Published Jan 18, 2017In local music scenes, it's no surprise to find the same faces popping up in different bands, testing out different instruments and working with a multitude of collaborators.
This is true of Toronto-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kirty, who will be performing twice at Exclaim!'s Class of 2017 concert series: on January 20 at the Silver Dollar with her solo project, and on January 28 at the Horseshoe Tavern backing up Raven Shields. Between those two projects and her role in award-winning pop-rockers Fast Romantics, Kirty is quickly becoming a familiar face.
Kirty took the time to break down her three main projects for Exclaim!, as well as outlining plans for a busy future.
Growing up in Orillia, Kirty began playing guitar and writing music at age 15 before moving to Toronto to attend Humber College's Contemporary Music program, where she teamed up with several of her classmates to bring her tracks to life.
"In my second or third year at Humber, I actually put together a band of the more well-known bluegrass players at Humber and started to work on songs with them. I started playing a residency at the Cameron House in 2010-2011. Then I released my first album in 2012."
The original incarnation found the band leaning more toward folk and country, as heard on her 2012 debut LP All I Really Know. But her self-titled sophomore record, released last fall, found her drawing more on contemporaries like Mac DeMarco and Beach House as well as icons Neil Young and Kathleen Edwards. "Paul Simon was a big one as well; I wanted to have that intimate vocal presence that he has in his songs, still having that within an upbeat package," she reveals. Though still featuring traces of her folk roots, Kirty takes a brighter turn, instead dwelling in summery pop production.
2. Fast Romantics
When Fast Romantics bandleader Matthew Angus asked her to join as keyboardist and singer, Kirty's initial response was hesitation. "To be honest, I was like, 'Oh God, I'm not a keys player,'" she admits, "but we met up for a beer and we're both pretty passionate about music and had a good conversation about what he was looking for. It really wasn't until we started to dig into songs that I realized that I was learning so much. I had to play some different instruments and work in a different way, and I really liked that."
As the promotion for her self-titled record winds down, Kirty is preparing for the release of Fast Romantics' upcoming sophomore album. "I came at a time in the band when I really got to wrap my head around the entire album and really play on it and be part of the process of his growth. I'm really excited for this project and for people to hear it. With my project, I have the freedom to do whatever I want to do, but I get this great sense of team mentality and unity with Fast Romantics."
3. Raven Shields
Kirty is also content with a less prominent role, helping out her friend, Toronto folkie Raven Shields. "[Raven's] writing a bunch of songs right now for what I assume is an album," Kirty reveals. "I started playing with her not too long ago; we just started workshopping some of her songs."
Shields and Kirty met through the Toronto independent music scene, a fertile ground for emerging artists that finds many of its community members collaborating. "It's funny when you sit back and you realize how many people you know are just amazing musicians. I know so many players who play in a ton of bands, everywhere from really big projects playing huge venues to playing a fun surf-rock project in a small room, so the musicians weave in and out of scenes."
Though she draws a line at three projects — "It's already too much" — she feels creatively and spiritually energized in her pursuit of a full-time career in music. "I just want to spend all my time playing music," she says. "I really just want to fill my time playing music, and if that means going on tour for two months and then getting back and playing some festivals and then writing more music for two months, whatever I can do to fill all my time playing and practicing and writing and recording, it's really my only goal. And with how busy I'm planning to be this year, I think I'm going to meet my goal."
Catch Kirty performing in the third instalment of the Class of 2017 concert series on January 20 at the Silver Dollar. She will also be performing with Raven Shields in the fifth instalment on January 28 at the Horseshoe Tavern.