• Billie-Jo Buttner

Artist Interview - Kai Nanfelt

Updated: Feb 22

“My goal at the end of everything is to help others and help heal the world”

Kai Nanfelt is a new VxV artist who uses music as an emotional outlet for him to speak on topics other artists don’t often touch on. We sat down with Kai to discuss his musical journey, inspirations, and aspirations.

Growing up, Kai was a baseball player who planned on playing in college. But after suffering an injury in his Junior year of high school those plans were cut short. Kai decided to take up singing instead and tried out for his high school’s exclusive acapella group on a whim. His acceptance was the starting point of him singing and the following year he began to write music. At the age of 21, when he began struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental health type issues, he learned the guitar. These experiences are what made his music journey truly take off.

Kai was inspired by Ed Sheeran to start singing and inspired by John Mayer to put more effort into writing and lyrics. But Brandi Carlile is the main reason that Kai started anything in the first place …

Right before his 21st birthday Kai attended the Newport Folk Festival on its 60th Anniversary. Brandi Carlile was the first female emcee in 59 years and “it was a very special day, very empowering and I kind of became enamored with her presence. I didn’t really know who she was, and at the end of the day Dolly Parton came out as a surprise act. It was an incredible moment but I honestly was more impressed with Brandi Carlile than Dolly.” Truly captivated, Kai commented on an Instagram post Brandi made explaining how she was a highlight.

As the night went on, Kai was at a local dive bar contemplating giving up on his own music altogether. “I leaned over to my friend and was like, ‘I’m getting ready to give up on my music … I feel like this shouldn’t be so difficult. If this is what I’m meant to do I need a sign right now’. Right as I said that Brandi Carlile responded to my comment on Instagram that I had completely forgotten about.” The timing could not have been more perfect as her words completely changed Kai’s mindset. She wrote “dreams do come true” and from that moment Kai knew not to give up.

“She shattered my soul into pieces and rebuilt it back in the right way”

Now fully committed to his music, Kai has a few long term goals he wishes to fulfill. Within 2 ½ years he would love to perform at the Newport Folk Festival himself and within 5 he hopes to sign with a major label. However he emphasizes how much just music itself means to him by stating, “at the end of the day if 10 years from now I end up just being a songwriter for other major artists I would still be incredibly happy.” Kai further explains, “It’s really more about making music than anything else and I’ve always had a passion for helping others.”

“I don’t really care about money or fame, I want to make it because then my career becomes an avenue of support for those in need. Anything from domestic violence victims to addiction centers to victims of rape - I write about mental health because I think it will connect with other people.”

Something that sets Kai Nanfelt apart from other musicians is his genuine passion for wanting his music to mean something to someone. An ultimate long term goal once he is fully established is to start his own foundation which truly reinforces his selflessness as a musician.

But what does the immediate future hold for Kai?

His single “Sober” released just last month has already garnered 100,000 streams on Spotify and on January 8th his release of “Woman” helped further increase his followers to 40,000. “I studied PR at Boston University and have used my education as an opportunity to further my career as a musician by getting some blog placements and writing press releases … There was a time where I sent 1000 emails a day.” He plans on releasing a love song on Valentines Day and potentially one song per month after that.

When asked what advice he would give to someone trying to break into the music scene Kai stated, “You shouldn't wait for the perfect moment. You should just do it and then go from there … and just because life is on pause right now doesn’t mean you stop altogether. My advice is to do 5 tasks minimum [each day] that ensures you’re always moving forward no matter what even if you don’t really feel like it.”

Kai’s music and social media can be found at the following links for you to follow and support!