“I normally like to establish a concept or storyline before I go into writing a song,” Sara Kays tells American Songwriter. “A lot of times, I’ll write a few lyrics first before going into the melody. Then, usually, I’ll write the song out on guitar or ukulele and decide if I like it enough to bring it to my producer.”
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For the 22-year-old Kays, this method has proved to be a reliable one—in the past few years, her unique blend of poeticism and pop has racked up millions of streams around the globe. Then, at the end of 2020, things kicked into overdrive when she went viral for her hit, “Remember That Night?”
Now, the single’s EP is finally coming out—titled Struck By Lightning, the 7-song project hit DSPs on August 6.
While “Remember That Night?” is definitively the breakout single from Struck By Lightning, one of the EP’s highlight moments is its title track, a touching duet with the English indie-pop artist, Cavetown. Like a lot of Kays’ great tunes, it all started with that initial concept. “My main inspiration for this song was a friend of mine who struggles with a lot of things that they don’t always like to talk about,” she explained. “I wrote this song as a message to a friend to let them know you’ll be there for them no matter what.”
Once she got that concept nailed down, she went about the process of bringing the song to life with her producer. “I wrote the first verse and chorus of this song back in October just on guitar, and Steven and I recorded it the next month,” she said. From there, it didn’t take too long for the idea to get Cavetown involved came about. “We thought it would be cool as a duet so we sat on it for a little while,” she continued. “It wasn’t until around May that we sent it to Cavetown, who I’ve been a fan of for a while. He sent it back to us with a verse he wrote and we loved it. After that, Steven finished producing it and it was finished in June!”
With an easy groove, beautiful performances, and an uber-zeitgeisty vibe (even down to its cutesy music video), the song speaks to a resonant theme of friendship and love. To that end, Kays hopes it can be a catalyst for a little bit of good in the world.
“It’s important to express your feelings, but it is also okay if you don’t always feel like talking about things,” she said. “I hope this song makes people want to check up on their friends and lay down next to them in silence when they’re going through it and don’t feel like talking.”
Sara Kays new EP Struck By Lightning is out now—watch the music video for the title track (featuring Cavetown) below: