How Kina Grannis Became An Integral Part Of My Musical Journey

A/N: I apologise that this post will be more personal than my other posts, which were directed more towards shaping the community into mindful citizens and all that boo.

Although my favourite things about Kina Grannis are her boyshort pixie hair (and lowkey, her Japanese heritage), the impact she had on my musical journey is something very powerful and impactful in moulding the kind of songwriter I am today.

I’m not sure if I am entitled to use the term ‘musical journey’ or ‘songwriter’. It feels very wrong, because I make my own music, or myself, and by myself. I think it’s more of a private art process instead of a manufacture for the public. But I’ll go ahead and use them.

I’ve written songs from when I was 16, I think. It was a time where I was a 100% Jonas Brothers fan (Don’t judge. These young boys writes their own music at a very young age. They might not be the best vocalists back then, but at that age, their talents went to the extend of helping to write, compose and produce Demi Lovato’s debut album Don’t Forget.) It was a time where my guitar skills were so mediocre I envied so many people. I forgot what I wrote about, back then, but they’re mostly pop-ish with some early Taylor Swift thrown in the concoction. Those were the days where I’ve listened to pre-famous Taylor Swift alternately with head-banging Hayley Williams to pump up my evenings on the track field.

I was a big fan of Wong Fu Productions back in the days. The Last was the first skit featuring Kina Grannis and Harry Shum Jr that I watched, recommended by my friend, Ashelia. But Somewhere Like This was how I became truly captivated by the emotion-filled song composed by Kina herself, In Your Arms. That one particular song was indescribable, and remained my ultimate favourite Kina Grannis song until today. It has a certain vibe around the lyrics and the melody itself that reminds me of my favourite emotion in the world: nostalgia. I then felt obliged to listen to her other songs, and soak up the nostalgia that was embedded in her musical creations. It moves me to began picking up the guitar again to try and produce the same vibe. I began writing songs heavily during those years, and inspiration, plus true emotion became a great self-therapy to relieve a heavy soul.

When I began singing to Kina’s songs, I sub-consciously copied her vocal technique of belting out louder numbers in which I have to be confident about. I’m not used to belting out notes before, as I often resort to a softer, more soprano-like vocal when I’m trying to sing. My high notes are passive, Zee Avi-esque. I cannot pull a Lovato. But over listening to Kina, I’ve learned a more confident way to belt out alto-notes. Until today, I still hold on to that particular technique. I couldn’t quite explain it. You’d have to listen for yourself.

One admirable thing about Kina Grannis and her music was her honesty and her sentimentality. When she writes songs, she exposes a part of her that is more softer, pure and fragile, contradictory to her tomboyish pixie cut and button-up blouses (a style in which I really loved and adored. I’ve cut my hair pixie shortly before she did it, but after she sported her signature up-do, it became my favourite look even though it involved a messy amount of hair wax and hairspray. God, I missed my pixie hair.) When she writes songs, she delivers the right emotion. Not everyone can be that brave. I’ve written many honest songs before, but I’ll always be terrified by the idea of people asking, “who is that song about?” or “is this based on your experience?”. Having your songs out there for people to listen means being an open book. Letting people interpret your weaknesses and vulnerability, and I am uncomfortable with that. Scratch that. I’m not brave enough for that.

Kina went through a traumatic experience of being held in Indonesia during a not-very-recent tour, which rendered her to spend three months in Jakarta. Upon returning home to the US, she went on months long of hiatus, before reappearing with two new music, For Now and California based on her Jakarta experience. They were released as the Jakarta EP. Being able to release a disquieting incident into musical documentaries requires a lot of emotional courage and she’s one of the strongest musicians I know because of it.


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