Honesty derives from intimacy. We find it most comfortable to be honest in small, quiet spaces when the lights are low, and the stakes are unseasonably high. We all know how it goes, those late-night conversations in parked cars or on fire escapes; how we bare our souls so easily under cover of night and with the promise of secrets kept. This tender and acute intimacy is the concept of Dallas’ rising R&B singer Kaash Paige’s debut EP, Parked Car Convos, released November 15, 2019.
Parked Car Convos, consisting of seven proper songs and Kaash’s break out “Love Songs” as a bonus track, explores the relationship between honesty and space. Woozy production (“WMT”) gives way to Kaash’s affecting (“Options”), piercing (“Kaash’s Interlude”), and positively fly vocal tone (“64’”). As Kaash, 18, croons and bemoans women, heartbreak, and fake friends, we are transported to our past lives. Parked Car Convos has us remembering those nights spent opening up to friends across center consoles, fast food in tow. Nothing like confessing over milkshakes with trembling hands.
“In a parked car conversation, you talk about everything,” Kaash explains to me over the phone. “Stuff with your friends, stuff with your boo. It’s either deep and intimate, or real goofy. When I made my EP, it was just stuff I was talking about on the daily: females, smoking gas, traveling the world, hanging out. The EP was describing my everyday life in the car, with somebody, just being real.”
Keeping it real is more than Kaash Paige’s motto; it’s the ethos of her process. Though she has plans to take over Dallas and refers to the city’s scene as a “family,” she does not draw her influence solely from Texas. “I’m influenced by being me and listening to the music I listen to,” she clarifies. “Mac Miller, Isaiah Rashad, SZA, The Internet, Flatbush ZOMBiES, and Paramore, too. I listen to a lot of different stuff.”
While Kaash’s playlist is certifiably jumping, we can trace her musical lineage back even further to childhood. Kaash’s father, also a musician, had a closet studio where he would produce and engineer. The beats often leaked into Kaash’s room, piquing her curiosity, and eventually, she stumbled into the studio to discover her father working on music. He encouraged her to pursue music on her own, as any good father would.
“It was never consistent,” Kaash says of her early attempts at the craft. “I would do a song, but I would never finish it. As I got older, I [realized] this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a superstar. I realized [all I wanted was music] when I told someone, ‘I’m not gonna get a job.’ I used to work at Zumiez, and all these other places, but I never wanted a job. I didn’t wanna work for nobody. [Music] is something I want to do for the rest of my life.”
We hear Kaash’s passion and dedication all over Parked Car Convos. The EP playfully interrogates honesty with a sprinkle alternative R&B haze. Her voice guides us through a series of vent sessions, with none of them feeling trite. No moment on Parked Car Convos feels juvenile nor underbaked. Real pain and real pleasure is coloring this EP, with Kaash admitting to me the car is where she feels most honest. Naturally, her pen moves in time with her emotional availability.
“I actually just had a parked car conversation the other day,” Kaash says. “I just started venting. It’s like a therapy session. It’s intimate… Growing up, I struggled with honesty because I didn’t wanna get a whoopin’. Now? Nah.”
Kaash’s willingness to sing what’s on her heart makes Parked Car Convos a breezy and unique affair. The EP is damn near weightless, despite the stakes it draws, with Kaash openly talking about her sexuality. It’s a real pleasure to hear songs about women, written by a young woman. Singing along without having to change the pronouns is an underrated joy. Kaash exclaims when I ask her about the importance of being forthright with her sexuality in her work. It’s a no-brainer to be open about herself in this way.
“I’ve been told by a bunch of dudes that I sing for guys,” she reveals to me, but the work is far deeper than that. Kaash Paige’s writing is no simple role-reversal. Parked Car Convos features honest reflections about the workings of queer relationships: the grey areas, the games, the endless tugs of war. Through her chipper tone and lighthearted demeanor, it’s clear Kaash has yet to realize the true power of her sneaking in queer themes into her work. And it’s better that way. Kaash is not playing to the male audience or the queer audience or any audience. She is thinking about her authenticity and staying honest—full stop.
“If I want the song to be like somebody else, people aren’t gonna mess with my music, because I'm not who I wanna be,” Kaash explains. Her honesty keeps her stable with her fans, and her inner circle prevents her sound from being absorbed into the cloud of R&B artists looking to break out in similar lanes. Too, her honesty allows her to access an extraordinary level of empathy.
“Check in with your friends every day, wonder what’s going on with them,” she urges. “People put on a persona that they’re happy every day, but they aren’t. That’s why parked car conversations are needed.”
Quietly, between the lines, it sounds as if Kaash Paige is on a mission, yet she’s the furthest thing from pedantic. She’s easy to talk to, and her music is kind to the ear. And she’s happy. She can’t stress that enough. “I’m very happy!” Kaash concludes. “Being on the phone, getting interviewed, putting out my project, and it going crazy. Those are blessings.”
May her blessings remain plentiful. May the industry cherish Kaash Paige.