The Native Sibling Has Faith

Healing through songs.

By Nora Rothman

Kaylee Elizabeth Williams (she/her) is a singer/songwriter based out of Seattle, WA. She co-formed The Native Sibling along with her brother Ryan.

Describe The Native Sibling in 3 words:

Harmony, hope, healing.

Can you tell us a little bit about your playlist?

This playlist is a compilation of ladies who have influenced me over the last 10-15 years. Two of the things that I’m a complete sucker for in a song are a strong female voice and a great vocal melody. A lot of these songs pulled me in for these two reasons. The voice had a tonal quality that I found beautiful and melody was enchanting. These songs are ones that I personally have revisited time and time again. The the old friends that I want everyone to know.

Photograph by Ben Blood

Photograph by Ben Blood

What is it like to be in a band with your brother?

Being in a band with my brother is one of the most unexpected and beautiful things in my life. While music has always had a large roll in both of our lives, I never would have thought that we would join one another in the pursuit and expression. We didn’t start playing music together until 2012—and after years apart, this band was a large instigator of us having a close friendship as adults. I think that making music with Ryan will always be a unique experience because of the many layers of our relationship. We’ve found that our shared childhood memories give us a unique basis to relate to one another in our writing. It’s an ultimately safe place. We often joke that touring is like a strange adult version of a family road trip. I’m grateful that my brother is someone who is extremely talented—and that we bring something unique out of one another.

What’s been the most challenging part of your newest release?

I think that patience will always be one of the greatest challenges when it comes to releasing music. The time that passes from writing to recording to release is always longer than I anticipate.

We bring something unique out of one another.

Why did you start writing songs, and why are you still writing them?

To put it shortly, I started to write songs to process the grief of my mother passing away during my senior year of high school. I had played music for a long time, but writing came about right after she passed. This was years ago. I used music as a tool to process that grief, and also as escapism from the intensity of the situation at hand.

Listening, writing, and playing music are in essence therapeutic and healing. In having vulnerability as an artist, you create connection and resonance with others who have experienced similar things. There is music that has gotten me through dark times, and my hope is that the music I create can lend itself to someone else in that same regard. I think that writing has taken many different faces since when I started, and also is moulded into something different as Ryan and I co-write for the band. His influence greatly changes the outcome of a song to be something different and unique to our process. It’s been very helpful having an ear that I trust hearing the songs in an infantile stage and to help finish and compose thoughts along with him.

The reason that I continue to write has a similar thread to why I started. I want to share what I’m learning and thinking about with others in order for us all to not feel alone, to heal and to connect with one another. I thank God for the gift and beauty that comes about through writing and sharing music. In many ways, I do feel like a steward of the song once it is complete. The song itself stands and takes on its own meaning to others. I was just the means of it making its way out into the world.

Photograph by Ben Blood

Photograph by Ben Blood

When you need a break from music, what do you do?

Cooking, gardening, walking, and hiking are all good balances to music. Something that engages me physically and mentally. Good company is always welcome to any of these activities as well.

What’s the strangest gig you’ve ever played?

There are a lot. The first that comes to mind is on our first West Coast tour as a band. We were driving in my Honda Accord and camping in November in the NW and hadn’t played more than a few shows together at this point. We played in Eugene, OR at a cafe and had three people (one being the barista) to play for. After playing we talked to the two people in the room and started to piece together that they were living in their van and taking drugs back and forth from Mexico. We decided to leave and found a really great taco place for dinner. The end.

I started to write songs to process the grief.

Are you a spiritual person?

My faith infiltrates into every part of who I am and how I shape my worldview. How could it not. I believe that Jesus was the son of God. I believe that through His death and resurrection that I am saved by grace. That’s what I believe, and I have put my faith in Jesus Christ and have a personal relationship with God. I think that music is one of the best ways to express faith and spirituality of all different beliefs. Learning and reading about all different types of faith and spirituality is one of the most fascinating things to me and also so important when it comes to understanding others who believe similarly and differently from yourself. For those who believe in God, I think it’s a lifetime journey of trying to understand the beauty and mystery of the spirit of our creator.  

Who’s one artist on your playlist we need to start following immediately, and why?

We live in Seattle, so I hope that I’m preaching to the choir. I have to say Brandi Carlile. Her voice is one of my favorites and the writing that her and her band do is melodic and stunning. Hearing her music in high school was one of the largest influences and inspirations for me wanting to play music myself. Go listen to all of her albums. Starting from the beginning is worth it.

The Native Sibling’s Latest Release