Friday, 3 August 2012

#FindOutFriday with...KYRA!


Now this one, was fun.

There's a few reasons to love the Lady in the Hotseat for #FindOutFriday's return. For someone so utterly down to Earth, approachable and welcoming, she knows how to make the right kind of impression without even trying and fully embodies the spirit behind her latest single to T. But more about that in a second...

I will never forget the first time I met her, or more accurately her voice. As I sat working away on my little laptop in an Artist's green room last October, this voice quietly ran through the first strains of a beautiful song called 'The Same', while her guitarist and percussion got themselves set up.

Now that may not seem like anything out of the ordinary considering you know I'm always at events - there are Artists around me all the time. But with this lady it was one of my favourite times in this job; because not only is she one of those rarities that I look at and KNOW, is on a steady course to going stratospheric, but she is also a true talent with music in her blood. Something that is much rarer than most people think.

Even though she was clearly holding back as she sat curled up on the sofa, in her casuals with no make up or audience around her to impress; not only were you taken with a voice that had that 'Sandy from Grease in the opening scene' quality about it (you know the one; where she wakes up, starts singing and brings out all the little cartoon birds, deer and woodland creatures?) But the woman herself was literally this little ball of sunshine and good energy that you could read clear across the room - just by the way she interacted with her band. She has the kind of aura that naturally draws people to her because aside from her talent, Kyra has that kind of personality that exudes 'Good Love' from every pore and that's why she's the perfect person to usher in our new season!

Have a read of the shenanigans that occurred when we finally sat down for our long overdue chat...

Well Hello Ms. Kyra, Welcome to #FindOutFriday! You're kicking off the new season after our little break, so we'll start off easy to get back into the swing of things...

1. Your website tells us your name and for me personally, the look of it totally embodies everything that I get from you, Personality-wise! It's playful, it's hyperactive and borderline mad! But for those who don't know, introduce us to the person if you will - who IS Kyra?

(Laughs) Well thanks for having me! Definitely a lot of thought has gone behind the website and the visuals we put out, tying it into me. But for the introduction...

My name is Kyra; I am 24, I'm a Singer-Songwriter from West London and I love GOOD Music - That is my aim, to bring that to the people!

2. Now before we get into that lil singing thing that you do; I wanna talk about your Style. You're one of those people who's attitude and personality comes through in your dress sense - you're beyond eclectic! Is that intentional in your selections?

Wow, really? I think I look like a child half the time, so thanks! D'you know what, I'm a really, Really, REALLY LAZY Girl. No seriously! As far as 'Girls' go; I'm not even joking - I'm really bad! I have a show and I'm just like..."Oh my days...I haven't got anything to wear?!" But I do have help, I have a stylist I work with called Nadine Nadia and we've been working together for a long time. Because I'm always in the Studio or busy, she just grabs me some pieces and I'll say "Yeah, I like that, I like that..."! To be honest with you; image obviously is important, you're expressing yourself through what you wear...But it's kind of an evolving thing with me, one day I might wake up, feel like wearing trainers and kind of baggy bottoms, then the next day if I feel like wearing a shirt, I'll wear's just spontaneous, really! It's always good to be comfortable and feel confident ;o)

I remember the first time I saw you; I didn't actually realise where the voice was coming from! I thought there was no way that voice could have come from the little thing in the cute shorts and tee, all comfy and carefree?! Then when it came time for your set, I remember you emerged all 'Va Va Voom' and I just kept wondering...

"where did this HotPot come from?!"

(Laughs) Wow, yeah! On that day, I came with a suitcase of about 4 different outfits and I'm a very vybesy person, very last-minute and so I thought "errrm, ok..yeah, I'm gonna wear this!" And changed in the toilet; then did my make up in there as well! And juujed the hair...Big hair is always essential to a good show!

3. Now you're only 24, but you already have 8 years of International experience under your belt. Would it be right to say that 'Tick Tock' - an AMAZING track from a 16-year-old by the way - was the catalyst that took a West London school girl from London to LA, to New York, to Atlanta?

Yes and No. Because I feel like a completely new Artist! For me, 'Tick Tock' was almost like a whole different Chapter in my life. I definitely cannot disregard that as an experience and as growth, but I was very much in the development stage. We never really intended for it to be released or put out there; it was literally just something that came out and people just started loving it! I was in college at the time and to be honest with you; the whole reason that there's been such a big gap between then and now is because I literally wasn't ready as an Artist. I mean obviously we were recording, we went to America and stuff, but it wasn't necessarily the right time...As an Artist, you develop and timing is very important. So for me now, the Artist that I am today...I feel like I'm brand new, but definitely I can't disregard that time period and the experiences that I had in America. They're definitely a part of me and contributed to the growth into who I am today.

Listen to 'Tick Tock' on MySpace

4. It was really a surprise for me to read that you at one time, considered giving up music, when you're someone who clearly loves what you do; you always seem to be enjoying yourself! What did it take to stop you making a decision that would have left the music scene wanting and what part did your Faith play?

At the time, when I decided to call it a day with music, I just wasn't happy. The Industry is quite hard and there's definitely always a lot of expectations. You wake up everyday, almost living in doubt, asking yourself, "Will I make it?" It's a lot of pressure for a young person. I think at that stage, I sort of had hopes and expectations of where I was going to be and it didn't happen. So for a time I started to think "It's not right for me"...I had lost my relationship with God and certain people around me and I just sort of felt like I had changed because of it. I was just in a sort of a lost place. I think I fell out of love with music, so I did decide to quit...

But in that year, I was working with a Producer called Notes and I had to get a job again, a 9-5. It was hard; it was almost like a rebirth...after work, I would just go to Notes' studio and literally just write. I would listen to music, be creative and I just gradually started to fall back in love with it. I realised that it wasn't necessarily that I was saying that I would never do music again, it was just for that time period. I think it's very important to be happy; to feel happy. I don't regret that decision at all. If anything, it's made me even better as an Artist now...

So is that where 'I Hate My Job' came from, then?!

Definitely! I was in this dead end job..Literally! It was the worst job of my life! Now I can look back and laugh, but at the time I used to wake up at 6AM and cry! I'd argue with myself in my mind over whether I should go to work or should I just flip it and not go in! So yeah, 'I Hate My Job' is a real life experience

5. Can you please explain how on Earth the 2007 BBC Electric Proms and subsequent Alexander O'Neil track came about? Describe that experience for a then teenager?

That was really cool actually! Sometimes it's really funny when people ask me these questions, I'm like, "Oh yeah! I did do that!" You kind of forget what experiences you've had and it's always good to reflect! At the time, I'd had a lot of support from (BBC Radio) 1Xtra; they were playing 'Tick Tock' a lot and getting me involved in a lot of things. They invited me to be a part of the Electric Proms and we got to choose an 80's legend that we would love to work with. It's no secret that I love Soul (music), 80's,  Rare Groove, so I asked to work with Alexander O'Neal and it was such a cool experience! We got to record a session in Maida Vale and I met a lot of really amazing people. Working with a professional like Alexander; he gave me a lot of good advice from the Industry and his musical career. We didn't put the song out or anything like that, but it was just one of those Once In A Lifetime experiences that I'll always have.

6. One of the most immediately obvious things about your voice, aside from it being gorgeous, is that it's so amazingly powerful, but you have a control over it that makes what you do seem easy. For those with a skill that they're not quite sure how to harness just yet - have you had any formal vocal training?

Well firstly, Thank You very much for the compliment, that's really nice to hear! But d'you know what, the only thing I've really done training-wise, was in the last year, where I had a couple of vocal lessons here and there. Just because before I went on tour with Wretch (32), I was quite aware that I would be using my voice everyday and that would be a new experience for me. I knew that I would be in a lot of environments where I would be talking a lot and if you're going to be singing everyday, it's just important that you look after your voice. So I had a couple of consultations here and there but, essentially, it's pretty much just raw! I've never had any training, my Parents never pushed me to do any Singing lessons or anything. The main thing I've always done is literally, just Sung!

It sounds so crazy but when I was younger, I just used to put on Destiny's Child albums and I remember Beyonce doing a riff and I would sit there and sing until I got it! Just challenging yourself by listening to other Artists and hearing what they do with their voice, I think it helps you to learn; to know your voice. So that's literally what I used to do! I would listen to anyone! Stevie Wonder, Randy Crawford, Faith Evans - I LOVE Faith Evans as a Vocalist! I used to practice her singing, she's one of my favourite singers of all time! To my mind, she's an underrated Vocalist in life! 

Also, just performing live. After every gig, I'll watch videos of myself and just analyse, see how I can make it better. Just throwing myself in the deep end and getting out there! That's how I learned - On The Job!

7. I've seen and heard some amazing covers / A64's from you now; from Dot Rotten's 'Overload' to Labrinth's 'Express Yourself'...How do you go about picking the tracks in the first instance, then lacing them with what I like to call 'The Kyra Touch'?

(Laughs) That's a really good question, because I am actually awful at picking covers! Honestly, I find it really hard when I get asked to do them! That Dot Rotten 'Overload'...And Labrinth's 'Express Yourself'...they were decided on the day of filming! It's not really good that I put myself under such pressure, but I think that's part of what I enjoy; I love the last-minute breakdown that comes from not knowing what I'm performing! I find it quite hard to choose and so I'll ask my Manager for suggestions. It's hard because what you pick is going to be online forever so I feel a little bit wary sometimes; but essentially it's just songs that I love, that I relate to lyrically, or through the vibe of the song or the melody. Apart from that, I don't really like just singing cover after cover, after cover.

8. I've met you a few times now and I have to say that you are naturally one of the sunniest people I know! I think you might be able to advise a few of your peers with your example. For those who need the help, how do you stay grounded?

(Laughs) Aw, well Thank You again! I think you must have just caught me on really good days, because I'm far from perfect, believe me! To be honest with you, most of my friends? They're not in the Industry at all. They're out of this 'World'; they have regular, 9-5 jobs and boyfriends and lives. So when I'm with my real people, we're not necessarily talking about music! We're talking about everything else that normal 20-something year old girls talk about. I think that my Parents as well; they are supportive, but they're not pushy and they kind of let me do this musical journey on my own. I live at home with them and they gave me a very regular, down-to-Earth, humble upbringing. They're normal, working class people. If I'm wearing something that my Mum thinks is too short, she'll tell me (mimics) "Kyra, that skirt is TOO short!" and I'll moan back "Mum, I'm 24! I can wear what I want now!"

Everyone and everything around me is very down-to-Earth. If I ever started coming like some Diva, I think everyone around me would literally just cuss me and that would bring me back down in a heartbeat, so it would be quite hard to change that much! But I think we all have our personal issues that we try to work on. For me, I'm nowhere near perfect. There's definitely certain things  about my personality that I need to work on , but we're all trying to self-improve, I guess!

9. 'Good Love' is fast becoming that go-to, happy song for a lot of people; explain how it came about?

Yaaay! I was on a writing trip to Birmingham with some very talented people, collectively known as The Rookies but made up of Knox Brown, who's a really talented Producer; Jacob Banks who is a talented Writer, but also an amazing Soul Singer - you'll be hearing his EP soon...Jade Alexander, who is another excellent Writer and Abbas aka Bozzy Boy, a brilliant Writer and Guitarist. So I was in Birmingham, it was the first time I ever worked with them and we were on a train, it was the first time I'd ever gone up there as well. it was Sunny, everyone was just vibesing and 'Good Love' just came out! Knox started playing some keys and next thing, (sings) "Good, good, good, good" was there! It literally came organically and it came from being happy, so maybe that's why the song is!

10. And what my Lady, can we expect from you in the future?

Well...I am currently putting the finishing touches to my EP which - and this is the first time I've said this publicly - is going to be called: 'My Name is KYRA'. 

It's going to be all original material, written by myself and others and is basically an introduction to me! You'll get to know me through the tracks. We're gonna put out another song with another video in the we'll just keep putting good music out there, hopefully!

BONUS: Something Alexander O'Neal said in his interview with yourself and Twin B reminded me of one of my favourite quotes of all time. Speaking of Janet Jackson's 'All For You' album, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis asked her:

"From 'Control' to 'Velvet Rope' every album has had a message. What do you want to say with this one?" She said something along the lines of: "I don't know...Right now, I don't really have anything to say."

To which they replied: "Then you shouldn't be making an album"...

As you prepare for the d├ębut release I know you've waited a long time for - Kyra, what do you want to say through your album?

Hmmm...Very good question. Well, I'm treating my EP as if it is an album. To be honest with you, a lot of things that I want to say are about making a statement about being an Individual.

I've tried to write songs that basically say, "You can be who You want to be". I often try to emanate that I don't like to conform to the pressures that I feel certain women are put under. So certain lyrics in my tracks might just be about having my hair natural and curly; other songs kind of touch on my weight or image. I just feel like there's so much pressure for young women to look and act a certain way...That's not to say those songs will be look "Woooh! FEMALE EMPOWERMENT!!!!"

But I do definitely have a running theme through the songs; just about being an Individual and not feeling the pressure to conform to what's seen as 'Sexy' or be told how you should look. What else...yeah, there's some songs about Love. Again, even with those, I try to approach Love from a different angle. There's some songs about being Mixed Race...there's a lot of songs about Identity on there...I mean everyone likes to look good, feel good and feel sexy...With the 'Good Love' video, I made a conscious effort to make sure that it's not overly sexy. I'm never going to be going down that route.

We have enough women in the Industry that like to wear knickers and grab their crotch. That's cool and I'm not even slating them because that's their prerogative and if that's what they want to represent, then that's all good. But with me, it's not really what I'm about. I can't slate anyone else, but I just don't feel it's necessary. I think it goes back to my upbringing and values. I think if I tried to do that a lot of my family and friends would just be like, "Kyra, what are you doing?!" If anything, I think they'd be disappointed if I went down that route, really?

I just want to let the music speak for itself and let the image and everything else come second...

A HUGE Thank You to Kyra for gracing the #ESPspotlight; I truly could have talked to this wonderful young lady about so much more, 10 Questions weren't enough so I think we'll need to revisit again in the near future! Massive thanks to Zeon and Ashlee at XYZee Management also for making this happen!

Follow Kyra the (self-confessed) Technophobe and her hugely entertaining antics across her Social Media Catalogue:

Got an opinion on this week's feature? Let Kyra and myself know how you feel below in the comment box and remember - Sharing Is Caring!

See you soon!
ES ;o)