In September, our Editor and Content Manager Tala spoke to singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kyr Grace about her debut album “Dragonfly“, boundary making through music and advice to young musicians. Kyr Grace also let us take a peek into her current music favourites (which you can access here), and also gave us a whole new album to listen to on repeat. Kyr, it was an honour and a privilege to chat to you, and the whole Story of Song team can’t wait to see what’s in store for you. Without further ado…
Tala: Hi Kyr! Please go ahead and tell Story of Song readers about you and your music.
Kyr: I’m Kyr, I go by Kyr Grace – Grace is my middle name. My little artist name – it keeps it separate from my regular work which is… I’m in law school right now. I’ve kind of always loved to sing. We’ve moved around a lot – I was born in California but we lived in Switzerland, in England, and singing is a common thread throughout it for sure. I think because my mum and dad are so cool, they really emphasized creativity. Like, we weren’t allowed to watch TV in our younger years, so we were really steeped in imagination a lot of the time. We would put on plays, shows – I would sing songs and I was always allowed to express my creativity as a kid. I was always drawn to music, and as I progressed I stuck with piano – and played saxophone and the cello. I did musical theatre in middle school.
Tala: And you spoke about music being the common thread for you while moving?
Kyr: Yeah, but I definitely found it a bit jarring at times, just because I don’t love change. I’d be like “but I’m just getting settled!”. But now, looking back on it I can see it from a more… like it’s cool that I had those opportunities to live in so many places, in comparison to living in just one place – there are pros and cons!
Tala: You don’t realise when you’re that age. Do you have any musical inspirations – be it musicians or groups or songs that have inspired you and your music?
Kyr: For particular people, I would say my favourite artist is Taylor Swift. I was really inspired by “folklore” – I would say after listening to that, that’s when I started writing the songs for this album. It wasn’t and never has been intentional, but I’ve always been really inspired by her because I think she’s a really strong woman, and she’s really breaking glass ceilings [in music]. “folklore”, in particular, the magical, kind of fantasy vibe was so cool. I love that, I love fantasy. My top artists are George Ezra and I like A R I Z O N A, and Noah Kahan. It’s funny, because my songs, the lyrics I think are what makes them strong, but when I listen to music it’s different, I’m really drawn in by the melody. When I go on my “Discover Weekly” on Spotify, if the melody jumps out at me or gives me that sweet spot where you want to listen to it over and over… I think that’s how I’m drawn in. I think Taylor Swift does a good job of that, along with George Ezra. I think I absorb things like a sponge, I’m sensitive. My inspirations come from all over place. You know, some people will tell me “oh you sound like this really obscure band”, and I’m like – that was not intentional!
Tala: It’s interesting you said Taylor Swift, because I did get that from your debut album “Dragonfly”. It might have been the “Princess and the Pea” – it might have been the melody of it, which reminded me of her. There is a hint but it is very much your own thing. However, tell me about “Dragonfly”! I know it was written during the pandemic, and on your website you said it was very much based on vulnerability, things and moments you had experienced throughout your life that led you to write these particular songs. Tell me, what was it like to write this album for you? Especially in such an unprecedented time – what was the process like?
Kyr: You know, in some ways it was so easy, which makes it scary. The reason it makes it scary is because the easiness… it sounds cliché (which is a line in one of my songs) but it was like a floodgate of creativity. There were moments where I was like “I have to get this down right now”. The ideas were pouring out of me, and I kind of felt like if I didn’t take advantage of this mood, I wouldn’t be able to get the same feeling again [as when we were in lockdown]. I’m trying to write some new songs now and I’m grinding my teeth, desperate for that feeling to come back. Each of the songs, for the most part, I would have an idea or lyrics and I would be really caught up with it. I would write each of the song in the span of like… 1 to 3 days. That happened for all 8 songs, and there is a bonus track – so 9 songs in total. Because I’m sensitive, I felt a lot. Because in the pandemic we couldn’t really go out, we were so confined… We stayed in our house in Cape Cod, and it was isolating. But, I also felt protected. There was literally no one else around, so I felt like I had this unlocking? The whole world had quietened down… it was terrible what was going on. But… something within me felt like it was safe to express things that I wouldn’t have been able to… subconsciously put out in the first place. My whole perspective on the pace of life just shifted and I became more vulnerable with my songs in that seclusion time.
Tala: It’s very interesting, because a lot of the artists I’ve spoken to have said a similar thing.
Kyr: It was the commonality of us all going through the same thing. Most of the songs are personal, but I wanted people to listen and think “oh, I can relate to this”. A lot of what I write is pretty universal to people in one way or another.
Tala: Is the order of your songs on the album a conscious decision?
Tala: Can you tell me why you chose to start with “Dragonfly” and end with “Reckless Heart”?
Kyr: I wanted to be intentional with how I ordered them. My producer (who also mixed the track) suggested this order for me. I thought it was perfect, just because… “Dragonfly”, “Princess and the Pea” and “Sweet Freedom”, they bring you up a little bit, with “Endings” being the transition into the more slower pace, mournful kind of vibe. I thought “Reckless Heart” would be perfect at the end because… I don’t know. It stands out to me in some ways. I was writing as if I was Liam Neeson. I just really wanted to write a song from his perspective… so that one being a little different, it was just nice to have it at the end too.
Tala: You can definitely feel and hear that throughout the album. It starts quite upbeat, mellows out and then really relaxes at the end. You know, I really liked “Rose Petals”.
Kyr: “Rose Petals” is my favourite song.
Tala: Really? Well that actually leads onto my next question! Which is your favourite song from the album and why? What’s the story behind it?
Kyr: Actually, for a number of my songs… I start off with a poem. With “Rose Petals” it started that way. A couple weeks later I was just looking through some of the lyrics I had saved on my phone notes and I started working with those. This one… without going into specifics, it’s all about working on having healthy boundaries with people, and that’s something I’ve struggled with. Sometimes, when you don’t have the highest of confidence, you don’t set the best boundaries with people, because you feel like you want to give too much of yourself. You feel like you’re not worth it to have higher boundaries. So, if I’m the rose, and I’m having my petals falling and giving myself away… I just love how the melody came together. The past experiences with this song and how it came together as a song was really accurate in terms of depicting my genuine feelings. So this was a really truthful song, which is why I like it the best. “Lost Cause” is a favourite too -the story behind that is I wrote before Joe Biden was elected and our nation was teetering in the fear of a possible Trump re-election. I was sitting on the beach near our house on Cape Cod, looking at people of privilege and the line “disjointed paradise” came to me, and I wrote the rest of the song on the beach that afternoon. While the song might sound like it’s about a love affair, it’s really about my feeling of disillusionment at the time. I also wrote the Light is Coming, after Biden was nominated and it is my bonus track.
Tala: Thank you for being so vulnerable. I think the metaphor is really beautiful in that one, definitely one that a lot of people should listen to. Did it help you, or empower you in anyway when you wrote it?
Kyr: That’s a really good question. I think, honestly, reflecting on that song and others… in the moment I was just writing it because I was like “it would be cool to make a song”, so I wasn’t thinking about… intentionally… trying to put out a message. It was more for the creativity. But now that you say that… it does make me feel that I’ve put up a boundary just by putting out that song! I can look to that as a reminder.
Tala: It’s an amazing song, and you’re so right in terms of using it to remind yourself of your boundaries. Do you think if the pandemic hadn’t happened, do you think you still would have written these particular songs? Or do you think you would written entirely different songs, do you think?
Kyr: That’s a really good question. I honestly think I would have written the same songs. Before the pandemic, I was just kinda going about my life, one foot in front of the other as a self-reflective person. I’m in my head a lot anyway. It [the pandemic] – as it did with many people – in a broad sense, put a wrench in what my general expectations of life were or were going to be. Like, these things don’t happen [the pandemic]. It got me thinking, about all the times I’ve said “life should be this” or “life should be that”. Because, you know life can do whatever and it doesn’t owe me to be a certain way. The point I’m trying to make is that I was very… thrown off by the pandemic. I’m very lucky, I haven’t had COVID and neither has anyone else in my family. I was in a very comfortable position, with a house and food, compared to some people. I was still thrown off and had left school in my senior year of college. It threw me out of this rut and allowed me to write these songs that had this more honest perspective on myself. I don’t think I would have been in a place that is as open-minded to reflect on all these experiences if the pandemic had not happened. This is a fresh start and things have turned on their head and I’m going to go with it. So, no, I don’t think I would written these songs if it weren’t for the pandemic. Or if I would have even gotten to that place of particular creativity if this all would have happened. I would have written songs for sure, but I don’t know if it would be these songs.
Tala: Any upcoming shows, or anywhere Story of Song readers can catch you?
Kyr: I do a lot of open mics in Boston, but at the minute I’m just focusing on my studies. I’m just glad the album is out now, which is the best way to find me and listen to my work.
Tala: Do you have any advice for young musicians who are trying to pursue music? What advice would you have wanted to have heard as a young musician yourself?
Kyr: For myself, I would say to just keep an open mind about writing songs. Pre-pandemic, I would always get quite hard on myself when I couldn’t write a song, and say things like “I’ll never write a song again!” or “I just can’t write songs”. You will somehow at the right time and place, you will write a song. I would also say that once your songs are out… I mean, I have these thoughts where I second guess all my songs and I think everyone is lying to my face when they tell me they can. But I would say, even if you don’t think your songs are good enough, give yourself some credit for trying. Try and have confidence in them. Own your songs.
Make sure to listen to “Dragonfly”, available to stream on Spotify now.
Written by infostoryofsong