Kaya Stewart Is Poised to Become Warped Tour’s Next Breakout

by Valentina I. Valentini 5:42 AM PDT, July 15, 2015
Photo: Warner Bros. Records

It’s a few weekends before 15-year-old Kaya Stewart -- the youngest child of Dave Stewart from the seminal ‘80s synthpop group, the Eurythmics -- is to join Vans Warped Tour as this year’s youngest female artist. She’s taken a day off her High School Nation Tour to check out the Warped Tour grounds at the Pomona, California show during the traveling festival’s 20th year as the largest of its kind in the U.S.

Over the last two decades, founder Kevin Lyman has played a seminal role in breaking acts like Katy Perry, and the female-led bands, No Doubt, Paramore, and most recently, Echosmith.

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Stewart, along with fellow rising star Bebe Rexha -- a 25-year-old singer-songwriter known for co-writing the hit single “The Monster” by Eminem featuring Rihanna -- are poised to become Lyman’s next breakouts. But Stewart swears she doesn’t feel the pressure.

“I feel like my sound is so different than anything that's ever been on Warped Tour that I think I'm paving a new road rather than following someone else's,” she says. “I'm excited. I think it's going to be really fun.”

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ETonline caught up with the singer over the phone after her day in the dusty fields about growing up rock royalty, making her own way and what you definitely need to pack while on tour.

ETonline: You’ve got quite the musical legacy behind you. What influenced your own sound?

Kaya Stewart:
Growing up, I was always listening to soul music, which is kind of how I learned to sing. I also really loved current and modern music, [but I think I was influenced by] a mixture of old and new, too. I would probably describe [my sound] as pop with electronic influences and a little soul.

You definitely have that vibe of an “old soul.” Do you think that has to do with growing up as Dave Stewart's daughter?

I've always appreciated music because my family was so musical. My brothers are musicians [they formed Nightmare & the Cat in 2010], and my dad was a musician. Growing up, I was always playing really great, kind of advanced music [around the house], and understanding it at such a young age. I think that has to do with why a lot of people think I'm older than I am. It kind of shaped me as the person I am now.

Your first single, “I’m in Love With a Boy,” has been said to speak to your peers on a few different levels. What do you hope your music can do for people?

In school, I always felt very misunderstood and I felt like everything I was doing was always by myself. I was writing about how I felt growing up. I wrote that album [In Love With a Boy] from ages 13 or 14. It was really about growing up [during] that super-vulnerable period in my life, and I would love if people around that age could feel connected to those songs and understand that other people can understand that.

When I wrote [“I’m in Love With a Boy”], I didn't mean [for it to have an LGBTQ slant]. I was writing it as a girl being in love with a boy. But I love that it came out that way. I love that it has this whole double meaning and I think it's super cool. 

What does it feel like to possibly be in line with some of the other great female performing artists that have cut their teeth on Vans Warped Tour?

Well, I actually think it's very cool because, for a long time, Warped Tour has been known as a pop-punk tour with metal influences and has a very aggressive vibe. I don't think you'll see a lot of super-young pop fans [this summer], but I think it's really cool that now they are incorporating a lot more female pop singers on the tour. Echosmith was on it a couple of years ago. Katy Perry was on Warped Tour. I think it's really cool they're opening up to a whole new fan base.    

Alright, run us through a day in Kaya's life on tour.

I recently got back from High School Nation Tour, which was an amazing tour. We'd go to different high schools and perform during their lunch break. It was so cool. All the kids were calling it “Schoolchella” (because it's like Coachella) except every school we went to we’d donate $10,000 to the music program. All the kids who I was performing for were my age, and it was cool to meet fans and get to know people who could really relate to what I was saying.

Warped Tour is going to be really different, a lot more hectic, and a different crowd. What have you done to prep for that?

Because my whole family has been touring since I was four years old, when my dad was in the Eurythmics, I was basically born on the road. That’s what I grew up on my whole life, so it’s not as much as a shock for me, being thrown into doing something like Warped Tour. It’s just like following in the family footsteps, if that makes sense. 

Photo: Warner Bros. Records

Since you’re very experienced with touring, what are some of the staples that you pack?

Cough drops is a big one, because when you’re traveling all the time you're in air conditioning and you're often in a desert or an area that’s super dusty. I’m always making sure my voice sounds good, so I have cough drops with me. I always have at least three different lipsticks, because I'm really bad at doing my own makeup and that's pretty much the only thing that I can do [on my own]. I usually have one red one, one nude and one pink. I always have my Converse, my all-black Converse and definitely my Doc Martins. I have at least 10 pairs of those and I'm always wearing them. Also, my leather jacket because I wear that all the time. I don't think I could do anything without that. I pretty much wear the same thing every day, which is all black and all leather.

Do you think you might get really hot on this summer tour in your all-black and all-leather outfits?

This is my problem! [This weekend at the Pomona stop] where I wasn’t even performing, just hanging, I honestly felt like I was going to die. I have no idea what I'm going to do because all I own is black. I better take care of my closet; I think there are two colors in there. 

Maybe we should get you to partner with some great designer who can make leather jackets that are breathable?

I know. We really need to work on that, because my leather jacket is certainly not breathable.

Stewart joins Vans Warped Tour at Darien Center, New York on July 15.