Last week, Tessa Kaye dropped “You Know Who You Are and I Hate You,” a twinkling, R&B-inflected pop number that shows the Los Angeles singer-songwriter addressing her anxiety head-on.
“Can’t hold the weight of my thoughts / they’re too heavy,” Kaye sings in the opening verse of the track, featured below. “Think I’ll just stay in my room / won’t you let me / Been a good couple of months since you left / now that you’re back / we both know what comes next.”
“When I’m able to write a song about something I’m struggling with,” Kaye tells American Songwriter over email, “I feel like it helps me begin to heal that area of myself. I had been wanting to write a song about my lifelong battle with anxiety for quite awhile, and it was really cathartic for me to do so!”
Kaye writes about her mental health struggles with candor and self-compassion, always careful to separate her anxiety from herself: “You make me make enemies out of my friends.”
The Lindon, Utah-raised musician recorded the song with production duo LaFrantz at their Los Angeles apartment. “I always record at night,” says Kaye. “There are cube lights in the studio so we make the room whatever color fits my mood at that moment. We’ll usually add galaxy lights too… it makes me so happy every time.”
Asked what she hopes listeners take away from “You Know Who You Are and I Hate You,” Kaye says, “Whatever message they take is their own and I love when people interpret my music in ways I hadn’t even thought about.”
“I do want my listeners to feel less alone in their own mental health journeys,” she continues. “It’s okay to be real about what we’re going through. You have nothing to be ashamed of, and there’s strength in vulnerability. You’re valid right where you are, even when you’re struggling.”
Kaye cites Julia Michaels, Tayla Parx, UMI, Jhené Aiko, Troye Sivan, Iyla, LÉON, Betty Who, Sigrid, 6LACK, Charli XCX, Joji, and The 1975 as some of the artists she most admires right now. “They all inspire me for different reasons,” she explains, “but all of their music has been there for me through so many different moments of my life, best and worst times.”
Her favorite lyric, at the moment, comes from Ariana Grande’s “just like magic,” off the pop star’s latest album, Positions: “Thinking in my head, then it happens how it should, aye.” “Our minds are more powerful than we realize,” says Kaye, reflecting on the line. “I’m all about working hard while speaking what I want into existence.”
Other than manifesting new music, Kaye has spent the last few months “chillin inside my apartment in LA, just living that ‘we’re in the midst of a global pandemic’ life. I pass the time by writing, singing, doing make up on TikTok, FaceTiming my family and friends wayyy too many times a day (bless them), coloring and doing diamond paintings.”
“You Know Who You Are and I Hate You” is only Kaye’s second single to date following “Fool’s Gold,” but she’s already planning to release more music—and videos—next year.
“I’m writing all of the time,” says Kaye. “I want to keep melding my favorite genres together and find interesting sounds. Visuals are also one of my favorite ways to be creative and express myself, so I’m looking forward to many new shoots and videos too. I would love to possibly do some mini livestream shows as well.”
“I am just getting started and honestly cannot wait for everything that’s to come,” she adds. “Manifesting every amazing thing!”