With themes of empowerment, romance, and pain, Scottish pop newcomer Kirsty Grant’s glittering debut EP, Chain Reaction, gives a glimpse into the iridescent world of a pop star on the rise.
Ahead of the EP’s release, we sat down with Grant via Zoom to get the all goss around her stellar debut. With her sparkling makeup and long blonde hair, the young star looks ready to headline a concert and with her killer new record under her belt, we predict sell-out tours in the not too distant future.
Oozing with glitz and glamour, Grant discussed her career to date, dipped into her creative process, and revealed what’s next on her trajectory to superstardom.
The Indiependent: Please could you introduce yourself to our readers – how would you describe your sound to someone unfamiliar with your music?
Kirsty: I’m based in London but I’m originally from Scotland and I would say that I am a pop artist through and through. I graduated from a music university in 2019 and ever since then I’ve been writing, recording and releasing my own music.
The Indiependent: Tell us about a moment in your career you’re really proud of?
Kirsty: One thing recently was that my last song got a premiere from Wonderland! I used to be a PR intern and I would always hear the publicists in the office talking about it so in the back of my mind it was like ‘one day it will be me’. What I’m the proudest of though is my personal growth, as an artist I feel like my confidence has grown so much as a songwriter and I’m learning a lot.
The Indiependent: What led you to naming your EP Chain Reaction?
Kirsty: It was a bit of a backwards process, logically you would think that you would start with the EP name and then from there you do the visuals and branding around that but with Chain Reaction I did all the visuals first. Then I was like ‘how am I going to get a name that fits in with this and also works with the songs?’. My logo is a heart with chains and I wanted the name of the EP to go hand in hand with that. I was chatting to the producer Jules, and he mentioned the phrase ‘chain reaction’ and it just resonated as I say that phrase a lot. It’s like the butterfly effect, if I hadn’t done this then I wouldn’t be here right now I’d be doing something else! Every person you meet is going to affect and change you, and that relates to the songs because a lot of the songs are looking at the past. There are songs where I’m reflecting on the past and it’s like I’m a different person now, so it’s a chain reaction from those past events. From there it all just slotted together.
The Indiependent: The EP is quite versatile, moving between ultra-pop bangers to softer songs, how do you decide which song has that extra punch and which you leave more stripped back?
Kirsty: It just comes naturally really, for example ‘Bad Boys, Good Girls’ we wrote the song to an already upbeat instrumental and for the final song on the EP, Now We Don’t’ we wrote to a piano and I was just over the moon with it as it was, so I knew it didn’t need anything more. The songs kind of stay the same as when we initially write them, we just develop them further. Sometimes it doesn’t happen like that though like ‘Hurt But I Smile’ was originally written to a piano loop but we wanted to produce that one up a bit and experiment as it wasn’t really going anywhere before. One good test is when you play it for other people, if they’re bored by like the third verse then we know we need something a bit more going on!
The Indiependent: Can you walk us through your songwriting process, from start to finish?
Kirsty: We work over Zoom these days, and we usually have about two or three people in a songwriting session. I tend to work with the same people because I just love working with them and they’re my closest friends. We’ll start off the session with Jules who will prep some loops and a simplistic gist of what we have been talking about in the past week. Sometimes it’s a completely different vibe on the day, I might be like ‘guys we are ditching the upbeat, we’re gonna be sad today’. But we go in with a rough idea, then we go on mute and do our own thing. Next we share what we came up with on voice notes in our group chat and I’ll highlight what I liked. By the end we kind of have all the melodies so we’ll do a rough demo to see what fits together. Next we create a shared document and write out all our lyrical ideas, sometimes we have a song title in mind or just a topic and go from there! Sometimes I don’t know what I want to say so I’ll go back to the melody and just put in random words and I’ll find myself mumbling something subconsciously to it – which is actually how ‘Now We Don’t’ came about!
The Indiependent: Is there a reason you’ve not returned to in person sessions?
Kirsty: I actually had my first in person session in a year last Saturday but it’s mainly because a lot of the people i work with aren’t in London! I’ve been able to branch out a lot more because of Zoom, before I’d only work with London people or have to wait for people to come into the city. Now, I can work with my producer, who is based in Germany or songwriters in Scotland or Australia. It is a bit strange though that there are people who I’ve worked with for well over a year and I’ve not even met them yet!
The Indiependent: Have you got any sources of inspiration?
Kirsty: Inspiration depends on the situation, sometimes its a like a stereotypical moment where I’m on a train and I’ll just think of something and write it in my notes to come back to it later. I also get inspired by other people’s music, it could be a particular phrase that makes me think of something or feel a certain way and I want to write about it. Sometimes, I have no inspiration and I’m stuck which I’m sure a lot of people can relate to and you just can’t get yourself down about that because you can try to bounce off other people in the session and relate to their experiences.
The Indiependent: Empowerment is a theme running throughout the EP, what advice would you give to someone who is struggling to feel empowered?
Kirsty: When I’m not feeling confident or empowered what makes me feel better is seeing people I look up to also saying the same things. Sometimes I’ll leave a session and I didn’t suggest the melodies I liked or my head is telling me that I’m not a decent songwriter but then I see FINNEAS, a grammy award winning artist, tweet about a time he thought he had written the best song of his career, but when he went to the studio it was terrible. And everyone has those days. I think that you can’t be empowered all the time and it’s very natural to be up and down –as long as you know that the downs are temporary. And the other people that you think are phenomenal and incredible also feel like that. Sometimes it’s hard to see your own growth and how good you are because you get into your head.
The Indiependent: Have you got any upcoming tour dates?
Kirsty: Unfortunately not yet, but I reckon when Chain Reaction is out, that’s hopefully when I can start these things! I’d love to do some support gigs for other artists as I think that would be a nice little transition into performing live because it’s been such a long time now. Honestly the thought of it terrifies me because I’m so out of it and I think I would be scared that I’d have a show and only my mum would come! I’d like to ease back into it with support slots which are lower pressure because everyone is there to see the headliner and you can gain new fans too. Once the EP is out, I’d love to do a little intimate gig, that would be amazing… but I think it’s baby steps for me as it’s a bit nerve wracking!
The Indiependent: Describe your dream performance setting?
Kirsty: This is probably way further down the line but I’d love to do something like Shepherd’s Bush Empire because I’ve been to a lot of gigs there.
The Indiependent: Which song from the EP would you close your performance with?
Kirsty: I always think about this because I’m such a dreamer. It couldn’t be a ballad as we can’t leave people on a downer so something upbeat –either ‘Bad Boys, Good Girls’ or ‘Bad Taste’.
The Indiependent: What’s next for you?
Kirsty: As an independent artist that question is always a bit daunting! What I’m currently doing is working on more material, these new songs are the best songs, and trying to get my name out there. I really hope the EP does well and I’d love to get myself some support and funding. It would be great to unlock my full potential and not be so limited with like shoots because ideas are too expensive and one day have enough fans to play Shepherds Bush Empire!
The Indiependent: Any final words?
Kirsty: I’d love to shout out to everyone who worked on Chain Reaction with me, they’ve all been so phenomenal and I can’t even express how much it’s helped me personally.
Chain Reaction is out now and you can keep up with Kirsty Grant via her social media.
Interview conducted by Ella McLaren
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