Kenzie Ziegler Drops Breakup Ballad '100 degrees' as She Talks Mental Health and Transparency

Ziegler's newest single "100 degrees" is out now with an accompanying music video — and PEOPLE has behind-the-scenes photos

Kenzie Ziegler is making her mark with the release of her highly anticipated debut single with Hollywood Records — called "100 degrees" — on Friday.

Speaking to PEOPLE about the new single and what it means for her career moving forward, the Dance Moms alum also opened up about growing up under the spotlight, why she thinks it's important to remain transparent about her mental health and the biggest lessons she's learned thus far.

"'100 degrees' is about a breakup, and I feel like during the breakup, everything can get ruined for you — especially the season that you're in or the places that you go," the 18-year-old singer tells PEOPLE. "I've definitely gone through a breakup where my seasons are ruined, and I don't even want it to be winter because I don't want to think about him during that time."

Kenzie Ziegler ELLE Women in Hollywood Celebration, Arrivals, Los Angeles, California, USA - 17 Oct 2022
Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

And though Ziegler is in a "very happy" relationship with Tacoda Dubbs — she says she was still able to draw inspiration from previous breakups. The main idea, however, stemmed from a friend who went through a breakup on Christmas Eve — and don't worry, she got her friend's stamp of approval to write about the experience, too.

For the music video, the singer-songwriter is seen singing inside boxes that represent the different seasons. Her goal was to go the "artistic route" and shift the focus from the male — which Ziegler says is "very overdone."

"It wasn't so based on the boy, because I feel like I wanted it to be a really empowering song [for women]. I wrote it with all females, I produced it with a female, and I love that female energy," she says.

"100 degrees" is only the beginning in terms of new music from the songstress. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ziegler got to work on a collection of songs — which she's planning to release as an album.

"During quarantine, I feel like I went through a lot. I mean, I got a boyfriend during quarantine. I lost a lot of friends during quarantine, and mental health stuff was going on... for everyone I'm sure," she says. "And so I feel like I brought a lot of inspiration through that, and it actually helped me through. I am definitely so grateful for music because I feel like it's therapy for me."

Kenzie Ziegler Releases New Single '100 degrees'
Brandon Bowen

Through her presence on social media and her music, Ziegler has been open about prioritizing her mental health with her fans.

"It's really important because I think a lot of people just expect people in the industry to not have feelings. And I'm very open with my fans and I speak my mind a lot because I want everyone to know me, and know that I'm also a normal person and go through normal things like teenagers go through."

She continued, "It's really important to shed more light on mental health awareness because we're all going through something, no matter how big or small it is — we're all going through something."

Kenzie Ziegler Releases New Single '100 degrees'
Ian Lipton

As a child star, Ziegler often felt hesitant to share those feelings with the world — and was left wondering if she would receive backlash.

"I definitely was nervous at first to talk about it because I thought I would get a lot of hate because I do have a great life and I'm so appreciative of it. But I actually got really great feedback," the "Breathe" singer says. "I struggle with major anxiety, and a lot of people ask me for tips or just say, 'Wow, I'm so glad that I don't feel alone.' It makes me feel really good because I definitely just want to be myself on social media and show everyone who I really am."

Kenzie Ziegler Releases New Single '100 degrees'
Ian Lipton

So far, the main thing she's learned is that it's OK to take a step back when you need it.

"We all get caught up on social media," she says. "I mean, I definitely still do, but I've learned to take a step back and take time for myself. I feel like I am like most teenagers, and most people just compare themselves to other people on social media when it's just a highlight reel; it's not reality."

She concludes, "That's why I try not to go on it as much — I think it's better for me."

"100 degrees" is out now.

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