Out on November 18, With You (In Mind) is the six-track stigma shattering debut EP from Los Angeles indie pop rock singer, songwriter and musician HALO KITSCH that pays homage to her best friend Jillian who passed away in January. Cohesive yet diverse, and with a clear message, Halo is deep, detailed, and intimate across these six songs, as she tackles subjects such as substance abuse, addiction, sobriety, codependency, promiscuity, sexuality, depression, and loss in the most brutally honest, intentional, and deliberate way she could – made possible only by her own sobriety. She sat down with Substream Magazine for an interview about the new EP.
Written by Halo, and produced by Ben Zelico, who has also worked with Girlpool, Aly & AJ, Peach Tree Rascals, Nasty Cherry, and Lawrence Rothman, among others, the With You (In Mind) EP comes on the back of Halo Kitsch garnering over two million plays online, as well as being highlighted by Spotify across their ‘Fresh Finds’, ‘Pop Favorites’ and ‘Indie Pop’ playlists, while also headlining sold-out shows for We Found New Music and Make Out Music, and opening for The Regrettes, Baby Queen, and Jackie, in the lead up to the indie riser unveiling the project this fall.
At the heart of Halo’s With You (In Mind) are the ominous rock track ‘Daddy’s Girl’ about watching somebody you love deteriorate in their mental health, and ‘Jillian’, an emotional ballad throbbing with the pain of loss titled after her late best friend. Elsewhere on the EP, Halo Kitsch addresses living a life that was not her own and its dark aftermath on the anthemic ‘Everything I Have In My Life’, and refuses to show weakness in the face of a tumultuous relationship and manipulative partner on the artistic ‘My Heart (Might Need Stitches)’. She then closes out the EP with the stripped down ‘No Money & No Friends’ that touches on her depression and substance abuse in a twisted sort of lullaby.
Speaking about the inspiration behind With You (In Mind), Halo Kitsch says, “This is not about popularity to me, this is about making my life, and my friend Jill’s life, mean something. This is about turning all of my challenges into hope. This project took on something more important after Jill died, and honoring her was the only thing that kept me sober through the pain of missing her. Being with her was like watching myself in someone else. We were so alike. She was stubborn, and sassy, and strong – and too sick to see it. Too sad to see how awesome and amazing she was. You hear all of that in these six songs. It’s my story, but it’s hers too, and I’m sure it’s someone else’s”.
Halo expands further on the project adding, “I think it’s a statement on stigma, and society. It puts a face on the tragedy of Jill’s death, but only to honor her. From top to bottom, it tells her story, and mine, and the story of anyone struggling with substance abuse. But it brings up addiction without glorifying drugs – and that is a perspective our society desperately needs to hear. It seems we as a community can’t manage to bring drugs up into conversation without making them look just a little bit cool. This EP does the opposite of that. It is honest, but it’s a strong stance that only could have come out of sobriety”.
Born into a big family and a small mobile home park on the fringe of suburbia, just outside of Los Angeles, Halo Kitsch fell in love with the piano from a very young age – it would be the first instrument she’d learn to play, and become her favourite place to write songs. The songs Halo created at that age were just silly little tunes, but they were catchy enough to stick in her family’s heads, and something about hearing her own music hummed through the house felt very magical to her. Halo felt so free singing, and it was self-care for her, and even when she began to struggle with depression in college, which turned into a dark addiction, music was her outlet through it all.
Halo dropped out of college in her third year, and would spend her time working three jobs to save for equipment and studio sessions, and at the piano writing more songs, with her catalogue growing from one song to over forty, and her sessions evolving from her bedroom to garages to studio sessions with longtime collaborator and producer Ben Zelico. A true ‘90s rock baby with the low-rise jeans, bra straps and heavy eyeliner to match, Halo Kitsch treats music like the indie legends before her, crafting it as carefully as the best do – she is a rockstar in the most authentic way, from the leather pants to the unbridled vocals to the captivating stage presence, Halo Kitsch is “Jill’s indie pop rock bxtch”.
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