With her ambitious debut album, Expectations, finally out in the world, Hayley Kiyoko has proven herself a formidable new force in the pop realm — but there’s still more work to be done.
The 27-year-old — who’s MTV’s Push: Artist to Watch for the month of April — recently opened up about the, uh, expectations she puts on herself as one of pop’s few openly gay female artists. Speaking to MTV News correspondent Meredith Graves, she admitted that, growing up, there were no lesbian or queer narratives that spoke to her, and that’s a void she’s determined to fill.
“That’s what I’m doing with my work. I’m trying to create hope,” Kiyoko said. “Because the films that I grew up watching were very depressing, and I’d be like, ‘Great! I feel terrible about who I am! Awesome!’ That’s what I’m pouring into [my] music videos, is showing that there can be a fairytale, and you can have hope with being who you are, and you can find the one. You can be yourself, and these feelings that you have are valid.”
Kiyoko directs or co-directs all of her videos, from “Curious,” which documents a flirtatious relationship with a girl at a party, to the intimate “Sleepover,” which captures the rush and pain of falling in love with a friend. Kiyoko cites Britney Spears’s “iconic” videos as a major source of inspiration, but it’s clear that she’s forging her own path behind the camera, as one of the few artists who’s putting queer love onscreen.
“I love telling stories, and that’s kind of how I transitioned into directing my music videos,” she explained, adding that it’s an incredible feeling to be able to share her vision with fans. “I feel very free to be myself. I feel very free being able to sing my songs and know that people are able to sing them with me and people are able to connect to them. I’m trying to encourage people to know that life is short and it feels great to be yourself.”
For more from Kiyoko, check out her exclusive performance of “Curious” below.