An Evening with Kyrie London
By: Marcus Barnes (The Guardian)
There aren't many singers who can boast of having a glittering array of Grammy-winning producers and engineers, as well as some of the world's best known underground names, all signed up to work on their very first record, but at just 26 years of age, Kyrie (pronounced Kiri-yay) London is preparing to unleash a debut album of epic proportions. Named City Of Rainbows, Kyrie's inaugural music project is about as exciting as they come and features contributions from the producers behind superstars such as Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and Pink together with the likes of Todd Edwards and Ramsey & Fen. An impressive list, which has even more credence when you consider that Kyrie has yet to be snapped up by a major label, although it's only a matter of time...
Hailing from The Garden State, New Jersey, Kyrie grew up in suburbia where singing was an intrinsic part of her life from a very early age – as is the case with many of the world's most successful singers. As a youngster she found herself singing constantly, “On the bus, in the kitchen, in the woods, wherever I was…” she says. Before long she'd signed up for theatre camp, which she attended during the summer months, singing and acting in plays with other children. A few years at theatre camp and the usual singing and dancing in front of the mirror as a child, led to her application to attend the highly-respected Berklee School of Music. It was at Berklee where music really became Kyrie's life, making the leap from her early inspirations like Mariah Carey, Mary J.Blige, Brandy and SWV to dig deeper and discover the greats from years gone by; Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder and more. These singers were the catalyst behind Kyrie's unwavering love for music and helped to instill a newfound confidence in the singer who had previously been somewhat shy when it came to public performance.
Remarkably, the internet provided the pinnacle moment in her burgeoning career when UK producer Dreamweaver discovered a video of Kyrie singing Stevie Wonder's Feeding Off The Love Of The Land on YouTube, he was so impressed that he got in touch immediately. Amusingly Kyrie's father was his first point of contact and, in what some might say is a very traditional way to strike up a working relationship, he went through Kyrie's father in order to get started on working with her! Call it fate, or whatever you like, but the connection between the duo was instant and Kyrie was soon making trips to Hackney in east London to record material with up and coming Dreamweaver. It was a perfect match and, out of their studio sessions, the album City Of Rainbows blossomed. Infused with a combination of infectious dance beats, the passion of R&B and irresistible pop hooks, it's a very contemporary piece of work that unites several genres seamlessly and will no doubt appeal to a wide cross section of music lovers.
Bringing the whole body of work together is Kyrie's very clear theme of positivity and viewing our circumstances and experiences within a positive light. As the lyrics from Sunchaser state: “You can take it to the sunshine, you can take it to the moonlight, you can take it to the stars in the sky there's no reason why. You can take it as heartache, you can take it as a big mistake, or you can take it as the stars were aligned that fine day.” In other words whatever happens in life, good or bad, the way it affects us all depends on how we perceive it. Injecting her own life experiences into the project - which, like many of us, have been up and down – Kyrie has grown from a shy, retiring young lady into a confident woman with a forthright stage presence and a voice to match it. Singing, rapping and even making her own beats on Cubase and the Maschine by Native Instruments, she's a one-woman army powered by a unerring love for music.
Now on to the mind-boggling list of musicians who've lent their talents to the City Of Rainbows project. Debut single Rooftops was mixed by engineer Phil Tan, who counts Katy Perry - Firework, Rihanna - Only Girl and Mariah Carey - Always Be My Baby among his previous works. Then there's Dave Pensado, who has worked with Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Michael Jackson and many more. Rob Fusari, who was instrumental in Lady GaGa's album The Fame and also producer Destiny's Child hit Bootylicious. Ken Lewis, who co-produced Kanye West and Jay Z’s Watch The Throne album, contributed to City Of Rainbows too providing the final mixdown for The Weekend. Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, Grammy-award winning Brad Blackwood and Garage innovator Todd Edwards are also fully involved in the album, making it a very exciting prospect. To have so many well-respected and experienced musicians involved in an album would be incredible for an established artist, for someone whose career is only just beginning it's nothing short of amazing and proof of just how much confidence the assembled cast of producers have in Kyrie's abilities as a singer and the music she has made with Dreamweaver. Not to mention UK acting legend Robbie Gee, with whom she worked with in the video for Rooftops. Robbie, whose acting credits include Snatch, Pirates of the Caribbean, Underworld and the classic UK Television shows Desmond's and The Real McCoy not only provided a great performance in the promo, but also instilled confidence in Kyrie – a man who she says has the presence of Morgan Freeman and empowered her in the run up to her own appearance in the video.
With such an awe-inspiring array of talent supporting her Kyrie can only go straight to the top, although her ambitions are modestly realistic, “I just want to be able to make a living from music, it would be great to be rich but I'm not about world domination. I just want to be able to carry on doing what I love and to live from it,” she says, spoken like a true music lover. For this is someone who still spends much of her time engrossed in music, always on the hunt for great music, new and old, finding herself going on 'YouTube journeys', flicking through song after song, scouring through everything from garage to sixties music and beyond - Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, and Katy Perry to Florence and the Machine, Katy B, Foo Fighters, and Tegan and Sara among the many modern artists that feature on her playlists.
Music is most definitely the answer and City Of Rainbows is certain to inject some colour into the lives of music lovers the world over. Stardom is surely inevitable for Kyrie London, just make sure you remember where you heard the name first...