With her extensive musical training (she finished her MMus in Composition at the University of Stellenbosch last year), various musical talents, experiences and passions, Kirsty Adams refuses to be put into a box. She emphasises her appreciation for a variety of genres of music, and explains that exposure to different styles has shaped her into the versatile musician that she is today.
“I was brought up with a strong focus on RnB and Pop music. In high school, I started to dabble in Jazz singing. And then university hit me with a very strong focus on classical music, which taught me the intricacies of music and the theory behind it”.
She marks her childhood experience of films as the source of her other passion: film music. “I remember watching movies like Narnia when I was younger, and just thinking ‘Wow, this makes me feel a certain way – like anything is possible.’”
She later pursued composition. Adams admits that it took her a while to find a way to combine her contrasting musical passions. “After my studies I struggled to figure out what that one thing is that I had to go after, because society begs you to do just one thing. It’s been a journey of self-discovery for me to accept that I have to do all of it.”
And her debut EP, The Wings Beneath My Feathers does just that. She describes the EP, released earlier this year, as “a fusion between pop, neo-soul and classical music, from the approach of poetry.”
By combining elements that she has picked up in her musical training, performance experience and composition career, Adams’s sound is a unique mix. This multi-faceted approach merges her RnB, Pop, Jazz and Classical backgrounds, as well as her love for the sound of string ensembles and the idea of composition.
“I’ve often been told that my music sounds more like composition than song-writing,” she says. Adams describes her EP as an intensely personal project. She writes about her own life and experiences and names romantic encounters as one of her main sources of inspiration.
“I have tried to write for other people, but I always end up writing for myself. And I’ve learned that by sharing my own stories and the lessons they taught me, I can help others.” Her philosophical approach to her music is clear in the EP’s name, The Wings Beneath My Feathers.
“I think for a long time in our lives, we put on this façade about who we are. The name kind of articulates a focus on the girl beneath the clothes, the soul beneath the skin,” explains Adams. “And wings represent freedom – I believe there is freedom when you find and accept yourself.”
‘Fly Away’, Adams’s debut music video, released on 15 July, ties in with this overall theme of self-acceptance. “I wrote this song to empower myself after a romantic encounter that did not work out. The main line throughout the song is, ‘I gave you some of my feathers, so that I can grow new ones.’ This represents a kind of shedding of the skin and coming into a better version of yourself.” ‘Fly Away’ also illustrates her unique combination of musical elements.
“I approached this song almost as if it were a movie about myself, so there are a lot of cinematic elements in the music itself – for example, I wrote the chords in such a way that it would reel you like cinematic music would reel you [in].”
With her multi-faceted approach and fearless, unapologetic attitude, Kirsty Adams is forging her own path. “I always used to feel like I was too much for people, but I now know that only means that I was in the wrong place. So, I decided to move myself to another place. And it’s the most adrenaline driving thing I have ever done.”