After moving to Los Angeles, where many a young aspiring artists journey to in search of his their big break, the 21-year-old Kestner whilst writing and producing her own material has already written new material with artists such as Wiz Khalifa and touring with singer-songwriter Wrabel. With her new single ‘Compromise’ out now (download here: https://atlantic.lnk.to/CompromiseTW). I interviewed the extraordinarily talented singer as we discovered just what drives her passions in songwriting, the power of social media on how we view and rate our beauty as well as her new material with Kelly Clarkson.
Molly, it has to be said that you do have a big voice, in complete contrast to your appearance. On first perception you would assume that your voice would be somewhere on third bridge on just maybe sitting in falsetto light and airy, so what was the reaction when you first sang to someone and that was the sound that came out of you?
MKK: HA! Story of my life. My voice is definitely not what most people would expect. I remember when I was 16 years old, I went to choir camp. (Yes…choir camp. Don’t hate it till you try it) Anyway, I auditioned for this solo in a big gospel song and when I finished, everyone looked shocked. I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. Then the girl sitting next to me goes, “how does THAT sound come out of YOU?’ I didn’t have an answer then & I’m not sure I even have one now. I still get comments on all my songs, asking why my voice is so low, why I make strange faces when I sing and that it doesn’t match my appearance. But all I know is that when I sing, there are no charades. It’s the most authentic I ever feel.
Prom Queen is the title of your latest song. Have you ever been a PQ or had the desire to be one? Has this ever been your ultimate teenage dream?
MKK: I was never Prom Queen. My school actually didn’t even have a Prom Queen/King. We did have Homecoming Queen, but I wasn’t that either. It was never a dream of mine, but I definitely thought about it! In high school, peer affirmation means so much… and that seems like the ultimate sign of it.
What made you decide to write this song?
MKK: I wanted to write a song that followed the story of a person that seems perfect but really, they are falling apart on the inside. Some of the most popular, beautiful people I’ve ever known have the most messed up lives. And from a personal perspective, there have definitely been times in my life where I hid behind the labels other people placed on me, because it was easier than being honest and showing that I had problems in my life.
I’ve taken the time to intently listen to the lyrics of PQ, you mention “her booty has its own zip code” and although I laughed it also was extremely emotive due to the way it was framed within the song it’s almost satirical. Was that what you set out to do?
MKK: I’m so glad you liked this line! I felt pretty clever when I thought of it. Really I just wanted to get the point across that this girl (the Prom Queen) is “body goals.” She represents every girl you follow on Instagram that you say you can’t stand, because they constantly post pictures of themselves… but you also keep stalking them because you secretly wish you had their butt, boobs, skin, teeth, you fill in the blank. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about!
Do you think that the selfie culture has depicted this need to view the entire PQ idealism as the teenage dream or has it always been there and we just found a new evil as its tool?
MKK: It’s always been there. But social media has absolutely fanned the flame. We are holding little black mirrors up to our face all day and asking Facebook, Instagram and Twitter “Who is the fairest of them all?” When I was in middle school, you knew who the popular kids were, but you weren’t able to rank them. Now, you just look at how many followers they have, how many likes. And you aren’t just comparing yourself to the prettiest kid in your school… you are comparing yourself to the prettiest kid your age on the internet. That is why I am so passionate about this song’s message. There is more to people than what you SEE. Find your identity in your heart, your mind, your soul…. not your latest selfie.
It’s hard not to fall in love with ‘I don’t know’ and many of your songs and there are times when you can draw comparisons to other artists but ultimately in your songs your really do hear your voice but who have been your influences? Have there ever been any country or rock influences in your music?
MKK: I’ve had so many different influences. I think that’s why it’s hard to compare my voice to any specific person. I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra & Bing Crosby. So I love classy, smooth music. Then when I was about 12, I discovered I could belt my little heart out. So I only listened to Whitney Houston, Kelly Clarkson & Carrie Underwood. All of them have influenced me greatly. But the older I’ve gotten, I’ve really grown to love and appreciate rock music. Stevie Nicks, Bon Jovi, U2 and The Beatles. The list goes on with each new day, I love that about music… you’re always discovering something new you like.
When you’re not making music where would we find MKK?
MKK: Probably hanging out with the people I love or exploring somewhere. I really love going on adventures, especially out in nature. I love the ocean, the mountains and even the desert… They are all so magnificent and inspiring to me. That’s something I really love about California, I get all three.
MKK: I had the opportunity to open for Jason Mraz and Cindy Lauper at a benefit for the True Colors Fund. That was pretty incredible.
When can you expect to see your next release and who can we expect to see you working with in the near future?
MKK: Soon. VERY soon! Keep an eye on my page. And I’ve actually written some of the songs for Kelly Clarkson’s upcoming album… AHH so crazy! There are a couple other things in the works but I don’t want to speak prematurely. Let’s just say…I’m excited. I’m also going on tour with Phoebe Ryan this November, which will be super fun!
Are there any artists that you would like to write for?
MKK: Oh yes. Ed Sheeran, Adele & Harry Styles to start…And I just realized that the U.K. has three of my favorite artists. I think it may be time to move.