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Marielle Kraft on “I Kissed a Boy,” Pop Pride, and Celebrity Covers

Marielle Kraft photo

Remember when Holly Near was about the only LGBTQ+ artist you could listen to? Well, those days are long gone. Current artists like MUNA and Rina Sawayama sing unabashedly about their girlfriends, and they’re enjoying great success.

You can add one more name to the list: Nashville-based artist Marielle Kraft. The chorus of her new song “I Kissed A Boy” contains these memorable lines:

I kissed a boy
And I hated it
Yeah, I waited for the spark
It didn’t start
So I stayed in it
Trying to argue with my heart
Thought I’d feel it if I did it more
Yeah, I wish I would’ve known before
I kissed a boy

Musically, the song glides gracefully like a Taylor Swift tune. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Pride Month than to make this song a breakout summer hit. It’s already on my playlist, alongside Rina Sawayama’s “LUCID” and L Devine’s “Like You Like That.”

“I Kissed A Boy” is a song that seems to perfectly capture a new era in pop music where artists like you, Rina Sawayama, MUNA, Daena and others can sing about girlfriends…and listeners are delighted, not shocked. How did you and your co-writers bring that song to life?

Thank you! I came into the songwriting session last fall with the line “I kissed a boy and I hated it,” which I thought was just a humorous twist on the Katy Perry song concept. My co-writers Kenna and Daena loved the idea, and as we began writing we realized it was much more of a heartfelt story than the cheeky title suggests. It started with reminiscing about our cringy first-kiss stories (which quickly became verse 1), and grew into a reflective narrative that we all share of finding out who we really are since we first kissed boys. The process was natural and exciting and emotional. We’re all really proud of this one. 

You’re the only artist I’ve ever interviewed who did a TEDx talk. What was that like?

It was very cool! I gave the TEDx talk at Firefly Music Festival a few years ago, and was honored I was asked to share my personal insights about songwriting. My favorite part was that I got to perform one of my own songs at the end of the talk, so it felt like the perfect dual setting for me to show both my spoken and sung perspectives. 

You left the education field to become a full-time artist. What type of teaching did you do?

I did! I majored in education and became a 6th grade English teacher. It was so hard and so fun, especially getting to start the karaoke club!

Your songs like “Shrink” and “Second Coffee” all have such memorable hooks. Which of today’s artists could you hear covering your songs?

I grew up on Taylor Swift and learned how to play guitar and perform through covering her songs. It would be bananas to have her cover one of my songs one day. Otherwise, I’d love to hear Lennon Stella’s interpretation of my songs, or an artist in a totally different genre like Megan Thee Stallion putting their own verse on it. That would be SO cool. 

“Shrink” and “I Kissed A Boy” are the first two singles off your upcoming EP. Can you tell us about some of the other songs that’ll be on the new EP?

Lots of new releases are coming this year. The next one is a sweet love song called “Ahead of Myself,” which I’ve teased only a few times in concert and is a bit different than my usual bops (in a good way). Another song on the EP that I’m really excited for is one called “Don’t Come Over.” I wrote it years ago and have always loved it. It’s finally found a home on this project.

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