Kirstin Maldonado knows you can’t pronounce her name, but she feels her new solo moniker won’t cause as much confusion.
“My real name is so long and no one can really say it correctly, so I figured I would try to make it short and sweet,” the singer, 25, told PEOPLE.
Maldonado, the lone female member of a cappella group Pentatonix, is currently launching her own solo career, introducing fans to an intimate side of herself — and, of course, to a new name: kirstin™.
“Hopefully we can just stick to one name and people get it,” she said.
The “quirky little” trademark symbol on the end of her lowercased musical handle is the artist’s way of incorporating her full name, Kirstin Taylor Maldonado.
Name simplification aside, Maldonado is busy ensuring that audiences know her by her music as she establishes herself as a solo performer.
Her first album, a six-track EP titled L O V E, will show Maldonado’s personal side as she draws from her own love life.
“It is a really good example of how I have grown as a person and as an artist,” she said. “I think people can relate to the intentions and feelings.”
Already released from the album, which is slated to drop July 14, are pop singles “Break a Little” and “All Night,” where Maldonado sings of “losing sleep” over a certain someone.
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Maldonado says so far her solo career has proved to be demanding as it’s up to her to “take the reins and lead the ship” — but she says she passed controls over to a wedding planner leading up to her November nuptials.
“I couldn’t handle it myself because I was getting anxiety,” she said of the planning. “I can’t wait. I’m really excited … everything is coming into place.”
It was in Paris while Maldonado was on tour with Pentatonix that now-fiancé Jeremy Michael Lewis — whom she met in 2013 on The Sing Off — got down on one knee.
“I think what’s really beautiful about us is that he brings me up so much,” she previously told PEOPLE in an exclusive announcement of her engagement. “The second I met him, I was so inspired by who he was as a person. We both bring wonderful qualities to each other and that’s so important.”
Maldonado isn’t the first Pentatonix member to pursue individual careers. She actually sees herself as a late bloomer compared to the rest of her band mates.
“I’m the last one to leave the nest in terms of solo endeavors, but I’m glad I waited,” she said.
Her experience with the group — which has racked up several Grammys and more than two billion YouTube views — is giving her a head start with her solo career, making her more confident in the industry she’s already spent years mastering.
“Being in Pentatonix the last couple of years has definitely helped me feel more comfortable in this space, knowing what I want and being able to communicate with everyone,” she said.
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And relax, PTX fans — Maldonado’s solo career does not mean an end for Pentatonix. The group (sans Avi Kaplan, who said in May that he was “taking a step back”) is still scheduled to tour later this year.
Alternating between solo and group mentalities may have Maldonado “juggling two lives,” but she says it is motivating, not daunting.
“I feel like I have to be on my game because I have to handle my solo stuff and Pentatonix stuff, so it has really kept me on my toes in a good way,” she said.