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By Calum Bradbury-Sparvell
Michael Teckman chats to hotly tipped gothic-folk act Kyla la Grange about her dark brooding imagery and posing in the Sunday supplements.
In a bid to separate myself from other interviewers of Kyla la Grange, I shall not be commenting on her appearance. This will not be a testosterone soaked feature full of lustful pining and Lana del Ray comparisons. I have instead, included a photograph of Kyla to replace the thousand words or so usually spent describing her. You’re welcome.
I had arranged to meet Kyla after her soundcheck at The Jericho Tavern. Whilst I waited for her to finish an interview with a professional looking journo, I had a chat with Mike, her drummer. “We’re so excited for this tour,’ he said ‘when we toured with The Guillemots we had to play a stripped down set, expect this one to be much louder!” Finally, her earlier appointment’s photographer finished buzzing around her and I was beckoned over. She pulled up two chairs in an alcove by the toilets and gestured for me to sit down.
“Oh good, you’re recording me!” She grinned, noticing my voice recorder. “I get so fed up of people trying to write down interviews – they always forget what you say and make you look an idiot in print!” I smiled, and in my best effort at a commanding interviewer voice, launched into my questions.
“I started writing music when I was fifteen; you’re so full of angst when you’re that age you can write forever! It’s like an outlet for all your rage. I can even remember how a couple of those songs went – they were terrible, but annoyingly catchy!” she giggled. Listening to Kyla’s music, it’s sometimes hard to believe that she fully escaped those angsty teenage years. Her songs are full of dark imagery – gothic yet folky – they take the huge sunny harmonies and acoustic guitars of Mumford and Sons and go to a much darker, more interesting place. When talking to Kyla, however, it becomes very hard to believe she could write such lines as ‘I want to get so drunk on you and kill your friends/ you’ll need me and we can be obsessed’. She gave a coy smile when I pointed this out: “I only really write songs when I’m sad, or stressed-out, or happy, or angry. I don’t really see something and think ‘oh I’d like to write a song about that!’ It’s only ever at 2 am when I’m really, really sad or stressed out about something and then I just write, and whatever comes out is the song.”
Managing to tie together the current trends of both nu folk and sassy songstresses, Kyla has arrived very much at the right time.
She’s sold out every venue of her tour so far thanks to a huge online buzz and some shrewd promotion, modelling in a couple of Sunday supplements. She would have things differently though, “The majority of music that I listen to, I couldn’t really claim as an inspiration – I don’t write songs that are anywhere near as cool as that! I’ve always had a slightly more pop sensibility, that’s just the way I write. As much as I’d like to be Elliot Smith, it’s not going to happen’
When I ask her about modelling, she shrugs “I find those things really strange to be honest. We get approached to do photoshoots now and again, and they’re good to do in that you get your music out there, but if I could do just music, I would. I’ve always been like uncomfortable around fashion circles. I don’t really know what’s in season, I just wear the clothes I like…”
As support band We Were Evergreen finished their soundcheck, I asked her what she was excited about in her upcoming tour, “Genuinely this is the one [Oxford] I’m looking forwards to the most. Last time we played in Oxford we had the best night, it was amazing. The crowd were just really up for it, I mean they were dancing in songs that you don’t need to dance to – I’ve been looking forward to this one for ages!” Perhaps some obvious flattery, but I’m happy to believe it.
As the interview comes to a close she joins her band-mates to go to Posh Fish for dinner and we part ways. The show itself, despite suffering from some minor issues with the sound balance, was incredibly immersive.
When she puts down her guitar, Kyla throws herself around the stage like an evil Kate Bush in a wind tunnel (in a good way). Her pain filled vocals cut through the vivid backdrop laid by her band and their harmonies come close to the texture of a Gregorian chant making the whole show an almost spiritual experience (albeit on the darker side of spirituality).
It would be a travesty to finish this article without giving a mention to the fantastic support band, We Were Evergreen, whose preppy, cheerful pastel-pop was very much the yang to Kyla’s yin – definitely one to watch out for.
Kyla la Grange’s debut album Ashes is set to be released on July 30th.