Kier speaks on everything from her debut album's production to a brand new genre she's dubbed "Y'all-ternative"
We were lucky to get a little Q&A in with UK artist Kier in the days leading up to her debut album,
"Welcome to the Strange Life." She's such an energetic and talented young voice. It'll be great to watch her career develop over the next few years.
Coyote Music: I'm 4 songs into Welcome to the Strange Life and I'm not sure what I'm hearing...in a good way. I hear some Elle King, Sarah Jaffe, and even some Sia--country, pop, singer/songwriter Americana, and definitely some pop. I purposely didn't read your bio before I started listening, so I wasn't even sure what genre I was hearing. Your bio says "Her compositions bear the influences of country, folk, Americana, indie, alt, pop, and rock, proving that music knows no rules or confines." So I think my first question is: what genre am I listening to?
Kier: When I'm penning my songs, 'genre' isn't typically a primary concern. Sometimes my work leans country, and other times it feels more alternative, which is why I like to call it 'Y'allternative' to blend both. I'm not a fan of confining myself to a specific musical category; it can feel quite limiting, as if I'm obligated to stick to that genre. Although there are more 'undisturbed genres', like singer/songwriter, that provide a rough guide of my soundscape. The specific genre a song aligns to usually crystallizes after the song has been written and I solidify how I want that specific song to resonate.
The instruments in our album were recorded individually by the band and then handed to our talented mixing and mastering engineer, Wayne Proctor. Wayne did a fantastic job at echoing exactly the sound I had in mind for the album. Couldn't have asked for a better team!
CM: How are you feeling about the record? I'm guessing you write, just you and your guitar. But the album's got a high level of production going for it--instrumentally, production-wise. I'd call it 'richly produced' (e.g. thunder booming in "Town of Black"). Have you caught the essence of what you'd hoped for during recording these songs?
Kier: Communicating the way you perceive a song can be quite a challenge when you're working solely with acoustic instruments. But I'm blessed with a collaborative music partner who's amazing at understanding and actualizing my creative ideas. The team behind me, my band, is equally skilled and incredibly good at comprehending my vision for every song, helping me give each one its distinctive feel.
CM: I listed a few artists who I hear in your sound, but who are the artists who've inspired you to write?
Kier: I was brought up amidst a sea of diverse artists who largely impacted my song writing journey. But to name a few who really inspired me to pursue my passion are; Chris Stapleton, Jade Bird, Dr. Hook, Miley Cyrus, Stevie Nicks, Tyler Childers, and Billy Joel. They are just a handful of examples from my lengthy list of inspirators.
CM: When I think of someone like Elle King, I found her on Sirius XM's Alt Nation. But her sound is super country. Then I saw her live opening for Joan Jett and Heart--a very clearly rock n roll show. Where do you see your sound fitting in, as far as dream lineups you'd like to be a part of and playlists your music might appear on...who else is on that playlist?
Kier: Like I mentioned previously, I often like to describe my music as 'Y’allternative'. In my opinion, this term perfectly encapsulates the essence of my craft. I'm optimistic that this genre will gain popularity, making it easier to categorize my music.
My aim is to make country music appealing to people who don't usually enjoy it. This approach opens up numerous opportunities to collaborate with various artists from different genres or even those who stick strictly to country. I have so many unreleased songs that I see adapting to different audiences.
My ambitions include performing at all major festivals. I hope anyone who watches my performances will find something they love and relate to.
CM: Your Twitter (X?) is @HOWDYITSKIER. What's that all about?
Kier: I'm basically terrible at Twitter, it seems to slip my mind that I even have it! When I started my music profiles, I decided to spruce things up a bit since my former username was dull. So, I thought to myself, why not add a dash of fun while introducing myself.
CM: The cover photo for Welcome to the Strange Life is amazing. Very retro 70s Loretta Lynn / Tammy Wynette vibe going on. Talk a bit about how the album came together--musically, artistically, and now promoting it post-release.
Kier: Thank you! The vintage 70s aura, comforting shades, and evergreen appearance really caught my eye. When I rendered it in this style, it instantly felt right.
The creation of this album spans over five years. In 2019, I penned down songs "We Made It" and "I’m So Hooked." Then came the lockdown, and that resulted in "Tuesday Bus" and "Town of Black." Post-lockdown brought more inspiration, contributing the recent songs. In between, I composed roughly 80 songs that didn't fit into the album. Some might be polished for future use, while others will remain in my vault.
Recording my first single "Runaway" was a significant moment. I knew it was best suited as a duet. So, my partner Sam and I assembled a demo. That's when I teamed up with Tom Killner. After recording "Runaway," we formed our band. I presented my demos to the guys and we crafted the new guitar components, with Callum on the bass and Brett on the drums. And as they say, the rest was history!
As an independent artist, sometimes it’s hard to make myself heard without a big label to boost my presence. I have found organic promotion to be the most beneficial strategy for me. I love getting out there and gigging, meeting new people and finding new followers that way. Although hearing myself on the radio has been very surreal. The journey has been exciting so far! And post release, I plan on continuing to get my voice heard via live performances hopefully infront of new audiencecs around the country and I'm always posting content on the socials to share what I'm writing or my whereabouts!
CM: Your gig schedule is very busy according to your website. What's your approach to playing live right now? And are you looking to tour internationally at this point?
Kier: As I've mentioned before, organic promotion is my preferred method. I aim to reach as many people as possible. You'd usually catch me performing as an acoustic duo with either Sam or Tom or doing a solo act. My guitar skills are still a work in progress, so there are times when I just want to pour all my energy into the vocals! Live band shows are my favourite. We're talking plans for a 2024 UK tour which is very exciting. Not quite international yet but who knows!
CM: You've got a song called "King of San Francisco." Have you had a chance to visit the city yet?
Kier: I haven’t! I haven’t even been to America, but it’s a goal of mine in the next year or so. That particular song was one of the many random songs that comes to me when I’m sleep deprived! It’s fun and full of nonsense and that's why I love it!
CM: I've finished listening to the album a few times now and I'm simply blown away. You've got such a genuine old school country sound, yet with a modern sound that brings all sorts of elements together in a unique manner. Have you begun to reach out to anyone in Nashville yet? That would seem a logical target to aim at...unless you want to keep clear of a mainstream country influence.
Kier: I really appreciate your feedback, happy that you liked it! I still haven't explored globally. I feel it's crucial to make my mark in my home country first, considering the massive competition present in places like Nashville. It's so easy to get overlooked there. I want to establish myself locally as an artist, find my feet and give my audience chance to get to know me.