Kiana is a 22-year-old singer-songwriter from Toronto who has been releasing powerful music since the age of 19. Her sound separates her from not only her Toronto-peers, but artists worldwide. Kiana approached music knowing that her voice would sound great over trap drums, but I don’t think her, or her producer, Arham, would have expected themselves to execute so well so early on.
Over the past few years, Kiana has been balancing her budding music career, with a life as a full-time Media Studies student a few hours away from home. Because she understood the importance of building a stage presence and being in front of her fans, Kiana would travel back and forth tirelessly, trusting that her struggle and hard work would only make her stronger.
Having recently graduated, Kiana is ready to flood her fans with music, hoping to add to the 500,000 streams that she has already amassed worldwide. Kiana’s fans have grown to expect a certain sound from her, with over 10 successful singles released to date, however, for her latest song, “Off Of This”, she wanted to try something different.
Kiana music is both strong and vulnerable. Her voice is soulful, but also modern and tastefully unique. From what she’s released so far, we know Kiana is comfortable making moody R&B, with dark synths and emphatic drum patterns, because she understands that her voice will always shine through.
But for her latest single, “Off Of This”, Kiana experimented with a variation of this sound, opting for a record that is a little more “light” and sparse. Her and her long-time producer/engineer, Arham, got together with fellow artists and guitarist, Luca, to make something unlike anything they’ve made before.
Ahead of the single’s release, Kiana talked to Sidedoor about her upbringing, the story behind “Off Of This” and what’s to come. Check out the song and interview below and stay tuned to Kiana’s socials for more information about upcoming drops!
Kiana grew up in a Persian household, and even though her background, heritage and music is important to her, it was the music that she listened to with her friends that really made an impact on what she wanted to create. Hard-hitting R&B/Pop was always her favourite, but the city of Toronto and contemporary releases influence a lot of what she makes.
Growing up I listened to a bunch of different things. Strictly Persian music at home, but R&B (like Ne-Yo and Mario) when I was with friends. Right around the time of her passing was when I discovered Amy Winehouse and her music – which I took a lot of inspiration from. I have always been amazed by her personality and music, so if I had to think of one person that helped influence my career, I always say her.
I wrote “Off Of This”, right after Summer Walker had dropped her album Over It, so the entire mentality and character of the project really rubbed off on me. I had never written a song like this, so hearing that album pushed me out of my comfort zone and inspired me to make an “eff you” song. So much of what Summer says in that album I agree with, and I still listen to it a year later.
Kiana is consistently making music, but is very practical about her rollouts. Prior to graduating this year, she had been balancing going to school full time with making music. But even while battling that struggle, Kiana had been working. “Off Of This” has been ready for years, but she feels like now is the best time to release it.
I’ve been sitting on this song for so long now and its not because I don’t love it – I’m fully in love with it and I listen to it so often, but I just knew I didn’t want it to be on the projects that I have planned. It’s very different from the rest of my music, so I wanted to give it its own personal spotlight, so people can get to know this other side of my sound.
Since its inception, “Off Of This” had been different. Not only was it the first time she pushed herself lyrically, it was also the first time they experimented with live instruments.
The session for this was the first time I had my friend Luca come into the studio with me to lay down some chords. He played with me at my last few shows and our chemistry live had been so insane that I knew I had to make a song with him. I remember we were listening to Summer Walker and Brent Faiyaz in the session, talking about how R&B has changed so much, and specifically how Toronto’s R&B sound can be really dark. So, I just wanted to try something different than what I was becoming used to. We made this song in one 7-hour session and called it a day. Arham mixed and mastered it that same week.
The song concludes with a breakdown, stripping back elements of the production to allow us to focus on what Kiana is saying. The song is inevitably and sonically different than anything she’s done before, but in typical Kiana fashion, it stays true to what she wants to write about.
On every song Arham produces and mixes for me, he breaks down the outro. It’s become our signature sound – that’s how you know Kiana and Arham were on a song together. You’ll hear it in this song, in “Alone”, and in “Boulevard”.
A few sessions ago, Arham out of nowhere mentioned something that I never noticed before. He said, “on the rare occasion that you do make an upbeat song, its still always about heartbreak or something sad”. I know I did this unintentionally, but I feel like the breakdown captures the feelings – letting you focus on what’s being said, and taking away the ‘upbeat’ aspect of the song.
“Off Of This” is an incredible single, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t check out the rest of Kiana’s catalogue. She hasn’t missed yet, and is only getting better. She’s been working on plenty of music and assured us that she’s going to be sharing a lot more soon. We’re excited to listen, and you should be too.