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SXSW 2017 Interview | Hayley Kiyoko Reveals the One Thing You Don’t Know About her

The rising multi-hyphenate opens up about liking girls, Austin BBQ and making pop music personal.

Patrick Greenby Patrick Green
Photo: Asher Ross

Hayley Kiyoko is a star of the here and now. A biracial, Millennial multi-hyphenate (actress, singer, songwriter, director) with a huge social media who, oh yeah, happens to like girls.

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Best known for playing Velma Dinkley in Scooby-Doo The Mystery Begins and Curse of the Lake Monster and Raven Ramirez in CSI: Cyber, Kiyoko is all grown up now, taking on edgier fare with roles in Insidious Chapter 3 and the EDM coming-of-rager XOXO.

Although acting still plays a major role in the 25-year-old’s upstart career, it is music where she has really broken out on both a personal and public level with a viral hit “Girls Like Girls” (the title says everything) and a debut album in the works. Check out her just-released  “Sleepover” music video below.

Kiyoko is currently headlining her “One Bad Night Tour”, which included a stop at SXSW 2017, which is where I caught up with her by phone.

Crave: You just arrived at South By Southwest. What do you think?

Hayley: It’s actually my first time in Austin and South by Southwest so I’m taking it all in. It’s a lot, but Im figuring it out. I got some barbecue in already. You know…

Pop music is often labeled as bubblegum or trying too hard to be edgy, but you make pop music with a message and people are responding to it.  

I put out art because it resonates with me and my fans have inspired me to open myself up. I’m not (purposely) trying not to make basic music. I’m just singing about my life and the things that I’ve been through, which aren’t really sung about in pop music. I have a unique perspective on certain situations because I like girls.

How did revealing that change your life?

People discovered my music when the music video I co-directed (with Austin Winchell), “Girls Like Girls,” went viral about a year-and-a-half ago. I put myself out there with it and its acceptance gave me the confidence to push boundaries and explore subjects that I hadn’t before. 

Hayley 1

Do you think that being biracial (Japanese-Scottish-Welsh) has influenced you as well?

Naturally being biracial shapes you as a person because you experience different things. As an actress for example, I’m constantly going out for Asian American roles and ‘I’m not Asian enough.’ They will flat out say that. Then, I’ll go out for open ethnicity roles and they will go ‘you’re not white enough.’ It’s just part of who I am and what I look like.

So do you find that making music is more empowering since it’s less about what you look like and more about what you sound like?

I like them both, but they’re totally different outlets and challenging in their own ways. Yes, they’re both ‘performing’, but with music I can conceptualize the songs. Direct the music videos. With acting there’s only a certain amount of control you have, but you try to do your best.

You have quite a social media following in part because your posts are very candid —

I try to be an open book. I want people to understand why I connect and do certain things.

So what’s something that people who “follow” you wouldn’t know about you?

Hmm. Well, I naturally exude confidence, but I’m a very sensitive person. A lot of people don’t know that about me. I’m an artist. I cry a lot. And, because of that I express myself through my art. The songs I write. The music I make. The videos I direct. Everything I do is 100% me. 

For more sights, sounds and info on Hayley Kiyoko go (HERE).