This month, we looked back at the winter Olympics to propel our playlist forward with the infectious energy of Kaleena Zanders. Kaleena is a recording artist responsible for the powerful song, "Stronger Than I've Ever Been" which was featured in conjunction with numerous days of the 2018 Olympics and used in major commercials aired during the event.
With all of this buzz and all of this soul centered around one person, we had to catch up with her and feature her as our April G.W.R. artist! So, settle in, sit back, and enjoy.
Your song “Stronger Than I’ve Ever Been” was catapulted into the homes of millions around the globe, during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. How did it feel to have your words and voice represent the persistence of so many athletes who have dedicated their life to their craft?
I was truly blown away, surprised & elated that my song would be used this way. When I wrote "Stronger Than I've Ever Been" with producing duo dirty Monster, I used my own experience from sports. I played varsity basketball all of high school & played rugby in college. Because I used to eat sleep and breathe sports, dirty Monster & I were able to capture all those feelings and emotions of winning & losing and having to keep going. Playing sports has taught me invaluable lessons that I still apply to my life today.
Every comment on the official music video for the song is not only overwhelmingly positive, but borderline obsessive! Our team felt the same way after pushing play on the piece for the first time- what was the process like for creating a visual that so powerfully matched the audio, or did you have the storyline in mind when you created the track?
A long time friend of mine Cameron Thower who is a great director reached out to me to ask me if I'd like to collaborate on a music video for the song. I was overjoyed because I truly felt that this song needed to be represented with an important video. We brainstormed together and came up with the concept. It took a lot of courage for me to come out & I wanted to show a mothers alliance to her children and the challenges of keeping a family united under these circumstances. Cameron along with the excellent DP Jesse Aragon, was able to execute our vision seamlessly.
Obviously, you have the depth and soul to write and sing ballads, but we noticed that you have also collaborated with several dance and electronic artists as well, like Breathe Carolina & Dropgun for your remake of R&B classic Rhythm Is A Dancer or California with SNBRN (also obsessed). How different is that recording process for you?
Dance music is a huge love of mine & propelled me into a whole different music community. Recording dance songs are so fun & knowing that people all over the world in clubs and different festivals are jamming to my songs is so rewarding! My goal is to make people happy with my voice. The genre that I am dying to get back to is rock. Because we write really well together, dirty Monster and I have been in the studio writing some heaving hitting rock, slightly hip hop songs. I like to call it "Gangster Rock". And, still I have some more piano driven songs coming which I can't wait to share!
Tell us a little bit about the 30 songs/ artists you chose for our April Spotify Playlist #ForGirlsWhoRide! What artists inspires you to stay energized and moving?
I started off the playlist with a 90's theme, two dance classic remixes "Work" by Gigamesh & myself then "Rhythm Is A Dancer" by Breathe Carolina, Dropgun & myself. Then I put in an original 90's cut "Pump up the Jam" by Technotronic to continue the theme and bring out that winner, boss girl feeling and transition into the next few tracks that have that same "bad ass" feeling. Toward the middle of the playlist is usually when the workouts or practice become more challenging so I put in cerebral but hard hitting songs, like "Thunder" by Netsky & Emeli Sandé to keep the mind in the game. I from California so west coast gangster rap was a huge influence on me growing up naturally, I threw in a hard hitting banger called "Afro Puffs" by Lady Rage. Then I ended it with all the success and glory of making it through the workout, practice, or game. "I made it" by Fantastia.
You’ve had a big year already and we are certainly hope you are taking some time to enjoy a bit of the “glory"; is there anything in particular that you want to achieve this year, music or otherwise?
I would like to make a 5 song EP filled with motivational songs and plan for a tour. I would also like to travel to Ibiza & Thailand this year.
For all of our global followers that would love to see you live or hear more music by you, where can they find out more about you?
Huge THANK YOU to Kaleena for working together with us on this, and for all of the energy and inspiration she's bringing to the world right now. We hope you're already moving to the G.W.R. April playlist by Kaleena Zanders, she knows how to curate some dance music!
This month’s February Playlist Series For Girls Who Ride is brought to you by Nico Turner, an L.A. based multimedia artist and musician who’s shown her artwork at Art Basel and traveled the globe with musicians like Cat Power and @austraaa
This tour de force is sure to become your next girl-crush, thanks to her spell-binding “soundscapes”, gold-foiled illustrations and classically cool demeanor. In reference to this month’s Valentine’s Day holiday, Nico told us that she "created this mix in relation to the songs that made [her] feel tough; like [she] could be a heartbreaker when [she] was a kid.”