately, therapy is like exercising, but for your brain! When you go to the gym, the majority of the people you see there are in incredibly good shape; you don’t only see “overweight” people exercising. Therapy MUST be seen in the same way. Going to therapy isn’t only for “unstable” people (or in comparison to the gym, you could say “overweight” or “out of shape” people). Therapy is about MAINTAINING your mental health so that your brain is never “out of shape.” Why wait until it’s too late? EVERYONE deals with mental health battles, whether they want to admit it or not. We all experience hardship, but we all handle these experiences differently. That is why therapy is so important, the same way training for your specific body type is important. How would you compare a song of this caliber to the other songs featured in your musical catalog? This song is the first that I’ve written directly and exclusively about myself. It’s also far more personal and relatable because of this factor. I try to diversify my genre and lyrical themes as a general rule, so listeners should expect this track to be different from the others for that reason alone. Overall, I feel this is my best song yet!

Could you please share a bit about the public relations you also take part in? How does this tie into your artistry?

It’s so funny you ask that! I actually graduated in May of 2020 from Boston University, with a degree in public relations. I chose this major with the end goal of working in the music industry. Before graduating, I worked at multiple recording studios in Boston, a music label in London, before ultimately conducting PR for Boston Calling, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Outside Lands Music Festivals just prior to the pandemic. Come the pandemic, however, I was furloughed. As the saying goes, though: when one door closes, another opens. Losing my job was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to focus on my own goals as an artist and apply the lessons I’ve learned in the industry to further my career. We all have different paths, and with regard to that, I’d say mine was a bit less conventional.

What would you like new listeners to know about you and your music? I hope listeners feel emboldened by my music, and that they begin opening up about their own mental health struggles. I hope they’re inspired by the vulnerability of my writing, and feel more comfortable discussing their own vulnerabilities where they see fit (whether that’s with friends, family, a therapist, or elsewhere). Overall, I want my music to give my listeners hope. The reason I say this is because I have struggled quite a bit in my own life, and I know how it feels to be entirely hopeless. Even now, with the success I’ve had in music, I still have a really hard time battling my demons. I just hope my listeners don’t feel alone because I’ve experienced that feeling far too many times in my life. “Head Rush” is a culmination of those feelings.