Kid Hastings is a USC junior and an artist, producer and writer. Through a blend of indie rock, pop, jazz and funk, Hastings creates music that both “doesn’t take itself too seriously” but also can be “brutally honest.” His latest single, “Call Me Up,” is the first off of his newest project to be released this year. It utilizes “airy synths,” “crunchy” textures and “choir-eque” backup vocals.

SC Unplugged graphic by Steven Vargas.

Full transcript has been edited for clarity

Kid Hastings: Oftentimes, I just find myself writing music about just like missed connections or like just something that I view is like something that I messed up or something that like, I could have done better. And then I kind of go to music to be like, here it is.

[Musical Interludes: “Call Me Up” by Kid Hastings]

I am Kid Hastings. And I am an England-born, [New] Jersey-raised, California-centered artist and producer and writer. And I make music that is like, I guess a blend of like indie rock and pop and some funk. And some jazz. I just would like to make music that doesn’t take itself very seriously. And, at the same time, be very brutally honest, through kind of like storytelling, [and] have kind of like a unique soundscape that I use. At least, I think it is.

One of my one of my most brutal first musical memories was going up in front of the school when I was in [the] sixth grade and singing “All of Me” by John Legend. And there’s a video out there somewhere of me doing it, and I hate it. And it was a low, but it was also a high because I learned a lot about myself and how to sing. But I feel like that was probably the first, funniest [moment].

I guess what inspired me. Really the people that I met through this [UC] Berkeley program just was super eye-opening because I was kind of surrounded by all these people who did music full-time. And I’d never really thought about it before. And I had been kind of involved in like music in like a lot of different ways. Like theater and like jazz and like choir and like playing guitar. And then I just decided to start recording covers and stuff and put them on SoundCloud. And then that turned into like writing songs. And then I put those on Soundcloud and then I took off of SoundCloud and then I put up other songs on Spotify.

I think the first thing I’ve ever produced was a cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine” that I put on my SoundCloud, it’s just like GarageBand like guitar and machine drums. And like, I guess that’s still my music is — just guitar and machine drums. But I kind of learned…I learned when I was like probably 16 I started, 15 or 16 just messing around with GarageBand and logic and then often just using logic for the past like I guess six years. My first ever like goal in music was to like, be able to like play a show and like see someone like singing the lyrics of my song because I feel like whenever I would sing the lyrics of like a song back to someone on stage that I was watching, it just kind of meant that I was like super affected by that song and just having that reciprocated is like a crazy feeling.

Last year, that song [”Call Me Up”] was kinda like the first one that I wrote on the this new project that is gonna come out like later on in the year and it’s also the first single, but it was I wrote it shortly after just getting my heart absolutely torn out after like this like one-week-long relationship that I had. Or like what felt like it where… after being very into each other for like a week it all of a sudden kind of died out and I got crushed and I was like insanely sad about it. I was way too sad about it for like a pretty, I don’t know a few weeks, a few months even. But that song came out of that there’s also kind of influences of past feelings of like longing because that was kind of that kind of amplified a previous relationship that I had. It was a mutually-ended, long-time relationship which, and then the pain was then taken away briefly by this short relationship and then stripped away even harder.

I first wrote it on guitar, like I pretty much do everything. And I then just wanted to find some really weird kind of crunchy sounding drums. And so they’re very like, cacophonous and like clicky and have a lot of like, weird sounds going on in them, which has been super inspired also by my friend, Luke Jr., who I did a song with, “Trees,” and he’s like one of my favorite producers ever, but I kind of took a page out of his book for that kind of stuff.

And so it’s very crunchy, and then paired with this kind of like this weird, airy synth. Which is playing basically the guitar part that I wrote, but just playing it on a synth.

And then some like really thick background vocals coming in, and like the chorus and the pre-chorus, which...there’s a lot of harmonies in it also, kind of an homage to my like choir days just because I feel like a big foundation of my music and a common theme of it for like, the last few years has been like, kind of choir-esque sounds where there’s just kind of really thick background vocals.

And then oh, and then like an 80s synth bass because I really like synth basses from the 80s.

This whole project was all made, and then I got a little bit of help from TJ on some of the drum samples, not on this song, but on a few of the other songs. Oros did recently start kind of like managing me and it was very seamless, just because we’re all very good friends and like have been. And a lot of them have just helped me out so much with just music in general and kind of finding my footing. And John is one of my best friends and he is also now my manager, which is just a really great spot to be in. But they are so awesome and know how to definitely handle their kind of artist relationships.

This project is definitely pretty upbeat. And kind of drawing from a lot of different places at once. And also just kind of takes itself less seriously, relative to my other music, but it’s just stuff that is kind of like indie, rocky and pop-y. And it’s stuff that you can dance to, and stuff that you can also feel to.

It’s definitely been very difficult to kind of like stay motivated and in the mindset of putting out music and making music because I mean, like, I’ve been I I ended up writing like the second half of the project in quarantine, but I’ve kind of just like at the beginning of quarantine, but I’ve kind of just been sitting on it for a while because it just hasn’t really felt like the right time put it out for a while and I was just kind of scared to put it up for a long time.

I think the most rewarding part, for me, is seeing other people be inspired to then make music about how they’re feeling or about their state and just feeling like I know I had some sort impact on the way that this person was able to like, release their emotions and their feelings into music.

In the next year, I have no idea what I see happening. But the whole project is is ready to put out over the next like few months and so I’m really excited to see where that goes if people like it. I’ve been making a lot of music also more so out of my comfort zone that I want to put out even later on after this. working a lot more with people, like with other producers, but yeah, just taking it day by day.

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