April 8, 2022 brought the release of “Hard Hearted” by Brisbane based singer-songwriter Kirra Lily, known in the industry as Uhkirra. The song is the first single from her upcoming debut EP, Save Your Love.
What I love about “Hard Hearted” is that it seems to call someone out on their crap. “Your dishonesty’s cliche now” kind of made me chuckle a bit. It sounded like something that I would say to someone. I feel like we all have someone that this song could be about and it can be interpreted in so many different ways. For me, I can apply it to my love life or even my familial life. What’s more, I could probably apply it to myself when dealing with others. I’m a bit “Hard Hearted” at times.
But let’s talk about the music here. The tempo is slow, easy, with jazz vibes to it. “Hard Hearted” opens with a very electronic sounding chord on keys which lends to the jazzy feel to the song. Add in Uhkirra’s beautiful, soulful, raw vocals and you get a wondrous piece of art that pulls the listener in many directions.
This Australian artist is a force to be reckoned with. The young artist approached the stage for the first time in 2021 and showcased her talents as a multi-instrumentalist. She made waves in the Brisbane and Gold Coast music scenes. Later this year, Uhkirra will release her debut album. To know when and to stay up to date on all things related to this talented singer-songwriter, follow her socials linked below.
Q&A with Uhkirra
Q: There’s so much soul in “Hard Hearted”. What inspired the track?
UHKIRRA: “Hard Hearted”, funnily enough, was originally a piece of assessment I did for University back in 2018. It’s come so far from what it was, & I had named it “Hard Hearted” before I even knew what the song was going to be about. At the time, I was going through a major turning point in my life. I had grown up in a very traditional household, raised in a pentecostal christian church, (it was actually a cult), * suddenly my entire life had switched.
My parents divorced, I was left to my own devices & we were excommunicated from the church. So I had grown up my entire life, being force-fed this doctrine of fear, & the ones who would preach, often accused those who weren’t in the “fellowship” of being “Hard Hearted”. When I first started writing the song, I was deconstructing this doctrine & I couldn’t get the phrase out of my head. The song is about religious trauma really, & finding those similar righteous traits among the relationships I had developed with certain people. I’d say the “soul” aspect of the track is partly because it has been years in the making, discovering my own feelings & soul along the way.
Q: What is your typical creative process like?
UHKIRRA: It’s always the same, I sit down in my bedroom with an instrument, & I write the chords, melody & lyrics at the same time. This is how I’ve always done it, & in some ways it’s challenging doing it all at the same time. I personally struggle the most with writing lyrics & trying not to conform to the standard binary structure of songwriting. I fall back on musicality, I hold a strong belief in story- telling through musical devices devoid of language (melodic contouring, chord function, dynamics).
Growing up, I was always far more drawn to the musicality of a song over the lyrics. I LOVE music theory & try to involve as much of it as I can within my songs. For example, the last chorus in “Hard Hearted” uses a traditional Choral/counterpoint vocal arrangement supporting the melody, this particular harmony function was used often within the church way back in the 1800’s, & because the lyrics reflect a religious quality, I wanted the musicality to reflect as much of that as possible, whilst still keeping it pretty contemporary in nature.
Q: We love your vocals! What first got you into music?
My parents were the ones who first introduced me to music. My mum bought me a piano when I was six years old after she heard me harmonizing to crowded house. & from there, I was classically trained in piano, violin & viola. Knowing how to play the violin/viola helped in teaching myself how to play the guitar. I threw tantrums every time I went to a private lesson, but in hindsight I couldn’t be more thankful to my parents for pushing me to pursue music. I would consider myself more of an instrumentalist than a singer, my voice is what I’m most self conscious of. But in recording “Hard Hearted”, I worked with two of the most talented musicians, who are now some of my closest friends. They really helped me in owning my own voice.
Q: What’s the music scene like in Brisbane?
UHKIRRA: It’s incredible. Brisbane is exploding with so much musical talent, I can’t believe the amount of incredible musicians I’m surrounded by. It’s a beautiful & endearing environment, we all try to support each other as much as we can due to the saturation within the industry. It definitely has its ups & downs, but it’s far more rewarding than any of the struggles we face.
Q: Who would you love to collaborate with?
UHKIRRA: This is a DIFFICULT question to answer. Without a doubt, Hans Zimmer would be my top dream collaboration. 70% of the music I listen to is movie scores & soundtracks. It’s a dream of mine to be a film composer, so I think working with Hans would be my top pick. Another artist, whom is also one of my biggest influences, would be RY X. He combines neo-classical elements with contemporary genres, which I try to reflect within my own music. But within realistic reach at this point in time, I’d love to just collaborate with a symphony orchestra/ string ensemble, I’d love to be able to re-imagine my songs within an orchestral setting. That’s a BIG dream of mine.
Q: What’s next for you?
UHKIRRA: I’m releasing another single VERY SOON, “Hard Hearted” & this next single are both from my upcoming debut EP. I’ll be playing more shows locally, & making more music!
Reviewed & Interviewed by Dana L. Sullivan