Unwrapped: Kayla Oh – Self Defense

We had a chat with rising star Kayla Oh about her personal and cathartic new sophomore single ‘Self Defense’

Unfortunately, all too many people have a nice memory of an occasion or even a relationship as a whole, that when you look back on as the more mature and experienced person you are now, you realise are marred through things like mistreatment and behaviour that isn’t really acceptable or warranted, and that’s exactly what the latest Kayla Oh single ‘Self Defense’ is about.

The track sees the artist utilising the immersive folk-pop sound that she established on debut single ‘See Through’ to create a really atmospheric sense of gravity throughout the track, soft in style but brutally honest in its powerful lyrics, evoking powerful metaphorical imagery to represent a relationship and trust that has been killed. In spite of its darkness, the track has a real sense of beauty and charm thanks to the artist’s style, and this multi-faceted appeal sets her apart as a truly rare talent capable of creating such a creative and multi-faceted release that works on so many levels. Following such an impressive new release, we had a chat with Kayla Oh and asked her to dissect it a little bit more and pick it apart with us.

Hey! We love your new single ‘Self Defense’, what more can you tell us about it?

‘Self Defense’ is my second single and one of my favorite projects I’ve worked on so far. It’s definitely a bit darker than my first release, and much more angsty. I think it took my first single, “See Through,” to get me to a point where I felt like I could release a song that was this angry and this direct, maybe because I felt like I had already established my persona and broken the ice in a sense. There’s also a really great music video for it, directed by Meg Ha, that captures the spirit of this song so magically; you should check it out!

What was the process like putting it together?

I wrote ‘Self Defense’ actually pretty quickly, I think in the span of an hour. From there, I brought it to my producer and we recorded for a full day. By the end of that session, we both agreed that the song was turning into something more dramatic and it needed an extra element. So he called up a friend who sent over the most beautiful string arrangement, and the track became so cinematic that I knew from that moment we needed to make a video. I contacted Meg, we planned for the next few weeks and then shot the whole video in 3 days, and we created some of the most amazing visuals that I’m so excited everyone can watch now!

What were your biggest influences when creating the track?

My biggest influences during the writing process were probably Florence + the Machine and Lorde, specifically her album Melodrama. With the video, I drew a lot of inspiration from Lizzy McAlpine’s video for “Doomsday” and The Last Dinner Party’s “Nothing Matters”.

How cathartic did you find it turning these experiences into a song?

It was incredibly cathartic writing this song, especially because a lot of what I was writing about happened to me 5 years ago. The experience was very suppressed in my memory, and one I haven’t put as much work into processing until recently because of how young I was and how long it took for those events to resurface in my mind as things that were actually problematic. So much looks okay through 15 year old eyes, and it takes a lot of distance to both realize that and also show your past self grace despite holding the values and boundaries you have now.

What else do you have planned for the near future?

This summer I’ll be doing some gigs around NYC so keep an eye out on my socials for that! And further down the line, another single and maybe an EP 🙂