Tired: “Summer’s for the girls.” Wired: “Summer’s for the girls — girls who like girls.”
This is the thesis of “for the girls,” the contagiously fun track released by Hayley Kiyoko ahead of her sophomore album, Panorama (arriving this Friday, July 29th). The song was accompanied by a spot-on music video parodying ABC’s The Bachelorette, a concept partially inspired by Kiyoko’s partner Becca Tilley, who appeared as part of the mega-franchise years ago.
Kiyoko’s take on the show has one crucial difference, though — the contestants and The Bachelorette in question are all women, making it very difficult to watch the video and not want to see the vision brought to life for an entire season. “We shot it multi-camera and we had queer people on camera and behind the camera,” she tells Consequence. “It was just so much fun to be on set and to be surrounded by my community and for us to just have fun… I didn’t want it to end.”
Panorama, which was preceded by “for the girls” and “deep in the woods,” is an amalgam of Kiyoko’s pop sensibilities and moments of introspection. Everything around the album, from the artwork to its themes, hinges on this balance. “The album artwork is this concept of after the fire, comes the rain — and then the rainbow,” she explains. “It’s about finding hope after the destruction.”
It’s a poignant and relatable theme at the moment; unsteadiness persists in so many facets of everyday life. There’s an inherent pressure around sophomore, albums, too, but Kiyoko explains that writing the album was a catharsis of its own, and it’s continued to provide its own special comfort for her since it was completed.
“I finished writing it a little over a year ago, so I’ve had the album to listen to, and utilize for comfort and support as we’ve navigated these hard times these past couple of years,” she says. “It’s definitely been a different relationship with my sophomore album, and I’m just really proud of where this album has landed. I feel very confident and sure of my music and I feel like that comes through with this album.”
Throughout the process of constructing Panorama, there were days when Kiyoko (like any other person clocking in for their job) just wasn’t feeling it. She mentions that she wrote “Underground” on a day when she was “very depressed” and didn’t want to be working on music. For her, though, one major takeaway from writing the album is learning to love herself every step of the way — including the days when she wasn’t ready to sit down and work on lyrics and melodies.
“When you go on a hike, for example, you’re with your friends and they say, ‘Let’s just take a picture when we get to the top,’ but it’s so important to really take in the view at every point and moment in our lives,” she counters. “Even when we feel like we’re not at the top — or maybe we’re lost deep down in the valley — we’ve overcome so much just to get to that point. Acknowledging that for yourself and celebrating that for yourself is what Panorama is all about.”
The album’s title track, on the other end, highlights the moment when that darkness is eventually defeated. “The moments when you lose yourself and you don’t know who you are and you’ve lost your confidence,” Kiyoko explains. “It’s knowing that your support system, whoever they are, knows who you are and have helped you along the way.”
Coming up, she’ll be taking these songs and stories on the road as a special guest on tour with Lauv (grab tickets here). For someone who has worked in so many different areas of the arts — she writes, she performs, she dances, she acts — there was plenty of room for discovery as the album took shape.
While some tracks didn’t make the final cut, there were others that were written specifically to fill certain spaces. She became attuned to the narrative she wanted to create, and what it took to get there. “I just kept writing and writing until I found it,” she says.