LORRAINE: Hi Kiria. The last time I saw you, you were hobbling around on crutches but still managed to perform at The Pure Rawk Awards 2011, what had happened to you? Are you particularly accident prone as I heard you had also more recently “temporarily blinded yourself”?
KIRIA: (Laughs) Oh God that’s not the half of it. I’ve had quite a few since then. For that one actually I was taking some photographs of a transvestite, the cross dressing guitarist in my band, Sharon Slutt. I was taking some sexy photographs to sell for recording time and whilst getting up a ladder and trying to get all angles and I actually fell off it. The bottom side of my foot actually landed on the bottom rung of the ladder. I couldn’t walk for some time. I couldn’t wear high heels, which was a bit of a catastrophe for a pink ponce…. J Re the “temporary blinding” incident I best move swiftly on, it was even more indecent ….
LORRAINE: You did wear heels that night if I remember?
KIRIA: I did, yeah, the show had to go on! I’m not sure I could get into character without them! But I had to take that leg completely off on the crutches. It wasn’t the easiest stage performance I’ve ever taken on!
LORRAINE: You were nominated for Front Person of the Year, how important do you think events like that are, to recognise people’s talent?
KIRIA: I’d not been asked to take part in something like that before, especially being quite new to the scene, so it was really fantastic to be asked. Nix of Pure Rawk who planned the event put a lot of effort into it. I know how hard it is just from doing my own shows, the promotion side of pulling an event together can be a real drag. So to put that many bands on in a small event and pack it out was an amazing feat and really good for everyone involved. People like yourself and Pure Rawk play an incredibly important part in helping some of the real talented and often overlooked musicians out there get a break and feel recognised for their work. Respect to you both!
LORRAINE: I know you love rock ‘n’ roll and punk rock, were there any particular female artists who inspired you to get up and to perform?
KIRIA: Definitely Poly Styrene. She was one of my favourites. I just think she’s fantastic. Her lyrics are amazing. She had a really good style all of her own and she wasn’t afraid to speak out about things, not just to do with music, but life, politics. And the latter’s a dangerous game to get in to. People just jump on you straight away if you speak your mind about current affairs. They’re generally a bit afraid of some-one with a big gob, especially a strong willed female one, and hers was massive, and she did really well with it, which was great! R.I.P. Poly….your legend lives on!
LORRAINE: How do you feel personally about mixing music and politics?
KIRIA: I learned the other day that it’s a really bad idea (Laughs). I wrote something on my Facebook page that sparked a heated war of wards and it really upset me. It upset me even more that I felt the need to delete it because of some of the hate flying around that I couldn’t control. It got a bit nasty. With the current wars around the world and indeed the suffering and rioting going on in England, passions are running high, it’s a crazy old time for sure, and I think that for me it’s safer to stick my thoughts and feelings in my songs than it is to bother voicing my opinions in an open playground, as it were. I’m in a serene phase right now, feathering my new project nest, and don’t feel like facing the confrontation of a load of outsider’s opinions! I look at it that if they are my feelings and thoughts in my own songs, then people can listen to my views, maybe feel similar ones, hopefully even take something new from hearing them. If none of the above happens then they can also fuck off and listen to someone else’s, and then we’re all happy!
LORRAINE: Getting back to the music, was there a defining moment for you that made you think “Fuck this, I want to perform” or was it more of a slow thing, a part of your character that developed?
KIRIA: No, it was a “Fuck this”. I had an all girl band when I started. I must have gone through.…. I think I auditioned more than 100 people to get a singer. It was so hard. I kept getting girls who looked amazing but couldn’t sing, stage school ponies with no spark, it was just one problem after another and I never really found one that fit the bill…. I realised at the end, out of desperation…I’d been laying down kind of the bones of tracks then getting them to re-sing them and learn the parts and play them and I realised at the end that they were actually my words, my feelings, and that I knew how I wanted them sung. I don’t know why I was doing it. I just didn’t have the balls to get up and do it myself. So, I sort of ended up having to do it really, out of frustration. We had a few ‘teary’ fits with a couple of band members in the studio and I thought “Right”. Adie Hardy, my sound engineer (and now guitarist) recording it said “Why don’t you fucking sing it. You sing perfectly well, there’s nothing wrong with your voice”. So it was just confidence and desperation ultimately. Once I started I didn’t feel I could turn back….
LORRAINE: Has that continued to grow?
KIRIA: Yeah, definitely. It’s been great. I used to get on stage with my back to the audience and play guitar. I never turned round onstage. It’s quite different now!
LORRAINE: How old were you then?
KIRIA: It was my first band. I think I was 17.
LORRAINE: In terms of your dress and your style, did that take a while to find the ‘you’ you’re comfortable with now?
KIRIA: Yeah…I don’t think I’ve ever….if I was loaded I don’t think I’d ever wear the same thing twice. I don’t really have a ‘look’. I’m constantly getting sick of stuff and moving on. Definitely again with the confidence, you get more happy in your own skin which reflects in what you want to wear.
LORRAINE: You have also done quite a bit of modelling; for some-one who obviously did suffer from a lack of confidence have you found that empowering?
KIRIA: I think modelling - for the most part, especially when I started it, scared the living daylights out of me. It’s not something I ever wanted to do, I never saw myself as attractive growing up, more a lanky freak. And for a lanky freak to stand up in bright lights and listen to people criticising every inch of you almost made me feel more insecure about myself than I had before. But, it was an accidental adventure that paid the bills and so I guess it could have been a lot worse, and now that I have confidence and know my limits enough to only do things that won’t scare me too much, it has been beneficial to me confidence – wise. If I can create a confident image of myself in a picture, then I can drag that same bit of me out and project that off the stage too. It just gets more thrilling the more you throw yourself in. Just don’t ask me to tread a catwalk unless you find a rabbit in the headlights attractive….
LORRAINE: Is there a huge difference in your every day clothing and your stage clothing or modelling outfits?
KIRIA: Well I look like a bit of a tramp today (Laughs). In general I’ve never been attracted to things that are mundane. I think I’m a bit like a magpie, always drawn to sparkly, tacky pretty things. I’ve always pretty much dressed according to mood.
Up until recently, with all these injuries, I didn’t really own any flat shoes, nothing that isn’t whacky or shiny or had a great big stiletto attached. With the heel obsession, I think I always felt that adding to my near six feet of self in ridiculously high shoes helped me ignore the little insecure weakling inside and helped me to stay strong. It’s that old “chin up, stand tall” idea, literally that helps me cope with depression. It doesn’t always work, but on a good day it definitely gives me confidence to know if someone threatens me they’ll have to stand pretty tall to look me in the eye….
LORRAINE: I think when attractive women are assertive and confident in what they do and wear etc. they aren’t always perceived as woman friendly, women don’t always take to them. You’ve described yourself as a “girl’s girl”; how do you find women generally react to you?
KIRIA: It depends…I Love women, they’re amazing creatures, but not always very open to each other. I think sometimes if they get an initial look and haven’t met me or heard my lyrics they can occasionally be a little uptight about my image, but I’ve never had a problem once they have actually met me or come and listened to my Music, which is the most important point for me. Those who judge on appearances are the shallow variety not worth worrying about, male or female.
Often when they hear my singing or they know what I’m singing about they get that it’s something for the girls. I’ve got a sense of humour and strong understanding of myself and the men I’ve encountered growing up, and I’m not afraid to speak honestly about those things, which I think a shy or confident woman can appreciate. I have quite a lot of female fans. You get the occasional bitch (Laughs). I nearly got beaten up the first time I went on stage. A woman from another band tried to stop me going on. I was already so introverted, I was so nervous anyway, it was a bit of a nightmare. She actually held the door shut to stop me going on. (Laughs). It was like something out of Prisoner Cell Block H. There was no reason for that. She just went “You’re a fucking bitch, who do you think you are”. I think it was down to the fact I was dressed in a strong and provocative way but perhaps looked a little weak, easy to pick on, and she obviously needed a boost of some sort. With hindsight it was her problem and I’m glad I carried on regardless. Bullying is bollocks. You have to be seriously insecure to want to corner someone and make them feel small or, just to puff yourself up. Wankers!
LORRAINE: When it comes to men I can imagine a lot of the suggestive comments you must get, does that bother you, particularly when it comes from within the music industry. Do you find it frustrating?
KIRIA: Pretty tedious at times but often amusing. I tend to take it on the chin, and with a sense of humour, depending on the form of delivery from the culprit! Failing a humorous deflection a swift boot or verbal insult to the manhood works a treat….
The trick is not to let other people’s comments bother you, scare you or make you feel insecure. I’ve done all that. I’ve done the getting down and hiding away malarkey. Pathetic behaviour just doesn’t bother me like it used to anymore.
LORRAINE: It’s a learning curve really.
KIRIA: Yes, definitely!
LORRAINE: Do you prefer male or female company?
KIRIA: Oh, err, that’s an interesting question. I don’t really have a preference. I get on with both, but in small doses. I don’t mix too much with many people as I’m usually busy being creative in my own little bubble. With regard to male or female, Gays are great, I get on with them. I love my camp friends. And they’re a kind of mixture of the two I guess, so perhaps I’ll say both!
LORRAINE: You write all of your own material. Do you have a permanent band at the moment or do you use different musicians?
KIRIA: I’d like to have a permanent band but it hasn’t worked out like that so far. I’ve gone through so many musicians it’s always, constantly changing. People change. The more you get to know them, the more they either want or don’t want from the situation you’re in and you all sort of, you grow apart quite easily, I find. Music is always evolving, and the twists and turns lead you to new places all the time….It’s very hard to stay on the same ship in such turbulent waters as Rock and Roll! I have the most permanent band I’ve had for a while now, but I’m ready to start a new project again, so….
LORRAINE: Do you think that’s because you came from an angle of knowing what you wanted to do out of frustration and taking control?
KIRIA: Yeah, I think that’s been quite hard for people who have come and gone in the band. They tend to get a bit frustrated as they’re songwriters in their own right, or they have their own vision of how things should be and it’s quite different to mine….. I think if you don’t have a driving force and a group of people who complement that force then it’s pretty hard to get a solid idea to work. Some bands get lucky and find five people who all imagine the same thing, and that’s pretty amazing and extremely rare I think!
LORRAINE: Does anyone ever try to coerce you down a different path?
KIRIA: Yeah, lots of times. (Feigns shooting and laughs).
LORRAINE: What does inspire your lyrics and song writing?
KIRIA: Everything. Love, pain, people watching, solace, anger, confidence, hope, insecurity….Beauty, suffering….I guess the contrasts between things in life inspire me. Life can be so very painful and so tragic, and then you can feel these deep feelings of joy and contentment just from doing something, like playing with a little kitten, or watching an innocent child laugh at jumping in puddles, or the beat of Music in your body, it’s really quite crazy, there’s just too much to choose from to not be inspired all the time!
LORRAINE: How did you meet and become involved with Paul Kaye aka Mike Strutter?
KIRIA: Paul Kaye’s been a friend for quite a long time. He’s one of the sweetest, funniest and most genuine punk Rock souls I’ve ever met. We have the same taste in music and football, and …..yeah, I ended up joining the band ‘The Strutter Group’ which we have a fantastic time in. He consistently inspires and amuses me and I’m proud to have the chance to spend time with such a wonderful spirit.
LORRAINE: What were you doing with The Strutter Group?
KIRIA: Oh I play his sister in the band, his crazy sidekick chick. We just go out and scream and make a mess of everything and cause as much trouble as is humanly possible. He’s my very own Lux Interior as I am his poison. Fireworks happen when we go on stage together, it’s really special…. Grrrr, this conversation’s giving me a Strutter itch!
LORRAINE: I have to ask about the giant jelly baby in the Jelly Baby video, did you have him specially commissioned; you didn’t find him wandering about?
KIRIA: Yeah, I had to! We tried some dodgy things. We tried some things with big bits of sponge and material beforehand and we ended up making some monstrosities. In the end I managed to save enough money to get a football mascot company to make it. It was a really funny thing to have delivered to your house through the post. He’s on holiday at the moment. I’ve actually got space under my stairs. I left him at the show so they took him away. Hell knows what he’s up to right now but I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw the news tomorrow and his big red ass was on it!
LORRAINE: Last year you released your debut album Radio on your own label, Koochie Coo; what made start your own label, was it again to have that autonomy?
KIRIA: It was just frustration really. It was either I was going to make my own record and release it myself or it was never going to get started. It was just frustration. When I started with the girl band we got called in to quite a lot of big labels and they just proceeded to do this carrot/donkey business with “can you do this now, can you…?” and I just knew that before doing anything we’d end up not being….I knew it wouldn’t be what I wanted. It’d be what some short sighted bloke wanted. So it was just a definite no go from the beginning, and I knew the only way I was going to do it was to set up a label and get moving myself.
LORRAINE It’s good that you’ve done that quite early on…
KIRIA: I’ve heard enough stories and read enough about music to know that it’s not all happy sunshine with record labels…. So I don’t regret a thing about my moves. I’d still be sitting in some dickhead’s office arguing about Music styles and PR bullshit if I hadn’t got off my ass and done it.
LORRAINE: A little bird has told me that you’re about to completely change your style and go for the rockabilly sound. Is that true and if so what has led to that decision?
KIRIA: Well I guess you heard a bit of truth in that but the new project is still under wraps! Rock and Roll is my classic passion. It’s something I guess I grew up with to the point that when I got to the stage where I was an angry teenager I got into heavy Rock and Roll, and everything was black I resented it, but when I came through that phase I thought “Fucking hell, it’s really good!” My Mum was into Elvis and Gene Vincent and I sort of thought it was a bit naff to like something your Mum liked, so I thought I didn’t like it but actually it’s classic, its just the classic raw sound that rocks from the heart and I Love it. I’m over that hatred part now (Laughs). And I love watching live rock ‘n’ roll bands. I think they’re fantastic. Rockabilly is something that I feel like in some ways has not really grown too much. You get a lot of bands that dress the same, that look the same, and still copy the sounds that they were doing in the 50’s, which is fun but not ultimately something I want to do. So my new project is something original for sure, it will have definite pink punk veins running through it!
LORRAINE: Are you taking a break right now?
KIRIA: Yeah, I’m recording this week and I’ve hopefully got some new band members coming along from the start. I want to make it hopefully more of a whole act rather than me picking up waifs and strays and trying to bodge a band together all the time with the whole album finished, well that’s the plan. New territory! Scary but fucking exciting!
LORRAINE: So when do you think that will be coming to the public?
KIRIA: As soon as possible really, but of course when it feels right. I learnt a lot from my last release to not rush too hard without a decent plan of action, but also not to dwell too hard on certain finer points. I think I’m going to record a sort of a small video promo at the end of the month and the actual recording should be another month or so. I’ll probably put a few tasters out throughout the year, then go for either early next year or a Christmas release or something, hopefully not too far away, because my feet are itching!
LORRAINE: I know you’re not a big fan of modern music or media and prefer the classics, do you think it’s harder to be creative today for young people and the world they are subjected to?
KIRIA: I don’t know. I find it kind of difficult to understand as I was really musical as a kid and we really were poor. We didn’t have gadgets and instruments at the ready, there wasn’t any youth clubs or places to go to, to sort of make music and I didn’t really mix with other kids anyway. I know people used to make bands and they were like ‘bedroom mates’. I never really had that, so I’m not really sure if today is any more difficult. I can’t really tell. My nephew and brothers are at that age, and one of them, Charlie, is very feisty and he’s making it happen for himself Musically with blood, sweat and tears, it’s certainly not sitting in his lap. It’s incredible to see him with a lit passion driving his own future….I feel really proud. It wasn’t long ago he was getting bullied at school and having a duff time of it. Now he’s driving himself forward like there’s no tomorrow!
I do know it’s definitely something that’s got harder in London, making Music happen. There are so many people doing it. It’s become practically a ‘pay to play’ kind of scene on the gig circuit, it’s quite hard to get on your feet and find an audience, unless you’ve just got loads of friends or you can afford to go to a Music school or college and you sort of fall into something which can be off-putting…. it’s definitely harder for people who don’t have money, family or contacts in the “Music Biz” as we know it behind them helping it along. They’re quite cut off.
There’s less of a community now, and a funny culture in full swing. There’s no places where you can go and hang out with other people and play Music…..it’s a lot less like that now than it ever was because people are more likely to be scared shitless and sat at home in their bedrooms on their “play” stations or in front of the TV than out mixing with other people or being creative. It’s quite sad. But hopefully things will change; from time to time people get sick of being drip fed and they revolt. Charlie the pirate is already doing that so I’m sure they’re many more at it!
LORRAINE: But it sounds as if for you it was quite solitary but you were still driven?
KIRIA: Yeah…I know if you’ve got it in you and you want to do it you can do anything.
LORRAINE: Do you think life is easier or harder when you are intent on your own trajectory?
KIRIA: Sometimes I think it’s easier and sometimes I begrudge it and I think “Ah fucking hell, why can’t you just be a bit more easy going or just accept some direction”, but I feel like if some-one’s not driving something then you can end up just pissing in the wind a little bit. Nothing will really come together, or even worse you’ll end up doing what someone else thinks you should do, and that’s not for me. I’m too strong willed. There’s always a strong driving force behind most of the Music and bands I like, they’re not accidental nor forced.
LORRAINE: Are there any modern bands that you like; who do like out there now?
KIRIA: There are a couple of new rock n roll bands that I think are fantastic. They’ve both got it in bundles…..one is a band called The Ceazars who are fabulous and raw live and then in particular a band called Knocksville. They’re amazing. They’ve really got that sort of cross over between classic Rock and Roll with a spiky punk energy. They’re the sort of youngsters that are challenging that whole classic Rockabilly scene with a fresh new energy and they’ve got a nice healthy mixture of both classic Rock and Roll with a feisty fresh edge I think. Both them and the incredible Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons, a chick with amazing energy and talent are the main current bands I’ve got my eye on.
LORRAINE: Finally, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to get up there and do something?
KIRIA: (Laughs). Take a deep fucking breath. Brace yourself, because you’re in for a bumpy ride. Sometimes I wake up and I’ve read reviews before where people have just been really nasty and said “This girl should give up singing, she’s fucking terrible”, etc. I think when you read that your heart sinks. You think “Oh my god, am I that bad?”. You’ve just to ignore what they say and just keep doing it. For every person that thinks you’re a c**t there’s some-one that thinks you’re amazing and you inspire them to get up and do something when they hear you play, and that’s what it’s all about really. Concentrate on the inspired, not the insipid! Just get up, open up, and don’t stop ‘til you get what you want….Interview by Lorraine 16/09/11