Barrett student Kyan Palmer debuts single 'Burn Mona Lisa,' takes NYC

Music was always one of marketing senior Kyan Palmer's interests, but it wasn't anything he considered pursuing as a career. That is until Palmer released his debut single, “Burn Mona Lisa,” as part of his Barrett thesis project.

“Music had always interested me, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to try it out,” he said.

Palmer said that for his first time recording a track, he was surprised at how easily everything came together during the process.

“Overall, it probably took about an hour and a half to record, mix and everything,” Palmer said. “I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect since it was my first time doing anything like that, but I really like how the song came together.”

Palmer's former adviser left on a sabbatical which encouraged Palmer to reach out to a new one, Deanna Swoboda. Swoboda, who is an assistant professor in the School of Music, filled in and worked with Palmer to develop his single.

"I really wanted to help him find his process," Swoboda said. "For some people, writing the lyrics before the music works. For others, it's the other way around. I wanted to help Kyan find what worked best for him."

“Burn Mona Lisa” is currently available for purchase on iTunes and can be streamed on Spotify. Palmer’s smooth voice and relatable lyrics make the song an impressive debut.

With lyrics such as “Burn Mona Lisa / You’re not as perfect as I thought you were,” one could imagine the song is about a relationship's end, telling the story of a love gone sour. Palmer said though this is one reading, the song’s ambiguity is one of his favorite aspects of the track.

“I really like that the song can be interpreted in so many ways,” he said. “And I like that it can cross genres. It’s part pop, part soul and I like that people are able to take away different things from it.”

Palmer is currently working on two more songs to follow his debut. He expects they will be released in mid-March. 

Although producing music may seem like a bizarre decision for a marketing student to choose for a senior thesis, Palmer said the two have more in common than some might believe.

“I think what a lot of people don’t necessarily think about that is that for a project like this, half of it is about producing, recording and releasing the song, but the other half is about marketing it and getting it out there,” Palmer said.

So far, his marketing has worked. Palmer is trying to get it in rotation on ASU's Blaze Radio station. He also tweeted a series of video blogs that followed him through the recording process of the song.

Digital culture sophomore Nate Wick said he thinks the song would be a perfect fit for the station's rotation.

"It definitely sounds like something that would be played on the radio," Wick said. "Palmer has a great voice and the music behind it is really well put together."

Palmer said feedback for the song has been really positive. He also said it has been incredibly exciting to see the single reach so many people on social media.

“The coolest thing so far has been a tweet from a girl overseas who somehow saw the song," Palmer said. "That was pretty awesome."

He moved to New York City last month to pursue an internship with Roc Nation record label. Palmer has also interned for Universal Music Group. He said working behind the scenes with music producers and executives has been a dream come true and it has also helped him with his own music.

“Working with the record labels and such, you really get some great, behind-the-scenes insight as to the music business and what executives look for and that kind of thing,” Palmer said. “That’s really helped me as I’ve decided how I want to market my music and my own sound.”

A friend of Palmer’s put him in contact with someone at Universal Music Group and that helped him land the internship there. Through his work with Universal, he met an executive vice president of Roc Nation, where he currently works. Palmer says that keeping in touch with people has been key and that networking has been one of his biggest takeaways from his time here at ASU.

“It’s all about who you know, especially in the entertainment industry and the music industry, and I feel like that was one of my biggest takeaways from my time in school,” Palmer said. “They talk a lot about networking and keeping in touch with people, and I can’t stress enough how important that is. You never know who can help you out or what connections your connections might have.”

Related Links:

Sociology student finds his passion, headlines independent hip-hop tour

Barrett Artists and Musicians encourages students to show their creatives sides


Reach the reporter at seweinst@asu.edu or follow @S_Weinstein95 on Twitter.

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