Marina Kaye is not your average 18-year-old. The French singer began writing in English at a young age in order to reach a wider audience and was discovered at 16 with her song “Homeless.” Her debut album, Fearless, then went double platinum after its release in Europe. Kaye’s talent has not gone unnoticed by other superstars, working with Sia and violinist Lindsey Stirling on her EP Homeless. Marina made her North American debut this month with shows in Montreal, New York, SXSW, and Los Angeles. In between SXSW shows she discussed the emotions behind her music and what she hopes to bring to America.
What do you think of SXSW? Have you been to Austin before?
It’s great and I love Austin. It’s a great place, but it’s my first time and it’s hot but I’m excited. I left France about two weeks ago. I was in Montreal a week ago and then in New York. I’ve been in Austin 4 days, I think.
Have you had time to explore Austin in between sets?
No, not really. I just performed three shows. One at the Trinity Hall my first night, one at The Yard, and yesterday at the Central Presbyterian Church. It was fun, but I was promoting a lot these past days so not really, unfortunately.
Where are you most excited to perform and where would you like perform in the future?
I haven’t performed yet in L.A., but I will in a few days. I love the city so much so I would say L.A.
Listening to “Homeless” and watching the video, it was clear that it would also strike a note with American listeners.
It was the first single in France and it actually topped the chart for like 35 weeks. It was a real hit. Everyone knows this song in France.
Your main co-star in the video is a wolf. What is the significance behind the wolf?
Actually I don’t know, I love wolves so much I really wanted to have an encounter with them and I really wanted to have that in my first music video, so it was like a dream come true.
Is it fair to say Homeless is about feeling alone or lost in a crowd?
Exactly. I was feeling really lost in that way when I was a child. I was feeling very lonely and I was actually really struggling to find peace inside of me. It was very difficult going through things, to learn how to communicate, and how to be myself and be true to myself. I wasn’t really protected and I was feeling that if something would try to hurt me, no one would help me. I was just feeling so lost and it was really like being so lonely in a very massive crowd. So it was something I’ve been through as a child and yes, sometimes I do kind of feel homeless where I am because I feel like I don’t know anybody and I’m a bit lost.
So music is kind of like therapy in the sense that you grow through your music and it helps you get through the difficult times?
Yes, it helps me a lot actually. I think now that I’m ready to move on and to write some more optimistic songs and happy songs. I already have a few. One is called “This Time Is Mine”, one is called “My Escapes”. So yes, there is a light in these songs, so I’m happy. I’m excited about these songs.
You got to work with both Sia and Lindsey Stirling on Homeless. Sia even wrote “Freeze You Out” especially for your voice. What was it like to work with such incredible talents?
One day I was in a restaurant with my piano player, and my producer called me and he said, ‘You have a song written by Sia.’ And I was like, ‘no, are you fucking kidding me? I just can’t believe that, that is just so crazy.’ I just couldn’t believe it. I’m just this little French girl and how could she know my stuff and what I’m doing. So I don’t exactly know what happened, but I know she heard of me and I was just so honored and so excited about this song. I actually recorded it a month before my album came out so it was very quick and yeah, I was really excited. This song is so powerful, I love it so much.
Are there any people in particular you would like to work with in the future?
My dream collaboration would be Bruno Mars. I’m a huge fan. He’s a natural artist. He’s a composer, he’s a singer, he’s a dancer, he’s a producer, a songwriter – he’s a real artist.
You’ve been featured in Teen Vogue, but you’re traveling to shows and on the go a lot. What’s your go-to look?
When you’re always packing, you want to take your best outfits with you, but obviously when you arrive somewhere you just find out you have this interview, and you have this TV (appearance), and you have this concert and you absolutely don’t have what you need so you’re like ‘oh my god, I just left it at home.’ I’m always so angry about that, so if I can, I just go shopping. I just try to go shopping all the time. It’s complicated because I don’t really like going shopping, I’d rather be comfortable in what I’m wearing, but I know that I have to look great sometimes. I think it’s the hardest thing for me to deal with.
2016 is starting off big for you, making your American debut. What are some goals on your mind for the coming year?
I want to conquer this country. I know I’m French. I know I’m 18. I know it’s going to be tough, but I know its going to be a long journey but I really want to make music internationally. I really want the world to hear what I have to say. I really want to touch people everywhere, not just in France or in other French-speaking countries.