In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit: I have been friends with actress, singer, and songwriter Hayley Kiyoko since I was 12 years old. We even lived together for a year, so you could say I know her better than most. It’s both fun and funny co-habitating with someone who gets recognized in public; There’s this, “Oh yeah, you’re famous!” epiphany that happens as the party in question signs an autograph outside of Aroma Café—which is exactly what happened to me and Hayley three years ago. Since then, Hayley’s fan base has grown exponentially what with her roles on ABC Family’s The Fosters and guest roles on CW’s The Vampire Diaries and Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place (oh, and you’ll be seeing her in next year’s Jem and the Holograms and CSI: Cyber). Add to that her musical endeavors—her new single, “This Side of Paradise,” is available on iTunes now—and it’s crazy to think we were ever “normal kids” jamming in her parents’ garage.
Truth be told, Hayley was never a normal kid. With a style both effortless and bold (not to mention that voice), being ordinary just wasn’t in the cards. Here she gives us a peek inside her creative mind and her closet.
Where did you grow up? And what was your favorite childhood memory?
I grew up in Westlake Village. I’m a born and raised Cali girl. And that’s a hard question! I had such a great childhood. One of my favorite memories, though, has to do with my mom choreographing the Disney On Ice shows in Florida. My brother Thatcher and I would have this huge, empty rink all to ourselves. We would go into the closed restaurants and play with the soda guns behind the bars and pretend like we were serving people food. Everyday was an adventure during those summers.
What’s your favorite part about being an independent artist?
I get to be so hands-on with everything. For my new EP, I did everything from the ground up. I regulated the design, the artwork, and all of the visual aspects, I handpicked my management team and my creative team, and I co-produced and wrote all of the music. I chose every piece of content that is coming out. A lot of signed artists don’t get that freedom because there is so much pull from different people. At the same time, there’s a big challenge with being hands-on. When you’re in control, you have to make a lot of decisions and also hold yourself accountable for those decisions. But in the end, it’s very gratifying to do it all yourself.
When will your EP be available?
January of 2015! I am so excited!
What are some of your favorite spots in L.A?
I love eating at Gyu-Kaku in Hancock Park, and I also love Daichan in Studio City. As far as music goes, I grew up going to The Wiltern in high school. I was always checking out all the cool bands that go there, so that place is a classic.
What is your favorite place to shop?
Topshop is my go-to when I need something casual but nice. I tend to live life in sweatpants, so Topshop always saves me when I’m in a bind.
Who are your style icons?
Gwen Stefani has always been an icon of mine. Rihanna also has a great stylist.
Any fashion horror stories?
(Laughs). My whole life is a fashion horror story! No it’s not, I’m joking. Life is always about moving forward and progressing, so we’re always going to have those uh-oh moments. But I always say, “go big or go home!”
We’re nearing the end of 2014. What have you learned this year?
As far as music goes, I’ve learned not to hurry. I tend to be an impatient person, which is good because I get things done quickly but at the same time I can rush things. I originally wanted to release my EP in June, and I’m so glad I didn’t do that. “It’s worth the wait” has kind of become my mantra this year. That also applies to “getting the music right.” If the music is good, good things will happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re signed or how much money you have behind you. If you have good content, good things will happen.
Photographs by Gabrielle Wooden