Edited by Mikkel Hyldebrandt
Photos: Matthew Nicholson
In a vibrant collision of cultures and musical talents, independent recording artist Kaien Cruz, a queer South African singer/songwriter, has released an infectious alternative version of their viral Afropop-infused anthem “I Lay.” The track features the soulful vocals of Kenyan crooner Xenia Manasseh and is now available to stream on all digital platforms via The Orchard.
Co-produced by Glass Animal’s Edmund Irwin-Singer alongside Alli Valenzuela and Joshua Choo, “I Lay” is more than just a song; it’s an anthem about the power of intuitive love and cosmic energy. With potent vocals and the universal language of musical expression, this infectious tune takes listeners on a mesmerizing journey filled with curiosity, expansion, pure joy, and ecstasy.
Kaien Cruz, whose preferred pronouns are they/them, expressed their excitement for the collaboration, saying, “Immediately after writing the original song I knew I wanted to hear it with a feature. Xenia sounds so perfect on it when she first sent me her verse I totally freaked out. The harmonies and the way it flows is effortless.”
They continue, “I wrote this song in an hour, and honestly, it just flowed straight out of me. I wanted to portray the feeling of total ease in love and life. ‘I Lay’ is my pure expression of what it means to be in love and connection without the toxicity of ego.”
The original version of “I Lay” is accompanied by a breathtaking cinematic video directed by Hunter So and produced by Anna Dickson. Shot on location in Costa Rica, the video features Kai’s girlfriend as the love interest, adding an extra layer of personal connection to the song.
Kaien Cruz, an independent artist hailing from South Africa and now based in Los Angeles, has a unique blend of R&B and AfroPop influences in their music. Their debut single, “Love Me In The Dark,” quickly rose to the top of the South African charts, earning them a prestigious nomination for Song of the Year at the South African Music Awards. Their talent caught the attention of none other than Justin Bieber, who hand-picked Cruz to open for his sold-out Purpose Tour in front of a crowd of 90,000.
In a world where music transcends borders and identities, Kaien Cruz and Xenia Manasseh’s collaboration in “I Lay” is a testament to the power of music to unite, inspire, and celebrate love and authenticity. Their voices and stories resonate with those who seek a more inclusive and uplifting world.
Xenia’s vision is to create music that is relatable, honest, and a true reflection of her life, values, and experiences. Her songs, like “I Lay,” bring people from different walks of life together through universal messages and emotions.
Stream Kaien’s new single “I Lay” featuring Xenia Manasseh, and stay tuned for more exciting music from these two remarkable artists as they continue to make their mark on the global music scene.