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On almost a daily basis, my ego tends to exist in waves. One day, I feel confident and accomplished, all of my work and beliefs finally aligned on an upward trajectory; the next day, I am lacking and static, all of my efforts insipid. When soundtracking the former, I tend towards braggadocio rap or gritty rock. I might start bussin' or break out a two-step. For the latter, though, my go-to as of late has been Kye Kye's "Fantasize."
While Radiohead, Bon Iver or Yung Lean and his Sad Boys are obvious winners, "Fantasize" is less about listeners wallowing in ennui, and more of a restorative meditation.
“The definition of fantasize is daydreaming of something desired," vocalist Olga Yagolnikov said. "A lot of times when you’re trying to write songs, you’re actually ignoring a lot things going on inside of you by just focusing on something that you’re trying to do. A lot of songs started with conversations that we’ve had, from faith to seeing if there is a purpose to life. It’s almost like we went through mini mid-life crises. That moment where you suddenly think, 'What the hell is my life about?’ Everyone has something to say on this and it’s just about whether you take the time to really sit down and think through these things.”
Along with Olga, Portland, Oregon's Kye Kye features her fellow Estonian-born siblings, Tim (programming/guitar/keys/vocals) and Alex (keys), and her husband, Tommy Phelan. While a family affair might seem precarious -- all who have siblings know of the tottering relationships that can devolve to bickering over the simplest of matters -- it is the relationships that maintain their solidity. In fact, they really aren't sure how other bands can function as a group of non-siblings.
"You’re traveling everywhere and you’re around each other so much," Olga said. "I don’t know how people would handle me, and I don’t know how people would handle [my brothers]. The fact that we are related allows us to just brush a lot of things off. One moment we hate each other, and the next we are telling each other how much we love them.”
“We are all on the same page, we grew up in the same environment," Tim said. "And even when we go to our separate corners to write, when we come together, there’s so many things that connect because we’re thinking and writing from the same place.”
After a few seconds of silence, Tim chimed back in, explaining how musical collaboration at an early age in an artistically encouraging household helped a lot. “It’s probably not as easy as I just made it sound," he joked.
Kye Kye's sophomore album is a warming ambient mesh of electronics and guitar, occasionally backed by booming drums, topped by Olga's buoyant vocals. For Tim, the electronics comes naturally, whether it's '80s pop or more recent acts like Sigur Ros, but the band has no loyalty to any genre. Taking in the many different phases of sound they encountered growing up, the only rule to their sound is an idea.
“We talk about this a lot, but we really think there are artists and songs that have this honesty that you can really connect because of where that person was when they were writing it," Tim said. "That’s something we searched out a lot when looking for music, and plays a big in why we sound the way we do.”
“I think one of the biggest themes of the record is honesty," Olga said. "When writing songs, I shouldn’t have to sit there and think, 'What should I write about?' It should just come really naturally. That record, in that moment of time, we all sort of went through something, where we were like, let’s not be afraid to ask ourselves really big questions. To really dig into what your life is about is something a lot of people are afraid to ask themselves.”
This unbridled self-assessment caught the attention of Lexus, teaming up with the band for a commercial for their CT Hybrid. “The team we got to collaborate was so awesome, and at the end of the day, they are artists," Olga said. "There is an art in commercials, taking an idea and then building visuals and music on top, and we connect to that."
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