Tiny Desk Meets SXSW: KAINA
Every year, NPR Music participates in the SXSW music festival, whether it's curating a stage or simply attending hundreds of shows at the annual event in Austin, Texas. In 2020, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic, but it returned last March as an online festival. We programmed a virtual "stage" of Tiny Desk (home) concerts in 2021 in a series called Tiny Desk Meets SXSW. This year we return again, virtually, with another round of Tiny Desk Meets SXSW: four videos filmed in various locations, all of them full of surprises.
Setting the scene with a winding tour of the jam-packed gathering of musicians in a mystical recreation of her childhood casita, Chicago-based singer KAINAoffers her Tiny Desk (home) concert viewer a temporally unhinged invitation to come over to her house after school.
It doesn't take much to imagine what it was like in the vocalist's childhood home: salsa bouncing off the walls, arepas flowing from the kitchen, no one allowed to go home unfed (thanks in part to her Venezuelan and Guatemalan parents). KAINA is channeling that same casita-born energy into her performance here. She opens the performance with the title track to her new album, "It Was a Home," a twinkly piece complete with nostalgic riffs and soft percussion. She mentions that she was featured in Saba's 2018 Tiny Desk, but this is her first time owning the performance herself — and she hardly takes a beat after the song is over to bask in the glory of her center-stage experience before she takes her time naming every person on stage – and off – who built the 15-minute performance. Moving on to her upbeat, zanier number, "Apple," she brings more "friends" (instrumentalists, vocalists and puppets included) on screen for the performance. Closing with a full-bodied, chorally-backed performance of "Casita," she once again takes the time to give the voices around her equal space alongside her own.
But her community – these featured musicians, the city of Chicago, Latinas across the country – aren't the only people she's elevating here. She's using this space, her casita and this moment in her career to speak to her inner child, as she describes in "It Was a Home." She's assuring her that when she's all grown up she'll use her voice to shine a light on her casita, beseeching the entire world to marvel at its beauty.
Friends of Friends Recording
TINY DESK TEAM
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