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Interviews

Kiria

Get ready for the Pink Punk revolution. Here comes Kiria, all raunch and riffs and heels and attitude. She's a one-woman punk rock riot in a sweet shop...possibly stopping off for a ram-raid on Agent Provocateur on the way home.

She's fiercely independent, with her own label - her debut album, Radio, is out now - and her own vision of the way forward. But she's a thoroughly nice person, too. She's the punk rock star you could take home to meet the folks. Although you might want to ask her to put a few more clothes on first.

Let's talk to Kiria about pop punk, pink punk, and telling the music biz where to stick it...

 

Your music is often billed as 'pop punk', but you're keen to distance what you do from the likes of, say, Blink 182, and all those smoothly-produced all-American bands in casualwear and baseball caps. Do you think pop punk is a concept that needs to be reclaimed? Does pop punk need to be dragged back to its raucous roots and given a bit of a seeing-to?

Well, I started out on a rampage to get pop punk back in the game as it were, because I was so sick of the term being taken up the ass by such moronic, tedious bores - Avril Lavigne and co. But I’ve grown as a person and musician over the last year, and in doing so now I've decided I don’t even want a fucking genre. 'I am an individual', to quote The Life Of Brian.

So, a pre-penned label some sheep-like gimp created to suit their simple needs just seemed all wrong for me. I don’t sit conveniently amongst any of the bands I know around, so I figure I deserve a new name for what I do, and one that isn’t stained by any other old bastards. Hence the arrival of 'Pink Punk'. And a new one as of yesterday, courtesy of my guitarist, Sharron Slutt, 'Frock and Roll!'

Guitars among the confectionery: Kiria's 'Jelly Baby' video, guest starring a giant jelly baby and a pink elephant. Probably best not to watch this if you've recently been on the hallucenogenics.  

There's a very British flavour to your music - which might seem a strange thing to say given that rock 'n' roll was an American invention in the first place, and your own music is built on plenty of New York Dolls-ish riffs. But then, you could say that about the Sex Pistols, who were a very British band. It's something Britain always seems to do well: the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Smiths, and beyond - it seems we can transform rock music into something uniquely our own. What's the secret? How do we take an American art form and make it British?

There’s no secret, honey, the British are just fucking unbelievably cool as a rule, and that’s a big fat fact. And so Bigmouth Strikes Again!
 
When you're writing songs, do you deliberately try to write 'British style' rock music, or is there something more intangible at work?

It’s funny you ask this, because I was reading a review of my album recently where some dork said I 'put on' a 'British' accent on a few of the songs on my record….It made me laugh, because I am fucking English! I was born a Londoner, will die a Londoner, and have lived here all my life – so why I wouldn’t have an English accent is beyond me!

KiriaRegarding song writing - I don’t do anything deliberate. Which sometimes is unfortunate, because I don’t always write styles of music I would actually listen to myself. Sounds bizarre but it’s true!

I just do what comes out. I have to, or I go mad and break things and end up in weird places and upset people, so yeah, I just write what I feel passionate about when I gotta get it out. It’s free therapy!
 
I think we've come to the 'What Are Your Influences?' question now - I've already more or less guessed at the New York Dolls, because to my ears there's definitely a touch of the Dolls' guitar sound in your sound. But there must be more to it than that! Which artists inspired you to do what you're doing?

Thank you! I Love the Dolls so that’s cheered me up today! Although interestingly, I have to admit I’d only ever heard one song of theirs when I wrote this album (you can tell I’m a bedroom hermit), which is funny, because now I love them with a passion. I reckon me and them must be spiritually linked in some way, yeeehaaaaw! We definitely share the same taste in clothes….

I actually listen to so much music I can’t really pin down a genre that inspires me most, but anything fabulous, anything sparkly and striking certainly sparked me off - that's the stuff that inspired me from a young age and will never leave my heart.

I adore anything remotely punk or rockabilly with a good hook and a great vocal - Mozza, Gene Vincent (which may explain some of my softer stuff), Marilyn Monroe (OK, not exactly a musician but certainly a star, who sang!), Iggy in his Stooges phase. Ooooh, I love The Cramps, Ivy and Lux are a massive inspiration to me. Grrrrrrr, I’m getting the serious horn now, can we stop talking dirty?

The whole visual side of things is very much part of the package - the recent 100 Club performance was all about glamming up and making the gig into a real show, the 'Jelly Baby' video is surrealist sugar and spice, while the 'Live Sex On stage' video is like every Carry On film ever made put through a rock 'n' roll blender (a very British approach there, of course!) Is there a visual idea behind everything you do? Is there always that thought in your mind - "How is this going to look?" Do you have any visual influences, just as you have musical influences?

  Kiria gives us some 'Live Sex On Stage' with special guest Mike Strutter (aka comedian Paul Kaye). This is what would happen if Barbara Windsor joined the New York Dolls.

Hahahahaha, love the Carry On comment! Like your style, it’s amazing how many people don’t get my sense of humour. The 'Live Sex On Stage' video got me so many complaints it’s untrue. How to piss off every big ugly record label that ever hounded your ass in three minutes flat – I loved it!

Yes. I do think about how things are going to look, as much as I do about what it’s going to sound like. And so many people hate me for it. I just can’t understand why, because you don’t go to all the trouble of baking a cake for someone and not try to present it nicely now do you? I like the icing, the chocolate, lashings of cream and a big fat cherry on top personally, hence my attention to detail regarding my music projects. Only unfortunate thing is the lack of dosh to do it with….I’d build a new palace for every video if I could.

Visually I’m not really sure what my influences are, I’m a bit of a hermit and I don’t buy magazines or anything. I travel a lot but I guess most of the things I do come from dreaming. I dream a lot, and they are very colourful. Most of my outfits I’ve made or had made from ones I’ve dreamed about so hell knows, maybe Ziggy Stardust visits me in my sleep.

You're a very independent artist - not only are you on an independent record label, it's your independent record label. Is that a deliberate strategy - to make it all happen yourself, with the music biz kept at arm's length? Or are you holding out for a major label to tip its hat in your direction?

Tip its hat? They can kiss my ass! I don’t want anyone like that anywhere near me or my music, ever. I’ve had bad experiences with the big boys and have since ignored all contact completely. Nobody tells me what to do, that’s why I’m practically unemployable and don’t have any friends.

Hahahhaaaa…. Just kidding, but seriously, I’ve done it myself because I have a strong sense of individuality, and the people I choose to surround myself by have to respect that or we just can’t get on. Setting up my own show as it were was the only way to get things how I wanted them. I know I’ll die poor but hey, I’ll die happy!

Punky-flavoured bubblegum: Kiria does her 'Make Up' at the 100 Club in London. Please welcome the glamourous Sharon Slutt on guitar. This is an unofficial video taken from the audience - watch out for the fan brandishing a CD. Well, that makes a change from lighters in the air.  

There's an argument that these days record labels are fairly irrelevant. The real action is on the live circuit. A string of well-received gigs can create a buzz that a record release might struggle to match. I think this is good news for independent artists, because the key things for bands now are a killer presence on stage and on the web - both of which can be achieved without major music biz involvement. Do you see the playing field becoming a bit more level? Is it a good time to be an industry outsider?

Yes, I think it’s the only future we have. The big labels are all dead and out of date. The 'entertainment' they produce isn’t washing any more. It’s not inspiring people. They have nothing to offer bar the funding to advertise yourself as an artist. But nothing gains success like hard work, talent and determination, and they can’t take that away from independent people, and I seriously reckon a revolution is on its way. People can only take being fucked over for so long and they want change. It’s happening now. I can feel it in my pussy.

Good times are certainly a-comin'. We saw it with the punk revolution, and people are marching the streets of the world right now expressing their discontent with what they have. It’s started, that wave is happening again, and I’m thrilled to be riding in it, wooohoooooooo! Let’s just hope we all get our kicks before it crashes….
 
KiriaAnd now the 'where next?' question. Do you have a plan for the future all mapped out, or do you have more of a 'Whatever happens, happens' approach?

I’m a fly by the seat of my panties kinda girl, but I certainly have a few dreams I intend to realise. There’s so many videos and records to make in my plans, I’m looking forward to doing all of that but can’t really plan the order as I never know where my life is heading from one day to the next. It’s not something I can totally control.

All I know is there are many songs to thrash out, plenty of boys to kill, cars to ride, stilettos to strut in, grrrrrrr I’m getting all hot and bothered again!

At this point we shall leave Kiria to take a cold shower...while we follow these links for more Kira stuff on the web:

 

Kiria: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Find a Kiria album review here, a live review here, and photos here.

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Page credits: Videos grabbed from YouTube. Search for 'Kiria' on YouTube for credits (and more videos). Interview, photos and construction by Michael Johnson. Nemesis logo by Antony Johnston. Red N version by Mark Rimmell.
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