These days, it’s getting even brighter—Kiyoko has found a devoted audience online with her unique brand of soul-baring pop, and it’s grown fast. Finding the courage to get personal shifted things. “It’s totally changed my writing process because, up until before Citrine, I was trying to think of metaphors, and vague concepts. I used to tell stories that weren’t really my stories.”

She recalls being terrified the night before she released the music video for “Girls Like Girls.” When it dropped in June 2015, Kiyoko experienced her first brush with surging internet success. “I had never gotten a million views on any of my videos… I started to see the support, and I started to see there was a space for me in the industry to sing about girls. It was very freeing to be able to sing about what I was actually feeling as opposed to sugar-coating things, or trying to have my songs be more vague so people didn’t get confused.”

Later that year she signed to Atlantic Records.