Jack Kays has never been one to shy away from candor, even with hard-to-talk-about topics. Mixing hip-hop, alternative, and folk influences, Kays created his unique way of storytelling through music and has since grown quite a fanbase. His music explores topics like addiction, depression, and rehabilitation, and stands out due to its honest portrayal of these issues. Indeed, Kays is not a fabricated artist who focuses on the superficial — he plays ten instruments and writes his own lyrics. He has stated that he never cared to develop an ‘ideal’ image of himself as an artist, he simply wanted to spread awareness of the importance of mental health through music. His distinctive style and unbeatable zest captured the eyes and ears of Travis Baker, a renowned musician and producer, and an avid creator of hits. “[Barker] DMed me on Instagram about my song ‘MORBID MIND,” Kays explained, “He said he wanted to sign me to his label DTA, but he knew I was talking to Columbia, so he was like, ‘Either way, I wanna work with you so bad.’ Then a month later, we were in the studio together.” Thus, the creation of Kays’s EP in collaboration with Barker, called ‘MY FAVORITE NIGHTMARES’, commenced. Tracks ‘OUTRUN MYSELF’ and ‘SIDEWAYS’ especially resonated with listeners. The former explores crippling depression and anxiety, it starts off as a piano-led tune, but soon becomes a sonic explosion. The latter explores addiction with a heart-turning burst of pop-rock beats. His debut album, ‘MIXED EMOTIONS’, is no short of a memorable ride through the human condition. With tracks like ‘MORBID MIND’ and ‘BOTTOM OF THE BOTTLE’, Kays effortlessly lets his thoughts wander and his emotions scatter in a tsunami of lyrical and music heaven. The future looks bright for Kays, who is growing artistically and mentally every day. “I want to be able to do this for the rest of my life,” he says, “I have a message that I want to be heard and I’m not gonna let my health stop me.”
Jack Kays spoke with B-Sides host Pete Mar about his musical journey, how he turned his troubles in high school into creative art, what he learned during his time collaborating with Travis Barker, and more.