Kississippi Offers Glittery Pop Catharsis On New Single “Last Time”

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Photo Credit: Brooke Marsh

Today, indie rockstar Kississippi has released her new single “Last Time”. Conveying a story of heartbreak and a farewell to a past lover over upbeat and fun pop beats, the Philadelphia emo songstress adds a cheeky yet razor sharp charm to her poetic lyricism and vulnerability. Marking the first release since her 2021 album Mood Ring, “Last Time” is the first single to be released ahead of Kississippi’s upcoming EP damned if i do it for you, out July 26. On May 29, Kississippi (aka Zoe Reynolds) announced her West Coast tour with Talker that she will embark on this summer. She’ll begin in Seattle, making her way down the coast until she ends her tour in Los Angeles.

Through her glittering, feminine artistry and edgy, emo lyricism, Kississippi conveys a musicality that is equal parts soft and rough. While she first made waves early in career among emo and DIY punk crowds and exemplified this in her debut 2016 EP We Have No Future, We’re All Doomed, Kississippi has since gone on to create a well-rounded and diverse discography. Her 2018 album Sunset Blush is a definitive indie rock record, and Mood Ring watches Kississippi take on the role of a charming pop legend in the making. Now, with her upcoming EP damned if i do it for you, the “Cut Yr Teeth” singer embodies every side of her artistry: charismatic songwriting, heavy guitars and a deep understanding of happiness and loneliness. In light of the release of “Last Time” and the announcement of her West Coast tour, Kississippi sat down with Melodic Magazine to discuss the definition of emo music, what to expect on her tour with Talker and how she dances along to heartbreak.

Thank you so much for taking the time today! I wanted to ask about musical inspirations. I had read that you said you take inspiration from female artists like Liz Phair and Cat Powers, who you describe as “weird girl rockstars.” You’ve said you see this “weird girl rockstar” energy within yourself as well. How do you take this inspiration or weirdness and channel it through your art?
Oh this is a good question. I mean, obviously these artists really inspire me sonically, but I would say it’s more about their vibe and their willingness to do whatever they want to do and be different from other female artists and from other artists in their scenes in general. I feel like I’ve kind of gotten lumped into this emo category. I do like emo music, but I’m always trying to figure out how do I navigate being something else and how do I get out of this very strict label? I feel like those artists are able to branch out in those ways too, and I really look up to that. 

A couple of questions going off of that. You originally came from emo/DIY underground music scenes and then you pursued more indie-pop or pop punk. How are you still influenced by those original emo DIY scenes that you came from?
I don’t know if I draw as much inspiration from those crowds as I did in the past, but I will say that I was really, really lucky in the last few years to be able to tour with a lot of people who are more known for making emo music and are more in that realm of music. I’ve been lucky to tour with the Wonder Years, Kevin Devine and Dashboard Confessional. It’s kind of the same thing that I was saying before, where it’s less about the genre and it’s more about the people who I get to meet through it and how they inspire me and push me to want to be a better artist. And that’s not even just sonically, but even with navigating playing shows and how to put myself out there. I would say that’s where I’m most inspired by emo music. There’s this willingness to go crazy with it and have fun on stage and keep things silly. And I just feel like there’s more of a connection to the audience than there is in a lot of other scenes. 

Going off of that, what makes something part of the emo genre? I feel like a lot of people think of it and they think screamo, and that’s not all that emo is. How do you define emo music?
I’m always one to say that emo can be whatever you want it to be. I would say that it’s pretty much anything that is just deeply emotionally charged. I think that being lumped into the emo music scene made sense for me because I have always written about heartbreak and mental illness and stuff like that, and I think that’s what emo is. The willingness to talk about the deeper and darker feelings that people are going through. That’s my definition of it, and that’s why I think that I’ve stayed in that category for a long time is because I am talking about very similar topics to other bands in the emo scene.

In your Instagram bio you define your music as “woman music,” which I love. What does that mean to you? What do you define woman music as?
It’s funny because I actually think I would describe it as something similar to what I was just describing. Just being willing to talk about the darker stuff and deeper feelings and talking about stuff that you’ve had men tell you not to talk about. Singing songs about stuff that men have told me not to repeat, writing stuff and being willing to push the boundaries with them a little bit. 

When you say stuff that men have told you not to talk about, is it specific subjects? Or is it certain emotions?
A lot of my songs are about past relationships that have been emotionally abusive and stuff like that. So yeah, I would say I came into the scene mostly writing about stuff like that, trying to treat music like it’s my journal. I would say woman music is even just the type of shit that you would read in a woman’s diary or a woman’s journal, letting loose on those feelings and even the conversations that I have with my other woman friends and stuff like that. Conversations that I don’t have with men or that men don’t want to have.

You compare it to journal entries or these really personal, vulnerable concepts. Does it ever make you nervous to put certain songs out, especially if they’re about something very personal?
Absolutely. I’m nervous about the new songs for sure. I think I got a little more personal with them than I did with my last record. I was more willing to just say whatever I was feeling. And now that I’m reaching the point where it’s about to come out I’m like, oh shit, people are going to know how I feel and things that have happened in my life. It definitely does make things a little scarier, but I think it’s totally worth it. I think that being open and honest and vulnerable is really important because it pushes other people to do the same and it opens the conversations that we need to be having.

You say on the new music, you’re more personal now than you have been on your previous work. Was there something that inspired you to dig a little deeper? What pushed you to go outside your comfort zone?
I think it was me trying to open up to being more vulnerable with people in my life and people who I love; being more honest with them about who I am and how I navigate certain feelings. I would say the new EP is really about coming out of a relationship turned friendship turned situationship – a really off and on situation – and realizing that as much as I wanted to blame that person for how I was feeling, I also had to take responsibility for things that I’d done and ways that I navigated taking care of myself and taking care of my mental health. It’s really about coming to terms with being mentally ill and coming to terms with being alone for the first time in a long time and wanting to fight that instead of letting it break me down.

Speaking of new upcoming music, I know your next single “Last Time” comes out today. It’s a breakup song, but it has a cheeky and fun energy to it. What inspired you to take a more upbeat vibe with a song about heartbreak?
I think I just desperately wanted to be having a good time. I really wanted to change the narrative for myself and take ownership for the feelings and heartbreak that I was going through. I was like, okay, admitting that this person broke my heart is giving them a lot of credit. I have to turn around and admit maybe it’s my fault too, but in a way that I was trying to laugh it off as well. I was navigating a lot of stuff at that point and figuring out a lot about my mental health. Even though I was going through so much and hurting a lot, I just wanted to have something I could really dance about. I also kind of wrote that song for the person who was playing guitar for me at the time who recorded guitar on this EP. I know that he loves playing a little disco chord and I really just wanted a reason to dance. I was like, I’m going to write this for both of us so we can both have a lot of fun playing it. I think that I was just going through something where I didn’t really have a lot of fun topics to be talking about. I was struggling a lot and I was like, I have to make some of this feel a little lighter. 

The upcoming album damned if i do it for you is your newest release since Mood Ring in 2021. How has your artistry changed in those three years? How will this album be different from your previous work?
With this new EP I felt so much more comfortable learning what I learned from the people I wrote with on my last record and opening myself up to collaborations. In the past, I was really against letting someone see me writing. In the cases where I would have to write something while I was in the studio, I would hide as far away from everyone as I possibly could because I was just really shy about it. With this new stuff, I just felt so much more comfortable and I went back to the same people I did my record with just with a new state of mind. I did take a little bit of a break with three years between releases, but I think that I’m more willing to try new things. With the last record I really wanted to make a pop record. I was trying to figure out how I was going to make myself into a pop artist, and with this new one I was like, I’m just going to write what feels right. There’s a lot of variation between the songs. It’s a little more guitar heavy than stuff that I’ve done in recent years. I would say that it ties more back to my first record Sunset Blush. I’m excited about doing this whole thing as an EP because it gave me the option to make things sonically different and allow myself to explore more. I think when you do music as a career and you’re a small artist, it can be really scary and stressful. The self perception and other people perceiving you, it’s all nerve wracking. But this time around I just didn’t care. I love that I can do anything, and I think it’s opened me up to trying new things in the future as well. I would say this is my fuck around and find out EP. 

You say you want to experiment. What are some things you’d like to experiment with?
Definitely different sounds and genres. Definitely more collaborations. I just love being in a room with other writers now. I don’t know why it was something that was so intimidating to me before. Now that I do it this is so much more fun. The ideas are flowing. Everyone’s bouncing back and forth with different stuff. I would love to collaborate with more artists who have a different sound than I have though. I did some of the co-writing with my friends Sarah Tudzin and Maddie Ross, and they’re both indie pop artists as well. Sarah has a project called Illuminati Hotties. With future stuff, I think I’d like to collaborate with people who do country or hip hop, just new genres that I haven’t gotten to explore yet. Even the idea of writing songs for other people seems interesting to me. 

That’d be cool to see how working with other artists might influence your own music. As well as the EP coming out you also have your West Coast tour with Talker that’s going to begin on July 18. What can people expect to see from you on tour?
With the new EP coming out I will be doing all the new songs from the new EP before it comes out, so it’ll be kind of like an EP preview tour. Since I haven’t been to the West Coast for so long, I’m really excited to come back and have something special to share and be able to give people a sneak peek at something that other cities aren’t going to be able to see yet. I’m just really excited for the tour because Celeste, from Talker, is such an inspiring person. When I was out doing my co-writing sessions with Sarah and Maddie, we all, went out to karaoke with Celeste and she got up there and did “If It Makes You Happy” by Sheryl Crow and I was like, this girl was literally a rock star. She’s at karaoke and she’s shredding right now. Since then we’ve gotten to become closer friends. We’ve been following each other for a while, but she’s really a creative powerhouse and I think both of us work really hard as predominantly independent musicians. We’re both very creative and crafty. So I look up to her a lot in those ways. I just know that I’m going to learn a lot from her on the tour and maybe she’ll learn something from me too. It feels really good to be going on tour with someone who I know is a really good person and a really creative, smart person; someone who I know that people should look up to.

You have the tour and then you have the new EP on the horizon, but is there anything else that people should be on the lookout for from you?
I’m working on some new video stuff for the EP, which I’m really excited about. I’m starting that up next week and. I have a feature on a new Sydney Sprague song that’s coming out in a couple weeks. That’s one thing that I’m really excited about. I think that song turned out really awesome and we go to the same producer, which is really fun.

What can people find within the world of Kississippi?
I’m hoping that it can be healing for other people. I think I’m just this constantly yearning, heartbroken person and I’m trying to fix that. That’s a lot of what this EP is about. It’s about finding comfort with yourself and finding happiness in loneliness, and I hope that people who struggle with being alone and with being sad in general are able to see themselves in it and feel a little better and dance it off a little bit.

Such a lovely conversation, thank you so much for taking the time!
Of course! Thank you!

Keep up with Kississippi: Instagram // TikTok // Spotify // Website

Justice Petersen
Justice Petersen
Justice Petersen is a Chicago-based music journalist and freelance writer. She is a recent graduate from Columbia College Chicago, having earned a journalism major with a concentration in magazine writing and a minor in music business. Justice regularly contributes artist interviews, On Your Radar features and various other articles for Melodic Magazine, serving as an interviewer, writer and editor. She also writes for several other online magazine publications, including Ghost Cult Magazine, Chicago Music Guide and That Eric Alper, and her work has been featured in Sunstroke Magazine, Fever Dream Zine, ChicagoTalks and the Chicago Reader. Her favorite band is Metallica and her go-to coffee order is an iced vanilla oat milk latte with strawberry cold foam on top.

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