Kiera Court whose real name is Kiera Chapman meets me at a local coffee shop. She orders peppermint tea even though it’s only half past five, “if I drink coffee now I won’t go to sleep tonight”. Kiera started doing live performances in September and her songs have already been aired on BBC Radio twice. I met up with Kiera to see where it all started.
Kiera was inspired to start song writing because she enjoyed writing poems and later discovered that putting music behind, it turned into a song. Kiera giggles about the first song she wrote, which was a song about wanting a dog to try to convince her parents to get one, which worked. She says “Some people keep a diary, but I write songs to communicate my feelings, it’s almost like therapy.” After she turned to song writing Kiera decided to learn to play the guitar and spoke about her guitar teacher who, after a few lessons, stopped turning up, so she started to teach herself. Kiera seems to over-criticise herself, saying she never had singing lessons and how you can tell (you can’t).
Due to being self-taught in practically every musical sense I was curious to know why she started pursuing music. It all started as a coping mechanism for Kiera’s anxiety. “When I panicked and needed something to take my mind off things I just picked up my guitar, I guess I got immersed in it.” Kiera decided to carry on teaching herself guitar, as it drew her away from having panic attacks, it was something to keep her busy, then one day she realised she was “quite good” at this, and decided to practice more. “Nothing ever comes easy, especially music and getting publicity for it, but you have to start from somewhere.”
Kiera’s first performance on stage apparently didn’t go according to plan, the performance was in Soho and was ‘atrocious’ in Kiera’s own words. But after she finished performing she felt as if there was a pressure lifted off her, “Of course I felt sick, I still feel sick getting on stage but as soon as the adrenaline kicks in you forget where you are.” Kiera talks about how although it’s nerve-racking her songs act as a comfort blanket “When I’m on stage, I can be whoever I want, no-one knows me, and the stage lights tend to drown people out, thank god.” When Kiera becomes particularly nervous before going on stage she tends to shake (a lot) and the best way to calm her nerves? “I like to read, sometimes I’ll read before I go on.”
On a whim Kiera decided to put her music on BBC Radio player, a service for up-and-coming artists to submit their music to, which can take up to six months to respond to them. However, Kiera’s catchy acoustic-pop songs caught their eyes and within four months they had contacted her to let her know one of her song would play live on BBC Introducing and BBC Essex. Her first response to the BBC contacting her was “Someone actually wants to listen to me!” And as luck would have it, they contacted her again a few months later, to inform her that another one of her songs would play live on air. Talking with Kiera you can clearly see just how modest she is with her accomplishments, from not being able to look at you when she lists them to making jokes to take the attention off her.
London was once the best city for creative people, with people coming from all over the world to try their luck in London, however rising rent prices have forced many musicians to leave London. The musiciansunion.org reported that in 2012 at least 60% of musicians in London were working for free. The biggest struggle for Kiera is getting paid gigs: “it’s so difficult finding people that will actually pay you to perform, but once you get one or two, it’s like being in a circuit, they just keep coming.” Kiera talks fondly about other musicians trying to get their break: “musicians are always willing to help, because they just have a genuine love for music.” As a woman trying to make it in such a competitive industry Kiera has had her fair share of men trying to use her sexuality as an ultimatum. “Some men just come on too strong, it almost feels like it’s an ultimatum, older men and male musicians say ‘Oh I’ll help you out’ but the way they imply it makes you think, with my music career or trying to take off my knickers?” Kiera has always identified as a feminist, and talks about how you’re allowed to joke and flirt. “Women aren’t weak, but you need to know the line. Men need to recognise the line too and meet us so we’re on even ground.” Kiera talks about how she values her self-worth, as other girls should, it irritates Kiera that men are more likely to help her because of her sexual assets rather than believing in her music.
Kiera recently brought out two new songs, which come as a pair the songs are titled London Town and Take It Off, the songs come as a pair because it is about a break up and each song represents the other person’s story. Kiera kept tight lipped over the background of these songs: “They aren’t about me, but they are personal, it’s about two people who have gone their separate ways, one has falling in love again so it’s more of an upbeat song, whilst the other is alone so it’s more acoustic.” After seeing Kiera perform live in Camden I can say her passion for music is very visible when she gets on stage, her timid quality drifts away as she starts plucking the guitar and sets the mood for a perfect afternoon.