- Words Miriam Balanescu
Pop up-and-comer Kirsty Grant talks to Notion about her debut EP ‘Chain Reaction’, first falling in love with music and much more.
Kirsty Grant has been wowing in the pop sphere ever since her debut in 2019. Her first track “I’m the One” instantly established her classic and refined pop sound, while later singles “Back To Sleep” and “Bad Boys, Good Girls” continued to prove her bop prowess.
The Scottish-born now-London-based artist has big things in sight. Bringing her flawless vocals and smooth production to bear on a new six-track EP ‘Chain Reaction’, the press-approved artist has a winning combination. Focusing on the domino effect of events in her own life, Grant’s debut EP is deeply reflective – and even more personal. Painful relationships abound but there is also a heady dose of joy: Grant has revealed that all her “favourite people” collaborated with her on the project.
Notion chatted to Kirsty Grant about how she first got into music, growing as an artist, what’s next and much more.
What first made you want to be a musician?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it started, but the first memories that I have of me wanting to do music are listening to Girls Aloud, or watching X-Factor and seeing performers on the stage each week. I was so young that I had no idea singing and performing could even be a job. When I listened to tracks like “Sound of the Underground” by Girls Aloud, and watching the live performances on TV, that’s all I remember wanting to do, so I would dance and sing along imagining it was me performing. Every year for my birthday and Christmas, I would ask for a microphone, or a guitar, or recording equipment. It was all I was ever interested in.
You’ve said that your new ‘Chain Reaction’ EP was about reflecting on your past and how you got to where you are today. What started this process of reflection for you?
I think this process of reflection started quite naturally for me, as being a songwriter, I’m already meant to reflect and tap into past events and emotions in order to get them out of my system and put them in a song. I think the main turning point was just feeling more confident within myself, and gaining true self-worth, as when I looked back on past situations, I released how I was worth so much more than how I was treated.
What was your favourite song to create on the EP?
It’s so hard to choose, but I would say either “Bad Boys, Good Girls” or “Now We Don’t”. For “Bad Boys, Good Girls” the best part was seeing the song come to life, with each production bounce from the producer JULEZ, or when I recorded all the final vocals for the track, or when I got a bounce of the additional production from ellis. Each stage sparked excitement out of me, as I felt the song was turning out exactly as I envisioned. I was and still am so proud of that track, and at the time it really gave me a lot of confidence as an artist. I would also say “Now We Don’t” as that was a very special session. I had previously worked with Charlie, one of the co-writers before, but it was my first session with the producer/co-writer Anthony. We all gelled so well and the song really did just flow out. We kept pushing each other to get better lyrics and I really feel that we achieved what we set out to do that day.
How do you usually get started with creating a song?
In this case, 5/6 tracks on this EP were written over zoom, so creating each track was all virtual. I would set up a session with some of my favourite writers and send over my ideas and references to the producer. The producer would then send in the group chat a chord or synth loop, which is when all of us writers go on mute and try out ideas on our voice notes app, and then send them to each other. It was such a fun way of writing, as each idea sent into the group chat would just spark more ideas, and then before you know it, you have a jigsaw of melodies that can be put together. After the melodies are written, we would then start writing lyrics. Some sessions I have a clear idea of what I want to say, or a song title, but some I go in unsure of what to write about, but inspiration always strikes. Especially with the input of the other writers and what’s going on in their lives as well as mine. After the full track has been written, I record all of my vocals in my living room, send them to the producer, and then work back and forth until the song is finished.
On “Back To Sleep”, you’ve said the vocals took a while to perfect. How do you normally go about honing your vocals and is this one of the most important elements to you?
I would say that track still to this day, is the hardest I’ve worked on one song (vocal wise). I had such a clear idea of how I wanted it to sound, and since it was such a long time ago that the vocals were recorded, I think I was way too much of a perfectionist back then. Maybe I still am, but with that song I would spend hours recording take after take, trying to get the tone perfect, or the delivery as emotional as possible, and then listen back the next day and record over it all from scratch. At the stage I am at now, I am very used to vocal producing and recording myself, so I can achieve the same result much quicker, and I am less hard on myself, as the more natural the delivery the better the track will be.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
My biggest musical influences at the moment are Ariana Grande, Julia Michaels, and Dua Lipa. When I found out about Ariana Grande back in 2011 and would watch her small performances when she still had red hair, I would dance and sing along with her. Throughout the years as she has developed as an artist, I credit her for helping me find my own voice. By practicing tirelessly every adlib or run she did, or high notes in her tracks, I would start to see agility in my own voice developing. I was unintentionally training my voice when I would sing along to her tracks. Artists like Julia Michaels really inspire me, as I feel she is one of the best songwriters I have heard. Her lyricism and melodies are so unique that I can tell she has co-written a song, before even checking the credits. It’s such a powerful skill to have such a distinct writing style. Lastly, Dua Lipa with her album ‘Future Nostalgia really pushed the boat and gave me enough visual references and musical inspiration to last me a lifetime.
How much of what you write is inspired by personal experiences?
With the tracks that I am working on at the moment, I would say almost every song is very personal and from my own experiences. But the tracks that are on the EP, were written well over a year ago, and probably about 2/3 were from personal experience. “Hurt But I Smile” is deeply personal, as it is about my own anxious thoughts and fears, fears of losing friends because I’m isolating myself from social events because of anxiety, or fears of letting myself down and not achieving what I want to do in my life. The other tracks were from scenarios that myself and all of the co-writers could relate to, so it was fun as each co-writer could add in their own stories and we would mix them all together.
What has your journey been like since your debut in 2019?
Since 2019, I am so proud of how much I have grown as an artist, and I’m still not done growing. My confidence has developed so much, especially as a songwriter. I have spent so much time and written so many tracks, in order to develop my own sound, so since 2019, I have really discovered what kind of artist I want to be and what I want to say. Also just building up an amazing network of like-minded musicians to work with, has helped me grow so much since back then. In 2019, my first single was released as a bit of fun to see where it could go, as I was still in university finishing my degree. But since graduating, I have been finding my feet and getting to know the industry. I just can’t wait to look back on this time now in a year, and hopefully be able to see how much I have developed.
Where are you hoping to take your musical career next?
I am hoping that the release of this EP, will be able to showcase the kind of artist that I am, and hopefully listeners love it. I would love to do some live gigs performing the tracks, starting off with some support slots for other artists. I can’t wait to release more music and get planning all the visuals and see how I can challenge myself even further this time. I also plan on writing a lot and continuing to develop my skills as a songwriter. The next step that I would love, would be to get a record deal, as I am doing all of the ground work, but taking it to that next step and getting the support would only help me get further towards my goal of being a successful pop singer.
What’s one thing people should know about you?
I would love people to know how tirelessly I work on each detail of a release, whether it’s the song itself, or the mix, or the cover art, etc. – the list could go on. I have really put everything that I have into the EP and I would love one day to give some insight on the making of future tracks or projects, potentially by filming some behind the scenes footage. There are so many things that go on, and details that need to be perfected before a track reaches the listener’s ears, I would love people to see that. I would also love people to get to know me and my personality and see how much music is my life and what I was born to do.