From the ballet to the Canadian military to the world of beauty contests, it’s unlikely that anyone from the current wave of 90s house revivalists has experienced a route to success as intriguing as that of flame-haired, Calgary-born vocalist Kiesza.
The 25-year-old first began her career in the Royal Canadian Navy aged just sixteen, where she became renowned for her code-breaking and sharp-shooting skills. However, after realising that she could never pull the trigger on a real person, she abandoned any ambitions of becoming a sniper, and instead sailed to Hawaii where she entered the Miss Universe Canada Pageant.
No stranger to the art of performing – having already trained as a ballet dancer and a synchronised swimmer in her teens as well as appearing in a stage production of Annie – Kiesza also treated her fellow passengers to her first ever self-penned composition, a folksy lullaby inspired by the divorce of her parents, and was subsequently encouraged to apply for a place on a music course at British Columbia’s Selkirk College. Kiesza was not only accepted without an audition or interview, but a year later she received a scholarship to Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, where she began honing a more uptempo dance sound influenced by the big-voiced divas of the early 90s (CeCe Peniston, Robin S) with producer Rami Samir Afuni (LMFAO, Miley Cyrus).
Following a guest appearance on the slinky electro-pop of Norwegian outfit Donkeyboy’s 2013 single “Triggerfinger,” Kiesza then released her debut single, “Hideaway,” through Afuni’s Lokal Legend label earlier this month. Blending a thick gooey bassline with a quick burst of fizzing EDM synths, wide-eyed romantic melodies and throbbing beats, its perfect blend of the old and the new is almost guaranteed to hit the UK top spot this week.
But its accompanying video, which sees Kiesza dance through the streets of Brooklyn in one single cleverly-structured take, is equally impressive – perhaps even more so considering the fact that she broke a rib on the day of filming, resulting in a month of being barely able to move.
Continuing the old-school vibes, an EP featuring a cover of Haddaway’s “What Is Love” and a remix from in-demand duo Gorgon City is also scheduled for release later this year. But Kiesza’s impressive powerhouse vocals and magnetic stage presence suggests that she won’t get left behind once the whole retro bubble bursts.