Q&A with Rising pop songwriter, Nastiya Kai

Burgeoning alt-pop singer-songwriter Nastiya Kai released a dark, hypnotic single, ‘Bury Me’ on October 27th, 2023. ‘Bury Me’ is an appetizer to her forthcoming debut album, set for release in early 2024. With her music garnering more than 141 500 streams and counting, Nastiya Kai is making waves in the industry and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Originally from Moscow and now based between Moscow, Paris, LA and New York, Nastiya Kai is an entirely self-taught musician. She finds inspiration in a vast range of genres and artists, citing the likes of David Bowie, Daughter, The Naked and Famous, Crystal Castles, The Prodigy and Bob Dylan as a few who have influenced her. With a sound that has been compared to Caroline Polachek and Sub Urban, Nastiya Kai is carving a place for herself in the ever-growing pop world – her music is for fans of avant-pop luminaries such as Billie Eilish, Grimes and VÉRITÉ. 

Read our interview with her below.

Tell us about you, how long have you been producing music? What inspired you to start? 

I’ve always been writing songs. I don’t even know how I started to be honest, does one ever? One day I just found myself doing it. I was still a kid then, maybe about 8. At 9-10 I started writing more and taking vocal and guitar classes at school. I never really questioned it. I was quite a lonely kid so I suppose this was my way of letting my emotions out, a diary of some sort. Then I developed this fear of songwriting and performing because I was bullied for it so my songs turned into poems. I would keep a diary, like any teenage girl’s diary, but it would be poems, short stories and things like that. I went back to songwriting during Covid. It was a very difficult time as I was finally getting out of this very dark place, quarantined alone too, so I just thought I have all this time, why not get back to it? Then slowly, step by step, post-therapy I started working on overcoming my fear of making music and here I am.

In terms of producing I’m only learning now. I’m actually a much older person on the inside. I prefer instruments, unedited vocals, old microphones, and it takes me a very long time to resort to technology. I don’t even update my phone until it does it on its own. It’s been great learning how to re-create everything I hear in my head though. Also, my upcoming record is mostly indie electronic, so I’d have to give in eventually.

The music industry is super competitive these days, was there a moment in your life that you wanted to give up on music?  How did you manage to stay focused and achieve what you want? 

I break down at least once a week. Especially if I’m on social media too much. I look at all these successful artists and start thinking I’ll never be as great. This makes me want to go back and re-write all the songs that we already recorded for the album. I’m still learning to make friends with my emotions so I always try to channel this into something productive rather than just sit there in a state of panic.

Also, I write those little notes to myself on the days where I do feel good and hide them around the house, my bags, pockets. They’re mostly facts and pick-me-ups. Like a list of things I learned this year, some accomplishments, how proud I am of myself. So on the days where I do feel like a complete loser I’m always gonna stumble upon one of these and feel better. 

How would you describe your creative processes? Who writes the lyrics to the songs? Are the music and lyrics written in conjunction, or separately? Where does the inspiration come from?

Honestly, it’s never the same. I write all my own music and lyrics, however I do work with a producer. Like I said before – I’m not very good with software yet, so I do need help. But I’m very protective of my creativity and write everything by myself. I note down ideas, lines, words everyday and mostly go back to these for inspiration. I also record voice notes to myself whenever I think of something. If I’m next to an instrument then I’ll go write immediately. Lately, I haven’t been sleeping well so if my thoughts race I just sit at the keys and write. For me, there’s something comforting and safe in writing in the dark when the rest of the world is sleeping. 

Same goes for inspiration. It’s different every time. Writing an album has been a different experience because I wanted to stick to the same theme of my past experiences and stories so it’s very personal. However, outside of the album, I get inspired by anything. People watching, stories, emotions, books. I wrote a song yesterday about a movie I saw from a character’s perspective. 

What’s your favorite track from the upcoming album and what other bands/artists are you listening to right now? 

My two favorites are ‘Bury Me’, which I recently dropped as a single, and ‘Party @ My House’. I don’t wanna spoil anything but I’m just so proud of everything we’ve done. All the songs are so different and unexpected. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it!

I’ve been on this journey of discovering new music lately. I only listened to older songs for a while now. Mostly late 60s, 70s and 2009-10, and I completely missed out on the last couple of years. So just trying to catch up! Some of my most recent discoveries are Purple Palace, Art School Girlfriend, Swimming Paul, and Bombay Bicycle Club

What’s next for you?

I cannot wait to do some live shows and shoot all the content for the album. I want to bring this universe together and enjoy it for a little while. I’ve been under a lot of pressure as it is my first record and I wanted it to be perfect, so I think I’m gonna take a little break after it’s released and just exist in this world I created. But write, write, write, and learn more about all things music. I’m so happy that I get to do this every day.

Follow Nastiya Kai: Website