Stepping out of the sidelines, Kanye’s ex-backing dancer Kacy Hill is 2015’s fiery-haired rising star.
Brown lace dress with leather peter pan collar by VALENTINO, green embroidered trench coat by VALENTINO and pearl ring by JEWELMER
Taken from the Summer Issue of Wonderland.
20-year-old Kacy Hill is smarter – and sweeter – than your average. Her mellifluous voice sounds like audible candy floss across our crackly transatlantic call. It’s 11am in her native Beverly Hills, and I can practically feel my ear glowing with Vitamin D enrichment – the Cali rays oozing through my receiver.
An ex-American Apparel model, Hill has grown into something more than a pretty freckled face in recent months. After signing to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music label back in December, the singer has crested a wave of buzz. “I had no intention of doing music!”, she says, giggling, with charm and modesty. Though she was the nerdy multi-instrumentalist at school – playing the saxophone and oboe and singing in choirs – she never considered music a career option. “It didn’t seem realistic. I’m completely in love with it now, though,” she says, beaming. You can tell.
Her story began two years ago, when she met producer Jaylien Wesley and director Stephen Garnett, the team behind her September 2014 debut single, “Experience”. “They seemed to realise, before I did, that there was something really special in what I was making,” she says. “After that, I met with a few labels and then I got a call from Kanye’s team. I think having Kanye believe in it is pretty incredible, and the team I’ve built, since the beginning, has played a huge part in what I’m doing.”
Hill got into music through the backdoor, literally in her case, as one of Kanye’s backing dancers. “I wasn’t super open about the fact that I did music, because I didn’t want to be like, ‘Here’s my mixtape!’” Things happened much more organically; according to Hill, Kanye “just kind of caught on”. She says: “Being on stage, the energy is addictive, it’s insane! There’s nothing else like it and it made me hungry to do my own stuff – to succeed on my own level.”
Thanks to American Apparel’s global campaigns, the world has seen a lot of Hill, but she’s still something of an enigma: we haven’t yet seen her play live; she has only released two tracks (the powerful “Foreign Fields” and “Experience”); and her mainstream presence is minimal, a rare quality in a pop star. So why is everyone interested? Lilting and transcendent, “Experience” is a mesmerising song. “I’ve always been quiet and introspective, kind of looking at my place in the world and on a smaller scale, my place in relationships,” she explains. “[But] more recently I’ve been focusing a lot on where I source my own happiness and defining myself by how I’ve made other people feel. I kind of want to make one of the best albums of the year. I know that’s a big thing to say, but I’ve got tunnel vision right now, [and] that’s all I want to do.”
Before we wrap up our chat, Hill reveals that she’s working with Rankin for the “Foreign Fields” video, adding another bonafide icon to the list of people she’s keeping company with these days. After we hang up, my jealousy hangs around like a headache for the rest of the day. There’s something in Hill’s sparkling ocean-blue eyes that suggests her zeal will have its rewards.
Purple dress with black and blue geometric print by MARNI
White top with pocket, cream skirt with white sash both by BALENCIAGA, metal choker by BACCARAT and knuckle duster by BIORGIONI
Photographer: Charlotte Hadden
Photographer’s Assistant: Linnea Bullion
Fashion Editor: Johnny Wujek
Makeup: Elie Maalouf at Jed Root
Hair: Jorge Serrano at Only Agency
Words: Lily Walker