Growing up in Bunbury, WA, sisters Kira and Jess have played music from a young age. They joined together to form Kiress, busking and gigging to crowds with a mixture of covers and originals. After coming across the girls on Triple J Unearthed, I fell in love with their beautiful harmonies. Have a listen to their track Days Will Shine and read on to find out more about the sisters and their love of music. To find out more about Kiress, head to their Facebook or Triple J.
How did you both get into music?
Jess- We were constantly surrounded by music as kids through our parents and family. Dad plays a mean harmonica, and Mum can pick up basically anything and get a tune out of it. On our mother’s side our relatives all seem to play an instrument (or several) of one kind or another, and sing in 4 part harmony without any real thought. So naturally we wanted to join in. We were part of several school choirs and took music lessons in piano for a year or two. Kira loved the idea of playing violin and I tried my hand at guitar.
Kira- When I was about five, I walked into the lounge and saw a violin player on the TV. I was mesmerized by the way he played. That day I told my parents I wanted to play the violin but they didn’t think I was being serious. …Four years later after non-stop begging they (finally) believed me and bought me my first violin.
What’s it like writing and performing as siblings?
J- I think we have a connection because we know each other so well. As sisters we can improvise and understand where the other person is going next. So one of us begins with a rough idea of a tune and the other just starts singing along. I like playing music together best when it’s a spontaneous thing; when one of us starts singing in the kitchen and the other person just joins in from wherever they are in the house.
K- We’ve grown up together and Jess has always been nearby. Although this is sometimes annoying, it’s also convenient because if I have a brainstorm for an awesome tune in the middle of the night, I can run to her room and tell her straightaway. And who else would’ve agreed to sing my ‘fairy songs’ (that I was convinced were going to become major hits) in year 2 with me?
What inspires your lyrics?
J- I enjoy language, so I try to use it in a way that tells a story and doesn’t sound too clique. Probably people, fantasy I read and imagine- the tune is the most important thing, if people connect with that they will make their own sense out of the lyrics.
K- Recently I’ve been writing lyrics based on my experiences, often as a way to vent my frustration at the drama queens and workload of school. I also write a lot of very bad poetry that I sometimes use as lyrics.
You want your music to have a stripped-back sound. What drew you to this?
J- Its more portable, more us. If you do it well people can really connect with you emotionally. The most distinctive part of our sound has always been our voices and harmonies and if you start small you can always add more in the studio or jamming with other musicians.
K- It’s just my sister and I in Kiress, so we’re limited to our voices and the instruments we can play at the same time, but I don’t mind because I like being able to play our music live in its entirety.
You have both travelled and performed all around Australia. Tell us a little bit about this.
J- More focused around the south west really being our home area, but our family are keen campers and we go exploring as a family whenever we can. Whenever we stop somewhere we play a bit of music, and often people will listen. Our family travelled around Australia in a car and tents in 2009 and that really started off us playing together semi seriously. We used to stop at a pub or campground and ask if we could play for some of the patrons or join backpackers around a campfire with a guitar- that kind of thing.
What is your favourite original song and why?
J- ‘The Woods’ because it has a dark fairy-tale story feel to it. I love my guitar part, and Kira’s violin has a certain edginess. I had that part on guitar for months before it all came together. It’s quite fun to play.
K- ‘The Woods’ because I like the lyrics and how they tell a story. Also, this song has a fun violin part that I love playing.
What are your hopes for the future of Kiress?
J- That we can have fun with creative endeavours wherever our lives take us. We will always be first and foremost sisters and we’ll keep writing and recording music apart and together even if no one listens to it. It’s a part of our lives. I would love to travel other parts of the world together in a few years, as backpackers supporting ourselves through our music and art.
What advice would you give to aspiring singer/songwriters?
J- Play because you enjoy it, if music ever becomes a chore you are doing something wrong 🙂 How you make yourself and others feel with your music is more important than any technique you may learn.
K- Don’t try to change your style to make it what you think other people want to hear. Even if no one else likes it, you will, and that’s the most important thing.