Indie artist Hayley Kiyoko made major waves on the music scene last year with the video for her single "Girls Like Girls." The stirring clip featured two teens struggling to accept their sexual identities, and has since garnered nearly 43 million views. Now, Kiyoko is back with "Gravel to Tempo," the first single off her upcoming fall EP Citrine.
On the breathy, enchanting tune, Kiyoko sings about feeling inadequate, before defiantly declaring on the chorus, "I'll do this my way, don't matter if I break...I gotta be on my own." And, just like with "Girls Like Girls," Kiyoko isn't afraid to send a pointed message in the video, which she directed herself. In a nostalgic portrait of teenage angst, Kiyoko is a melancholy high schooler who eventually finds her freedom by joyfully dancing in front of a group of popular girls. Essentially, she fulfills all our fantasies of beautifully giving haters the middle finger.
The 25-year-old tells Refinery29 that as soon as she wrote the song, she knew exactly what kind of video she wanted to create for it. "From the beginning of writing that song, I envisioned myself in front of all the girls I had crushes on in high school," she says. "I remember so well what it was like to idolize other people and look for validation from them. But then I grew up, and I realized: The only validation I need is from myself."
Kiyoko says she was surprised by the widespread reaction to "Girls Like Girls," but it was an encouraging reminder of the power of music. She hopes the dreamy visual for "Gravel to Tempo" — and her EP Citrine — will push listeners and viewers toward a place of self-acceptance. "My goal is to inspire my fans to find happiness in themselves earlier on, so they don't have such a tough time growing up," she says. "The world is a hard, difficult place right now. But it can feel a little bit easier if you believe in yourself."
Watch the Refinery29 debut of "Gravel to Tempo" below.