I first came across the haunting sounds of Kyla La Grange last month, when I caught her single release show at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen. The East London venue had been transformed into a magical overgrown world filled with jewelled vines and hanging skulls, a hint of the ethereal and enchanting world of Kyla that we were about to experience.
“I just really enjoy creating my own little world onstage,” she explains. “My favourite way to perform is when you sort of lose yourself onstage, creating an atmosphere around me helps with that. Also I think it makes it a bit more special for the audience – they also feel a bit transported hopefully. I love tree and plant imagery. My Dad’s photographs that I use for my record sleeves are all of bodies in trees, and the house I grew up in is full of overgrown plants and strange objects that my parents have hoarded over the years. It feels like a part of me.”
Kyla describes her sound as a “sort of sad choral melodrama” and her debut single Walk Through Walls is a wonderfully euphoric track that, at first, can’t help but remind the listener of early Florence and the Machine but then moves into a rockier sound. Does it bother her that people keep making these comparisons? “Comparisons to talented musicians that you admire are always very flattering,” she says. “I don’t always see the similarities, but still! It’s nice. It doesn’t bother me at all to be compared to acts that have come before me. That’s what everyone does, in all spheres of art. It is interesting to compare what’s gone before with what’s just arrived. It’s just a part of how we talk about music.”
Kyla grew up in Watford before attending Cambridge University to study Philosophy, which may go some way to explaining her deep lyricism. “I definitely never thought I would get the chance to go to Cambridge,” she says. “I went to a normal state school and lived in a boring bars and clubs sort of area. I think Watford shaped me as a musician insofar as I didn’t really feel like I belonged there, so I enjoyed being creative on my own rather than going out much, and Cambridge shaped me because it was where I first plucked up the courage to perform my own songs.”
Having already received significant attention on the blogosphere, is she wary of the over-hyping of new artists? “I suppose I am wary of ‘hyping’ artists too much, because then if people don’t like them they tend to be quite cruel and mean and write about it,” she explains. “People love to reject the general consensus, or what they see as the mainstream. But to be honest, I really feel like if your songs are good enough, and they manage to connect, then the opinion of the blogosphere, whether negative or positive, shouldn’t matter.”