Symbolism, songwriting and Kate Peytavin’s latest song, ‘whole heart black’

By Alexis Watkins

Photos by Hannah Tacher

a woman laying on a couch in a living room

Singer-songwriter Kate Peytavin began making music on Zoom, and admittedly, didn’t know what she wanted to accomplish in her music career. As time went on, Peytavin began to form her own sound and style, which laid the foundation for her success in 2023. She has worked with producers such as Rami Yacoub who has produced music for Beyoncé, Selena Gomez and Charli XCX, as well as Casey Smith who has worked with Olivia Rodrigo and Jonas Brothers. Her success hasn’t stopped, but has only gained momentum as she recently released her newest single “whole heart black,” and plans on creating more music — and hopefully, a music video this year.

Peytavin’s journey began where most musicians spend time — Los Angeles. The creative hub filled with recording studios, producers, songwriters, and record label headquarters is where Peytavin fell in love with the process of making music in person. She knew that Los Angeles would be the perfect place for her to take her music to a new level.

“In the airport (boarding a flight back to her home state of Louisiana), that's when I was like, ‘You know, this is what I want to do. I want to pursue this.’”

The lyrics and symbolism that Peytavin has been able to incorporate into her music solidifies into reality in the visualizers produced by Peytavin and her team. Hard hitting and incredibly descriptive with lyrics like “All the evidence was a kiss on the cheek when you said goodbye / cold as ice” from her song “something’s off” and “You don’t think it’ll happen to you ’til you’re gone off the cliff on the passenger side” from her single “ever fallen?”. These songs are just a few of the singles that she released, which delve into heartbreak, and the feelings that come along with that.

“I think that heartbreak is something that every single person has dealt with, and it's kind of a learning process where you don't realize what's happening, or you don't know what to do until it happens, and it's very much an out of control situation,” the Capitol Records artist explained. “I wanted to write about something that's universal, something that everybody understands.”

Her music is a way for her to connect with listeners, and the dramatic feelings provoked by her music is a way for Peytavin to live through her feelings — instead of avoiding them altogether.

“I don't want to suppress it like a lot of people tell you to do. They say, ‘Push it aside and distract yourself,’ but I think what helps me heal is feeling it, and living in the moment.”

Strings and melodic, relatable choruses are a common feature in her music, but visually an air of mystery surrounds the artist as birds and trees commonly make a feature in most of her visualizers. Her first song “ever fallen?” was shot on a MacBook and Peytavin knew that she wanted to elevate the visuals on the next music visualizer for her song “something’s off.”

“I knew I wanted to step up my game and do it on a film camera, but actually the bird was real. I had in mind editing a picture of a crow but then an actual massive bird landed on a branch, so we hurried up and snapped a picture. We didn't even need to edit the bird, so that was really cool,” she said.

On Peytavin’s latest single, “whole heart black,” listeners can expect to hear influences from ’90s and 2000s artists she has been listening to recently, such as Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne and Paramore.

With her first single release of 2024, and a year of producing music and visualizers, Peytavin has been able to reflect on her journey as a musician so far. As most people are, she was faced with obstacles such as self-doubt, and collaborators simply not taking the time to work with her. Nonetheless, Peytavin pushed through, and continues to make her dreams a reality.

Looking forward, Peytavin would like to perform live for fans, and open for an artist that she takes inspiration from, Suki Waterhouse.

“I see TikToks of her performing live all the time, and she’s so ethereal, and she really carries herself well. We both have curtain bangs, so I feel like it only makes sense,” she said.

In the upcoming year, fans can also be on the lookout for what will be the first music video from the singer-songwriter who has only released visualizers.

“I am obsessed with watching music videos. I think they’re a great form of storytelling, and so I am excited to direct and put together my own.”

a woman laying on the floor