Fellow musicians who know Kylyra claim she works through fire. She’s been known in the studio to hammer out melodies to a fine edge and to be obstinate, emphatic, and authoritative in her manner approaching music. Born out of ‘the frustration of an outsider looking in and seeing all the faults of the system’ and imbued with years of music training, Kylyra stepped beyond the role of musician and embraced her true nature, that of a sound artist, when she signed with Dark World in 1995.
A self described manic-depressive, Kylyra spread her wings by exploring musical improvisation in the Dark World sessions for Ennui Entertainment’s video series (Milwaukee, WI) and by joining Stygian Tars with J.A.B. and Sven Kort from Milwaukee’s Black Orchid. Kylyra’s dark melodies served as a perfect intertwining aspect between Sven Kort’s polyrhythms and J.A.B.’s brilliant free form playing and singing. Her time in Stygian Tars would serve to open her eyes to new aspects of musical exploration, furthering her career as a sound artist.
Kylyra’s first releases, First Steps (1997), and Threshold (1999), did not include her signature vocals. Instead, they marked Kylyra’s initial exploration of fusing classic melodies with techno beats. Demo songs released to a few limited sources likened these releases to The Chemical Brothers, and offers came in for Kylyra to work with producers from around Europe. Personal tragedy in the form of her father’s death struck Kylyra at this time. While this prevented Kylyra from following up on the offers of European producers, it culminated in the astonishing release Ishtar’s Ascent (1999) and the EP In the Land of Death and Joy (1999).
In Ishtar’s Ascent, Kylyra diffused the emotional turmoil caused by her father’s death into each song on the album. Unafraid to break any and all expectations of herself, Kylyra used a combination of organic underlays, spoken work interludes, classical music, techno, and singing to complete this remarkable album. To this day, Lost Souls remains one of the most ambivalent pieces recorded. Listeners are drawn into it, fascinated by it, but also find it extremely difficult to finish due to it’s intense, personal nature.
Worn out by the work on Ishtar’s Ascent and her own grief, Kylyra took time out as she moved to Ireland and helped establish Dark World as Dark World International. Behind the scenes, Kylyra began exploring yet another musical genre, hard rock, with her brother Tor in Deemed Psychotic. The experience would once again serve her well as a sound artist. The brazen sound of hard rock inspired Kylyra to begin reaching with her voice, and the last vestiges of personal doubt in her abilities vanished. She began to push herself again, simultaneously working on a new solo release, VOX, Deemed Psychotic’s first release, The 1st, and a new techno project called TechnoKy.
VOX the EP was released in 2005 on a promotional basis. In 2006, Deemed Psychotic’s The 1st and Red Book, a compilation of Kylyra’s earlier works, was released on iTunes. In 2007, Kylyra released the fully finished VOX.
Unlike Ishtar’s Ascent, VOX was not a concept album, nor did it include any classical or spoken word pieces. What emerged was hard-edged and tinged with industrial lashings. Gone was the fragile vocal sound of Ishtar’s Ascent. Pushing her vocals, Kylyra spun sultry harmonies and worked with distortion for a completely new sound. Hailed as a new Siousxie and the Banshees mixed with The Dead Can Dance, VOX garnered Kylyra some press notice, but most fans missed the release.
A burgeoning interest in performance poetry in 2008 fueled Kylyra to create KyPoetry, her spoken word project. On Purple (2008), Kylyra was able to fully utilize all her skills as a sound artist. Music became a back lay, sound was used to tell and emphasize the poetry. Her incredible exploration into beat poetry, culminating in Clutched and Frosted, pushed her to explore more jazz backings and to modify her poetry style.
The following two years saw Kylyra busy establishing the Irish charity, Express Events, and running Poets Express and Kids Express. Established to bring poets and musicians into West Cork, Ireland, the events held in 2009 and 2010 were an undisputed triumph, bringing performers from all over Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the UK to eager audiences in rural communities. In addition, Kylyra began performing with Shaky Dawg and worked to produce seven half hour video programs for An Lár TV and close to 100 individual videos on YouTube from her poetry events.
Having worked herself close to serious illness, Kylyra took a leave of absence from Express Events in 2011. She continued to work in the studio on TechnoKy and with Shaky Dawg. In 2012, Kylyra released her first novel, The Demon of Petty Disturbances: Doh-da.
Kylyra’s current work includes finishing TechnoKy’s first release, titled darkworld, Deemed Psychotic’s 2nd Take, and releasing VOX on Wa3 in China.
Losing Today / Marcello Berlich / Italy
“Attiva da circa una decina d’anni, con dischi solisti e in gruppo (Stygian Tars, Deemed Psychotic) la cantante e polistrumentista Kylyra torna con questo nuovo full length, incentrato su sonorità elettro-gotiche, alternando ritmi accelerati e tonalità industriali a brani dall’attitudine più spiccatamente folk (con atmosfere che rimandano ai ‘capofila’ Dead Can Dance), e senza disdegnare qualche rarefazione ipnotica di stampo ambient. Undici pezzi dalla sequenza ben disegnata, dando al disco una buona dinamica, nonostante in alcuni episodi ci si dilunghi forse un pò troppo (solo in un paio di occasioni si scende sotto i cinque minuti, un un caso superando gli otto).
Domina, naturalmente, la vocalità di Kylyra, con personalità, anche se i riferimenti a certe voci ‘storiche'(vedi Siouxsie) sono inevitabili; è lei a occuparsi pressoché interamente della strumentazione, coadiuvata al basso dal fratello e collaboratore storico KarrArikh Tor, che concorre anche alla scrittura di uno dei tre brani non a firma esclusiva di Kylyra, gli altri due provenienti rispettivamente dal repertorio degli Stygian Tars e dei Black Orchid di Miwaukee. Nel suo genere, un disco che alla fine convince, pur rischiando a tratti di fare un pò calare l’attenzione dell’ascolto.”