Singer-songwriter Sarah Kinsley is channeling the glistening snow through the orchestral sound of the holiday season and new wave infused alt pop on “Shimmering.” The song serves as the soundtrack of Glossier’s much anticipated holiday campaign.
Kinsley first attracted viral attention on TikTok for her track “The King” in 2021, resulting in her release of an EP of the same name. The track, which Kinsley wrote, sang, and produced, was crafted while she was studying musical theory at Columbia University in New York City. In 2022, the soft-spoken but lyrically vulnerable “The Giver” was Kinsley’s next smash hit. The track details an emotionally immature relationship between partners in which one person gives one too many chances to the other person, and thousands of TikTok users found themselves relating to its brutally honest lyricism.
She was honored by the widespread praise for “The Giver” due to its intense emotional honesty. While Kinsley’s sound remains ever-evolving, the singer feels that the track set a solid precedent for her songwriting abilities.
“I was very flattered and surprised by that happening with ‘The Giver’. It’s interesting to think about how songs have paved the way for the rest of the future, but I think it invited a very specific audience in that was ready for vulnerable, raw music. That song was an introduction to how other music I would make would sound. I think it enabled a lot of people to come forward and relate to it and feel equally as vulnerable talking to me about it,” Kinsley reflected.
The Chinese-American singer grew up in California, Connecticut, and later Singapore. She moved to New York City to attend Columbia, and the city’s blissful and frightening unknown is an ever present force in her music. Following the success of “The Giver”, which was released as a single last year, Kinsley set to work on her follow-up EP, “Ascension.” The EP combines the booming baseline popular in contemporary alternative pop with 1980s inspired synthesizers. The singer kept this complex production in mind while working on “Shimmering.”
Glossier was very open to hearing how Kinsley wanted to approach this track. “They specifically wanted something that sounded sonically close to ‘Oh No Darling!’ and ‘Lovegod,’ which made it really easy for me, because I made those songs. I kept in mind the entire holiday theme of togetherness and closeness and the sparkling that I feel is associated with holidays. The brand made it very straightforward to fall into a specific sonic rhythm,” said Kinsley.
Kinsley has previously expressed her desire to continue to be involved in the production side of her music, after a 2018 study from the University of California found that only 2% of music producers are women. This in mind, Kinsley cites a number of different artists for production inspiration and for lyrical inspiration.
“I was really inspired by this artist from Brooklyn who goes by Lorraine. Her recent album is really awesome. I love the Cocteau Twins. I’ve been a fan of them for a long time now. I’ve also been really influenced by different classical music. I grew up listening to a lot of ABBA and Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell too,” said Kinsley.
“I listen to predominantly singer-songwriters and music that is really expansive and full of different types of sounds and exploration. That’s definitely inspired me recently.” Previously, Kinsley has cited Mitski (who she recently opened for) and Lana Del Rey as writing style inspirations. The singer recently opened for fellow alternative singer-songwriter Weyes Blood, following a round of festival performances that included Austin City Limits and the Governor’s Ball (Gov Ball). Kinsley soon wraps up the U.S. leg of her tour, and looks forward to what comes next.
“I’m really excited for London next year. We’ve only played one show there before, and it was this really packed club that was in the basement of this bar and the energy was really riveting. I think crowds in different cities are so different, and London specifically, has such a vibrant energy that I’m really excited to get back to, and we’re playing at this really awesome venue. We’re also going to a bunch of cities I’ve never been to before in the Netherlands and Germany,” said Kinsley.
Glossier has begun teasing their collaboration with Kinsley on TikTok.
Pack your bags and wrap your gifts, you’re invited to Glossier’s Holiday House 🎁 A cozy, stay-at-home soiree where YOU are the guest of honor. And, what better way to celebrate the most festive time of year than with our holiday-inspired, here-for-the-season kits? Introducing this year’s lineup to add to your collection, gift to others, or both! 👄Our tart and sweet holiday hue is back in the Cranberry Lip Trio, this year with new (!) G Suit, plus Generation G and the Ultralip shade you already know and love. 👁️Amplify your holiday look with the Pencils Up Kit! Featuring two new No. 1 Pencil shades: Etch (a gunmetal silver) and Nouveau (an olive gold), plus Lash Slick in Black. ✨And for a little extra shine, meet our Party Pots Kit. With new dual-use eye and cheek shimmer pots in three festive shades: Buzz (a light honey shimmer), Click (a cool rose shimmer) and Twist (a warm copper shimmer). Cranberry Lip Trio, Pencils Up and Party Pots are here for the season, only at Glossier.com and in Glossier stores. A gift from us to you and your loved ones 💌 #glossier #glossierholiday #glossierholidaykits #holidaygifting
To ascend into the shimmering sonic sphere of Sarah Kinsley, you can follow her @sarahkinsleyd on TikTok and Instagram.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.