Willow Kayne is the 90s-obsessed rapper making videos like Uncut Gems
The genre-blurring Bristol teen has the same team as Dua Lipa. Here are 10 things more things you should know about her and her single ‘Two Seater’.
Image via Columbia Records
At the age of 10, Bristol-born Willow Kayne bonded with her primary school teacher over a shared love of The Prodigy. Around the same time, she fell in love with Toploader’s “Dancing In The Moonlight” after discovering that the song was playing while she came into this world. This affinity for conflicting genres would continue to define not just her young listening habits, but ultimately, her career. Now 19, having been snapped up by the team that manage Dua Lipa and with a major label record deal in the bag, Willow has crafted a brilliantly chaotic sound from influences spanning pop, hip-hop and punk. “I’m definitely very ballsy in my songs,” she tells us. “At first, I didn’t quite clock that you don’t have to follow the classic song structure or concepts. As I became more experimental, I fell into this confident, brutally honest version of myself.”
In fact, Willow’s whole life has transformed over the past year. After signing her record deal, a whirlwind ensued: she moved to London and recorded for months on end as she watched her sound evolve in front of her. “Everything has changed — my confidence, my goals, my social circles,” she says. Just last week, the young artist released her hooky debut single “Two Seater” which jumps between attitude-drenched bars and warm pop vocals with impressive ease. Over an old school hip-hop beat, the opening line, “I don’t fuck with many”, gets straight to the point. “It’s basically about various situations which all lead me to believe that I’m only going to need a two seater car at this rate!” she says. “I wrote it at a time where I was realising that if I wanted to change, I had to change who I was hanging around with.” Something worth making a note of, we reckon.
The video for “Two Seater” is straight out of Uncut Gems — all stacks of money, big diamonds and grills galore packed into a claustrophobic low-lit backroom. “Uncut Gems and Amelie were my main references! Amelie for the completely saturated colour palettes, while the Uncut Gems reference runs through the video as it’s set in a booky jewellers, with random characters scattered throughout.” Just for the record, if Willow could have any two seater car in existence, naturally she’d take a vintage Chevrolet in purple glitter.
Check out this future star’s first ever music video and get to know her a little better via these 10 fun facts…
1. Willow’s three major influences are…
“Pharrell Williams: THE MAN EVEN HAS A HOTEL NOW?? He was one of the pioneers in hip-hop fashion back in the early 00s, with his brands BBC/Ice Cream, all while being an artist. He created his own style to match his music, something which I aspire to do myself!
British rave culture: I used to be completely obsessed with old rave flyers and retro futurism… I still am if I’m honest. The whole futurism style started because that’s how the music sounded at the time, like it wasn’t even from this planet — you can see this in so much of the OG artwork. Even the names like Fantazia, Dreamscape, etc. The whole concept and style is a huge influence of mine.
Bristol: There wasn’t a lot to do other than find trouble or create things, but there’s such a creative vibe. With legacies such as Massive Attack, Portishead and the rave/dub scene in general, it all inspired me to be creative while giving me hope that I can do that too if I really want to.”
2. You’ll be pleased to hear that there’s an EP on the horizon
“This first EP revolves around the idea of relationships changing — pretty much me saying ‘fuck you’ to people of my past who doubted my ability! Packed with bad bitch songs for everyone to relate to. I want to make songs that make other people feel confident, and this project does exactly that!”
3. Willow reckons the project would be a perfect alt soundtrack for Hustlers
“As I said, bad bitch anthems throughout!”
4. Not many people know that Willow is partially blind
“When I was 15, I went blind in my right eye… NICE! (It wasn’t).”
5. Her favourite person on TikTok right now is @michaeljwoodard
“He is literally human autotune — it is INSANE! He’s going to do amazing things, I can feel it.”
6. She’s a big fan of Nigo-era Bape
“I’ve always been into streetwear, courtesy of my Dad of all people! I started collecting Bape pieces when I was 14, specifically stuff from the Nigo era of the brand. Along with Teriyaki Boyz, he had his clothing brand to match his sound. I love Japanese streetwear in general but the history of Bape specifically is wicked, along with its impact on hip-hop culture.”
7. Before signing her record deal, Willow was studying graphic design. Naturally, she creates her own artwork
“I’ve always been a visual person, so I’m extremely blessed to have a team around me who trust my ideas visually as well as sonically! I’m aiming to reach a point where I can direct all of my own videos!”
8. If she woke up tomorrow to find herself in the mid-90s, Willow would spend the whole day creeping
“DAMN! I would end up people watching for most of the day. I feel like the world has changed a ridiculous amount since back then. I’d definitely have to have a peek at my parents to see if they were as cool as they say. Oh! And magazines, I’d be trying to find as many as I could as the style back then was immaculate.”
9. You can catch her performing live at ALT LDN in August
“Excited is a complete understatement! I’ve been in hiding for almost a year working on new stuff, it feels pretty surreal to have even put the first track out.”
10. Next stop: LA!
“It’s crazy to me that I’m putting out an EP because I was so unorganised with my releases back in the soundcloud days — I would just post as soon as I’d finished the songs out of pure excitement. The build up is good though, and I know my listeners will love what’s to come! I’ll be going to LA as soon as things cool down to work over there and branch out! There’s a lot to come!”