“Even if (a song) is not an exact story from my life, it’s inspired by something that’s happened in my life, or someone I’ve met or something I’ve felt,” he said.
Caviness said his parents separated his junior year of high school, which resulted in him focusing much more of his time on music. That's when Caviness started to lean into his music production.
“I was like, 'Well okay, I don’t know what to do so let’s do this.’ And that kind of helped me get some of that out into songs,” he said.
Caviness said all of his music is very personal. His latest single, “New,” released in late January, tells the story of love, loss and healing.
“‘New’ is actually a song from my mom’s perspective about starting over," Caviness said. "This winter break she just started dating again and she’s moving on. That was something cool for me to see, and I wanted to write a song for her about that, that she could relate to."
Since his junior year of high school, Caviness has amassed hundreds of thousands of streams, his most popular single being “The Man,” with over 220,000 streams on Spotify.
However, Caviness said he did not expect the positive response he received after releasing “The Man” in 2019.
Caviness said he originally did not want to put out this song. After playing the unfinished track, it spread. When he realized about 60 people had heard it, he decided to finish the song.
“Now when I say I make music and I go show them a song, it’s the most cocky song that I didn’t want to make,” he said with a laugh.
Caviness recently worked with his friend, Josh Neuman, owner of NeuVision Media, to create a music video for “The Man.”
"I think people will like it," Caviness said. "It’s a more innocent approach to the song."
He isn't starring in the music video, but he invited his friends to be a part of it.
“It’s shot on campus, so it’s kind of a UNC-centric video,” Caviness said.
Caviness said he plans to release his music video within the next month or so, and will be releasing a few other songs at the same time to create the deluxe version of his sophomore album, “Wading.”
As an independent artist, Caviness manages his own social media accounts, plans his performances, markets himself as an artist and cultivates an impressive catalog of original music.
“I think he does his artwork — he’s it doing A to Z,” Thomas said. “Everybody has figured out there’s a new way. I can make my own beats, write my own song, record it at my crib, I can shoot my own video, I can post it through social media, I can set up my own tour and live like that.”
While Caviness said UNC is a great launching pad for a music career, the music scene is small, independent and underground.
“You wouldn’t really know about it unless you really tried to reach out to people,” Caviness said.
But Thomas said he is trying to create the infrastructure for a larger music community at UNC.
“I’d love to try and get more people into music at UNC,” Caviness said. “It seems like a lot of people, if they do it, they’re not serious about it, and they don’t know that they can be serious about it. UNC’s a great launch pad for a music career.”
Zaria Joyner is a friend and fellow UNC artist that Caviness knows and works with, along with several others like Bram Raets, “Aspecte,” Drew Ellis, “Drell” and Greg Davis II.
“K.A.L is unlike any artist I have ever worked with," Joyner said. "He has all the talent of the world’s greatest musicians, yet he doesn’t want the fame that comes along with that kind of gift. His art is intrinsically motivated."
Caviness has developed a loyal fan base from across the world, hooked on the stories he tells through his songs.
“I hope to see him win as many Grammys as Billie (Eilish) did,” said Madyson Fair, a Western Carolina University student who discovered Caviness from a video of him DJing. “His music makes me feel like I’m not alone.”
Another fan, Allison Imes, said Caviness’ music reminds her of The Weeknd or Miguel.
“I think he’s doing everything right,” Imes said. “He’s found such a good niche.”
Caviness plans to remain an independent artist for the foreseeable future to maintain the originality of his sound. He is unsure of what the future may hold, but wants to create a long-standing career for himself in the music industry.
“It’s real open-ended," Caviness said. "I’m not trying to plan everything. I’m just kind of doing what I can to make a sound for myself, to make an image for myself."