10 for 2012 Interview: Kyla La Grange

By on Wednesday, 14th December 2011 at 11:00 am

John wrote about Kyla La Grange‘s single ‘Been Better’ this past summer (review here). Judging from your votes in the 10 for 2012 poll this year, you readers took to Kyla’s sound. We asked the lovely lady some questions about what fuels her songwriting and what gigs have meant the most to her this year…

Congratulations on finishing #8 in our 10 of 2012 poll of bands to watch next year. Unfortunately, we don’t have a trophy or anything to give you, but please know that it was the faithful readers of TGTF that voted to give you your place on this list. Although we risk sounding like the reporters on the red carpet at the BAFTAs, we want to know, how do you feel about this achievement?
It’s really nice, thank you so much. I never really know if people are going to like my music or not, so it feels really nice to know that some people like it enough to vote.

You’ve said that raw, brutal music speaks to you, is that something you embrace in your own music?

Absolutely. I write songs as a way of working through my own angst, so to sugar-coat it or make the emotion less intense wouldn’t sit right with me.

What is the best gig you’ve play so far?
That’s a tricky question. I’ve been lucky enough to play some lovely gigs this year. Bestival was amazing, and so was our single launch at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen – that one felt really special. I don’t think I could pick one best.

Of your writing process you’ve said, “I get sad or angry; then I sit in my room and write about it.” Can you remember any of the things you wrote about when you were an angry 10-year old penning songs?
Ha! I actually have an angry diary from around that age, so some of those things are unfortunately very well documented. At my primary school I was bullied, so I think a lot of things that made me upset around then were to do with feeling like I wasn’t good enough to fit in with everyone else. Annoyingly, I didn’t use any of that justified sadness to write anything good; I just wrote about boys and rubbish things. Maybe it was a bit of escapism, or maybe I wasn’t brave enough then to write about the things that really made me sad.

You’ve had the opportunity to play a lot of sized gigs. Intimate headliners, small stages in large festivals, and support slots…where are you most comfortable?
Actually, I feel a lot more comfortable in a big venue with a big audience than I do at intimate gigs. With a big crowd you don’t really see anyone individually, it’s just like a big dark mass, and I think that’s less threatening than being able to see faces. Also with big stages there is usually big lighting, which means you feel more swept up in the performance, and sometimes you can’t even see the crowd at all so then you can just be more uninhibited and just perform for yourself.

Has your parents’ African background influenced your music or writing?
I don’t know if it has, maybe it has in as much as they have influenced me in any aspect of my life, but we never just listened to music of one genre or nationality at home; it was a complete mixture. When they moved here from South Africa, they had very little and they had to work very hard to have what they have now, so I think they probably taught me to work hard.

Where is the one place you haven’t played yet that you are dying to get to?
Glastonbury. I’ve played on acoustic stages there, but I ‘d like to play it full band, properly. It’s my favourite festival. It’s amazing.

What’s the best thing about making music in today’s environment? And the worst?
Maybe the best thing is how much good music is around – this year I’ve heard so much good music that I’ve loved: Dry the River, Ben Howard, Daughter, the Maccabees, to name some. I don’t know about the worst, I suppose one modern phenomenon I don’t like is that a lot of critics value originality over craft, just as critics do in many spheres of art: I think that’s a mistake.

What do you predict for yourself in 2012?
I’m releasing my first album, which is exciting, it’s taken a long time to get to that point. I’d just like to enjoy it, to not think too much about where I will be but where I am.

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