Kyla La Grange: A New Recording Artist at Sony ‘Walk Through Walls’, Single and Debut Album
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Kyla La Grange is a part South-African and part Zimbabwean singer/songwriter, who was born in Watford, Hertfordshire; Northwest of Central London. She studied at ---Rickmansworth Secondary School in Croxley Green, Rickmansworth. She achieved a 2.1 in philosophy, studying at Pembroke College, Cambridge from 2004-07. In June 2012, Kyla headlined the Guardian New Band of the Day gig.
Walk Through Walls is the Debut Single of Kyla La Grange, released by Sony Music Entertainment UK. Walk Through Walls features as the background music of Edge Hill University’s latest promotional video.
Her Debut Album ‘Ashes’ was produced by Brett Shaw at 123 Studios in East London, with two tracks produced by Marky Bates and is released on 30th July 2012.
Kyla La Grange has a startling voice and the ability to write songs that convey, in their own torrid, tumultuous way; the unpredictability of the human heart. They are songs that capture what it is like to be young and in (and out) of love. They are songs delivered through music that is rock, only without the bludgeoning crassness of that genre, and pop in the sense that it is destined, but not designed for mainstream consumption.
Kyla only released her first single in 2011, but has already received a devoted following, who hang on her every word, and have been drawn into her world; a highly imagistic one that matches the dark mystery of her music. It is music at once thoroughly modern and deeply classic.
Her forthcoming debut album, ‘Ashes’, will include her three singles so far ‘Been Better’, ‘Heavy Stone’, ‘Lambs’ and ‘Vampire Smile’, (all released through Chess Club Records). On the album, Kyla sings about serious matters, of lives lived and secrets hidden, but the way she presents them is utterly conductive to popular success, using keen melody to make it all seem so easy on the ear. She makes music the way she wants to, and sings it in a way that is uniquely her, in a voice (classically trained) that veers between huskily low and high, but always conveys emotion.
Kyla’s Zimbabwean father and South African mother moved to the UK just before she was born, not wanting their first child to be brought up under apartheid. Their first home was a council flat in South Oxhey, Herts, where they shared a mattress on the floor, before moving to Watford when Kyla was one years of age.
Reclusive at primary school, she recalls that she wasn’t a very happy child, which led her to write songs and draw pictures, stuff she did on her own. She was drawn to the darker side of life. She says… ‘I’ve always written songs about miserable things’ she laughs… ‘I have so many booklets of songs from when I was 12 or 13, and they’re so depressing!’
She says she had great parents who were arty, bohemian types of people, who would fill the house with all manner of magical paraphernalia. Her dad (responsible for the photos on all four of her single release sleeves) taught photography at the school she attended. Rickmansworth School is also the school that was attended by two other rising Watford groups, The Staves, and Daughter.
She says (and I quote) ‘We had trees and plants growing over the walls, nude figurines, monster’s heads…they loved collecting things. I was mortified. But as I got older, I thought, this is amazing!’
Onstage, Kyla uses some of these artefacts from her childhood to create a sort of mobile enchanted gothic forest, which provides a backdrop to songs that range from folkily intimate to gloriously loud and intense. She says… ‘Some of my songs are sad and introverted…but others need big driving drums and shouting, because sometimes when I write, my nerves are shredded, and I feel as though my head’s going to explode.
She says every song, (self-deprecating to a fault) ‘Starts with me and acoustic guitar, the folksy shell of what becomes a loud, bombastic song.’ She says her love of bombast comes from Bonnie Tyler’s famous 1980’s hit single. She says (and I quote) ‘I loved Total Eclipse of the Heart- I brought it when I was 11’… ‘Some songs on the album are just guitar and voice. But if I’m writing and my head feels like it’s going to explode, I need to shout about how I’m feeling.’
What is likely to shred her nerves?
‘Lots of things’ she says. ‘I’m a worrier…Death? That’s the biggest one! Every night I get this vision of eternal blackness in my head, about how one day everyone alive on the planet will be gone. Then I might drop off to sleep, only to suddenly wake up shaking.’ Not that she is kowtowing to a trend for the gothic and strange. This just happens to be what Kyla La Grange is like.
‘Ever since I was a teenager, I just felt drawn to writing songs on my bedroom and pretty much every song on the album has started its life that way’, she says.
After studying Philosophy at Cambridge University, where she performed her songs locally, she returned to London and while doing various jobs, including bar work and ‘charity mugging’ (so she says) she attended open-mics nights and posted her music online, messaging other musicians, promoters and anyone who might be able to offer an entree into the music business. Eventually she was led to the people that became her managers. Her team also look after everyone from Radiohead and Nick Cave to Kate Nash, Eliza Doolittle and The Staves.
Kyla, who signed to Sony in early 2012 via her own ioki records, also found her producer, Brett Shaw; with whom she has been working in a studio in East London on her debut album with two tracks produced by Marky Bates. The album will feature a radically re-worked version of recent single ‘Heavy Stone’ that is more representative of the songs as they are performed by her band. She says (and I quote) ‘After playing them live for a while, we know how to do them better now’ she smiles, explaining that each band member is involved in the creative process, even if she is the songwriter in charge of music and lyrics.
The album delves into Kyla’s psyche as she entered, endured then exited from four particular affairs. She says… ‘It’s not a chronological story or anything’ she says of the album ‘It undulates! She admits to preferring her own company, an introvert who is happier bumbling around at home, than being at a party’. She would rather, she says, sit on her own in a darkened room, writing songs.
But ironically, she also has an uncanny knack of connecting with large numbers of people via those songs, hardly surprising considering their extraordinary power and ability to insinuate. They’re earworms that get inside your head. It just so happens that they’re about the dark side of the human condition, or in the case of ‘Vampire Smile, ‘an all-consuming crush’ that she had on ‘an entirely inappropriate person’.
About fans that approach her at gigs, she says ‘I generally just have people that want to chat, and they’re usually very nice.’ Although she’s having to grow accustomed to more extreme responses as well. She says (and I quote) ‘I had someone flash at me,’ she says with a wary smile, ‘a woman, obviously, started rubbing her breasts on the monitors, and had to be escorted out by security.’
And that’s before they hear the debut album, a series of surging angst-pop anthems that will surely elicit stronger reactions still.
Darkness never sounded so sweet.
Kyla La Grange releases her Debut Album, ‘Ashes’ on the 30th July 2012, on ioki records/Sony.
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