At 25, singer-songwriter Kitty, a BRIT School graduate, is certainly on the rise in the indie-pop world and beyond. Known for her emotive vocals and honest lyrics, Kitty is poised to capture hearts with her latest single, "Sympathy Pains", a standout track from her upcoming second EP, Swimming for Dummies, set to release in May 2024.
Born in Dublin and raised in London, Kitty's music is a soulful blend of influences like Lianne La Havas and the quirky pop sounds of Lily Allen. Her candid, often humorous lyrics offer a window into the life of a young, queer woman navigating love, friendship, and self-discovery. Her rise to fame began at 19 with her debut EP Nights, which included hits like "4 Days 4 Nights" and "Girlfriend". Her music, promoting authenticity and bravery, quickly caught the attention of BBC Introducing London and landed on Spotify's Viral Top 50 Playlists.
Kitty's journey in music began at The BRIT School, alongside artists like Jade Bird and Olivia Dean. It was during this time that she found and then lost herself, prompting a hiatus to rediscover her sound. This break wasn't idle; Kitty honed her songwriting skills, collaborating on tracks like Rowan Flack's "Tipsy on the Tongue" and contributing to the remix of Cortese's "Wild Enough" by Higgo.
Swimming for Dummies will represent a new chapter for Kitty. The EP is a culmination of years spent refining a sound that balances her introspective lyricism with vibrant indie-pop arrangements. It's an allegory of her growth into adulthood, likened to learning to swim without guidance.
Collaborating with producer Jules Konieczny, known for his work with Tom Grennan, has allowed Kitty to explore new production styles, drawing inspiration from her love of TV and film. "Sympathy Pains" symbolizes a new beginning, both musically and personally. It's a song about the emotional toll of being overburdened by a friend's problems, a concept Kitty developed with co-writer Francesca Morris.
As Kitty embarks on this new phase, this single symbolizes themes of overcoming hardship and rebirth. Her unique blend of indie-pop and insightful storytelling marks her as a voice that resonates across audiences, signaling a bright future in the music industry.
Check out the interview we did with Kitty below - we talk about
How do you manage the balance between drawing from personal experiences and maintaining privacy in your lyrics, especially in songs like "Sympathy Pains"?
Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve found the balance yet! I think one of my signature lyric moves is to include very specific details, which makes it hard to maintain privacy as it’s usually quite obvious what situation or person I’m writing about. So usually I do some ‘damage control’ before a song is out and remind my friends and loved ones that my songs are inspired by an emotion at a specific time and that it does not mean every sentiment is true, lyrics have to be warped and exaggerated to make the storyline more interesting sometimes.
"Sympathy Pains" seems to reflect a turning point for you. Can you pinpoint the moment that inspired this shift in your music?
After I released ‘Ldn Love’ I felt completely lost, I hadn’t done anything to promote the release and I think it was because subconsciously I didn’t feel myself in the song. That prompted me to take time out of releasing as I thought I wanted to write for others instead. During the hiatus my friend, David Crookes, mentored me and helped me to realise I do really want to make my own music. I was just really scared of failure. So on the 10th January 2022 I made a post on Instagram committing to my music which was scary to admit to other people as it meant if I didn’t ‘make it’ everyone would know I’d failed. My views on success have since changed; when I was in the studio recording ‘Sympathy Pains’ I finally felt myself completely in the songwriting and the production and that felt like huge success to me.
In creating "Sympathy Pains", what was the key message you wanted to convey about personal boundaries and mental health?
At the time of writing it I wasn’t aware of a message in particular, I just needed to let out the excess emotions, the anger and the exhaustion. Knowing that now I think that is the key message of the song, that there’s only so much one person can take on before it becomes unbearable and the emotion will spill out of you. I feel lucky that I have songwriting to let out these feelings, but to anyone who doesn’t have songwriting, it’s so important to have an outlet, whether that’s journalling, therapy, or some other way you can let it all out. Of course it would be ideal to set boundaries with people in your life in the first place and I’m getting much better at that, I appreciate anyone who asks me if I have capacity before offloading onto me. I try to do this with others to set precedent for others to do the same with me.
The title Swimming for Dummies suggests venturing into the unknown. How does this theme resonate throughout your EP?
The first song I wrote for the EP was ‘Happy Again’ and that was about learning how to be on my own again after a long term relationship. This relationship was with a man and I have since come out as a lesbian. Since that breakup I’ve been on an incredible journey of discovering who I am, and it took me almost a year after the breakup to be able to say out-loud ‘I am a lesbian’. The last song I wrote for the EP was about the beginning of my current relationship, my first long-term relationship with a woman, and how my girlfriend and I were having communication issues at the time. So the songs span from this big breakup and having to figure out how to be on my own, to now being in a new relationship that comes with its own set of challenges like accepting myself as a queer person and getting comfortable just holding hands with my girlfriend in public. I also moved out for the first time, struggled with mental health and started therapy due to, among other things, the emotional labour of the situation described in ‘Sympathy Pains’. These past 2 years of my life have felt like learning how to walk (or how to swim) again.
The collaborative process can be quite revealing. What did you learn about yourself while co-writing "Sympathy Pains" with Francesca Morris?
Through the process I’ve learned how to leave my ego at the door, this is a phrase I hear a lot when people talk about co-writing as your ego won’t listen to outside ideas, but these other ideas might be exactly what the song needs. With ‘Sympathy Pains’ specifically I learned that my instinct is to put the lyrical content above the melodic content as there were a few times I tried to fit way too many words into a line for the story, sacrificing the melody. Fran is really great at finding the perfect balance between both of these and I’m slowly getting better at doing that as well.
You have multiple roles in the music industry. How does your songwriting for others inform your approach to personal projects like "Sympathy Pains"?
Writing for others can be really fun and I think it’s good practice for any songwriter to try it out at least once, it gets me out of my head and lets me immerse myself in someone else’s world. I can be very self-critical of my ideas when writing for myself, but when writing outside of my personal project I feel more free to let all of my ideas out and the artist or the other writers can be the editors. It definitely helps me be less critical when I come back to writing for myself as I’m reminded I have to get all of my thoughts out to find the gem, if I shoot myself down before an idea has fully formed I might never find it!
How has the BRIT School shaped your career, and what impact does seeing your peers succeed have on you as an artist?
In some ways I don’t think I was ready for the BRIT school. I had two years there and I spent the whole time so excited just to be there that I wasn’t in the present moment at all. It taught me a lot about the music industry, like about contracts and how to organise gigs, which has all been really helpful to know. However, seeing my peers succeed, especially some so soon out of BRIT, has had a big impact on me. When I was younger I struggled a lot with jealousy, I think the comparisons I’d make between my peers and myself is part of what led me to take some time away from music as I was so scared of letting them see me fail I thought I should stop trying altogether. I don’t know if I’d be making music if I hadn’t gone to BRIT as it was so inspiring, but my self-esteem absolutely took a hit when I didn’t get the early success I saw others have. I know now though that even if I had though, I wouldn’t have been ready; I didn’t know myself and I had this big journey of self-discovery to come in my 20s that I think needed to happen before I could make the music I really wanted to make. I wasn’t ready for BRIT, but maybe that was exactly what I needed to push me out of my comfort zone and act as the catalyst for the eventual realisation and realignment of myself and my music.
How are you feeling about the future and what can you share regarding what's upcoming, if anything?
I’m feeling so excited about the future! Before the release of ‘Sympathy Pains’ I was a bit terrified, but now having it out in the world I’m so happy and so proud of myself that I can’t wait to share the rest of the project. ‘Swimming for Dummies’ will be out in summer next year, but there’ll be another single out in early February 2024 so keep an eye out for that!