Who is Kayla Cariaga?
Motivational Muses Exclusive Feature | by Anastasia Logan
Kayla Cariaga is a Filipino-American pop inspired singer-songwriter from New York who brings an enchanting voice with powerful lyrics to the music world. Her sound is the perfect combination of synth production with singer-songwriter composed lyrics. Like many, music has always been a constant in her life. She spoke about how music brought her family together in the form of drunken karaoke parties or road trip sing alongs. While she always had a love for music, her pursuit of creating music began once she learned piano and guitar.
"It gave me the voice I needed in order to write songs."
The final push to get Kayla over the edge for creating music was overcoming her stage fright. When she was 15 years old she discovered a love for preforming and would be at a local café every other week to participate in open mic shows. These open mic performances allowed her to become comfortable on stage and introduced her to an environment filled with supportive individuals.
"It made it easier for me to share my music because the audience was very sweet and supportive. It's the reaction to my songs that inspired me. Many people would approach me after performing and would let me know how touching my songs were. I never thought that I was capable of reaching people’s emotions with my songs and it truly pushed me to songwriting more."
Connection is an important factor in her creative process. She wants to give her listeners a sense of comfort in troubling times and create music that is relatable to a wide variety of individuals, no matter the situation.
"I always knew I wanted to create music that was relatable or made others feel less alone. Music was always a sense of medicine for me, whenever I was upset or needed some time for myself, I would place my earbuds in and chill out."
Back on May 8th, Kayla released her latest single, "Outsider" which focuses on liberation of not fitting into a specific group or conforming with standards of society. The process for creating this track started back in her senior year of high school with a song title and perfected through free writing sessions.
"In my senior year of high school, I had the song title within the notes of my phone because it was a term I strongly related to. I didn’t quite know what I was going to do with it, until I was extremely frustrated and defeated.
What inspired me to write this song was my realization that I was becoming my own person and breaking away from beliefs that have been placed upon me for many years. I couldn’t help myself from bottling up every emotion for the sake of others and began freewriting what came to mind within my notebook.
A bunch of rants were sparsely written upon the page, but there were actually some statements that stood out to me. Then, like a puzzle, I pieced the written statements together and decided which ones would go first. Originally, this was going to be a song about ranting, but then I realized that I shouldn’t be angry about not fitting the ideals placed upon me. Instead, I should let go and accept who I am."
Relief of releasing emotions and the recording process for this single were two of her favorite moments for bringing "Outsider" to life.
Recording the track was liberating because I was able to achieve what I envisioned—thanks to Prince Chapelle, Kevin Anyaeji, and Elliot Boult. It’s amazing to have your art come to life and have the experience of working in a studio environment.
"Outsider" is a powerful single and Kayla hopes that those who listen to it can connect with the message and feel inspired about who they are as an individual.
"With this single, I would want listeners to realize that there will always be a light at the end of every tunnel. When I felt like an ‘outsider’ I realized that there is a liberation/independence to not fitting into a particular group or fitting ideals. This song gave me a voice and made me proud of who I’ve become. I hope this song gives others the same feeling."
Kayla has released two EPs, Memories, her debut release, and Broken Hearts which was released back in 2019. In addition, she also has released four singles including, "Stars Around," "Rule the World," and "Gone." While she is proud of each of her creations, "Gone" and "Deserve You" are two singles that highlight separate areas of her musical journey. One focuses on breaking out of a creative comfort zone, the other, reflection of stylistic growth.
"I chose ‘Gone,' is because it indicated a break away from the acoustic sound I originally wanted when I was 14. Before, I used to dislike the thought of applying synths within my music. Although, as I got older and my music taste changed, I realized that using MIDI within my tracks wasn’t a bad idea."
When writing ‘Deserve You’ I was more focused on the rhythm and words—rather than the melody. I am also very proud of the melodic motif within the chorus because it gives a sense of resolution after the building up of tension in the verses. The melody of the verses are very simple and in the chorus, there is an intervallic variation."
For those who are enjoying everything Kayla has released thus far we are happy to announce she has much more on the way! She is currently in the song writing process for next EP which may become an album, we will have to wait and see. This next release will be different from what she has created in the past.
"I know for a fact that this time, I’ll want to go for a more bedroom pop feel, since most of the music I listen to falls within that genre. I’m still trying to break away from my singer-songwriter style, but it's a process to better my sound!"
On top of releasing all of her current music, which are important achievements by themselves, she has expanded her performance locations in New York City to include, The Bitter End, Arlene's Grocery, and The Delancey. She has even preformed at some big name events such as TCS NYC Marathon and Long Beach Comic Con.
"These achievements indicate that I’ve grown as an artist and have come a long way from performing at local cafes."
Many lessons can be taught through creating music and for Kayla she learned how the be more open and accepting with herself. This can be seen in a shift from her writing being more personal in nature versus universal. Mainly, she did this so the audience could learn about who she is through her music.
"Of course I want people to relate to my music, but I also want them to get to know who I am as a person and what I go through. In past works, I’ve been purposely vague so that people can interpret my songs into their own perspective. However, this time, I want to be more specific about my song topics and be even more vocal. ‘Outsider’ indicated not only a step towards the musical direction I intended, but it also pushed me to no longer hide who I am."
There have been rocky moments in her journey. When she first started out there was a lot of doubt and rejection that made growing as an artist incredibly difficult.
"Music is not easy to get into and it takes a lot of courage to release your music—especially when you’re told that you’re not ‘good enough’. I’ve had many people doubt that I’ll be successful with music and have also been rejected from being on blogs. I remember feeling anxious and worrying what other people would think about my work. Even in the process, I would also be held back from having things to my liking because it ‘didn’t matter’ and that I should validate the public’s opinion—rather than my own. "
Even with these challenges being presented that did not stop Kayla from sharing her art with others.
"However, as I got older, I realized that it doesn’t matter about what other people think. At the end of the day, it is your creation and the artist should be proud of THEIR art. If the people surrounding you aren’t supportive of your artistic decisions, think of the bigger picture and remember that there will always be someone who is supportive. You never know until you try."
Sadly, our time with Kayla has drawn to an end, but that means it is time for some fun facts about this young artist.
She is a self taught musician, utilizing Guitar Tabs and Youtube to learn guitar that was used in many of her songs. Through her time in choir, which she was a part of from elementary school to high school, she picked up on some music theory concepts that helped her through time at a music conservatory. Even with these lessons under her belt she knows there is still so much she can learn.
Kayla Cariaga has achieved a great amount throughout her music career and the future for this young artist is incredibily bright! I cannot wait to see what she will bring to the table in coming years. Make sure to follow her on all social media to stay up to date on all future projects.
Advice from Kayla Cariaga.
"My word of advice would be to pursue what makes you happy. It’s a given, but the process can sometimes make you think otherwise and can be a challenge. If you really want to pursue something and are confident about it, do all that you can to make your goals happen."
Connect with Kayla Cariaga