Hayley Kiyoko Makes Her Festival Debut at the Billboard Hot 100 Fest

Credit: Celeb Secrets

Hayley Kiyoko hit a huge milestone in her career this past weekend and Celeb Secrets was there to witness it!

The 25-year-old singer and actress made her festival debut at the Billboard Hot 100 Festival held at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Long Island, NY.

“I’m super excited for today’s show because I’m premiering my new EP, Citrine, that comes out in the fall. So everyone out here that are getting all sweaty and gross are going to get to listen to new music,” Hayley told us right before she went onstage.

Hayley’s 30 minute set consisted of drumming and lots of color. “I’m really excited because a lot of my new music is freer than my last EP, lyrically,” she says.

If you’re like us, you may remember Hayley for her acting credits in Wizards of Waverly Place, Lemonade Mouth, The Fosters, and CSI: Cyber. When Kiyoko isn’t acting, she’s instigating the most wonderful sort of pop disruption via her music, including breakthrough independent single “Girls Like Girls” and her most recent Atlantic Records’ single “Gravel to Tempo.”

“Gravel to Tempo” was just released earlier this month and the music video has racked up over a million views since its premiere. The self-directed video finds Hayley back in high school, brilliantly dancing on lunchroom tables in an effort to stand up to the popular girls. It’s such a fun, badass video that everyone can relate to.

Be on the lookout for Hayley’s EP Citrine this fall and read our Q&A with her below.

Celeb Secrets: Some of our readers know you’re an actress, now that you’re focusing more solely on music, how would you describe your music for someone who has never heard you before?

Hayley Kiyoko: “My music is pop, its playful, its vibey, and its flirty.”

Celeb Secrets: Was it acting coming before music, or music coming before acting?

Hayley Kiyoko: “Music was always first, but as most artists know it takes a long time to really harvest and create at finding your sound. So I have been working on my music my whole life and I discovered acting along that journey, I never planned to be an actress, but I love doing that as well. And now I’m finally getting my music where I want it to be and kind of allowing it to blossom. I am excited for people to hear my music.”

Celeb Secrets: What made you decide to choose “Gravel to Tempo” as your single?

Hayley Kiyoko: “That was the first song I wrote when we did our writing retreat. It was day one and it was a song that I wrote with our producers and I had imagined the music video in my brain and that’s exactly what I ended up releasing last week. I directed the video and I just wanted to like dance in front of my crushes and let them know that I have the confidence that I need, and that I don’t need their validation to feel good about myself. I think everyone goes through that having crushes in high school and if someone doesn’t like you back, you feel inadequate and you feel like you’re never going to be loved. It was a very dramatic time in your life and I wish that all of us had that confidence that we have now, back then. So my goal now is to release music to the younger generations to have more confidence in themselves earlier on. Why wait? Life is short.”

Hayley Kiyoko snaps a selfie on our phone before her performance at the Billboard Hot 100 Festival – Day 1at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on August 20, 2016 in Wantagh, New York. (Photo credit: Celeb Secrets)

Celeb Secrets: What was it like directing and starring in your music video?

Hayley Kiyoko: “It is definitely difficult when I’m in it. I prefer not to be in my videos a lot because sometimes it is just too much. Because this song was so personal to me and the storyline of the video was so personal to me, I had to be in it. It’s just a lot of preproduction, a lot of making sure everyone knows what they’re doing so when I’m on set it is just us performing and everyone going through the motions.”

Celeb Secrets: What made you come up with the concept of standing up to the popular crowd?

Hayley Kiyoko: “When I wrote the song, it inspired my lyrically, but I think the main thing in high school is that I had a lot of friends and had a great time. There was always something in me that made me feel misunderstood and it kind of shaped who I am today. It was a really pivotal point in my life and I feel like it’s a pivotal point in other people’s as well. I was really inspired to tell my story of how I felt and it doesn’t really matter what kind of social ranking you’re in, everyone’s going through shit. Whether you’re cool or you’re not, or you’re this or you’re that. I think its important for people to have human compassion to have it at a young age.”

Celeb Secrets: I feel like music is such an awesome way to be able to go after what you weren’t able to when you were younger. 

Hayley Kiyoko: “Yeah, and hopefully inspire people along the way and try to help people have an easier time. It is tough.”

Hayley Kiyoko performs onstage during the 2016 Billboard Hot 100 Festival - Day 1 at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on August 20, 2016 in Wantagh, New York. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Billboard)
Hayley Kiyoko performs onstage during the 2016 Billboard Hot 100 Festival – Day 1 at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on August 20, 2016 in Wantagh, New York. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Billboard)

Celeb Secrets: So your brand new EP is coming out, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Hayley Kiyoko: “Lyrically its is flirty and free. There’s a lot of confidence in it. It is definitely has a vibe to it, there is a lot of percussion and the beats have a hip-hop foundation to them. The producers I work with, 4E, they have a lot of urban but pop kind of sound. Also, like the last track on the EP is kind of like coping with loss and I think in our culture in America, we kind of mourn death as opposed to honor death. The last track on the EP is about remembering the people in the right light as opposed to being upset. I’m trying to utilize my pop melodies and pop music and trying to tell stories for people to connect to. I want to help people go through life because we’re all in it together.”

Celeb Secrets: What three reasons would you tell people to listen to your music for?

Hayley Kiyoko: “You should listen to my EP because it will get rid of self-doubt, it will make you happy, and you will swag out.”

Celeb Secrets: We are called Celeb Secrets, is there a secret or a hidden talent that no one really knows about you?

Hayley Kiyoko: “I eat a lot of food. Its one of my biggest passions, I have a fear of starvation. I must have ample amounts of food in my backpack or in my car. I can’t not have food on me or I’ll get anxiety. My whole life is catered to my next meal.”

Written by Juliet Schroder

Juliet is the founder and executive producer/host of Celeb Secrets and Celeb Secrets Country. When not reporting on the latest news in pop culture and country music, she enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, and exploring the latest fashion trends.

Juliet holds a B.S. in marketing from St. John's University.