It's been nearly four years since Kiana V released "Does She Know," which has since been streamed over 10 million times (still, fans comment the song is "criminally underrated"). The track — the singer's first chart-topper — comes from the perspective of the "other woman" addressing an inconsistent love interest: "I'm holding back everything I wanna say."
Her penchant for self-aware lyricism has only increased over the past few years — through the release of 2019's See Me and multiple 2020 releases — only now she's not "holding back" anything. Her EP Dazed, released last week, is described as even more "vulnerable," an open dialogue with herself (or perhaps an open love letter).
"Producing these songs helped me explore how I viewed self-love and how that affected the love I had been able to give others," Kiana V tells PAPER. "I want people to remember that self love is a process and it's not always gonna be pretty... that giving yourself time to realign goes a really long way in figuring out what is and is not right for or in you."
The themes can be heard in the titular track "Dazed," released earlier this month: "I'm dazed but I'm lucid/ I'm usually lost in my head/ I'm constantly curious."
Dissonance can emerge in any sort of relationship, including with oneself, and Kiana delves deeper into this struggle to find harmony — often returning with more questions than answers. Of course, it's only fitting, considering her Instagram bio notes she's only becoming "curiouser and curiouser."
Perhaps that's why "Better," one of the tracks on the EP, went through so many makeovers. "I originally wrote it as a ballad, something just sad and painful," V says. "When I sent my a cappella recording to Jesse Barrera, he interpreted it to be much darker and more bitter, but when we got in the studio to record it, it didn't feel right. I just felt like my world didn't need another dark, sexy song ... I wanted one that was frilly and cute and happy, cause why not? So we changed all the minor chords to majors, added some fairy vocals and just had fun with it."
"Having fun with it" is something that Kiana V does throughout the EP — never taking herself too seriously, nor lingering on any particular motif for too long. It's cathartic, an exhalation of sorts, and one which is surely needed after a grueling past few years (pandemics aside).
As for what's next, Kiana hints at more music and collaborations to come, but in the meantime, we'll be streaming DAZED in its entirety.
Listen to the full EP below, and watch the "Dazed" movement visualizer here.