If there was ever a name to have backing you, Nile Rogers is a pretty solid choice.
In the words of said icon, “The kid’s a genius”, and Kyan is ready to prove his mentor right. Dropping the mesmerising ‘Like Summer’ earlier this year, the Cambridge singer is making waves with his hazy, mellow soul music. After the success of ‘Nothing Beyond/Like Summer’, Kyan is ready with his latest single ‘Lonely River’, a track as captivating as the rest. Writing from the hearth, Kyan’s music envelops you in his world, and his new track is as intimate as ever, he explains:
“We’re obsessed with labels, and I’ve never felt comfortable with labels and boxes or ceilings. There’s this expectation and pressure to “choose a path”, but it’s always felt more natural to me to be more like a river… Fluid, meandering and able to follow multiple routes to a given destination. Lyrically, that’s what ‘Lonely River’ is about, an awareness that you can be different and do things differently to other people and be comfortable with that. Art is found and beauty is made in the quirks, the mistakes and the freedom of expression. Lonely River is an anthem embracing that.”
Describe your music in 3 words…
Retrofuturisticsoulfulwidescreenafroclassicalinfinitism, honest, explorative.
Who’s your greatest influence?
Stevie Wonder. Leaving a huge and successful label like Motown to pursue one’s own creative direction is a hard thing to do. The fact he did that and went on to achieve incredible success (and even more incredible music) is totally inspiring. Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innvervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, Songs in The Key Of Life – those five albums literally changed my life. The technological innovation on the records, the musicianship, the vocal and genre exploration, the socio-political commentary, the depth of the soul – those records were so ahead of their time. What he inspired and influenced the most was that drive to be as creative as possible and to do what feels right for you, regardless of what other people are doing.
What does music mean to you?
Music is my North Star. It’s the one thing I know I can always follow to find my centre, my true North. No matter the ups and downs and sideways, music has always kept me afloat and heading in the right direction.
Who’s the last person you called?
My violinist Jed to talk about a live arrangement of Lonely River. He’s an incredible musician, one of those rare people who is classically trained but also has a great ear, feel and is very intuitive.
What did you talk about?
Trusting one’s gut, and being able to respond to how something makes you feel, is at the core of how I create. I’m excited for people to hear what we’ve come up with.
One item of clothing you couldn’t live without?
Trousers. That would be awkward for everybody.
One album you couldn’t live without?
My own, ‘Nothing Beyond’. It’s a body of work that has really changed my life around. I discovered who I was and demonstrated that on this album. I let go of a lot of heavy things I felt by writing about them. It’s allowed me to connect with so many people around the world through platforms like Colors and on the radio – as well as gaining the support of music giants like Nile Rodgers -and has brought people out to shows where I’ve got to hear what impact that music has had on other people’s lives. Even at this early stage in my career, that has been true testament to the power of music.
What’s your favourite way to spend £10?
How about £100?
A new hard drive. Since becoming involved in post-production with my music videos and the editing process, I quickly realised I needed a new hard drive every few months…It’s ridiculous.
What’s next for you?
I’ll keep writing/producing for other artists to keep those creative muscles in shape. I love being able to explore different areas of music and help somebody else tap into their sound or story – it’s fulfilling. In terms of my own music, I’ll be releasing more videos, more music, and playing a lot more shows – that’s where I come alive; and it’s by far my favourite part of all of this.
6 February 2019