Listening to KRÍA’s dark, ethereal synthpop gives a strange, wobbly, pleasant sensation of floating between timelines. From a retro vision of the future with guttural, gloomy vintage synth samples, to a hyper-futuristic surreal space of perfect, AutoTuned voices.
KRÍA herself is also slightly elusive. Charming, open and down to earth, she maintains an air of being somewhat of a riddle. When we meet, she’s just on the cusp of releasing her new EP ‘Output’. “I was walking home one day when I was six years old,” she says. “I started talking with a girl on the way home and she told me ‘I’m going to the music school around the corner. I’m playing the Lion King song on the piano.’ I was like ‘No way!’ So I started playing the piano.”
80s-obsessed AutoTune addict
Cut to a few years ahead to London, where KRÍA found herself studying creative vocals at the Institute for Contemporary Music, surrounded by inspiring peers and influential educators. “Everyone there was doing something completely different from each other,” she says. “The teachers were musicians themselves so it was really cool to see when they were releasing something or about to go touring.” This nurturing environment pushed her towards writing her own music, leading to the birth of her persona and releasing her first single “Low Hype” in 2015.
Having now had some time to let things simmer, the self-described 80s obsessed AutoTune addict has rocketed her sound into new galaxies, orbiting darker, more lugubrious sonic planets. Her ubiquitous use of autotune serves as a tool of atmospheric manipulation, rather than a mask or corrective device, enhancing her well-honed vocal instrument.
“I have this TC-Helicon vocal effects station and I just love sitting down by the piano or at my computer and just coming up with vocal melodies through that,” she says. “I sometimes feel like that’s when I get the best vocal ideas. I feel like it also adds a warmth to my voice that I can’t really synthesize in another way by using other gear.”
This new journey has also taken her into darker lyrical content as well. “This EP is really vulnerable,” KRÍA says. “I’ve never written something that was so raw and
coming straight from my head, like writing in my diary or something, so I’m kind of scared to release this. Even though it’s metaphors and stuff, people can read into it I think.”
This rawness was brought on by her writing process being surrounded by what she describes as really heavy energies, as well as the suicide of a friend, but the process of writing and producing the music delivered catharsis.
The right time
KRÍA’s live show recently incorporated a live drummer—Atli Steinn Bjarnason of the electronic act Axis Dancehall—who has also become a songwriting collaborator who compliments her established sound and drives her motivation.
“Working with him is a really good balance because he comes up with things I wouldn’t have thought of, and vice versa,” she says. “Especially in terms of starting because I tend to overcomplicate things, like it has to be the right time, I have to be in the right mood! But you just have to do it.”