Kynsy: wit and heartbreak in Irish shredder’s indie-pop

Each week in First On, we introduce a shit-hot artist you’d have no doubt seen opening the bill for your favourite act. This week, the Dublin-based 23-year-old talks her new EP, the Irish music scene and moving beyond Strokes comparisons

Ciara Lindsey is a big fan of The Strokes, but she’ll take any compliments with a pinch of salt. We’re clearly not the first to tell Lindsey, better known as Kynsy, that the opening riff of her latest single ‘Happiness Isn’t a Fixed State’ sounds like something Julian Casablancas would be riding on the coattails of for years. She thanks us, but sticks to her guns.

“I think my melody writing has been influenced by them, which people have picked up on,” the Irish singer-songwriter says. “I try and steer away from comparison, because I have a bit of a fear of complacency. My fundamental goal is to sound as much like myself as possible, not like the Strokes. It’s great! But the goal is to make something completely new.”

The 23-year-old musician is well on her way, making genre-fluid bedroom pop to remind you of all your favourite hitmakers. There’s a bit of Talking Heads, a bit of Saint Vincent, a bit of Bowie and even a touch of Iggy Pop, but even more names crop up when you ask her. Marina and the Diamonds, Charli XCX, Dua Lipa – nothing is off limits. “Being 23 in 2020, everyone’s into a bit of everything,” she says. “There shouldn’t be many boundaries.”

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The sense of freedom in Kynsy’s output can be credited to a fairly new sonic curiosity. Feeling her way through her teen years dabbling in acting and writing for the stage, things only clicked into place more recently musically. “The only thing I liked when growing up was The Beatles, because my dad’s a massive fan – but I always considered it ‘dad music’ when I was a teenager.” It took what she describes as “a total teen cliché” for her to take music seriously.

“There was a lot of stuff in the charts like Rihanna and Beyoncé which I liked, but it never really hit home. It wasn’t until l was in that awkward 15-year-old ‘didn’t know what was going on’ phase and was really depressed that my dad was like, ‘Right, here’s David Bowie.’ He could see me needing something to hold onto.”

Having found her tether, Kynsy is now raring to go. This week she releases her debut EP, full of seductive and sultry belters that grapple with tricky post-breakup sadness as much as the discomfort of overhearing racism at a New Year’s Eve party. “I was with my friends and there were these two actors we recognised. We quickly learned they weren’t nice people at all; it was really horrible to overhear someone talking like that, especially when you have a bit of status.” Those racist comments fuel the twisty, contradictory layers of explosive track ‘Cold Blue Light’ . “On this song I’m thinking, ‘I wish the world wasn’t like this, but I really hope we’ll break out and through this.”

That fire is tangible on ‘Happiness Isn’t a Fixed State’, too, where that infectious riff teases a funky bassline and a curious neo-noir tension is always building. “I’m really interested in juxtaposition and contrast and I try to put it in all my lyrics and production – even where I placed the tracks on the EP.”

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On ‘Things That Don’t Exist’, there’s no single agenda with the songs here; the brooding, romantic indie of ‘Elephant in the Room’ and the shiny and glitchy pop on ‘Dog Videos’ join the first two singles. Lindsey simply describes them as all having this sense of “high energy”, something the world certainly needs right now.

Kynsy’s energy also comes from the community lifting her up. She’s proud to be part of the Dublin music scene, and why wouldn’t she be? “Everyone knows each other and there’s so much love,” she says. “Everyone helps each other and pushes each other forward – no one’s egotistical at all.” Before we have a chance to ask, she brings it up herself: she met the Fontaines DC boys when they were all attending the British and Irish Modern Music Institute a few years back. “I played a gig with them when I was 17 and they were 19 or something, and it’s just mad to see how successful they are now,” she says. “But it’s great, because it gives you so much hope as an Irish person to be like, ‘You can break out of here if you put in the work and have the right mindset.’”

A lot might be on pause right now as far as live music is concerned, but Kynsy’s still making plans. With the EP so close, you’d think she might be itching to skyrocket to bigger projects quickly, but she knows all good things take time. The goal by the end of 2021? “I want to be in a studio, with a band, and a producer.” And a vaccine? “And a vaccine.” That’ll do for now. Once the world is ready, Kynsy will be waiting.

Kynsy’s debut EP ‘Things That Don’t Exist’ is out Thursday

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