Here at Who What Wear, we’re constantly scouring the film, television, music, and fashion talent pools to bring you the next big wave of emerging stars. So it excites us to bring you our new series, Girl on the Rise! Each month we’ll be spotlighting a new fresh face on the verge served with an exclusive interview and a side of great fashion.
Girl leaves small town for the big city and lands the gig of a lifetime, only to discover her true destiny is something even greater. Jump ahead a few months, and she’s on the fast track to stardom. Sounds like a movie plotline, right? That’s singer Kacy Hill’s true story. After graduating high school, the Arizona native packed her bags for Los Angeles with no real intentions. Little did she know that the opportunity of a lifetime was right around the corner. A stint modeling for American Apparel earned Hill her big break as a backup dancer on Kayne West’s Yeezus tour, where she would ultimately catch the music bug. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Hill is signed to West’s G.O.O.D. Music and is nearly finished with her first full-length album, the follow-up to her well-received EP, Bloo. Likened to Florence Welch and James Blake, Hill’s beautiful pop-synth vocals are every bit as captivating as her coppery red hair, bright green eyes, and milky complexion—see for yourself!
Fresh off her debut performance at South by Southwest, Hill joined us at our Los Angeles studio for her Girl on the Rise photo shoot, and after showcasing white shirting that’s anything but basic (#stylegoals), she sat down to talk about her incredible success story, finding fashion, and her on-tour essentials. Keep reading for our exclusive interview.
WHO WHAT WEAR: You have a really cool story! Can you tell us how you got to where you are today?
KACY HILL: I moved here when I was 18. I had just graduated from high school and didn’t want to stay in Arizona, so I moved to L.A. I didn’t have any solid intention of what I was going to do. I wasn’t doing music at all. I had never written a song, but [L.A.] was the closest major hub. I found this woman on Craigslist and basically lived in her living room for seven months. I wasn’t doing a whole lot for the first year, and then I think everything sort of fell into place. I started writing music, and it clicked.
WWW: Then you started modeling?
KH: About a month after I moved out [to L.A.], I met this photographer, and he introduced me to one of his friends who did creative work at American Apparel, and so I ended up modeling for the brand. It wasn’t anything I ever really felt passionate about, but it was there.
WWW: How did the Yeezus tour come about?
KH: That was through American Apparel. The creative director of the tour wanted to use real dancers with American Apparel models. It was more so just for a look because they had a really diverse group of girls. I didn’t dance; it was more static movement and a focus on the female form.
WWW: When did you decide to pursue music seriously?
KH: The minute I felt the energy of so many people watching a performer, I realized I needed to feel that for myself. With modeling, you end up being a tool for someone else’s creative vision, and I realized I couldn’t do that anymore. I knew I had enough ideas and could execute them and make this happen for myself.
WWW: Bloo has been so well received. What was the inspiration for the EP?
KH: I was basically trying to work on a full-length album, and I was maybe a year in, and I needed to put out some kind of body of work. The three songs on there I was really attached to, but I wasn’t sure how they would fit on a full-length. It’s a growth process, all of this. All the songs happened organically. I went into the studio and was emotionally charged, and they worked.
WWW: What is the writing process like for you?
KH: I like working with different people, but then I have a few regulars I write with a lot. So I’ll go into the studio with a producer and start with a sound or chords or an idea, and then build something from that. I do a melody and then lyrics and help form the direction of production. I like working with people who are very collaborative and who can make me better and call me out and tell me that melody doesn’t work or that word doesn’t fit. The foundation is me, the idea is all me—it’s just someone who’s able to nitpick with me.
WWW: Are you planning to release a new music soon?
KH: Yeah! I’ve written the whole album, and now we’re finishing production. So it will be out soon.
WWW: You just came back from SXSW: How was that?
KH: It was amazing. It was my first SXSW, and I loved it because the energy of the crowd was really amazing. I feel like people were there to listen to music, which was cool. It wasn’t the whole Coachella fashion scene, which is fine, but it’s cool to see something that’s literally just music.
WWW: Let’s talk about your stage style: Is it different from your everyday look?
KH: My stage style right now is a velvet one-piece. I designed it with Johnny Wujek and Marco Marco. There’s a picture of Cher in this shiny one-piece, and I said we have to make something like that. I wanted something that was me, and comfortable. I’m really into retro ’70s stuff and cowboy culture and velvet.
WWW: What pieces from your wardrobe do you have to have with you on tour?
KH: I have a 1976 Dolly Parton shirt—it’s amazing. I have a good pair of flared pants; I alternate with black velvet flared pants and denim flares that have patchwork. Those are Hudson, and then the black velvet flares are AG. You have to have a good suede jacket. There’s one from Sandro I really like; it’s black with studs. A.L.C. has a similar one that’s brown with silver studs. I love turtlenecks. Sandro has a really cool striped one I wear a lot. I have this pair of Freda Salvador boots I really love. They’re very versatile and amazing with flared jeans. And you can dress them up with shorts and dresses.
WWW: Was fashion a big part of your life growing up?
KH: God no! Not even a thing. I wore my hair back in pigtails until I was like 15. I always liked the idea of dressing and making cool outfits; I just had no reference point. I feel like the idea was there, but the execution was not.
WWW: When did it become something you were interested in?
KH: Honestly, I think it was when I was on tour with Kanye. That’s the first time I’ve been around people that are very stylish and into fashion. I think when I was modeling, it was just trends; I wasn’t exposed to a real idea of high fashion. I became super interested in the art of it.
WWW: We loved your green Gucci suit from the W magazine party earlier this year. Would you say you like a bolder fashion moment?
KH: Yes, 100%! In my everyday life, I’m not as crazy; I’m more of a retro Western feel. But for events, I love that I’m able to do crazy stuff and wear crazy things. I would like to take full opportunity.
WWW: What was your last fashion purchase?
KH: When I was in Austin, I bought a pair of nude snakeskin cowboy boots. They’re ankle boots, and then the heel is this whole silver metal floral caging. They’re insane!
WWW: Where do you like to shop?
KH: I don’t shop online. I’m really tiny, so everything I order ends up being a blanket on me. In L.A., I like Sandro a lot, and Barneys. But if we’re doing vintage stuff, I find the best stuff when hunting by myself.
WWW: What’s your go-to look for spring/summer?
KH: My go-to look for spring is minidresses and shift dresses with ankle boots.
WWW: Now for some rapid-fire questions! A really great bag or a really great pair of shoes?
Skinny jeans or boyfriend jeans?
Shorts or a skirt?
Flats or heels?
Spring dress or winter coat?
KH: That’s tough, because I like a coat, and I like a dress.
Bold colors or prints?
Vintage or new?
KH: Depends. I like vintage. I do. When it’s a really good piece, it’s timeless for a reason.
Photographer: Kat Borchart; Hair: Luke Chamberlain; Makeup: Natasha Severino; Styling: Sarah Schussheim.
Don’t miss our Girl on the Rise feature with actress Emma Greenwell.