Kiesza performing at the Sound of a Woman Tour, 2015
Background information
Birth name Kiesa Rae Ellestad
Also known as Kiesza Szösi
Born (1989-01-16) January 16, 1989[1][2]
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Singer
  • songwriter

Military career

Allegiance  Canada
Service/branch  Royal Canadian Navy Canadian Forces Naval Reserve[3]

Kiesa Rae Ellestad[4][5] (born January 16, 1989),[1][2] known professionally as Kiesza[6] (/ˈkzə/ KYE-zə), is a Canadian singer and multi-instrumentalist from Calgary,[7] who has most recently worked in New York City[8][9][10] and London.[11][12]

Early life

Kiesza was born and raised in Calgary. Her last name Ellestad is Norwegian from her paternal side and her grandfather is from Fagernes in Norway.[9][13][14][15][16] When she was 16, she took part in the Sail and Life Training Society (SALTS) [7] program and later became a sailing instructor at the Glenmore Sailing School in 2007. A year later she joined the reserves[3] of the Royal Canadian Navy along with her brother,[17] becoming a NavCom (Naval Communicator).[7][17][18] It was while she was at crew singalongs at the Navy that she taught herself to play guitar.[19] Meanwhile,[7] she also entered the Miss Universe Canada pageant.[10][17] She stated that her time in the Navy motivated her to give away 4,500 CDs to Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan in 2008.[6][7]

Kiesza took part in the Young Canadians, performing tap and jazz dancing, as well as theatre.[6] She also trained as a ballerina,[10] however, a knee injury at age 15 ended her ballet career.[5][20] When Kiesza was 18, she says that her parents' divorce caused her to write her first song, as a way of expressing her feelings.[7] The same year, she heard a song of hers played on the radio.[17]

In an interview with the Metro, Kiesza claimed that she can trace her lineage to someone who fought alongside Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn, elaborating "There's a lot of Scottish people in Canada. Tons. My grandpa was of Scottish heritage - he was of the black Douglases".[21]


2006–13: Career beginnings

Kiesza performing at Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary, July 2007

CKUA Folk Routes host Tom Coxworth selected her to perform for a live audience and to be broadcast live on his radio show.[7] Shortly after, she was accepted to the Selkirk College in Nelson, BC, where she studied keyboard, voice and guitar.[6][22] Next, Kiesza obtained a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.[17] After attending Berklee, she went to New York City in 2010[2] to advance her music career.[17] Although Kiesza started as mainly a folk singer,[17] after attending Berklee and then living in New York, she moved to a more "uptempo sound"[17] for which she works with producer Rami Samir Afuni.[9] In 2010 she was selected to play at the Canada Day celebrations at Trafalgar Square in London for 30,000 people.[17][23]

In 2012, Kiesza released her first single after starting work with Afuni in New York, a "disco-infused pop" single titled "Oops" about a couple that had unprotected sex.[4][9][24] She labelled her style of music at the time as "SteamPop", described by AjanWrites as "a flaming brew of bold, boisterous pop filled with tongue-in-cheek lyrics".[9] In a later 2014 interview, she said "Oops" was made as a joke.[4][9]

Kiesza was featured in the single Triggerfinger by the Norwegian band Donkeyboy in 2013.[25] She has also written for other artists, such as Rihanna, Kylie Minogue and Icona Pop.[4][26]

2014–present: Sound of a Woman

Kiesza in Munich 2015

In February 2014,Kiesza released the video for her new single "Hideaway" through the label Lokal Legend.[8] Idolator considered it unique, for having a long take throughout the entire video, as Kiesza walked and danced through N 12th Street In Brooklyn, New York City.[8] John Gentile of Rolling Stone called the style "impressive".[27] Kiesza reported to Rolling Stone that she had trouble making the video, partly because she broke a rib just before filming, and "couldn't move for an entire month afterward."[27] It was premiered by Annie Mac on her Mac's Special Delivery segment on BBC Radio 1.[12][28] "Hideaway" debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart issued for 26 April 2014.[29]

Shortly after "Hideaway" charted, Kiesza released a new video for her cover of Haddaway's song "What Is Love".[30] Mike Bell of the Calgary Herald referred to her version of the song as a "jaw-droppingly gorgeous cover of Haddaway's 1993 dance smash What Is Love?"[16] She performed a slowed down version, with a video showing her and others, slowly revealed to be without clothes, to express "raw emotions".[16]

Kiesza's second single, "Giant in My Heart", premiered on Annie Mac's BBC Radio 1 show on 13 June 2014. It entered the UK Singles Chart at number four.

Kiesza collaborated with Skrillex and Diplo on the song "Take Ü There", which was released as the first single from a collaborative mixtape between the two producers. She co-wrote Gorgon City's "Go All Night", which features Jennifer Hudson singing her lyrics, and will appear on the British duo's debut album, Sirens.

She has written several songs for Rihanna that may appear on her upcoming new album. She also worked with Loreen on her album, which will be released in 2016[31] and co-wrote the second single, "I'm In It With You". She also appears as a guest on Duran Duran's new album, Paper Gods, released September 11, 2015.[32]

Other ventures

Kiesza at Fendi store opening in May 2014

In 2014, Kiesza was selected to be the face of a new line of fashion eyewear called "Color Block" by retailer Fendi, appearing in a promotional video shot by Ruth Hogben.[5][33][34][35] The video "features Kiesza strolling on a treadmill against a painted skyline, while singing and donning the double-framed, colourful sunglasses."[36] She announced plans to release her own line of fashion under the name "SteamPop" sometime in 2014.[34]


Main article: Kiesza discography



Opening act

Awards and nominations

Year Awards Category Work Outcome
2014 MTV Europe Music Awards Best Video "Hideaway" Nominated
Best New Act Herself Nominated
Best Push Act Nominated
Best Canadian Act Nominated
BBC Music Awards Song of the Year "Hideaway" Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Best Choreography Nominated
2015 ECHO Awards [37] Female Artist Rock / Pop internationally "Sound of a Woman Nominated
Newcomer international Nominated
Juno Awards Single of the Year "Hideaway" Nominated
Video of the Year Won
Breakthrough Artist of the Year Herself Won
Dance Recording of the Year "Sound of a Woman" Won
Youtube Music Awards 50 greatest artists and YouTube performances Herself Won
mtvU Woodie Awards Cover Woodie Nominated
Co-Sign Woodie "Take U There" Jack U feat. Kiesza Nominated
Canadian Radio Music Awards Best New Group Or Solo Artist: CHR "Hideaway" Won
Best New Group Or Solo Artist: AC Nominated
Western Canadian Music Awards Electronic/Dance Recording of the Year [38] Won
Much Music Video Awards Video of the Year "Giant in My Heart" Nominated
Best EDM/Dance Nominated
Most Buzzworthy Canadian "Sound of a Woman" Nominated


  1. 1 2 "Talent: KIESZA | Interview" (in German). July 25, 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 Verdot-Belaval, Athony (April 29, 2014). "25 ans, la chanteuse canadienne vient de dévoiler en France son premier single "Hideaway". Portrait d'une ancienne militaire devenue reine des charts.". Paris Match (in French). Archived from the original on May 23, 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  3. 1 2 Cull, Alex (March 25, 2014). "Introducing: Kiesza". Planet Notion. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Cragg, Michael (April 27, 2014). "One to watch: Kiesza". The Observer. Archived from the original on April 27, 2014. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 Szmydke, Paulina (May 28, 2014). "Kiesza Gets Into the Groove". Women's Wear Daily. Archived from the original on May 28, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "Self-styled and self-titled". Calgary Herald. December 30, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Wilton, Lisa (June 19, 2009). "Kiesza life stories written in strings". Calgary Sun. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  8. 1 2 3 Daw, Robbie (March 20, 2014). "Popping Up: Kiesza". Idolator. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Hot New Pop Alert: Watch Kiesza's Lyric Video for Debut Single "Oops"". September 6, 2012. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  10. 1 2 3 Cragg, Michael (February 11, 2014). "Kiesza – Hideaway (Gorgon City Remix): New music". The Guardian. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  11. Jim Carroll (February 6, 2014). "New Music – Patrick Freeman, Kiesza, Sylvan Esso | On The Record". Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  12. 1 2 "Kiesza – 'Hideaway'". January 24, 2014. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  16. 1 2 3 Bell, Mike (May 3, 2014). "Calgary singer Kiesza taking the pop music world by storm". Calgary Herald. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  17. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Hunt, Stephen (June 24, 2010). "Breathtaking Drive". Calgary Herald. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  18. Collins, Hattie (April 14, 2014). "kiesza, the canadian singer on ballet, boats, bullets and big hits". i-D. Vice Media. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  19. This Week's Fresh Music Top 20, 10 August 2014
  20. Rayner, Ben (June 14, 2014). "Kiesza at the MMVAs: Hideaway no more". Toronto Star. p. E8. Archived from the original on June 13, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2014. ...since a knee injury at 15 cut her ballet career short...
  21. "Hideaway Kiesza's Scottish roots". Metro. 14 July 2014: 17.
  22. Schafer, Timothy (April 7, 2009). "Music, Environment & Passion; Before heading off to the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, Selkirk College Music Grad Kiesza Ellestad is taking the Capitol Theatre stage in support of the West Kootenay EcoSociety and her future career". Nelson Daily News. p. 3.
  23. Parker, David (July 9, 2010). "Rainmaker brings the party to London". Calgary Herald. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  24. "The Best New Videos for September 4 – 7". (MuchMusic). BellMedia. September 7, 2012. Archived from the original on May 24, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  25. Triggerfinger (inlay). Donkeyboy ft. Kiesza. Warner Music Norway. 2013.
  26. McMurray, Jenna (April 19, 2014). "Calgary-born songstress Kiesza tops United Kingdom charts with hit single Hideaway". Calgary Sun. Archived from the original on April 25, 2014. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  27. 1 2 Gentile, John (February 13, 2014). "Kiesza Barrels Through the Pain in 'Hideaway' – Video Premiere". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  28. Herr, Lindsay (February 13, 2014). "Kiesza takes it to the streets in her debut video for lead single "Hideaway"". EarMilk. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  29. Lane, Daniel (April 20, 2014). "Kiesza claims her debut UK Number 1 single with Hideaway". Official Charts Company. British Phonographic Industry, Entertainment Retailers Association. Archived from the original on April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  30. Daw, Robbie (23 April 2014). "Kiesza Covers Haddaway's "What Is Love": Watch The Video For Her Rendition Of The '90s Classic". Idolator. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  31. Copsey, Rob (11 September 2014). "Kiesza writes "favourite song ever" for Rihanna's new album". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  32. Oakey1973 (16 March 2015). "Kiesza is expected back in the Studio for a few days to do a bit more work". Duran Duran Official Site. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  33. Tim, Andy (May 27, 2014). "Fendi Color Block eyewear collection featuring Kiesza". Elle Malaysia. Archived from the original on May 28, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  34. 1 2 "Kiesza: I design clothes I can't find". Belfast Telegraph. May 28, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  35. Tortora, Laura (May 28, 2014). "Kiesza X Fendi". Vogue Italia. Archived from the original on May 28, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  36. Ciobanu, Madalina (May 27, 2014). "Kiesza Named as New Face of Fendi Eyewear". Harpars Bazaar. Archived from the original on May 28, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
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