She’s young, dynamic and her song “Don’t Go Messing With My Heart” is a hit at HorizonVU Music! We first heard Kayla Stockert thanks to our good friends at Women of Substance Radio http://www.wosradio.com/ Kayla’s from Long Island, New York and she’s has been performing oldies music over the last few years. Now at 15, she’s working with the The Como Brothers. Her new songs are pop – but not just “pop” – she delivers a 21st century sound with a distinct retro vibe.
Kayla has performed the Dunkin Donuts Center RI, Apollo Theater, The Friars Club, Nikon Jones Beach Theater Side Stage, and many other large venues along side many of her musical inspirations. A Finalist Fox on TV’s XFactor, and MSG Varsity Talent Show was the highlight of 2012. Also in 2012, Kayla won a listening session at Sony Records in NYC in affiliation with Sound & Image Showcase and was named “Global Emerging Artist”.Kayla, it’s a real pleasure to be talking with you about yourself and your career in music. We know that you are young, very talented and that you have achieved a good bit of success over these past few years. HorizonVU Music has a lot of followers in Europe and Asia who would like to know more about who who are – your background and how you first got involved in music.
KS: I am 15 years old, and pretty much have been singing since I’m 9. I was always inspired by oldies music, my Dad would listen to it and I thought it sounded great. For fun, I entered a contest and sang a 50’s song, “Gee Whiz” and I won! After that, an antique car club “Still Cruisin” asked me to sing at their car show, a promoter named Norman saw me and asked me to be the opening act for his 50’s shows which starred the real singers of the 50’s & 60’s (here is an early clip of me opening up for an oldies show, the song was Gee Whiz, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTnQ0reduq0 I have been singing oldies at Doo Wop Shows, Car Shows, Fairs and nursing homes.
I also love Musical Theater, always have always will.
Okay, you became interested in music early on and your talent clearly shines. Tell us a bit about formal training in music. We know you play some piano and guitar. Have you had a teacher or teachers who you’ve looked up to for direction?
KS: I basically have always sung. I didn’t have formal training until I was about 10 years old. I’ve had three teachers, all who have taught me different things, and I think because of them, I’m a better singer. Mrs. Hailey taught me classical songs, showed me my higher range and pushed me to try it. Lucy Caracappa taught me to project and helped me with stage presence and emotion. My voice changed when I was about 12. I was devastated because girls voices aren’t supposed to change like boys voices, but mine did. I wanted to quit singing, I couldn’t hit the high notes like I used to and then I found Marie Danvers, who not only helped me find my new voice that can do even more things, but gave me so much confidence in who I am. I think if it weren’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be singing.
I am self taught on the Piano & Guitar. Ever since I started writing songs, I’ve just been playing them to get ideas. I have two brothers that playguitar. My younger brother Brandon is so good it’s not even funny and my older brother Matt plays Bass and isn’t too bad either.
Self-taught isn’t an easy way to go. That’s great. Also, pretty cool that you have guitar players under the same roof! You’ve recently released an EP, “Castles in the Sand” with the Como Brothers. Before we talk about the EP, we’d like to know a little bit a bit the Como Brothers and how the collaboration came about. How long have you been working together?
KS: First I have to tell you how amazing the Como Brothers are. They are two brothers, Matt and Andrew who are so amazingly talented at song writing, singing and musicians you have to go listen for yourself http://comobrothersband.com/. We both got selected through Reverbnation to have our songs heard at Sony Records. After that, my mom looked them up and realized they live by us. She contacted them asking if they knew of any musicians that could help me record my original. They actually were thrilled we wrote and said they want to work with me. We started working together last spring. They will continue to do Como Brothers projects and they have a new EP coming out in January, but they will also continue to be my band too and work on more songs together.
Some of our readers would like to know about your experience working with other people on music projects….Take us through the process of one of your own songs, “Don’t Go Messing With My Heart”. You wrote that song. How did the song develop – arrangement, recording and production. How did all of that work for you?
KS: “Don’t Go Messing With My Heart” started as an idea from my Aunt Jeanine. She is an amazing singer and has about 20 songs she wrote when she was younger, I listened to all of them. We got together one day, and came up with lots of ideas. I went home, started putting an oldies sounding melody to it sent it over to the Como Brothers. They then added new lyrics in the chorus and new melodies, we worked on it for weeks. Every time we got together, new ideas formed. When we got to the Vudu studios it was really important that we have harmonies, kind of like a 50’s song. The Engineer Tom Flynn filled in as our Bass voice.
I think its so cool to work with other artists. A lot of people have it wrong sometimes, rather than competing against other singers or bands, sing with them. Amazing things come out of it!
Let’s take a break for a look and listen to Kayla Stockert with The Como Brothers and “Don’t Go Messing With My Heart”!
Kayla, that is really fantastic. What do you want your fans to take away from the song?
KS: “Don’t Go Messing” is a new contemporary song, but it has a retro vibe, and thats something very important to me. I also want to mention that the other two songs off my EP, “What They Say” and “Your Love” were written by the Como Brothers for me. I think all three songs are very different and its why I’m so proud of “Castles In The Sand” it shows some diversity!
For sure and we hope all of our readers will go to your site and listen to not only those tracks , but all five http://www.kaylastockert.com/Media.php! What is your biggest project today? What are you working on?
K.S. We are planning a full musical video to be taped in December. I want to contiue writing songs, getting better on the guitar and piano and tourwith The Como Brothers this summer!
And from where you are today, do you have ideas about how you’d like your career to develop? On your site there’s a line about moving from Doo Wop Princess to Kayla…what’s that about?
K.S. I have been known as the little girl in the poodle skirts that sings oldies aka “Kayla Starr”. People didn’t take me seriously and thought I was probably one dimensional and just a cute kid singing covers. While I will continue to do oldies shows here and there, and perform at nursing homes, I want to show my versatility and appeal to a younger audience. I don’t intend to sound like any other singer out there today, and would like to be known for being different definitely using a retro sound.
Obviously, you’re young and your successful. The music business can be a rough way to go. What can you tell our young readers about your story that might give them some inspiration?
K.S. I don’t want people to think I’m perfect, and love to be in the spotlight. I want to be someone kids can relate too. I am very self conscious about my height, I’m quite awkward and clumsy, and believe it or not, shy. Singing for me is not about getting attention on stage, its more about sharing my voice with people and making them happy. Singing makes me happy. I also want to encourage kids to keep trying their dreams and continue to be themselves.
Most people don’t know this, but I had a major speech impediment and I was not understandable all through elementary school. I was constantly made fun of, but thankfully, it didn’t show up in my songs and through years and years of speech I got rid of it. The speech problem was due to the fact that I couldn’t hear for the first two years of my life but what’s weird is I always hummed, I heard sounds just muffled. Music has always been important to me.
There was a moment when it all clicked-in that this is what I should be doing for the rest of my life. I was singing at a nursing home, and ending my set with “Mama” which is an Italian song performed by Connie Francis about losing her mother. It’s a huge hit with seniors. Anyway, after the song was over, the nurse brought me over to this woman who had to be wheeled out in her bed to listen and she grabbed my hand and pulled me in close and was crying and said “Thank You, that was beautiful”. When we were leaving the nurse told me, that lady hasn’t talked for years, you really touched her, you actually made her speak….that was when I realized this is my gift, and I need to be doing this for the rest of my life!Wow! Those are two incredible experiences. We really appreciate your sharing those with us and our readers will appreciate it too. One final question, which I just have to ask everybody I talk to…Do you have a superstar or superstars that you look up to? Why?
K.S. I have a lot of people I look up to and get inspired by when I was younger I idolized Olivia Newton John, she was everything I wanted to be and one of the first concerts I went to see. Another person who is so amazing in my eyes is Connie Francis, she sang in so many different languages and it amazed me. I will never grow tired of singing her songs. I was lucky to meet her two times (and see her concerts). The first time I met her she actually helped me with the Italian parts to Mama a song I love to sing. Frankie Lymon was the Michael Jackson of the 50’s. His voice was amazing.
As far as current music and inspiration of course Taylor Swift, I think she is pretty much everything I would like to be. We seem to have a lot incommon too. Musically, I love Amy Winehouse she has a retro vibe similar to what I want to do.
I also wants to say how important my Grandpa was to my singing. He was my biggest fan, and so supportive. He passed away in March but he is still a huge part of me every time I sing. I always like to have something of Grandpa in every interview or song. For instance, the car used in the photoshoot for my website was Grandpa’s
Kayla, thanks so much for taking time out to talk with us. It’s really appreciated. We wish you and The Como Brothers all the very best of luck going forward. We look forward to seeing and posting your upcoming video, listening to your songs, and we hope you”ll stay in touch with us! Okay?