People leaving bands to pursue solo projects is hardly unheard of (and yes we are all thinking of Zayn right now <3). What’s even better, however, is when some of our fave vocalists embark on exciting solo projects whilst still remaining part of the bands we love. KYIKI, aka Ellie Fletcher, is one of those artists. A vocalist for everyone’s favourite feel good band Crystal Fighters, KYIKI has found the time (somehow) to also step out solo on the side, with a new project that sees her getting darker and more ethereal than ever before. Juggling two different sounds can’t be easy, but the vocalist seems to be breezing through: she even self-produces her own songs.
Her new single ‘Here For’ shows a new trip-hop feel from KYIKI, though this looks to just be the beginning with the singer suggesting a post opera banger might even be next on the cards – hardly surprising from an artist whose musical style often stems from experimentation. Though she says her tendency for dark writing may have stayed with her from the emotionally tumultous age of 14, it’s difficult to define the genre of music KYIKI falls into. ‘Electronic’ doesn’t seem to cover the depth of the lyrics, whilst dark doesn’t encompass the layers of emotion displayed. But, balancing this new persona as KYIKI, whilst still being part of the Crystal Fighters, should come easy for someone who managed to ace a degree whilst touring the world. KYIKI is no stranger to a busy schedule, and it doesn’t look like she’s getting a break any time soon.
You’ve been a vocalist in Crystal Fighters for a few years now, originally getting to tour with them through an audition. What convinced you to go for it?
I used to go and audition for everything, I had wanted to be an artist and perform my entire life. I had actually heard ‘Xtatic Truth’ prior to hearing they were looking for a singer and loved it so there wasn’t much convincing needed.
When you began your solo project, what made you decide to adopt the name KYIKI rather than going by your name Ellie Fletcher?
I prefer having the two separate entities and personalities and it being an entire project with intent and direction and an over exaggerated part of myself. For me it provides that degree of separation.
What was the scariest thing about deciding to pursue a solo project?
The first release was pretty scary, a lot of people had predictions as to what I would sound like and were imagining something similar to Crystal Fighters. It is a different direction, so putting my first song out was daunting. Being on your own as an artist with no one to balance your good and bad ideas out is also tricky. Performing live is an entirely different experience as well, a lot more pressure and focus but really enjoyable, luckily I am confident when it comes to live so I don’t care if I am completely over the top. I played my first proper show in Hollywood the other week and resembled a judo instructor on a night out. I was into it.
You’ve been compared to Tove Lo and Portishead. When you first started making music, did you know the type of artist you wanted to be, or was your musical style something that evolved more naturally?
I’ve found I have always had a slight slur towards dark writing, melodically and lyrically and that has stayed consistent with me since I was about 14. I would have liked to have said my musical style was something very methodically thought out and planned, but over the years but I have had to experiment a lot to find where I sit specifically and where I feel most proud of myself. It can be a difficult process but the most rewarding feeling in the world when you know exactly who you are as an artist and what you are saying.
Producing their own music is something most artists tend to come to later in their careers, but you began self-producing at the start of your solo project. Is it important for you to be involved in both sides of the music making process?
I got into Music Production at 17 because I was frustrated with the power lying in someone elses hands to create something finished and final. It taught me an incredible amount and I think it’s completely vital for me personally to be involved in both sides. Otherwise I end up feeling not 100 percent satisfied and a vision and emotion of an idea can be completely lost from start to finish. Luckily I work with really great people who are very talented producers and bring an immense amount to the table.
You release your music available as free downloads on sound cloud rather than to buy on iTunes. Do you think this is a better way for new artists to generate interest in music?
I believe it definitely is a great way to go as a new artist. You want your music to be easily accessible with no barriers in the way, at least for the first part of your career in order to get to know who you are and what you’re about. However, I will actually be doing my first release on itunes/spotify etc in May for my fourth single so I am looking forward to that as a new avenue of releasing my music.
After having spent the summer writing and recording in both L.A. and Stockholm, would you say the music you create is influenced by the place it is written in?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It can be the place or the mental state I am in at that particular time or the situations happening around me. If there isn’t a lot going on in my life, it’s good to run off somewhere unknown for an adventure, but my writing is focused a lot more around other people than locations in particular. In fact, I am pretty sure I have written some of my darkest songs in LA.
Adopting the darker persona for your music as KYIKI makes it pretty distinguishable from what you’ve done as Crystal Fighters. In creating your solo project, what made you go for a different sound compared to what you’re usually known for?
I wasn’t really trying to go for anything in particular, just what I enjoyed and what came naturally. I didn’t want to be restricted by one particular sound but I was also not trying to go the opposite way either so it wasn’t really a conscious decision.
Having worked with producers like Alex Da Kid, and soon heading off to meet with Dev Hynes, have you found that recording sessions vary drastically with different producers? Or is it a similar approach each time?
Every producer/artist you write with has their own way of creating, some people can be very particular, others can have a more relaxed approach and let me lead the way. It all depends on the person, so I just go into a session as open minded as possible, you always have to be prepared for something different. The Creative process is personal and different to every person. I went into an evening session once, laptop in hand, ready to go, comfy socks on feet, got to the studio and the producer I was working with wanted to go out and watch live music and drink beer for inspiration and in order to understand me and be ready for the next session. So the whole first ‘session’ was nowhere near a studio.
With Crystal Fighters going on a tour of North America later this year, are you looking forward to heading back out on the road?
Really looking forward to it, it feels like it’s been a while! It’s been the first time in a long time that there has been time to settle and just stay in one place. We are playing some great festivals. Coachella I am particularly excited for, of course, as it’s a first for me! Plus I love touring America in general. My accent only ever gets more and excessively English whenever I am there. That’s not why I love it though, obviously.
Your new track ‘Here For’ has more of a trip-hop feel compared to your first single ‘One’, which had a much softer sound. Would you say you’ve changed as an artist since you first began your solo project?
My sound has definitely had a journey. I wouldn’t say that my music is one particular strict thing, as I like to play around in slightly different emotions and genre, I try and take inspiration from a range of artists.
There are no strict rules for me as when I try and enforce rules and predictions of how something should sound, it often ends up limiting me more than anything else. There is so much music out there that I love. I believe that my vocal and lyrical content are the consistent and there is room to play around in genre town slightly. So, just don’t be surprised if I ever come out with an post opera banger.
In the work up to the release of your debut album later this year, what sort of things have you got planned?
This year is going to be busy, especially doing both KYIKI and Crystal Fighters but it will be exciting for sure. I will be based in LA mainly but very much all over the place. I have my first official London show coming up in June and will be doing shows around Europe as well. There will be more single releases from me and then, the album, which I can’t wait to release. I have been sitting on a lot of tracks for a while and it will be amazing to have my own body of work available.