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A swift rise: Kanin Wren drops new Valentine’s Day-themed single


Juggling homework with playing sold-out shows at music venues across the state isn’t a typical story for mid-Michigan teens, but Kanin Wren isn’t your average high schooler.  

For years, the DeWitt native has steadily honed both her songwriting and her dynamic stage show. Her new Valentine’s Day-inspired single, “Cupid’s Stupid,” was released Friday (Feb. 9) and shows her further evolution as a singer-songwriter. Beyond that, the vocalist/guitarist has been packing houses since last year with her Taylor Swift Experience concerts, evenings of spot-on Swift hits backed by a dynamite live band. There are even multiple outfit changes. 

City Pulse caught up with Wren, 18, to talk about her busy schedule, new track and forthcoming tour that spans far beyond Michigan. Here’s what the high school senior had to say.

How did this new track come about?  

It’s a relatable song that explores the concept of Cupid sending the wrong match. We dive into the frustrations and disappointments that can arise when love doesn’t go as planned. It has a Lana Del Rey vibe. It has a dreamy, introspective atmosphere. It has a little bit of a darker feel than what I’ve put out before. The song is a collaboration with PJ Ju, a talented songwriter who splits their time between New York and Nashville, Tennessee. 

I know the idea of playing Swift shows was originally presented to you. What were your initial thoughts on that?

Initially, I was hesitant. But I gathered a band and prepared a setlist in just four weeks. After a successful half-hour show for talent buyers, we received immediate bookings and sold out venues. This led to us being picked up by a national booking company. Last year we had a soft launch, learning and refining our approach. Now  we have a solid system in place and will be increasing travel and touring this year. It’s a singalong show that provides an opportunity for those who couldn’t secure tickets to her tour. What’s truly special is that our show brings together three generations of people. We often witness parents and grandparents bringing their kids to experience their very first concert, and everyone has an absolute blast. We’ve even sold out a 21-plus crowd at Bell’s in Kalamazoo. However, we do strategically focus on scheduling most of my performances during the summer months, considering my school schedule.

How long have you been a Swift fan? 

I’ve been a fan since I was just 6 or 7 years old. It all began with her song and music video for “You Belong with Me,” which quickly became a personal favorite. As time has passed, my musical preferences have evolved, and I now find myself loving tracks like “Tolerate It” and “Dress.” As much as I like Taylor Swift, I’ve also been listening to a lot of Noah Kahan, Zach Bryan and Olivia Rodrigo. 

You’ve mixed a few of your songs into past Swift sets, correct?

Yes, it’s become a significant platform for testing out my original music. After performing a Taylor Swift song like “Tim McGraw,” I’d take a moment to connect with the audience during the shows. I’d explain that, like Taylor, I’m a young singer-songwriter and ask if I could share a few of my own songs. Without fail, the crowd would scream in excitement. Having the chance to gauge the response of the audience to my own songs was invaluable. 

You’ve assembled a remarkable band, including some strings and a new guitar player, right? 

We have a concert violinist (Maria Skidmore) who accompanies us on most shows, adding an extra layer of musicality and enchantment to our performances. Her talent and skill elevate the overall experience for our audiences. We recently added the phenomenal guitar player Garret Bielaniec to our band. With a background of performing with legends like Alice Cooper and Eddie Money, Garret brings calmness and expertise to our project. He genuinely enjoys fostering the band’s growth and has elevated our performances. 

When you’re not working on music, what are you up to? 

I’m a teenager who loves hanging out with friends, downhill skiing and spending time at our family’s cottage at Torch Lake. I’ve become a huge fan of J.J. McCarthy and have enjoyed watching football for the past few years. Now I’m following the Lions. I’ve developed a love for the game. 

What else is on the horizon in 2024? 

A significant crossroads looms ahead. I must choose between doubling down on my passion for music and embarking on the college journey. While many believe it’s possible to pursue both, I’m compelled to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to one path. I’m contemplating taking a gap year, allowing me to devote 100% of my time to music. I intend to expand my touring and collaborate on writing projects with more songwriters. We currently have performances lined up in 10 states, but with a full year dedicated to music, the possibilities for growth and exploration are boundless. This crucial stage in my life demands determination to discern whether music is a mere hobby or the path I wish to pursue as a career.

For more information, visit  kaninwren.com.


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