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Name: Adam Bernard
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Stacking The Deck with Kash
Friday, January 04, 2019

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

It’s rare that you come across an artist who is truly a total package, but NYC-based R&B singer Kash is one of those special someones.

After bursting onto the scene three years ago posting covers on YouTube, Kash began releasing her own original music, which led to her performing at the Women’s March in NYC in 2017, and seeing success with singles like “Cycles,” and the recently released “Don't Let Me Go.”


I caught up with Kash at the Think Coffee on the corner of Bleecker and Bowery to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about representation in the entertainment industry, being true to oneself, and the teacher she’ll never forget.



Janet Jackson

The reason why I actually got into music – and this is why I picked Janet – is because I used to watch Michael Jackson perform, and later on watched Janet Jackson perform.

One of the reasons I began to love music, and love to sing, was because I was born in Germany in 1993 and there was nothing in English on TV besides MTV, so I used to watch Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, all these music videos while I was like a baby, and just be obsessed. I would dance, and sing, and one of my favorite songs was Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” and I used to go “ahh ahhh ahhh,” because it was so easy for me to grasp.

I remember being like, “I want to do that one day.” My mom looked at me like I had three heads. She’s like yeah, whatever, she’s 3, she’s not really gonna understand it, but I would not let go.

How’d you end up in Germany with an English speaking mother?

My mom and dad grew up in India, and then my dad got a job at a pharmaceutical company that was known as Berlex, but now is (owned by) Bayer. We moved to Germany because it was a German company, and the headquarters were there, and it was a really good job.

In India most people are taught English in school because we were a British colony, so it’s kind of useful, and it’s part of the reason why, as an economic power, we have a lot more leverage (than other countries).

It’s pretty cool that we were able to go to Germany, (but) my mom was stuck in this situation where she didn’t know the language, and just put on MTV because music is universal, and everyone was listening to American music.

Pop music is like our #1 export.

Exactly. So it’s kind of funny, when I saw the Janet Jackson card I was like this is kind of like the beginning of my musical journey.

And your hat is very Rhythm Nation.

Yeah, very Rhythm Nation.

When did you move from Germany to America?

I moved from Germany to America when I was 3 years old, so around the same time I got into music we moved to the United States.

I spoke German, Hindi, and English, and sometimes I would mess them up. Certain words I would say specifically in German, and certain words I would say in Hindi. I would always say desert in German.


My parents were the first people (from our family) to come here, so we’d go to India often just so that I would understand my own heritage. I really credit my parents a lot for doing that because a lot of people who are Indian who grew up in the United States don’t really have a connection to India. Their only real connection is entertainment and Bollywood.

We see Priyanka Chopra, and everyone is so supportive of her, but they’re supportive of her because they’re like, “That’s that Bollywood actress I know who just transferred over,” but they’re not supportive of all the stuff she’s done in India, and how she’s revolutionized what being a woman is.

So it’s like, “We love that she crossed over.”

Yeah, “We just love that she crossed over, and there’s someone who looks like me,” but there’s more than that. She is changing the relationship between two countries. By marrying Nick Jonas people have more interest in India, and a different perspective. Rather than this third world country, people are looking at her wedding like, “Oh, we didn’t know that could happen in India.”

At the same time, I think people need to see more than just the weddings and receptions that we throw, and take a deeper dive into what is our culture, and what is happening over there, because there’s a lot of things happening.

It definitely keeps me humble as a person, and also gives me drive as an artist, because I feel like there are so many different Indian artists that are trying their hardest to break into this industry and they just can’t because they don’t necessarily have the support of the community here until they’ve made it big.

That’s really tough.

Yeah, it’s such a tough situation, and we don’t have enough people in agencies, or record labels. We don’t have enough Indian people in there. Yeah, you can point to one, or two, or three.

When you can name them, you know there’s not a lot of them. That’s sort of one of those golden rules.

Exactly. I want more of my community to get involved with the entertainment industry, and be more supportive, and really just take a step back and be like, “How can we showcase our culture in music?” because there are so many artists like me who are Indian, there are so many artists like me who are Muslim, who are doing so much work, and are even further along than me in the process, and they don’t get recognized, they simply don’t.

This is not to say you have to be like culturally cool in order to break into this industry, I just think there needs to be more of us.



The Who

I went through a phase in middle school where I liked a boy, and because I liked a boy I needed to figure out what music he listened to, what cars he liked, etc. He mentioned The Who. I didn’t know (who they were), because I wasn’t listening to rock music, I was listening to pop music. So I started listening to The Who, like tiny bits at a time.

Just so you could mention it?

Exactly. It’s really funny how music can be used as a form of leverage to like you. {laughs}

So it worked?

It did not. I listened to probably one song and I just kept mentioning the same song, and he was like, “You just like this one song, don’t you?”

“I like this one song, and you!”

Aaaand you … slightly.

It was really funny. I went through this whole weird rock phase, but my friends saw right through me. They were like, “I guarantee tomorrow you’ll be back to listening to Britney Spears.”

One a more serious note, faking who you are doesn’t work. It never works, so as an artist I kinda had to learn that, too. There was one time I thought, “I want to be in a band. I want to be Hayley Williams from Paramore, and be this awesome badass woman,” and (now) I’m like – I can be a badass woman, but also just be myself. I don’t need to dye my hair, or cut it, or be all crazy and stuff, I can still like this music without necessarily changing who I am as a person.

There are badass women …

In every genre of music.

The Who, to me, represents, for so long, me trying to steer clear, and being like, “No, it’s not that cool to like pop music,” because there was a phase where everyone was like, “Pop music sucks, indie is the best.” It’s not what’s best or worst, it’s what speaks to you. If pop music speaks to you, great. If indie music speaks to you, great. If The Front Bottoms are your shit, then have it, go for it. If Ariana Grande is your shit, then go for that.

And if you like both, that’s cool, too.

Exactly, and I think this card definitely represents that portion of my life where I tried to be something I wasn’t, and finally gave in to being myself, and I think right now in my life I’m realizing what my most authentic self is.



Journey

Don’t stop believing, really.

A – Don’t stop believing in yourself.

B – This is a sad story, but my (high school) choir teacher just passed away, and he was one of the only people in my high school that I felt truly backed me up. He was one of those people for a lot of people.

I went to a performing arts high school, LaGuardia, the Fame school. In the vocal concentration they focused mostly on classical music, and reading music, and writing music, which is really great, but they limited creativity, and limited people (when it came) to exploring pop music, and exploring musical theater. If you weren’t great at opera, or good at being in chorus, you were kind of not the cool kid, which is so odd compared to real life.

I remember vividly, I walked into a classroom once and people were bawling, and I was like, “Oh my God, what happened?” And they were like this really famous opera singer – who I had no idea who he was – died that day … and he was 85. I was like what the … you made it sound like Nicki Minaj died. Knock on wood, Nicki Minaj, don’t go.

It was then I realized this is just not my music, this is not my style, this is just not where I need to be, and Journey represents that chorus teacher, his name was Carl Johnson, he was amazing, and he constantly believed in me when other teachers did not choose to.

(Other teachers) said, “You were good enough to be in this, we auditioned you for this class, we auditioned you for this show, we got you in, but you’re not going to be the lead because you’re not that great at THIS, and you’re not gonna get a solo because you’re not necessarily like THIS.” He always gave me a chance, and I am so appreciative of him because I don’t think I would have made it, or believed in myself at all, if it wasn’t for him senior year. It just shows that you can change people … and we sang “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

They had this elite show choir squad, it wasn’t really elite, it was a small group of show choir kids that could go all around for different events, and he sought out these crazy events like singing at ABC News. He told me that I could be part of that elite squad, and he pointed at me and was like, “You are in,” and these two girls screamed, “No! Why did you put her in,” in front of the whole class. I remember talking to him after like, “Please don’t kick me out,” and he said, “Are you kidding? I have final say.” He believed in me that much.



MC Hammer

MC Hammer, a man who had very interesting pants. You are clearly a fashionable person, but do you have any regrettable fashions in your past?

Yes. I went through an EDM phase, and I think everything in my EDM phase can go away.

I used to wear crops – oh my God, why did I wear this – I wore these jean shorts, and I would wear fishnets, and I would wear some sort of shirt, like a Delia’s shirt, or a shirt from Hot Topic, that my friend cut and made into this weird crop top, and I would wear a bandeau underneath and think I was good to go. I did not look cute. I also put a bandana in my hair. I think I just looked trashy. I didn’t feel comfortable. I just looked weird.



Debbie Gibson

Debbie Gibson was lot of people’s crush back in the ‘80s. Who was your childhood crush … other than the kid who liked The Who.

Dylan and Cole Sprouse from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. One of them is on Riverdale right now.

So you DVR Riverdale?

No, I don’t. They were just for the moment. There was them, and this is a YouTube crush, because I’m also on YouTube – Ryan Higa. I don’t know why, he was just my crush.

Musician-wise I don’t think I had a crush. I think I only liked female artists. I guess my woman crushes would have been Britney, Christina, Pink, and Hilary Duff. Lindsay Lohan, also.

Lindsay Lohan has a new reality show coming out on MTV. I can’t lie, I’m going to DVR it.

Same. I really want to watch it.

I’m not gonna hate on Lindsay Lohan just because I feel like she’s been through a lot, she doesn’t need a lot of hate, but at the same time I am very interested to see what the show is about because it’s a really funny concept, Lindsay Lohan owning a nightclub.


For more Kash follow her on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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