20 May Behind the Decks with Kayten
The path of a music producer can be perilous, littered with professional and personal struggles along the way. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry presents additional challenges. So to mark May as Mental Health Awareness Month and celebrate a story of strength in overcoming setbacks, Nightenjin is proud to highlight Kayten, an artist unapologetically herself.
Kayten’s story starts in Northern California, where she began her life of music in 1st grade by writing songs in the shower. She learned a wide range of instruments like guitar, piano, and drums, as well as developing her vocal prowess in singing. Kayten recalls being misunderstood and getting bullied for listening to electronic dance music in high school, but admits “I think being bullied got me into EDM because it was such a loving culture. No matter who you are, you can be there and have a good time, and everyone’s going to support you.”
I want everyone to forget about everything except for just raging for the hour that I’m up there. That’s my main goal with my music is just to have a f*ckin good time.– Kayten
After starting college at Chico State for recording arts and music business, Kayten decided to further her music career at the esteemed ICON Collective, where she finished at the top of her class. “Bad bitch bass trap” is how she describes her sound, a combination of girl power hip hop, dubstep drops, and catchy pop melodies – and she definitely delivers with songs like “Devil.”
A driving force behind Kayten’s artistry is her lifelong struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder, which was diagnosed after high school. She never felt validated and chased after approval. She had no routines or typical days either. When she gets into a focused and musical mood, however, Kayten is able to do her best work. Although her mental health has been a challenge, Kayten acknowledges, “It created me as an artist. My BPD shaped me because music was the only thing that I had that was constant.”
In turn, Kayten has learned to live authentically and remains outspoken about her mental health, citing BPD YouTube personality Trisha Paytas as someone who shows all sides, even the ugly sides, of the disorder. She also singled out Tyler, the Creator as her biggest influence because he says what he wants, no f*cks given. Clearly staying true to herself has been a big help in managing her mental health, in addition to being active on the hiking trail and at the beach.
Another struggle Kayten has overcome in her career is the toxic masculinity persistent in the industry. She has experienced men talking down to her when discussing production technology and been labeled a “bitch” when she chooses to speak up. “That’s been the biggest challenge,” Kayten laments, “it’s just guys thinking that you’re dumb, it’s frustrating… there’s never once been a girl who’s done that to me.”
To make matters worse, Kayten reveals she was sexually assaulted by someone close to her in the industry last summer. But again, Kayten found the strength to harness the hurt and betrayal to write “Done With You,” her most recent single release. “At first I was depressed,” she explains, “but now I’m going to use this as fuel to the f*cking fire. I wrote that song within a week, and took another six months to finish it.”
“This song is actually really important to me,” Kayten continues, “It is the first step towards the style of music that I’m really going for… and I’m really excited about that. I want people to know I share everything. I’m angry and I am ready to get out there and do this differently and not let these mother f*ckers treat me like shit… I’m gonna go out there and be a badass and do it anyway.”
Both her passion and talent caught the eye of Texas-based entertainment company Baked Up, resulting in a slew of successful sets on their live streaming Twitch channel during quarantine. Baked Up CEO Sydney Rogers took it a step further, signing Kayten to their roster and things really started to get cooking.
Today, May 20, Kayten begins a string of headlining shows to the Lone Star State with the first in San Antonio. Then on the 21st, she will be the main attraction at the Dead Summer event in Dallas. To wrap up the week, Kayten will feature on 10th Phase Tuesdays on the 25th with a podcast and live stream on the Baked Up twitch channel. Later in June, Kayten is lined up to play in Houston and Austin as well.
For the future, Kayten has her sights on East Coast locations like New York, Florida, and DC, sharing “I just want people to see me live because my performances are the biggest thing that sets me apart from anyone else… I want everyone to forget about everything except for just raging for the hour that I’m up there. That’s my main goal with my music is just to have a f*ckin good time.”
When asked to describe what a Kayten live show is like, she eagerly answers, “You’re gonna be dancing so hard. I get up there, I get on top of tables, I’ll go in the audience and mosh. I want it to be chaos. I want people to be ready to leave all their judgments behind and just get in there and act the fool.”
I want it to be chaos. I want people to be ready to leave all their judgments behind and just get in there and act the fool.– Kayten
In the end, it is her chaotic yet loving energy that propels Kayten forward, through the struggles and challenges she has overcome, to bring her authentic self to the masses. Kayten shares a powerful sentiment at the end of the interview which shows just how far she has come in her understanding of BPD and mental health awareness: “I want everyone to remember to think about how they feel, not how other people are going to react.”
With a mindset like this, Kayten’s influential artistry is going to leave a positive mark on the EDM community for years to come.
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