KAINA’s music can feel like a bridge to others or a reflection of yourself. With lyrics that balance comforting warmth and sharp interrogation of her thoughts and the world around her, the 25-year-old singer-songwriter knows exactly how and when to pluck at listeners’ heartstrings. Her critically acclaimed full-length debut, 2019’s Next to the Sun, was anchored by a resolved steadiness in her voice, with unique ear-worms sung over genre bending production. Serving as a vehicle to uplift and build community, the project introduced KAINA’s signature sound lined with a sweet-hearted optimism and devastating authenticity, which catapulted KAINA to the forefront of a new wave of artists transforming the music landscape with deeply honest and innovative expression.
Born and raised in Chicago to Venezuelan and Guatemalan parents, KAINA always carries her lineage with her, often singing about healing generational trauma and expressing what it means to grow up as a first generation kid. “We’re all as a family unlearning a certain fight or flight mentality,” she explains. “So I’ve seen how that impacts my parents. And I’m seeing how it impacts me, brings up childhood anxieties and things I couldn’t understand within myself hindered me. Through my songwriting I’m able to reframe how I view those experiences by adding context and nuance.”
KAINA is a self proclaimed product of non-profit organizations and youth programming in Chicago, which she credits for giving her confidence in her voice as an artist and inspiring her to do the same for the next generation. The raw authenticity and care for community instilled in her are inseparable from KAINA’s approach to music and life as a whole. Her commitment to these ideals cemented her place in the vibrant fabric of Chicago’s musical impact on a global scale with her collaborations with artists like Saba and The O’My’s or shared bills with NNAMDÏ and Jamila Woods.
Her 2016 EP, Sweet Asl., was led by the rosy “La Luna,” which saw KAINA singing enchantingly over a spirited concoction of hand drums, live horns, and electronic-infused hip-hop production. KAINA has since shifted her approach. “I describe myself more in feelings than genre,” she confesses, listing softness, honesty, and sincerity as the main sources driving her creativity. Equally inspired by the intricate band arrangements of salsa and Motown, the calculated songwriting of 2000s pop, and the exploratory R&B/hip hop of Chicago's rich music scene, KAINA sees music as an opportunity to express her creativity without boundaries.
In her debut album, Next to the Sun, KAINA’s keen observations of the world were laid bare, connecting listeners through oblique feelings and a desire for clarity. Her upcoming album, It Was a Home, with its profound commitment to openness, inspires an emotional high of certainty by directing the lens inward. The project allowed KAINA to finally see herself and she hopes it will serve as a vehicle to allow others to do the same.
On this introspective journey, KAINA looked to her younger self for healing. Through its striking visuals and sonic palette the album is lined with references to classic TV series such as, Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, which KAINA credits as foundational to her own growth. Mirroring the enchanting shows, the songs on It Was a Home embody the feeling of handwritten letters to listeners that communicate challenging emotions with immense care and gentleness. The Spanish-sung lead single, “Casita,” honors a distinct upbringing that many first generation individuals experience in the US, while “Anybody Can Be In Love” demystifies the anxieties of romance, the result of KAINA’s own resolution to accept love in its various forms.
On It Was a Home, KAINA flourishes as a skilled producer and writer while she experiments with dreamy soul and lush sonic universes that push past the discomfort that comes with such intense vulnerability. The album also features striking collaborations with devoted supporters of KAINA such as Sleater-Kinney, Helado Negro and co-executive producer Sen Morimoto. Ultimately, the album’s stunning new artistic direction coupled with KAINA’s unrivaled authenticityposition her as one of today’s most essential artists.
“the best of Chicago's young and eclectic music scene.” - NPR
“Kaina’s hushed vocals will cradle you, even when she’s whispering about death.” - ROLLING STONE
“[Kaina’s] recent album, ‘Next to the Sun’, gift-wraps that emotional generosity within a silky collection of songs that commingle pop, soul, R&B, and salsa.” - PITCHFORK
“Latin artist KAINA hails from Chicago, but creates music that seamlessly blends genres and surpasses borders.” - THE FADER
“it's music for all.” - PEOPLE EN ESPAÑOL
“KAINA Has Been Chicago's Best-Kept Musical Secret” - NYLON
“KAINA is part of a new generation of relentlessly collaborative Chicago artists who dissect their own identities and upbringings as much as they do the genre tropes of soul and hip-hop.” - VICE