Welcome to the world of Kynsy: a colourful, weird place of harsh edges and soft storytelling, where unwavering authenticity reigns king and the building blocks are constantly shapeshifting around you. It is the world constructed by 24-year-old Ciara Lindsey, who is still constructing herself, throwing love songs and confrontational battlecries at the wall to see what sticks.
It began with the rising Dubliner’s debut EP ‘Things That Don’t Exist’ released last year, a few months after she featured in the NME 100 who praised the EP as, “a masterclass of channelling angst into disarming indie for a new generation.” Her music caught the attention of The Irish Times, naming her one of 50 people to watch in 2022; The Quietus who included the debut EP as the best new music of that month; glowing reviews from the likes of DIY, DORK and Clash, who called Kynsy’s first release “raw and breathtaking”. BBC Radio 1 proved to be equally supportive with Jack Saunders, Annie Mac and Gemma Bradley all championing her and she was chosen as a BBC Introducing artist for Radio 1’s Big Weekend. But that four-track release still wasn’t enough – Kynsy is an endlessly prolific songwriter. Her mind has been thrumming with tunes for the last five years, and at this point she’s just itching to get them out.
Freedom has always been the most important thing, and with a forthcoming second EP you sense Kynsy fully embracing the confidence that comes with her ever-growing knowledge as a songwriter, producer and performer, presenting a boisterous collection of tracks without being constrained by genre, format, theme, or, well, anyone but herself. She’s indebted to the artists she grew up on – David Bowie’s chameleonic glamour and the Beatles’ peerless crowd pleasing, as much as The Strokes’ seductive stubbornness and the way nobody writes lyrics quite like David Byrne. But still, The new songs build on the swaggering wit of the first EP, the observational frustration with modern living now shapeshifting into something broader, grander, even stronger.
“Last time, I wasn’t brave enough to make it sound a bit rough at times. I want to keep the rawness”, Kynsy says. She was right to trust her gut on this one. The resulting EP (first teased with the electrifying yet slicing single “New Year” which sounds like a distant sibling of Gwen Stefani’s hair-raising “What You Waiting For?”) stitches together a picture of love in all its vivid, beautiful, illogical and intoxicating forms by taking the listener through the journey of one person trying to break down each destabilising chapter of it. “It’s about emotion and the feeling of the music, as opposed to trying to say something really deep,” Kynsy says, calling the EP “direct” and “about pleasure and joy and confusion.
We follow Kynsy through her own stages of infatuation, borrowing anecdotes from her own life and loves while staying firmly behind characters of her own design.
The narrative begins with the vibrant expression of puppy love on “Love Of Your Life”, where Kynsy pens what could have been a classic love song and peppers in surprising elements with a nod to the mixolydian sounds of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s ‘Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence’ as well as nostalgic, crooning jazz-funk and a haunting string section rocking you into the arms of the enemy before you’ve had time to take off your rose-tinted glasses.
“Simple Life” is the next step in the story – tackling the confusion of love and the nagging second thoughts that come with the throes of such an intense relationship with woozy percussion and a circling hook to get you dancing as a means to shake it all loose.
Take just one step back and you’re thrown into the harsh trauma of love with “Thumb Wars”, juxtaposing disarmingly sweet lyrics with abrasive synths and heavy bass. The discomfort is deliberate, thrusting you into the heart of this character’s own pain as they spiral further.
And then comes the rejection, as “Point of You” twists the arm of a radio-ready pop song until the chinese burn spells out the trauma and darker side of relationships, with a simple theme morphing into something much stranger, taking influences from the harmonies of the Beach Boys and the Beatles and pushing them into uncomfortable corners with overly compressed drums and glitchy keys.
If you had to ask Kynsy for just one artist she considers a role model while her own identity is still being sculpted, naturally, she names another shapeshifter. “I’m a really big fan of St. Vincent, because nobody knows who she is,” she says. “And when you’re like that, there’s more to play with, you can change constantly. Her new album is insane, and she clearly wasn’t thinking about her audience. If you do, it gets diluted and it’s not making art anymore.”
Of course, Kynsy wants to be liked, but keeping that distance from herself and her audience is what gives her the tools to exorcise all the feelings that she transforms into such beguiling and brilliant creations. And she does so in good company on the EP, sharing a producing credit with Alt-J regular Charlie Andrew, who worked with Kynsy in Dalston’s Old Workshop, where Alt-J recorded so much of the weird, wondrous music which changed everything for them.
“Every song I gave to Charlie, he was like, ‘How can we make this weirder?’” Kynsy says of their collaboration, something of a breath of fresh air to have her bedroom demos embraced, celebrated, re-amped and reinvigorated as opposed to disregarded as child’s play.
But the thing about Kynsy, at this stage, is that it is all about playing. You couldn’t tell, by the complex, sharp sounds borne from a young, frantic mind now finally bursting to get out. But that’s what makes it such a privilege to be invited into this world for a minute: to walk around and look at the building blocks, the splashes of colour, the hints of past lives and learned mistakes, and the promise of a deliciously unpredictable future to come.