By Claire Stern
Updated Nov 09, 2014 @ 2:50 pm
Kylie Hughes
Credit: Sarah Balch for

When singer-songwriter Kylie Hughes was recording her debut EP, she couldn't quite commit to a specific genre, so she considered her three main influences and created her own. What resulted was "Calipopicana" (an amalgam of the words California, pop, and Americana), which is an upbeat, lighthearted sound reminiscent of early aughts pop overlaid with Beach Boys-like harmonies. And as it turns out, the 25-year-old is no stranger to making up words: Her six-track EP, appropriately titled Calipopicana, out now, features a song called "Maliblues," an ode to growing up in Malibu, where she currently resides. "I feel like all the music out there is electro and auto-tune," she told InStyle. "This is organic, but fun and listen to and dance to." We caught up with Hughes when she dropped by our offices after her EP release. Here are a few tidbits from our chat:

So how did you come up with the name "Calipopicana"?

It came out unintentionally. I was doing interviews, and everyone would ask me to describe my sound, and one time I said, "It's California, pop, and Americana—it's Calipopicana," and I kind of just made up the term. Now I have it trademarked! It's very beachy and happy music, so it was fitting for this EP.

There's definitely a huge California influence in your sound. Who did you listen to growing up?

Everyone. It's funny, when I was in my mom's car, I'd listen to the Wow albums, which is Christian contemporary music. When I was in my dad's car, I listened to The Beatles, Sheryl Crow, the Grateful Dead, and The Beach Boys. In my babysitter's car, I listened to Shaggy and Jo De Messina. So there were a lot of different genres in the melting pot there!

Where do you find your inspiration to write?

Mostly just looking out in my backyard in Malibu. A lot of my songs come from a beachy vibe, and the pop songs come from daily occurrences. I was in a sorority when I studied at Pepperdine, so "Short Skirts" kind of came from going out with them at night. "Wish You Were Dead" is obviously about a breakup, and "Leave 'Em Wanting More" came from some dating flops.

How long did it take to produce this first EP?

Well, I came up with the term "Calipopicana" two years ago, and then I started writing to that term. The newest song is from six months ago.

You have a distinct retro style—and it's all over the cover art. Where do you like to shop?

I love vintage; thrift shopping is my favorite. I go to Planet Blue a lot, and I also like For Love & Lemons and Wildfox. I love the retro pin-up look. Growing up and living in Malibu, it's very natural to not be wearing a lot—just a bathing suit and a cover-up—so I've always gravitated toward that feminine silhouette.

"Calipopicana" is available for $6 on iTunes. Plus, discover more bands that are currently on our radar now!