Kymara’s sound can only be described as smooth and subdued bluesy neo-soul that lyrically hinges on human interconnection. Often drawing from life experiences, the Netherlands-born, Brighton-based vocalist has spent the past three years building the foundations for a musical repository that exponentially explores what it means to be truly free. It’s existential soul-revival, bolstered by the organic sounds of the singer’s accomplished band of instrumentalists, and is as affecting in a live setting as it comes across on the record; which is a rare occurrence for our time.
It only takes one play-through of Kymara’s debut project New Road to recognise that her sonic experimentations are rooted in a nostalgia for the origins of music, yet boast a distinctly future-facing aura. Thus, in wanting to get the scoop on the up-and-comer’s most recent musical chapter, a five-track-wide musical musing that the singer-songwriter felt compelled to artistically explore throughout the two-years spent in global lockdowns, we sat down for a conversation about how Kymara is taking on the challenge of presenting the timeless art form that is neo-soul to a contemporary audience.
You open ‘New Road’ with the words “Growing into a young woman, makes you question this game/ All I know for now, is that I need distance to keep me sane”. That’s a poignant sentiment to open up with; why did you choose to begin the story of the project in this way?
I chose to open ‘New Road’ with the song ‘Anymore’, because I wanted to pose the questions that I was looking to answer across the EP in an introductory way, whilst inviting the listener to discover my vulnerable approach to songwriting; right off the bat. In my mind, that was the most relatable way to open the project. I wanted it to feel relatable because often, as a creative myself, I find we as creatives often tend to struggle with opening up out of fear of other people’s reactions. Since ‘New Road’ is ultimately about friendships and relationships, and how others perceive you is a massive part of that, I thought it was a good way to start the conversation.
Can you tell us why you chose the title ‘New Road’ for the project?
I chose this title because so far my whole music career has felt like a new road; a new path. Music isn’t something I’ve always done, it’s relatively new to me. It’s only due to having spent the past three years writing and creating music with my band, that I can say my career path has started to feel familiar. So, all the tracks on this debut offering are very much about exploring oneself, getting to know yourself on a deeper level, and getting to know the people around you. Throughout the process of writing and recording the project I felt as though I came to see life itself as a new road; that’s why I named the project that.
The title ‘New Road’ indicates that you’ve traversed some sort of new ground in the time it’s taken you to write and record the project. Do you feel as though you’ve covered any new ground musically, or even outside of your music?
Yes! I think musically, I’m always developing myself because I’m so early in the game. I learn so much every time I do a show, everytime I rehearse with the band, everytime I write, or even during times when I may not be writing or recording anything at all. I think that naturally music has become my life and I’ve been eager to explore what that means for myself both musically and personally; the journey is what keeps it interesting for me!
You spent a week with your band living and recording the final versions of these songs at Echo Zoo Studios in Sussex. Do you think that the environment you recorded the project in contributed towards it turned out in the end?
Yes! So, we lived in the apartments attached to Echo Zoo Studios in Eastbourne for a week whilst we recorded; the recording process felt a bit like a family holiday – it was really wholesome. You know, we cooked dinner for each other every night and bonded, so that everyone felt invested, everyone was fully involved. Whilst we were recording, we would listen to each others’ takes, and on some days the energy in the room felt so electric that we simply didn’t want to go to sleep because we just wanted to sit in the moment – I think some of that magic definitely translated quite organically into the music. I’ve heard some of the instrumentalists say that week was one of the most fun weeks of their lives. I think that you can hear that lighthearted energy come through on ‘New Road’ in the way that the music gels together so smoothly; as we all did over the course of the week we spent recording.
Can you tell me about your band, how you all met, and what that gel that keeps you guys making music together is made of?
I was in a band when I first moved to Brighton; that’s where I met my drummer James – we’ve been playing together for a pretty long time. Then Herby, the keys player, I met through a mutual friend at university. I met Tom (blues guitarist) and Louis (lead guitarist) through University too, and Kit, he’s the new addition to the band and he plays bass. We’re super fortunate to have found Kit after our last bassist left the band. Katy is our backing vocalist, I asked her to do BV’s for a show a couple of years back and she never left my side – she’s my babygirl! I think the gel is that we all genuinely like hanging out together. We have rehearsals on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s and we always go for a drink afterwards; the boys even stay at my place after rehearsal on a regular basis [laughs]. It didn’t happen straight away, it took us some time to learn each other as we’re all very different people, but I think our own distinctive personalities do lend to our individual musicalities, and that adds some special sauce to the music we make together.
If you could attach just one feeling to each song on ‘New Road’, what emotion would you choose to describe the sonic mood of each track?
Woah, what a great question. ‘Anymore’, I would say the word that comes to mind is empowered. ‘Trippin’ is carefree. ‘New Road’ is a bit dramatic [laughs], that’s not quite an emotion but it’s the word that’s coming to mind. ‘You Don’t Know Me’, is unrequited love or appreciation and ‘Solace’ is very vulnerable.
It seems that the catalyst for ‘New Road’ was your desire to document the human experience and further, your own experiences as a modern woman within that. What have you gained from giving yourself the time and space to make this project?
A big focal point for the project was learning. I think that through this process I’ve learned that relationship are really f*cking difficult; whether you’re dealing with romantic ones, platonic ones, familial ones, or even the relationship you have with yourself. So, going into the project being a person that always felt quite worried about the all the dynamics of my relationships, I learned to go with the flow a little, and that whilst we’re all bound to struggle with our relationships from time to time, that ultimately if we nurture them, they can bring so much joy and happiness.
‘New Road’ feels like the start of a journey; it almost feels like the questioning stage of any adventure – where will the music be taking you next?
Hmmm, where will the journey take me? Where will it bring me, us, the band? I think we’re going to keep writing. I want and need t o give myself the space to make loads of new songs and explore making music more. It’s making me a little nervous though I won’t lie, everytime y release a new project as an artist it feels like a bubble bursts and you’ve got to start again from scratch and that process is a s scary as it is exciting. I try not to put pressure on myself but I can’t help wanting to do better with every project, I have to make sure I don’t get into my own head because then I distract myself from going through the motions. Other than refining my process, I’d really like to tour some more and do some festivals, so we’re just working towards that; that’s the goal.
You’re a beast with the touring; it seems like you rarely stop for too long. You just wrapped up your summer tour, where can the people catch you playing next? I know you come alive in a live setting in a completely different way to on your records!
Yeah, we just wrapped the summer tour and we’re gearing up for our headlining show at The Hope And Ruin in Brighton on August 30th. I think after that show we’ll really focus back on writing and preparing for the year ahead; we never want to be stagnant, we want to reinvent ourselves every time we step on the stage and to do that you need new material.
Words: Tahirah Thomas