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ON BEAT: Ca$hk

Ca$hk; Photo courtesy of Kyleigh Jehlicka

Senior Kyleigh Jehlicka is raw, real and R&B as Ca$hk.

With a spiritual presence and an angelic voice, she blends elements of alternative, pop and hip-hop for her own twist on R&B.

Ca$hk sings honest, heart-hitting lyrics over a contemporary fusion of melodic trap, following in the footsteps of role models such as SZA, Lauren Hill and Summer Walker.

Her discography and artistry embody a sense of emotional empowerment as she delves into personal experiences with relatability and vulnerability.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What does the song “Speculating” mean to you? Do you plan to release it?

Ca$hk: What it means to me is just an expression of how I was feeling during a certain time. About two years ago, in 2020, I started liking this guy, as one does, and we were just hanging out during quarantine and I started really getting feelings for him like, I really liked him. And one day I was talking to him, and out of nowhere he starts talking about this girl that he has a crush on and I’m like, “What? Like what? When were you going to— what? You realize I like you, right?” But it was a time where I felt just so silly because he would say like, “Oh, I’m going to come visit you at school and you should come visit me,” and it was just like a whole fabrication. And then it ended up being something that was completely in my head, I guess, or I had completely made something up kind of or whatever. So, I just wrote it about speculating, just like thinking something is going to be something that it’s literally not going to be. And I’m going to be releasing something in the next month and a half or so, and that’s going to be the first single.

Where did the inspiration for your stage name come from?

Ca$hk: When I was in high school, there was this boy I dated, and he would call me that. That was sort of his nickname for me or whatever. It was the password in his phone, and it was a dollar sign and a K and so that’s how it started out. And once I started putting music out, I started releasing under that name. And I just thought it was cool and I was like, “This fits.” And then there was a certain point a few months ago where I was like “Do I want to be Ca$hk? What do I want to do?” And then I went through this mental transformation, and I got out of a bad relationship where my headspace was like that. And then I was like, “Ca$hk? Why would I have wanted to change that?” It really just embodies the energy I bring; I don’t know, I just love it and yeah, I’m sticking with it. So yeah. That's where it came from.

What’s the best advice another musician has given you?

Ca$hk: The best recent piece of advice that someone gave me was to not be afraid to take risks. It’s a guy I’ve been friends with for a couple of years now, and he’s older. He’s been in the industry for a while and he was like, “You’re so sick, your voice is amazing and you’re doing it. Now is the time for you to take risks on stage, really just dig deeper and just let it loose because you don’t need to be afraid that it’s not going to sound good. You sound good, you just need to take risks.” And that was a great piece of advice because I do find myself getting into the same routine when I’m performing.

Do you have a favorite album? What is it?

Ca$hk: There’s an album by Lauren Hill that I was literally obsessed with like six months ago. And it’s not even an album that she put out. It was on MTV Unplugged, which is something they used to do in the 90s where they would get an artist to come and perform a stripped down entire album. And it was all recorded live. It’s called Lauren Hill, MTV Unplugged 2.0 and it’s just really opened my eyes. She inspires me so much because she played the guitar herself on it, and it was so raw and real in the way she talks about, and the melodies she uses, everything about her I’m obsessed with. It’s definitely Lauren Hill. She just embodies so much of what I love as far as beliefs and stuff like that. That album really inspires me and really influences what I do.

What is your favorite kind of venue to perform at?

Ca$hk: I really loved when I performed at The End, The Mercy Lounge was fun, but also just house shows. I find that the most fun shows are house shows because the crowds are always super fun and high energy. They're all just there to have a good time and so it’s not like any pressure, it just feels like you’re playing with your friends.

What themes do you pursue with your music?

Ca$hk: It sort of changes based of what I’m going through, honestly. A lot of the inspiration usually revolves around heartbreak or love. Love themes having to do with relationships or situations like that. But other times there are themes of female empowerment. It sort of switches up, but I feel like a lot of the times it’s rooted in love and the feelings and situations that revolve around being and falling in and out of love.

How do you work through the challenges of being an emerging artist?

Ca$hk: It’s really just a lot of learning. This just happened recently when I booked a show, and because I’m doing it all on my own, I don’t have a team or anything, so I really just rely on my communications with another person who is in charge of the venue or the event. And some challenges arise when days go by without information and you know, your time is valuable. Your time is money. And days that go by not booking that show or having that date iced out because you’re waiting is another day you’re missing out on an opportunity when someone else can book you on the same day. And when we put so much work into what we’re doing, we’re practicing, we’re committing to taking time from schoolwork or taking time off from doing whatever to perform and it’s frustrating when other people don’t have that level of professionalism or attention to detail that we really need in order to let everything flow easily. So, that’s a challenge and you deal with it, you just work through it and stay professional.

What are you interested in outside of music?

Ca$hk: I love fashion, so much. I love interior design and decorating spaces. I’m a huge spiritual girly, I love journaling and bettering myself spiritually. I spend a lot of time trying to balance myself and making sure my mental health is good.

How do you try to find the balance between yourself and your mental health?

Ca$hk: So, I find that I need to take social breaks a lot of the time if I’m going, going, going and putting a lot of my energy into my friends and my relationships with other people. Sometimes it depletes my battery. So, I’ll just come home, I’ll deep clean my space, I’ll light some candles, I’ll journal in my journal and move my body. Make good food, healthy well-balanced meals. Watch movies that make me happy, listen to music. Really just taking care of myself is one thing I’m really interested in. I love making sure that I’m doing well above all else. I will never overexert myself in a way that compromises my happiness or my health or my balance and everything. I feel like that’s really important, especially as of lately there’s been a lot of demand for my time at school, at practice, shows and work. It’s essential for me to make sure that I’m staying grounded and losing myself.

This interview was conducted by Emma Halloran

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