How A Homeless Starving Artist Became a Thriving Songwriter - DJBooth

How a Homeless Starving Artist Became a Thriving Songwriter

Meet Kimberly “Kaydence” Krysuik, a 28-year-old singer-songwriter who turned a cold text message into a studio session with her idol.
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Kaydence Interview

On Thursday, November 20, singer-songwriter Kimberly “Kaydence” Krysuik shared a message on Instagram: “Thank you for everyone who has been here to witness this music journey.” She wrote the caption to commemorate the announcement of the nominees for the forthcoming 62nd annual GRAMMY Awards. Although Kaydence is not officially nominated, the 28-year-old singer-songwriter wrote on five different records that could win a gilded gramophone.

Kaydence’s longtime friends and industry peers happily responded to her caption with well-wishes, congratulations, and their emojis of choice. It’s what most artists dream of: widespread acceptance, dubious praise, and sincere adoration. But as we know, no career in R&B or pop songwriting begins with GRAMMY acknowledgment. 

So who was Kaydence before her written contributions to Daniel Caesar and Brandy’s “Love Again” and Ariana Grande’s “7 rings?” Before credits on H.E.R.’s “Something Keeps Pulling Me Back” and Tiwa Savage and Mr. Eazi’s “Keys to the Kingdom?” Before being co-managed by artist management companies TH3RD BRAIN and Roc Nation? Where does her journey officially begin?

When I spoke with Kaydence over the phone this past July, we skipped the introductory level questions about her childhood and upbringing, her favorite songs, and family influences. We jumped to the origins of her moniker and the Ludacris contest she won, which inspired her to pursue music. We skipped over how, in 2013, she appeared on the hook of Joe Budden’s “Skeletons” and how, in 2014, she sang the chorus for Joell Ortiz’s “Better Than.”

Instead, we began with her gastric sleeve surgery—a procedure she underwent in 2014 to assist with her weight loss. 

“I was an artist first and was trying to figure out who I was,” the Westchester-born New Yorker explains. “I was bigger at the time, and they [former management of five years] were like, ‘Listen, you should get an operation so we can push you.’”

Kaydence’s management didn’t push her, though. They didn’t have the chance to. There was a falling out—one she wouldn’t disclose—after the procedure. 

“I was living with one of the managers, so I had to pack up my stuff in front of him while he watched and just kind of end ties,” Kaydence recalls. The separation led to severed relationships, hospital debt, and homelessness.

She continues: “My parents moved to Nashville because of my sister; she’s a country singer. I didn’t have an apartment or a place to stay. I would sleep on the trains, or because my ex-girlfriend’s dad was a realtor, he would let me stay in an apartment overnight before he would show the next morning. I went into a crazy depression, trying to figure out what I was going to do next. I got a salary job [PSAV] and just started working. I had to rebuild myself.”

In 2015, while rebuilding and rebranding in Queens, Kaydence released her debut mixtape as a solo artist, Spoiled Interior. The project is pivotal to what happened next for Kaydence. 

“I’m a big fan of [Los Angeles-based music conglomerate] 1500 or Nothin', so I sent [them] music, just hoping for a response. I just wanted to know if I was good,” she confesses.

Kaydence received her answer in the form of a text message from 1500 or Nothin’ co-founder Larrance “Rance” Dopson:

“Yo, you’re amazing. Come to L.A., let me show you around and intro you to some people.”

The invitation was accepted, and a round-trip ticket was purchased. After touching down in the City of Angels, Kaydence met her idol, James Fauntleroy, the renowned GRAMMY-winning songwriter, and co-founder of 1500 or Nothin.’ Having the chance to spend three hours picking Fauntleroy’s brain left a profound mark on her. Before returning to Queens, she made a critical decision.

“I was working in a career that burnt me out and took a lot of my time—so just recently I put in my two weeks,” she told GetYourBuzzUp.com in 2016. This admittance was an answer to the question: “Where does Kaydence go from here?” 

“I’m taking a leap of faith and moving to LA. I don’t have a Plan B. Being successful in doing what I love is my only option.”

When I asked Kaydence about her leap of faith, she replied: “I felt like in that place, I was going on the right path. I got to be out here. After I got back, I packed my bags, quit my job, dumped my 401K, and drove across the country.”

Kaydence’s move to LA was in the name of passion, not money, but cash wasn’t an abundant resource. 

“I had to humble myself and get a job at a pet store,” Kaydence confesses. She worked at Tailwaggers in West Hollywood, a part-time gig that kept her busy between writing sessions and cutting records. During a shift, the earnest songwriter received a pack of beats, one of which was produced by GRAMMY-winning producer Hit-Boy.

“I didn’t know it was Hit-Boy, but I wrote to it and sent it. Then, [record executive] Omar Grant calls me. He’s like, ‘Yo, Hit-Boy hit me and said that record is crazy. I want to get in with her all week.’ He was over at Brian Kennedy’s spot. I went over, and for like a week, we just knocked out records. We had crazy chemistry. I want to say this is three weeks of me being in LA.”

During their sessions together, Hit-Boy tells Kaydence, “Ariana [Grande] is coming next week. I want you to play records.” That invitation is how “better off,” from Grande’s critically acclaimed, Platinum-selling, GRAMMY Award-winning album, Sweetener, came to be. 

“I pull up, and she’s there,“ Kaydence remembers. “The first record I played her was ‘better off.’ I played it for her, and she says, ‘I want to cut this right now.’ We end up cutting it at Westlake Recording Studios. All these people are like, ‘Who is Kaydence? Who is Kaydence?’ That’s when the publishing deals started flying in. I knew I didn’t want to sign until I had a bidding war. I wanted to see what they felt my worth was. I ended up going with BMG.”

When I called Kaydence in October, for a follow-up interview, love was on her mind. “I just got engaged!” she reveals. “We’ve been working on music together, and there’s real chemistry,” she continues, ecstatically. “Our first placement is one we did together with Tiwa [Savage] called ‘Keys To The Kingdom’ on Beyoncé’s [The Lion King: The Gift] album. After that, we had to keep it going.” Both love and success found Kaydence in Los Angeles, but life isn’t a fairy tale.

“I started to second guess myself… It’s crazy how people can make you feel like that, right?” Kaydence says, referring to the aftermath of the headline-making dispute over songwriting credits in February 2019 following the release of Grande’s fifth studio album, thank u, next. The matter is ongoing, and although Kaydence didn’t speak much on the controversy at hand, she was honest about the effect the dispute has had upon her. 

“It’s been weighing on me because this could have been something that people recognized me for,” she admits. “I’m not going to say I’m a part of something I’m not,” she continues, “that could make me look crazy, and I’m trying to have a long run in this.”

Kaydence’s journey has been one of perseverance. Instead of quitting, she kept going. She didn’t fold. Success or failure, GRAMMY-nominated or criminally underrated, when you live a life chasing a dream, the journey is one worth witnessing. 

By Yoh, aka GetYohBuzzUp aka @Yoh31

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