Whether fronting the mighty Kyla Brox Band or harnessing undiluted soul power in a duo with musical and life partner Danny Blomeley, Kyla is, without doubt, the most authentic UK blues and soul singer of her generation.
Kyla Brox was born in Lancashire in 1980 and was exposed to the passion of Afro-American music at first-hand from her blues singing father, Victor. Her voice remains a stunning example of the soul singer’s art: turning up the heat by degrees, lulling and charming before unleashing emotional catharsis, and blurring the distinction between pleasure and pain like the soul greats of old.
Kyla is getting ready to join forces with her esteemed touring compatriots – the Finnish queen of the slide guitar Erja Lyytinen and the award-winning British blues singer Connie Lush for an extensive UK theatre run. National Rock Review recently caught up with Kyla Brox to talk about the forthcoming Ladies of the Blues Tour, her father the legendary Victor Brox, her musical influences as well as her plans for 2018.
NRR: It seems like music has always been in your life. Ever since the age of thirteen, you were performing with your father’s band The Victor Brox Blues Train. I just wondered have you always known that being a musician was your chosen path?
Kyla: Yeah I think so (laughing). My mum says that when I was three I asked for the clothes, hair and voice of Chaka Khan for my Christmas present, that was at the top of my Christmas list so I think I’ve always wanted to be a singer. When I was little my brother used to tell me that I couldn’t sing, so I didn’t know if it would come true, but then I suddenly realised that he was just teasing me and I could sing (laughing).
NRR: Obviously, your dad worked with a who’s who of music legends including the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Richie Blackmore just to name but a few. He must have been great to have around to give you advice. What was the best advice he gave you to put you on the right track?
Kyla: I think his main advice has always been to do it for the music, not for the fame or the fortune, just for the love of the music and always stay connected emotionally with whatever you are performing. He just said to me you will have a long career as long as you are true to yourself and that’s what I always try to do.
NRR: Your sound sort of traverses soul and blues, there’s a touch of gospel in there as well. Which artists would you say have influenced you musically?
Kyla: Obviously my dad but also Nina Simone is one of my favourites and Etta James. I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder. One of my sisters was very heavily into acid jazz and then my brother was into rock and heavy metal, so I’ve sort of had a varied musical upbringing. I even studied opera for a while – my mum sings opera these days having begun singing blues when she was a teenager with my dad’s band. So yeah, I have got a lot of different influences but definitely at the top of them would have to be Nina Simone for me – mainly just because of the way she interprets songs and the amount of emotion she can convey just with her voice is amazing.
NRR: You are going to be touring the UK in March as part of the Ladies of Blues tour alongside Connie Lush and Erja Lyytinen. As part of that tour you will be performing at the Gala Theatre in Durham on the 25th March. I just wondered how well do you know the rest of the touring lineup, I understand you are quite local to Connie Lush. Have you worked with any of the other artists previously?
Kyla: Yes, Connie is absolutely fabulous and we’ve sung together before and really sort of raised the roof, so I’m really looking forward to that. Obviously, at the end of each show, we are going to have to all get up and sing together and that’s one of the main things that I’m looking forward to because you get two or three big voices together it can really, really spark some special stuff. So yeah, I’ve sung with Connie before and we really get on like a house on fire. I’ve never met Erja before, so I’m really looking forward to that as well, I’ve heard her stuff and I know she’s brilliant so I think it’s going to be good. We are all friendly girls, I don’t think there is going to be any diva antics.
NRR: In terms of the setlist for the show, I know that with three artists together you get about 45 minutes each. How are you going to pack everything into that amount of time? Do you know what your setlist is going to look like; are you going to showcase your latest album Throw Away Your Blues or can we expect any surprises?
Kyla: Well I guess we will definitely be playing some of the stuff from Throw Away Your Blues, but because we are working on new material at the moment I’m sure we will be trying out some of the new songs on the audiences for this tour. Also, definitely I will be throwing in one or two covers, I haven’t decided which yet. The thing is if you are choosing to sing a cover song it has got to be something brilliant, there are so many brilliant songs to choose from so I think sometimes a well-chosen cover can really set things on fire. So yeah, it is difficult to pack everything into 45 minutes but I’m sure we will be able to do it.
NRR: In terms of your live performance what’s your favourite track to perform live and why?
Kyla: That’s really difficult, there are so many good ones. I mean obviously I love to perform my own stuff, but recently I’ve been performing “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen and that was quite a big song to tackle really. I don’t think I would have done it if a very good friend of mine hadn’t asked me to. Then once I did it once and it went down so well I carried on doing it. I don’t do it every time I perform because when I do it it takes everything single of ounce of emotion. When I first started doing it I couldn’t sing it without crying, I can now just about, but it’s just ten minutes after singing it I’m still shaking. So that’s quite a big one and I do enjoy that when I’ve got the emotional strength to do it.
NRR: What’s the one album in your record collection that you couldn’t live without?
Kyla: Another really hard one. I guess one that I go back to again and again is actually “Solid Air” by John Martyn. I think the thing about that is that it’s got such a mix of music on there and different instrumentation. Because we do a lot of gigs as a duo as well, we do a lot of acoustic stuff as well as the band stuff and that’s really well reflected on that album. His songwriting is incredible, his voice is incredible and yeah that’s something that I go back to quite a lot actually.
NRR: So we are at the start of a brand new year, I just wondered how much of 2018 have you got mapped out?
Kyla: Well at the moment I’m all about getting fit and healthy in my personal life, so the typical January thing, but I’m really getting into that. Then like I said we are writing as well, it looks like we are going to be recording in the second week of April so I’m really looking forward to that. After that, it’s just gigs all over the place. We do a lot of stuff in Europe these days, so I guess the album is going to be released sometime maybe July-ish and then we will be doing touring after that to promote that. Yeah, but at the moment I’m really looking forward to the Ladies of the Blues tour.
The Ladies of the Blues tour featuring Erja Lyytinen, Connie Lush and Kyla Brox will commence on Wednesday 21st March at Whitby Pavillion Theatre and will run through until Fri 30th March at The Atkinson in Southport. This incredibly talented trio will also be making a welcome return to the North East of England for a show the Gala Theatre in Durham on 25th March. For tickets and further details please visit: www.solidentertainments.com