By | Teri Briggs
The Portland Playlist welcomed Kaiya On The Mountain to Portland Radio Project on Wednesday and what a night that was! Who is Kaiya On The Mountain you wonder? “If Florence & The Machine and Alabama Shakes had a baby, Kaiya On The Mountain would be their love child.”
They are a band of five; Kaiya, Justyn, Jack, Matt and Liam, and surprisingly, only two are over the age of 21! They all bring a special pizzazz to the sound that makes them who they are. Although the band is based in Portland, none of the members are actually from here. Every member moved from their respective hometowns to somehow find each other (thank you, Craigslist) and create what is now Kaiya On The Mountain. Singer, Kaiya Pelletier, started out as a solo-artist in 2011 writing and performing shows in the Portland area. During this time, she began using YouTube as a means to share her music and currently has over 1.3 million views on her channel. In October 2014, she self-released her debut EP, ‘Full of Creatures.’ During that same month, she made the decision to forgo being a solo artist and put a band together. Their EP is scheduled for release in June 2016.
We spent the first hour listening to their musical influences which covered alt-J, Temples, Tame Impala, Dr. Dog, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Cyndi Lauper, Fleet Foxes, and The Grateful Dead. It was The Grateful Dead that took keyboardist, Jack Lund, beyond the metal music he favored. Tom Petty’s guitar riffs on “Refugee,” was a sound guitarist, Justyn Lewis emulated because it is an uncomplicated way of playing that keeps steady throughout the entire song. Kaiya likes alt-J for their weird harmonies which reminds her of her band’s harmonic blend, and the fact that the drummer uses no cymbals. Drummer, Liam Walker, has recently gotten into The Beatles’ music and Unknown Mortal Orchestra reminds him of them. He also likes Tame Impala because all their songs seem to be big hits. Bassist, Matt Haugen, is drawn to synth sounds and favors Temples, and Dr. Dog for their “sick synths.”
Moving into the second hour, we played some of their recorded music before getting treated to five tracks performed live which made the Talk Board light up for listeners really loved this band, and there was even an anonymous marriage proposal to Kaiya! “Karma” was a song Kaiya wrote about the time she and her Mom were homeless for two weeks, living on a campsite. Reflecting on that time, Kaiya considers it a blessing to have gone through that hardship. Karma is one they often open or close a show with; it is also the one they use to start off rehearsals. She doesn’t usually write songs in a car, but “Risky” was written one Sunday night in the backseat of her Mom’s car. “Let’s Go Out” is one that went through a few incarnations, folk to rock, before settling into a pop vibe.
Their live performance covered two tracks, “Not Gonna Change” and the less poppy, “Nobody’s Fool,” off her self-released EP, “Mine,” “Edge of Silence,” and “Secret Cities” which was originally titled, “Let Your Burdens Go.” Secret Cities seems more fitting because the words are used throughout the song, and it is a song that could easily be about any of the cities that will be on future tours because this is a band that deserves being in any festival lineup or world tour. Listening to their music throughout this hour, we kept shaking our heads in disbelief because their mature sound belies their young ages. To have the following they have amassed already lends great excitement for the road they have ahead of them.
This youthful band has the “music, the energy and the looks to back up their passion to put on an unforgettable show.” So if you like alternative folk-rock music with a southern flare, take a listen, go to one of their shows, and like our anonymous listener, you just might fall in love, we did and sure hope you do too.
At my core, I am a musician, songwriter, producer, studio owner/engineer, and, most importantly, a lover of all things music. It is my goal to help connect listeners to local artists. I believe we should all be searching for the next thing that inspires us.
I am originally from Arizona, where over many years, I played in several different independent bands in the Phoenix and Tucson areas. I put in many, many hours of grassroots-style promotion in order to get my bands heard. I am excited to be a part of Portland Radio Project where I can provide an avenue to local Portland musicians to share their art.