Toronto's Kiesza returns with LP after suffering brain injury in crash

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Kiesza is ready to restart the momentum of her music career that began six years ago.

The Calgary-born, Toronto-based electro-pop artist was on her way in 2014 with a triple-Juno winning debut, Sound of a Woman, featuring the breakthrough hit, Hideaway, which sold 1 million copies.

But then a 2017 car accident — her Uber was T-boned in Toronto by a cab running a red light as she was making her way to meet a friend for dinner — left her with a traumatic brain injury.

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Six long years later, Kiesza — born Kiesa Rae Ellestad — will finally release a new album, the delightfully upbeat and ‘80s-inspired, Crave, on Friday.

“I literally burst into tears the day that I finished the album because I kept thinking about how hard it was to get to my second album,” said the singer-songwriter who once served in the Royal Canadian Navy reserves.

“I’ve been walking into the unknown for three years now,” she added. “I felt like throwing in the towel some days. It was so much to deal with.”


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We recently caught up with Kiesza:

Did anything about your post-accident life prepare you for the isolation and stress of COVID-19 lockdown?

It helped me a lot. I was basically in isolation for a long time. Because when you get a traumatic brain injury, most of them time, and especially in my case, you’re hypersensitive to most stimulation — sound, light, even smell …  I had to isolate. I couldn’t go out in the bright sun. I couldn’t even look at snow.”

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You were going to open for Lindsey Stirling this year which is now on hold until at least next year due to the pandemic. Did you feel ready to perform?

I was really getting close to coming back to the stage and that was a big deal. I actually didn’t think I’d ever be back on stage. I’d lost a lot of the balance on the left side of my body so that would have prevented me from performing had I not worked at it.

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Is being off balance the biggest symptom that remains from the accident?

I think a lot of it was based on actual inflammation within my brain. Putting pressure on my brain. And that’s going down. I had constant pressure in my head which was just continuous. Also my spinal fluid wasn’t pumping properly in my spine and people didn’t catch this for a long time. They were focused so much on my head they didn’t look at my spine, especially my lower spine.

I’m surprised how upbeat Crave is given everything you’ve been through?

I just realized that I wanted to do an album that was positive, uplifting, completely motivational, that would put people in a good mood along with myself. I wasn’t quite ready to dive into everything that I’ve been going through.