Passenger Profile: Kim Esty

By Kenny Kerner
taxi member success rate esty
More and more, our members are taking the advice of TAXI and getting their own careers started and then looking to TAXI for ways of further exploiting their music—ways the artists hadn't thought of. This month's Passenger Profile feature is a trip down that glorious road of successful hit songs and TV placements. It's very inspirational to say the least. Here is Kim Esty's story.

Judging from your bio, you've had many successes in the music business. When did you first decide to get into music as a career?

KE: I started singing and writing at the age of 16, composing demos and sending them to various Indie labels, getting a lot of rejection letters. I persevered and finally got a record deal at 18 and had a few singles out with a label. They did OK around the Toronto club circuit but I still couldn't buy a Porsche! I didn't give up. I loved music too much and knew then it was a way of life for me. Music is something creative I need to do!

What was your first professional success story?

KE: Frustrated with the Indie label, I left them and had written a bunch of songs—collaborated with a DJ friend of mine (Barry Harris-Thunderpuss 2000 and Kon Kan fame). He remixed a song I wrote called "Make You Mine" and we sent it to every Canadian radio station and it did receive a lot of airplay on the charts. So I thought I would strike while the iron was hot and put out another song which was a cover titled "Summer in the Streets." It was a cover song from the '80s and it did extremely well with several dance mixes. It became the summer/beach anthem. They still play it today on sunny days, so that was my first legit hit. I was also doing a lot of TV shows and dance club appearances, so I really felt that I made a bit of a mark in the Canadian Pop industry at that point.

How old were you when you scored a #1 record with "Squeezetoy" and how did that feel?

KE: I was in my late 20s ... and it felt great! I was struggling for a while, singing at every dive in Toronto, touring with Barry (Kon Kan) to Asia, North America, so to have my own hit was a milestone for me. I did have a bit of success before with "Summer in the Streets," but this success was with a major label (Virgin Records). "Squeezetoy" was playing on every station, debuted at #1 in Billboard magazine—Canadian Singles chart. The only other female artists who debuted at #1 were Alanis Morrisette and Shania Twain at the time. Our video was playing continuously on Much Music and we were nominated and won for Best Dance Video at the Much Music Video Awards. So it really was incredible—it was a bit strange getting recognized at first wherever I went because I have never been in this industry for fame. I love writing/singing/creating music and the fame part was sometimes a little scary, but I did love all the fans and still do.

How did you get to write the theme song for Queer Eye?

KE: One of my collaborators (Rachid Webhi-Widelife) wrote the theme song "All Things Keep Getting Better." We have collaborated on various tracks together and have been friends for a long while. It's funny we are this Toronto clan of writers and throughout the years we have all made our own success stories and we all live a few miles apart. Also, the singer of the Queer Eye track is a friend of ours from Toronto. She sang in the group Love, Inc., with renowned DJ Chris Sheppard and writer for 'N Sync, Brad Daymond. It's funny but we were all friends, and struggling Toronto musicians, and we all have a story now!

What made you shift gears from artist/composer to Kartoon Kids? And could you please explain Kartoon Kids to the readers.

KE: I have always been a composer. I enjoy writing music just as much as singing it. After the success of "Squeezetoy," I had a lot of young fans. It was incredible—really young 6, 7, 8 year-olds as well as teenage fans. So I felt the song "Squeezetoy" was a bit mature for them and in homage to my young fans I wanted to create a CD that has the levels of Pop and the innocence of fun lyrics. So I created the "Kartoon Kids," an Archie type gang whose songs are aimed at children two to eight years old. Some of the characters are Piggy the Duck, Kimmy the Squeezetoy Girl, Poopey Zoo the Dog, Cindy Loo, Fame Blonde, Tommy Magoo, and Marty the Martian. I used a lot of dance beats mixed with acoustic guitar and my cartoonish voice. Children love the CD and now we are working on volume 2. To me, it is very gratifying when small children e-mail our site ( and tell us how much they love Poopey Zoo or Marty the Martian. It's a side project that I love doing and will continue doing. We are currently looking for distribution in North America so it can be available to more children other than just on our site.

With all of this incredible success, why become a TAXI member?

KE: I recently got married and first of all preparing a wedding took all my time for most of the year! I heard about TAXI and thought it was a great, easy way to get your music out there. We thought we would try it the year we were getting married because I couldn't devote as much time to my music career. We were lucky getting a song licensed right away to a large publishing company and then we heard my song got air play on various television shows. I was thrilled! How great was that? Send TAXI/Broadjam a song, they forward it, I get it licensed. I got exposure and some money! I was hooked. TAXI is a great way to stay in touch with the industry. It keeps you motivated as an artist. Especially in this business, you are only as good as your last song. Plus, with the Internet having destroyed radio, getting music into TV/film is the way to go. As an artist, I don't want to tour anymore. I want to start my own family, so TAXI is perfect. I love it!

Are the TAXI critiques valuable to you? If so, how?

KE: Yes they are. Being in this business for while now you become thick skinned and listen to criticism and it's amazing how it helps. People will always hear your songs differently than you do and it's nice to get an honest opinion whether it's good or bad.

Whether she's writing for children or composing the theme to a cable VV hit, one thing is for sure—Kim Esty still relies on TAXI to help open doors and get her music out there. Because that's what we do better than anyone else!

See How TAXI Works

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TAXI Member

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Senior Director of A&R,
Mercury Records

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