French songstress Marina Kaye discusses her writing process and meaning behind new songs “Double Life” and “7 Billion,” her upcoming sophomore album ‘Twisted,’ and her plans for the rest of the year.
Stream: “7 Billion” – Marina Kaye
We all have this kind of double life; we don’t show everything to people – we are a certain way when we’re all alone and a different way when we’re around people.
From singing as a child to going on to win La France a un incroyable talent (France’s Got Talent) at the tender age of 13, the story of how Marina Kaye went from a shy kid to an international star nothing short of unique. Her music career officially kickstarted in 2011 when a friend heard her sing at a karaoke party and insisted that she apply for La France a un incroyable talent. Little did Marina Kaye know that after winning the show she would sign a deal with TGIT Music and go on to see her debut single “Homeless” go #1 in France in 2015. Her debut album Fearless that followed was met with critical acclaim and also reached the #1 charting spot, while being certified double platinum and Marina Kaye was set for a yearlong career.
Now, having performed alongside the likes of Thirty Seconds to Mars, Florent Pagny and Lindsey Stirling as well as played over a hundred headline shows while still in her teenage years, Marina Kaye is fulfilling her artistic vision making “dark pop.”
“There’s some parts of me that I’ve been ashamed of for so many years and I feel like music has really given me this power,” the French songstress says. “It’s so amazing to be able to write something that’s very real about yourself but to then play it to someone else and they understand it.”
Beginning this year with her single “The Whole 9,” an impactful pop anthem filled with stunning vocal lines and ’80s-inspired production, she now returns with her latest gems: The ominous, trap-pop vibe “Double Life” and the more bittersweet hypnosis, “7 Billion.” Both are featured on Kaye’s upcoming sophomore album Twisted, out November 6th via [PIAS] Recordings.
“They all represent different aspects of my personality,” Kaye says of her recent songs. “This is what the album is about. Each song is about something I’ve been through in my life or a strong feeling I’ve had.”
Complemented by a fitting lyric video, “Double Life” is perhaps one of Kaye’s most infectious singles to date and a perfect showcase of her unique “dark pop” sound. Eerie atmospheres and subtle trap percussion introduce the single before the chorus unfolds with the help of distorted melodies and Marina Kaye’s lively vocal performance.
Twisted is set to follow Kaye’s debut album Explicit, which released in late 2017 via Capitol Music France. “The entire album is based on what’s happening inside my head,” Kaye shared upon her album’s announcement. “Each song describes what I’m going through as a young woman: Love, Fear, Anger, Revenge, Passion… I wrote and recorded 90% of the album with David Stewart and Jessica Agombar in London. I never left the studio without a new song, there’s a real chemistry in the studio whenever the three of us are together.”
“This album is an experience,” she further tells Atwood Magazine. “You can see yourself in it, parts of you that you’re not proud of, things you wish you could do but you won’t. I want people to feel comfortable in their skin and to live their truth no matter what others think, and this is what this album is about: Being your unapologetic self, no matter what.”
Listen to “Double Life” and “7 Billion” now, and check out Atwood Magazine’s interview with Marina Kaye below! Marina Kaye’s new album Twisted is out November 6th.
I always aim for the most twisted and weirdest lyrics I can write. My challenge when I write is to have this really twisted line in each and every one of my songs, and that’s what I call ‘dark pop.’
Stream: “Double Life” – Marina Kaye
A CONVERSATION WITH MARINA KAYE
Atwood Magazine : Thank you so much for joining Atwood and it’s great to chat, how have you been?
Marina Kaye: I’ve been good! These past few months have been weird for everyone I guess, but it’s ok. I’m writing a lot and I’m singing a lot. I was supposed to go on tour as well, but it had to be postponed so let’s hope we get back to normal very soon.
Absolutely. There’s a lot of stuff I want to cover, especially your new single “Double Life,” that I love by the way, but first I wanted to start at the beginning for some context. So you’re French and born in Marseille, from where in the world are you doing this interview right now?
Marina Kaye: I live in Geneva now, it’s kind of the same thing, we speak French here as well but it’s not in France.
Wow, when I first heard your music I thought you might have been English or even American because all of your lyrics are in English. I was wondering if that was a deliberate choice on your part or have you always sung in English?
Marina Kaye: I was always a huge fan of the English language, and English and American artists; that’s what I’ve been listening to for my entire life. I guess I wanted to be a part of that, and I was very lucky to meet a producer who helped me do it. I know so many French singers who would dream to sing in English, but they can’t because they are signed to French labels, and they don’t want them to do it. I was very lucky, met the right people and I got to do what I wanted to do.
That’s awesome! So, when you’re writing your lyrics, are you writing in French and then translating it to English, or do you write in English?
Marina Kaye: When I started to write, I didn’t even really know if I could write a song. So when I was young, I used to write stuff in French; I actually sent 16 pages about my life to my producer when I was 14 and a half, and that’s how we wrote my debut album. These were obviously in French because I couldn’t really speak proper English back then, but I really wanted to sing in English. So I said “alright, I’m going to send you my lyrics and you have to translate them,” and then I started to learn how to write a real song in English, which was a real challenge for me.
Speaking of writing, you’ve been doing a lot of that over the years; you’ve had an incredible amount of success with your songs including a #1 hit in France. You recently put out your latest release “Double Life” – could you tell readers in your words what this song is written about and what it means to you?
Marina Kaye: It’s actually a pretty funny story. I was doing a writing camp with two songwriters-producers, Jessica Agombar and David Stewart; they actually just had their first #1 with BTS’s “Dynamite” which is awesome! We were doing a writing session and we were drawn by this amazing songwriter and we started talking about the fact that there was a Jack the Ripper museum right next to us. That’s how we came up with this whole concept of having a double life, like being someone else during the day and someone else during the night. We all have this kind of double life; we don’t show everything to people, we are a certain way when we’re all alone and a different way when we’re around people, so that’s what this song is about.
And what was it like working with Jessica Agombar and David Stewart?
Marina Kaye: It was crazy because I never left the studio without a song, we had this amazing chemistry, and it just worked. Every single session, we created a song that I fell in love with, and wanted to put on the album. So it was really difficult to choose the right songs, because I have so many of them that I want to release. I have so much material, and I know I can use it for the next album or a deluxe version, so I’m very happy about that. But yeah, we’ve been writing together for two years, pretty much since I was 18. We’re friends and I’m very happy about their success.
And when you are working on a song, how does the process unfold in the studio? Do you guys kind of start with a lyric or an idea or how does that process look like?
Marina Kaye: It really depends. Sometimes I show up with notes on my phone and I know what I want to write about, but most of the time we end up writing about something really different, because we’re having a conversation that can go from love, to hate, to anger, to missing someone, to anything else. It’s not just about my life; Jessica and David each have their own experiences. We put theirs and mine in the songs, and it just creates something global, that more people can relate to. So yeah, it always starts with a good conversation, and then David starts playing things on the computer, we find sounds that we love, and in the meantime, Jessica and I start writing the song. That’s how it goes, it’s insane how easy it is.
So is that generally the process that you follow when you’re songwriting? Do you and Jessica kind of work on the lyrics, or do you prefer to do one thing before another, or is it always fluid?
Marina Kaye: I don’t want any specific process, I like to go with the flow and that’s how it works best for us. Jessica is the songwriter, but David can write amazing lyrics too, he wrote some of the most insane lyrics that I ever had on my songs. Jessica can sometimes help with the production, and I might help there too. We just make a song; the three of us do everything together.
What inspired your latest single “7 Billion,” and how did you go about bringing this song to life?
Marina Kaye: “7 Billion” was inspired by one of the relationships I had in the past. It felt right to stay in a relationship that was as poisonous as it was destructive for the both of us.
Obviously you travel around a lot whether that’s on tour or for writing, but there’s not a lot of traveling right now due to the ongoing pandemic. How has COVID-19 impacted you this year?
Marina Kaye: Honestly, it made me feel depressed at some point, I’m so used to going to Paris for example, doing promos, and meeting the fans and so many other people. All of a sudden, I had to be at home by myself with my thoughts, which is the worst thing that can happen to you. I think too much and it kills my writing. It was a huge challenge for me but I guess it was like that for everyone. I’m one of the lucky ones, I had a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and I can make music, sing and write. I can’t really complain, it was just really hard being by myself and with my thoughts.
I think now is a time when we as a society probably need music more than ever to counteract those emotions that you’re talking about. To come back to songwriting, I find it really interesting how you’ve always kind of called your music “dark pop.” What does that term mean to you and how would you describe it?
Marina Kaye: I would say that when I’m in the studio, I always aim for the most twisted and weirdest lyrics I can write. My challenge when I write is to have this really twisted line in each and every one of my songs, and that’s what I call “dark pop.” Putting hope in one of my songs is so rare, and that’s the way I am. I’ve never been a really positive person, so that’s also the way I write. It just feels like everything I do with my voice and with my tone sounds dark.
Taking a step back to set some more context for readers, it was in 2011 when you went on France’s Got Talent and won at the age of 13, which is incredible. That was a big moment for you and the year after that you were signed. What was it like having that sort of achievement at such a young age?
Marina Kaye: Honestly, I didn’t even realise it, I just did it. That’s the way I am most of the time, I just do things and I later realize how terrible or awesome they were. I don’t think a lot when I do crazy big things, I just think that I have to do it. I’m so focused on what I do that I don’t even realise how incredible it is, and that’s how I never really appreciated what happened to me with France’s Got Talent. I was just so nervous the entire time, I really wanted to win the show and I was stressing out; I wasn’t even that happy when it happened.
Do you think it was maybe that mentality that helped you through that process in the sense of coping with having that amount of attention?
Marina Kaye: Yeah, totally!
So what are your plans now for the rest of the year?
Marina Kaye: I guess we’re going to launch a new single and I’m going to release my third album. I released my previous single “The Whole 9,” but wIth COVID and everything it was hard to really make it happen, so I guess we just have to move forward. I’ll just release another song and then the album, and we’ll see what happens. If it’s not a good year for me to get back on track, then I’ll release another record, it’s ok (laughs).
Yeah, I mean I guess we’re all in the same position and we’re all united in that way, we all have that common ground. Moving forward, once the pandemic is over and life resumes back to normal, are there any highlights or things that you’d love to do, places you want to go to or cities you’d love to tour which you maybe haven’t already? Do you have anything on your list or is it all ticked off?
Marina Kaye: I want to go back to LA so bad, I used to hang out there and write songs for months, and I miss it so much! I always feel like half of my heart lives in LA, that’s my favourite city in the world. I have no idea why that is, I wrote so many songs over there and everyone works in music in this city; every time you go out you’re going to meet someone who works in the music industry. So many things can happen in LA, it’s crazy. You just go with the flow and have a walk on the beach and then write a song, it’s just cool and everyone’s cool there.
Are there any people you haven’t worked with yet who are maybe on your list? What are your ideal collaborations for the future?
Marina Kaye: That’s a good question! I don’t really think of that, but I would say that one of my dream collars would be Kygo, he’s to me the only DJ that does dark music in the sense that it’s a bit sad. When I listen to what he does I can dance to it, but I can cry to it as well. That’s what I like, so I guess it would be a good collaboration.
Back to the music at hand, what do you hope to convey through your full length album that just doesn’t come through via individual singles?
Marina Kaye: This album is an experience. You can see yourself in it, parts of you that you’re not proud of, things you wish you could do but you won’t. I want people to feel comfortable in their skin and to live their truth no matter what others think, and this is what this album is about: Being your unapologetic self, no matter what.
What is something that you wish people would ask you in interviews that they never do?
Marina Kaye: That’s a hard one! I guess, “Are you happy with what you’re doing right now?” My answer would be that I’m really frustrated because I can’t really do my job, but when everything gets back to normal I’ll be very happy to do what I do.
And one last question! What advice would you give to aspiring songwriters or creators who maybe want to follow in your footsteps?
Marina Kaye: Surround yourself with good people, people that are telling you when you’re doing the wrong thing, stay grounded, humble and close to your friends and family, and don’t even forget who you are and why you’re doing that you’re doing.
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📸 © Yann Orhan
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