Menu Subscribe Search



Subscribe for the Latest Music News

Enter your email address below to subscribe to a regular(ish) dose of AAA Backstage goodness direct to your inbox.

Kaiyah Mercedes Reveals Enchanting Album, ‘Trying To Hate You’

17-year-old singer-songwriter Kaiyah Mercedes’ illustrious sophomore album bears her heart in a sincere catharsis of nine shimmering tracks. ‘Trying To Hate You’ emerges as a triumphant inspection of adolescence, queerness and acceptance, conjuring immense personal strength in unfolding difficult experiences of unrequited love.

To the soft sputter of rolling analogue film, the delicate opening track ‘The End’ sparks to life. Crystalline chords rise to meet a resolute electronic pulse, pulling the track through lucid pools that distort Mercedes’ vocal mirage. A yearning electric guitar slides over the instrumentation, carrying the listener to the nostalgic click of the track’s completion.

Blooming in tandem, Mercedes’ airy performance entwines with L.i.E’s to cast a sapphic love spell in ‘Digging Graves’. With a tempo that reflects the melancholic ethic of a gravedigger, the track’s verses are illustratively punctuated by the percussive sound bite of a shovel turning over dirt, burying their latest secret.

Immersive sound design draws the listener into ‘Painkillers’, skipping through an echoing soundscape as Mercedes’ lyrics traverse the dichotomy of both escaping and reclaiming the courage necessary to face uncomfortable feelings. The bridge erupts in vibrancy as distant muffled screams harken to the depth of emotion churning right beneath her composure.

Breathy and saccharine, ‘Salvation’ opens to sparse instrumentation, submitted to Mercedes’ potent longing. Holy diction adorns angelic falsetto and solemn croons, consistently held in esteem by muted drums and gentle guitar. “I can’t go on calling you a friend, ‘cause you’re my salvation” rings out acapella, a poignant refrain easing the track to close.

In ‘Falling Is Fatal’ and ‘If We Never Speak Again’, we see flashes of cinemas, gardens, and dining tables. Constantly drawing the listener into her own flights of fancy, Mercedes constructs her realities by transforming mundane scenes into stirring romantic worlds.

‘How To Get Over You’ shifts the scenery yet again, as soulful piano and wistful musings lead us to pad through grass. Where this track temporarily yields to the hopelessness, ‘Trying To Hate You’ lights up with a reclaimed moxie, treading with a heavy boot and unafraid to leave behind firm impressions. And while her resolve falters in the slight uncertainty of “Maybe trying to hate you will fix it all”, the conscious effort to persevere endears the listener to the navigation of youth and a determination that cannot be smothered in the face of the unknown.

Closing track ‘Cinema Girl’ is embroidered with electronic textures, cascading into the embrace of Mercedes’ warm melodious vocals. It optimistically bookends the album and sends the audience into the world, just a little bit more hopeful and wondrous, finally open to all shades of pining, romance and finally acceptance.

Written by John Zebra