Kissie Lee is here to bring back that soulful R&B we all know and love. Hailing from Denver, Colorado, but now calling Atlanta home, the rising star writes honest lyrics inspired by real life experiences from the past, touching on the topics of love, relationships, and everything in between.
In describing herself, she states, “Kissie Lee is the girl next door, your round away girl. Every girl’s best friend, really cool with the guys too. Everybody comes to me with the relationship drama. [laughs] I try to talk them through because I’m the same.”
Her strong pen alone has led her to collaborate with artists such as Jacquees, Tiny Harris, and Keke Wyatt, creating that vibe that has music-lovers coming back for more. Now, she shifts her focus to her own artistry, creating her own personal bops with catchy hooks that immediately reel you in upon hearing.
Most recently, Kissie unleashed the official music video for “Always Something,” an uplifting record that stands for female empowerment and knowing your worth in a relationship. Flipping the nostalgic Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married,” the song serves as the standout single for her newly-dropped EP titled My Toxic Love.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your sound?
Kissie Lee: My sound is definitely R&B, it’s strictly R&B. I wouldn’t say strictly but I really love that 2000/90’s feel, so that’s always what I go for creatively. It’s definitely a lot of relationship music, but I do fun songs still. I don’t know if you heard anything yet, but I did a mixtape with DJ Five Venoms. My “Only Fans” and “Pop Out,” I’ll do fun club songs like that. Because when we’re able to. I am outside. [laughs]
AllHipHop: I love Five Venoms! How do you know him?
Kissie Lee: Yes! DJ Five Venoms, I did the Rolling Loud set with him. That was my first ever Rolling Loud. I did Rolling Loud, California.
AllHipHop: What was the best memory from that?
Kissie Lee: Oh my gosh, everything honestly. Really being on that stage and looking out in the crowd, it was really fans. Certain festivals, I’ll go to maybe SXSW and things like that, it’s a lot of artists in the audience. But Rolling Loud, you’re really getting your music straight to the fans.
AllHipHop: How’s Atlanta treating you?
Kissie Lee: I’m in Atlanta. I love Atlanta, they adopted me. [laughs]
AllHipHop: Where are you from originally?
Kissie Lee: Denver, Colorado. I think anyone in California would agree Denver is like a mini-LA, so I’m a West Coast girl basically the way we grew up. They think it’s a small town, but we’re a big small town.
AllHipHop: When did you fall in love with music?
Kissie Lee: I fell in love with music when I was 6 years old. I went to this theater improv thing, it looks like a birthday party. I went home and told my mom, “Oh mommy, I want to do this. That looks cute!” At 6 years old, she put me in it. I had to learn a song and learn monologues. I really started off acting onstage, that’s how they found out I could sing because I had to learn in order to get accepted. “Oh my God, she can sing!” It started at a young age. I’ve been in the studio since the fifth grade.
AllHipHop: Who were you listening to that made you want to do music?
Kissie Lee: My parents are really soulful. Even though I grew up in Colorado because I’m an Army brat, they’re from the South Side of Chicago and North Philly. They play anything from Bobby Blue Bland, whatever my dad listens to down to Aretha, Patti, all the 90’s. It was cookout central. So we was hearing Keyshia Cole, Mary J. Blige, Monica, we were hearing some of everything. Off my parents musical taste is when I started loving — that’s how I want my sound.
AllHipHop: When did you realize you could do music for a living? Was there a turning point?
Kissie Lee: I was getting paid for stuff in middle school. When I got to Atlanta, I started songwriting more in Atlanta. I wrote songs just because I needed songs to sing, but I started writing for other artists when I got to Atlanta. Wait, this is a whole career. There’s independent artists that will pay me to come to the studio and write a song? Oh, this is a whole thing. I started getting the royalty checks. I realized oh, this is a whole situation. [laughs]
AllHipHop: What do you like about Atlanta?
Kissie Lee: I like how easy it is to get into the music scene. The studios are not so far apart. Honestly it’s a little cheaper to live here than if I would have moved to New York. Me from being in Atlanta, I’ve met more people in New York. It was easier for me to branch off to work in LA or New York, just from being in Atlanta. It was easy for me to connect with people here.
AllHipHop: Is Kissie Lee your real name?
Kissie Lee: Well my mom came up with it, you can say in a way. She used to order me and my sister These books to read and do schoolwork in the summer before we go outside. One of the poems that I read in this book was titled Kissie Lee. That name always stuck with me in how the character was in the poem. She was always quiet and sweet, the men in her life ran over her. But then one day, her grandma said, “You need to carry a switchblade under your tongue and cut them up.” And I say my tongue is in my sword. Me writing and the songs that I write, just me expressing myself through my music made me stronger and more confident.
AllHipHop: Talk about creating “Always Something,” that’s such an iconic sample.
Kissie Lee: Creating that song, I heard the beat first. It was produced by 6lement and Big Zar. They produce a lot of my project. When I heard the beat, I was like, “Ooh, they already know, they know my style.” When words start coming out of my mouth, when I first hear it, I know it’s a bop. I already got plenty of stuff to talk about as far as my relationships’ past, so it just came out. I talked about a place in my relationship where my friends would always tell me: “Why are you still with him? This guy is crazy, this and that.” You know, you don’t listen to your friends all the time. I wrote it from that place in my relationship where I was stuck basically. I knew he was wrong, but I was still there for some reason.
AllHipHop: Where was the video shot?
Kissie Lee: It was a really dope location, they have a lot of different rooms. I wanted a pink room because I like the soft girly side. That was my vulnerable side of the relationship. You get the fur coat and the black and it’s like “okay, I gotta leave. I gotta be strong” type of vibe. I wanted it to be real simplistic, no extras. I want people to just put whatever relationship or person they’re in, in the place of me having an on screen actor type of thing.
AllHipHop: What was the best memory from shooting?
Kissie Lee: The fact that we shot it in an hour. [laughs] I don’t know what made us be like “oh, we can probably do this in an hour.” We really were crunching. I did have to add on an extra 30 minutes. His name is Juice Bigfellow is the director, he shot all of Calboy’s videos too.
AllHipHop: What a small world!
Kissie Lee: It’s definitely really thin, so Juice shot this video. He shoots a lot of my videos too so we already work well together. It’s gonna be simple, let’s just knock it out. We already know what angles to get, so we did it in an hour.
AllHipHop: Talk about your album, My Toxic Love, out now!
Kissie Lee: I’m excited about My Toxic Love because… I don’t know if I’m toxic, you gotta ask my boyfriend. I’m talking about the toxic stuff that I’ve experienced. What I like to do with my songs, my messages, is always create a vibe and be relatable, but then also give you hope in my songs. Alright, we can make it out of this. Because then it ends on a good note. No matter what, there’s always love out there. There’s over 7 billion people in this world! There’s somebody.
AllHipHop: Do you have any features?
Kissie Lee: No, I didn’t do any features on this one. This was my first time.
AllHipHop: One thing you want fans to take away from the project?
Kissie Lee: The fanbase that I’ve been creating, they’re understanding my sound and I want them to start spreading the word. This was my goal for this one. This is my sound. This is what y’all are going to expect. You can expect me to obviously build on it, but this is the root. I want them to catch the vibe and understand my story, what type of story you’re going to get from me with this sound.
AllHipHop: You’ve written for Jacquees, Tiny Harris, Keke Wyatt, etc. How does it feel to be a well-respected songwriter?
Kissie Lee: Being a songwriter period, I love it just as much as being an artist. Especially when I’m in the studio with a Tiny Harris, she’ll tell me exactly “this how I want to sound, I want to give this era vibe. This is what I want to do.” So I get to jump into their head, I’ve even had artists cry after I write the song. To me, that’s a big accomplishment.
Jacquees’ energy was always so much fun. I love music period so whether the song’s me singing it or somebody else, I love the fact that my ideas or my creativity is out in the world. That’s me with songwriting, and plus getting my first #1 on Billboard with the Disney artist Skyler Stecker.
AllHipHop: I’ve interviewed her! How did that happen?!
Kissie Lee: She was going back and forth to Atlanta working with Tricky Stewart, he’s a big huge producer legend. He always calls me into the studio to write because he knows I’m really good at pop. They call me in, they’re like “it’s for this Disney artist.” Cool, no pressure. I go and write the song. A couple weeks later, they said “She’s gonna use that as her single. This is about to be really big for her.” Alright cool, I’m not thinking too much of it. It comes out and it ends up being #1 behind Rihanna’s “Wild Thoughts.” That’s big! Then the next week, it beat Rihanna. This is crazy! That’s my first #1 on Billboard.
AllHipHop: Do you see yourself as a songwriter or an artist first?
Kissie Lee: I was both at the same time because growing up in Colorado, I didn’t even know that you could get songwriters, if that makes sense. I knew I wanted to sing and I got to perform at Cinco de Mayo or Juneteenth, so I need a song. I’d write it and people said “oh she sounds cute!” I write my own songs. When I got to Atlanta, I realized, “Oh, this is a whole thing.” [laughs]
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio at all times?
Kissie Lee: I need YouTube on with some vibes playing. Some videos or something, I like colorful stuff on the screen. I need the booth to be dark. I don’t like light and people looking in the booth. [laughs] I need a really dope engineer because it’s different recording a singer versus rap. I need all the sauce.
AllHipHop: Talk about throwing your own release party in Atlanta.
Kissie Lee: Oh, yeah, I’m really excited for this because it’ll be my first time ever headlining something. Basically, it’s all on me. It’s not like “Oh, I’m opening for the great such and such.” Nah, it’s me baby! It’s my first time carrying the whole show, my goal and excitement for it is for it to lead into a tour.
AllHipHop: Do you have a dream collab?
Kissie Lee: Oh yeah, I always say Ty Dolla $ign and Bruno Mars are my two. And I’m gonna have to add in Drake.
AllHipHop: What’re you most excited for next?
Kissie Lee: I’m most excited for seeing how this project does and really taking this show on the road, because it’s definitely tour season. That’s what we’re aiming for, to really build my fanbase all over, in every city.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want the people to know about you?
Kissie Lee: If they want to get in my business, look on YouTub. I post vlogs of my personal life, me cooking or me with my baby. They can subscribe to my Youtube channel and get more in my business, be nosy. [laughs]