The other week I sat down with Kingston musician Kyra Johnson who has caught some attention with her first single, “options” which has amassed over 8000 plays on Spotify. So, with a new EP on the way, the timing couldn’t be better.
Although she hasn’t started putting music out until recently, Kyra told me that she has “always been passionate about music” and grew up listening to her dad’s record collection. She told me that she first started learning about music through the piano at around seven years old, but her main focus has always been singing. She told me that “I’ve always been singing, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life forever” even before she took up the piano.
However, a love for music and singing doesn’t shape someone into such a talented songwriter. She explained that she first started writing in piano lessons. “It’s funny. The first year I took piano, my teacher made a little CD of a song I recorded on the piano and sent it home with me.” This was just the beginning though, Kyra continued to write through elementary school and into high school which she said is when “I started really getting good at it.”
Kyra also told me that this is not the end and that when I asked where she wants to go with her music, she told me “The sky’s the limit. I literally have been practicing my Grammy speech in the mirror since I was seven years old.” She went on to explain that “I believe anyone can do anything they set their mind to. I believe in manifestation,” and that music has always been her end goal. She told me that she just wants people to create memories with her songs, “I love when music makes you think of a specific moment, time or place and it would be so special to make music that can be that for someone.”
Currently, Kyra has two songs out on streaming the platforms the first of which, “options” is a bright and breezy song that she told me was inspired by “learning about my worth as a person and in relationships. Learning about boundaries and when people get access to me it’s a privilege.” She elaborated that this song was a way to “build confidence through heartbreak” and look at the lessons and positive aspects that come from those experiences.
The other song, an English cover of Édith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” held other significance though. On the song, Kyra said that “it is one of my grandmother’s favourite songs” and “she would sing me the French version when I was smaller” and later on “she would ask me to play it on guitar and ukulele and we’d sing it and play it together.”
Outside of Kyra’s music, I had to enquire what the current soundtrack to her life has been and what she’s been listening to recently. Turns out it’s a nice spread of artists. From Omar Apollo’s new album, old classic rock records such as Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, and of course her favourites, Kendrick Lamar and Nicki Minaj.
But I couldn’t just stop at what she’s listening to right now, I had to know where her major influences come from. Kyra pointed out Lauren Hill to me as an artist who greatly impacts her music.