- 28 Jan 21
One year after being tipped as a Hot Press ‘Hot For 2020’ Irish act, Kynsy is back with her highly anticipated debut EP, Things That Don’t Exist. The Dublin artist opens up about her journey so far, the state of Irish music, and more.
Against the dismal backdrop of shuttered music venues and uncertain futures, something wholly unexpected happened in 2020 – a new generation of artists emerged with a fiercely DIY ethos, a dazzling energy, and a fearless willingness to make their mark on an industry in which all the familiar avenues were blocked. Among these artists, Kynsy established herself as a captivatingly original force, with the release of her debut single ‘Cold Blue Light’ just five months ago.
In true Gen Z fashion, the Dubliner has built up a reputation for exploring the darkness and ennui of youth, while simultaneously holding onto a wry self-awareness in her lyrics and a playful approach to her self-described “rowdy pop” sound – lifting her songs out of a place of tragic realism and into something surprisingly triumphant. With the release of her debut EP Things That Don’t Exist this month, and lauded appearances at Ireland Music Week and the Other Voices Music Trail under her belt, the BIMM Dublin graduate is poised for a major breakthrough on these shores and beyond.
“I didn’t really see myself doing anything other than being a songwriter, an artist or a musician,” she reflects. “When I was around 16, I knew that this is what I wanted to do with my life.
“My mam and my dad are artists themselves, so I got lucky,” she adds, laughing. “They told me: ‘Do the thing that you love – don’t do a boring job’. Even though they were pushing me towards being in a career that probably wasn’t going to make any money...”
While she acknowledges that “everything’s moved quite fast” since the release of ‘Cold Blue Light’ in August, Kynsy also spent a great deal of time building up her live profile before the onset of the global pandemic – allowing her to carefully craft her sound before she began releasing singles.
“It was something I had to do, to discover the direction I wanted to go in,” she explains. “I felt that I had to be confident with the live set, before I started releasing. I was actually supposed to be releasing much sooner than I did, but because of Covid, no one knew what was happening. So it took a lot longer than I’d hoped – but I’m happy that I did all the live shows before. I have so much experience from that, which I take with me into everything I do.”
While her debut EP incorporates a diverse set of indie influences – including Julian Casablancas, St. Vincent and Arctic Monkeys – at the heart of Kynsy’s sound lies a resounding belief in the power of great pop music.
“I love pop music,” she grins. “There’s slightly more guitars in my music, and stuff like that, so people are like, ‘Oh, it’s really indie’. But I definitely aim to write a good pop song.
“There’s a lot of pop that I wouldn’t be into – I’m not crazy into the mainstream chart stuff,” she continues. “But there are so many different directions you can take pop music in. The fundamentals of it are just writing a good song, with a chorus that’s memorable. That’s all. The best way to deal with pop music now is to take the fundamentals of it, and make it your own.”
Despite the lack of gigging opportunities, Kynsy figures that when it comes to creativity, the Irish scene is “in a good place.”
“There’s a lot of people, like Junior Brother, doing really individualistic stuff,” she says. “People are less afraid to be themselves, and to be a bit weird. And that’s partly because of social media, and the way that people can connect with audiences now through their own personality. They’re more willing to be themselves, and that’s a really positive thing.”
Like many artists, however, Kynsy feels that lockdown has altered the way she approaches her craft.
“At the start of it, there was definitely a bit of a creative surge,” she recalls. “I was like, ‘I have to use this time wisely’. I know from talking to a lot of other artists, that people were almost writing through the madness at the beginning. But then, when it got to the summer, there was this universal burnout. Everyone was mentally bored, and sick of this.”
Equally, with a less than eventful social calendar, Kynsy had to seek out new sources of songwriting material.
“I’ve always been able to write well after I’ve been on a good night out,” she reveals. “Going out, seeing people, and having experiences definitely helps the writing and the creative process. So when you’re not meeting new people, and you’re not even dating or anything like that, there’s nothing really to write about – other than you sitting in your room.
“There were definitely a lot of songs written about being bored, and living in my parents’ house,” she laughs. “Which could be good, I suppose…”
Despite these challenges, Kynsy maintains a positive outlook – recognising that the slowed pace of lockdown has also impacted her creative process for the better.
“There’s a little more clarity now, and more concentration when I sit down to write,” she notes. “That mad surge of creativity has passed, and now I can be a little more thoughtful in the process.”
• Things That Don’t Exist is out today:
Order the Hot Press Hot For 2021 Special Issue below: