November 09 2015

Standard Sounds: Kacy Hill Makes G.O.O.D. in LA

Los Angeles-Standard Sounds
From oboist in the high school orchestra to American Apparel pinup to Yeezus dancer to G.O.O.D.-signed artist. Shot by Shelby Duncan.

In her songs, Kacy Hill often feels like a tranquil figure surrounded by a gathering, swirling storm. On her recently released Bloo EP, Hill’s voice remains clear and steady as electronic textures build and burble around her. This sonic quality fits with her real-life talent of keeping it together, even in overwhelming situations.

In 2012, two months after graduating high school, Hill left Phoenix and headed across the state line to Los Angeles. She had about $1,600, knew no one in the city, and only expected to be there for a few months. More than anything, Hill just saw the journey as a better option than sticking around Arizona and staying at her job at a pizza parlor.

So how did it go? “It was terrible,” she admits.

She got taken advantage of because 
of her youth. The place she found on Craigslist ended up just being someone else’s living room. Still, Hill persisted out of pure stubbornness and made things happen. She found modeling work and a job selling ice cream in Beverly Hills.
“I hustled and worked really hard,” says the now 20-year-old from
her (own) backyard. “I just did my best to stay busy.”

Hill hanging out at The Standard, Downtown LA. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.shelbyduncan.com/">Photo by Shelby Duncan.&nbsp;</a>

Hill hanging out at The Standard, Downtown LA. Photo by Shelby Duncan. 

One year into her LA stay, Hill’s work as an American Apparel model got her an audition and then a job as a dancer on Kanye West’s spectacular Yeezus tour—the one that put a giant mountain inside of arenas and had him wearing face-obscuring jeweled masks as he performed. Though Hill had attended a performing arts high school where she played oboe in the orchestra and sang in the choir, the full-on dance rehearsals she was thrown into left her aching, sweating, and questioning the decision she’d made. “I was just not cut out to be a dancer, obviously,” she says. “And I felt like, ‘I have made a gruesome mistake in my life.’”

But soon these rehearsals ended, and it turned out that the dancers would be working with Vanessa Beecroft, the famed artist and a Kanye West collaborator since the 808s & Heartbreak days. Hill’s requirements would be more conceptual and performative. “They were like, ‘Actually, you're not going to be doing any of this. You're going to be standing on stage kind of naked,’” says Hill. “That was more in the realm of things I was capable of doing.”


Laid back on the Rooftop of The Standard, Downtown LA. Photo by <a target="_blank" href="http://www.shelbyduncan.com/">Shelby Duncan</a>.&nbsp;

Laid back on the Rooftop of The Standard, Downtown LA. Photo by Shelby Duncan

Around this time and on the side, Hill began working on a music project with producer Jaylien Wesley and photographer/ director Stephen Garnett, resulting in the crystalline track “Experience.” After she had already left the Yeezus tour, West heard the song and signed her to his G.O.O.D. Music imprint. Over a year later she released Bloo, which showcases her entrancing voice and expressionistic lyrics. Currently she’s working on a full- length album that is filled with more classic pop songs but that she reassuringly says is still in the same realm of what the world has heard from her.

When Hill moved to Los Angeles, the idea of becoming a singer never occurred to her, but right now it’s what makes sense. "Regardless of when you discover something in your life, when it just clicks, it just does,” she says. “It kind of takes hold of you."

Looking back at where her seemingly naïve journey that started three years ago has now taken her, she reflects, “I was supposed to go to school and do normal things, and I didn't.


Check out Hill's playlist of the tracks she's been obsessing over lately:
Writer
Eric Ducker
Photographer
Shelby Duncan