Molly Kate Kestner has been in love with music for as long as she can remember; “Since I was a little kid, I always dreamed of performing in front of huge crowds. But I don’t think I realised that it was my calling until my video went viral. That was the first time in my life that I realised this was something I could really do”. Atlantic signed, Molly Kate Kestner caught the world’s attention in 2014, whilst still in high school. A home video of her original song, ‘His Daughter’, went viral on YouTube; reaching over 7 million views in just a few weeks.
Last year, she made the move from Minnesota to Los Angeles. When I asked her what she hoped to find in LA that Minnesota lacked, she replied with one word. Opportunity. “As much as I love my home state, and everyone there”, she added, “when it came to the music industry my options were very limited. Moving to LA increased the amount of writing sessions, shows, exposure and the development I could have. Just about every aspect of my music has developed over the past three years. I’ve learned so much as a songwriter, broadened my range as a singer, and become a much better piano player”.
Molly Kate Kestner describes her sound and style as soulful, emotional and organic. It’s thought provoking to say the least.
Her latest single, ‘Footprints’, was dedicated to her younger brother; with an accompanying video that features old family footage, and clips of Kestner returning to Austin, Minnesota. The message is about letting the person who looks up to you know that they can look at your life and learn from it. But, ultimately, it’s down to that person to choose their path. “I wanted my little brother to know that”, she said. “I want him to know that he can follow my lead. But he doesn’t ever need to feel like he’s trying to fill my shoes”. Whether we realise it or not, we all have someone who is watching us make mistakes, make decisions, and take risks. “They will learn from and be inspired by our lives”, Molly added. “My hope for my brother is that he follows me where I’ve been brave. And goes places I’ve never been”.
There is no formula to creation. For Molly Kate Kestner, she writes from personal experience in equal parts to how she writes about something she has heard, read, or even imagined. “I love that part about being a writer”, she said. When it comes to writing however, it’s less about headspace, and more about heart space;“I try to leave whatever is bothering me, or stressing me out that day, at the door. I clear my mind and focus on what’s in my heart. Whatever emotion that may be”.
We continued to speak about words she’s kept close to her heart whilst pursuing music. It’s taken from a bible passage [Matthew 16:26], and regardless of beliefs we can all relate to the questions, “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world, but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”. For all it’s worth, don’t let fear get in the way between you and your dream. “I always told myself that someone like me could never make it in the music industry”, she said. “It took me almost two years before I actually moved to Los Angeles to pursue my career wholeheartedly. Although, I wouldn’t change how things happened. I think the only thing that kept me in Minnesota for so long was fear. As soon as I took the jump, I was so much happier knowing I was closer to my dream”.
Molly Kate Kestner is grounded, humble and thankful. She speaks about her faith being one of the things she can’t live without because “it’s the glue that holds [her] broken pieces together”. It might sound cliché, but she can’t live without music either; “so much of my day revolves around it”, she said. “I honestly cannot imagine a life without it”. But in the same breath, she said she also can’t live without naps. I mean, who can, right? “Since I was a little kid, I cherished them. And I will until the day I die”, she said. And honestly, it’s one of the most relatable things we’ve heard.
In all honesty though, Molly Kate Kestner doesn’t try to be anything she’s not. Her strength comes from her belief in a power larger than herself. Her beauty comes from recognising that there’s always room to be better. There is an organic undertone to her music, and she won’t compromise herself to please somebody else.
stylist RACHEL WILLIAMS | @rawcreative