Kira May
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Kira May

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Alternative Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Kira May "Visions" on Exclaim! TV"

Since arriving on the scene back in 2013, one-woman vocal choir Kira May has captivated audiences with her brand of loop pedal-assisted vocal gymnastics. With her debut recording, Health, set to be released later this month, Exclaim! TV decided to catch up with the subtly haunting chanteuse at Freddy and Yoshimi's Pad in Bloorcourt Village to hear a performance of "Visions" off her upcoming EP.

In this intimate recording session, watch as the avant-garde singer-songwriter contorts her vocals on a dime, as she croons wistfully against a minimalist backdrop that puts all the attention solely on her rhythmic vocal harmonies.

Catch Kira May perform "Visions" and other tracks off her upcoming EP at its official release on January 31 at Toronto's The Measure.

You can also download the song in its entirety by scrolling past the video and clicking on the player at the bottom of the page.

Filmed & Recorded by Roberto Granados-Ocon
Edited by Melissa Ross - Exclaim!

"Kira May: The Wavelength Interview"

Purveyor of: Electronic, vocal-looped nocturnes populated by visions, ghosts, body parts, and wolves.
File next to: Kate Bush, Bjork, PJ Harvey, James Blake, and Mike Patton
Playing: WL 607 this Thursday July 24 at the Monarch Tavern with Nat Baldwin and Black Walls.

The music of Kira May broods like a low-hanging fog diffusing moonlight. The versatility of her alto is nothing short of remarkable, twisted and knotted into percussive, rhythmic, and harmonic loops. Kira’s voice is centre-stage on Health (her debut EP) and her delivery is mature and controlled. Supported by sparse and tasteful production from collaborator Charles Tilden, Kira tells vivid stories that unfold like lucid dreams. Images and characters emerge from the shadows and disappear into the ether. A descendent of the lunic blood-line that traces back through Bjork, PJ Harvey and Kate Bush, Kira May took the time to sit down with Po Karim to talk about body parts, portraits, and paradoxes.

The Health EP, released in January of this year, is very cohesive thematically, sonically and lyrically. When you were putting it together, did you have a clear vision for how it was going to turn out?

I did. I’m an English major, and so finding or connecting motifs will never not be a part of my thinking process. But the songs seemed to come together with the same general sound and conceptual content because of where I was in my life when they were being written and recorded. Themes kept repeating and overlapping because that’s where my headspace was. So a lot of paradoxes between the past and the present, or the body and the ghost or the spirit, and what is not tangible — those things kept recurring. At first it wasn’t a conscious decision, it just seemed to be where it was going. Once I caught on to that, I wanted to strike those ties throughout the record.

Did the finished product hit the mark? Did it achieve the vision that you had for it?

I think it did. I recognize that the more time and distance I have from it. One thing I’m noticing in retrospect is that its very shrouded in darkness or mystery... It’s occurring to me just how lyrically those songs use imagery to say what I mean, but it’s almost like hiding the real intent behind the songs and then the image becomes the subject. I mean, I know what I’m talking about, but I think it’s very enigmatic. I think that just reflects where I was at the time — where I was feeling very shaky about music, and very shy. I almost wanted to hide myself as much as I wanted to expose myself at the same time.

Is there one song on there that actually surprised you in the way that it turned out?

“Ghosts” was surprising. It originally had a creepier overall sound, but Charles started playing with guitar lines and it ended up being a lot more fun and energetic. I was really surprised by that turn of events in that song. And then we played with how that could mutate... and that song was a lot different than its original conception, but in a good way — it was a good surprise!

Can you describe your working relationship with Charles?

Yeah. He’s also my partner in life, we live together, and he was previously in a band called Parks and Rec, and he works on a project called Delta Will. When I first started to want to record this EP, I didn’t really know how. I also felt very timid, and so it was important to me to feel really comfortable as I was recording the songs. He has a real interest in production and he stepped up and said, “Let’s just do it at home. Let’s do it together,” and I think that was a great thing for me, because it was really comfortable. He did all of the engineering for the EP, and he plays in my band as well when we do live shows. But it sort of grew organically...I needed some help and he wanted to help me! [Laughter]

So before this EP came out, what were you doing?

That’s a good question! [Laughter] I had really, really bad performance anxiety and could not get on a stage or play in front of anyone. So I was just playing alone in my room. [Laughter] And finally I wasn’t feeling very satisfied with that, so I had to work really, really hard to come out of my shell and to feel confident enough to play in front of people. I started going to a lot of open mics, and doing a lot of personal work. When I found looping, that was like a godsend because I was too scared to play with other people at all. Being able to accompany myself really took a lot of the pressure off and I was able to orchestrate things the way I wanted to while feeling comfortable. And it was all to do with shyness really, which I’m happy to say I’m well on the way to overcoming!

When did you introduce a looper into your music-making?

I guess about two years ago is when I started. And that was again sort of out of necessity but it turned into something really exciting where the more I learned about looping, the more I thought, “I can play alone.” And I really just want to sing. I can play very little guitar, and I used to “sing and play guitar,” but it was not anything special because the guitar playing was so basic. So primarily I just wanted to make vocal works. I wanted to do everything with my voice because that’s what I can do best, and I can express the most with that. And so this was a great journey to discover how I could use my voice in various ways, to orchestrate something bigger that would not possible without the looper and various toys.

I looked at your Tumblr, and you are an extremely accomplished portrait artist. Your technique and colour palettes are amazing. Can you describe what it is about portraits that really captivates you?

I think, because I am also a person, I can relate to the inner workings and the emotional scale of this person sitting in front of me. When I’m painting a portrait, I’m really trying my best to actually access that person. I feel them as much as I can, and there’s something very intimate about painting someone’s inside of their ear, or whatever it may be, where you really try to use their face in order to seek what is happening beneath. What is that person thinking about at that moment? What’s going on in there, what are they looking at? I’m so interested in people, and their physical body is such a great starting-off point to get inside of them.

There are a lot of lyrical themes about the body on the record and also relationships with nature and natural processes. You seem to be really interested with the phenomenon of being alive, like the absurdity of having skin and bones. And it’s almost as if you’re trying to describe a “pure-form,” like a spiritual creature within layers of shells? Am I hitting the theme?

Yes! This is so astute. This is a great question! I think I’m really interested in paradoxes where you have a body to help you express yourself — in fact it’s your only tool of expression really — and yet your body holds you back in a lot of ways as well. I think this ties back to portraiture too because the body houses this phenomenal range of emotions and thoughts and potential, and yet it’s like a cage because you have a lot of restrictions. But it’s also this beautifully empowering thing, because it’s all you have in this world to fulfill whatever it is you need to fulfill in this lifetime. And, I think a lot of the songs, maybe even more than I realize, tie back to that major point where it’s such an opposing force: your helper is also your hindrance. I think that’s really fascinating and really necessary I guess, because if you didn’t have that challenge, what would you be working towards? And I think also that the body’s processes and functions are very reflective of natural processes. Everything is cycling around, everything is dying and reborn...and I’m just rambling now! [Laughter]

What’s on the horizon, for the rest of the year and beyond that?

I’m playing some shows in Eastern Canada. I’m not too sure how far I’ll get. And then I’m working on a full-length album that I’m really, really excited about. So far a lot of it is written and done with now. My goal would be to have it ready for a release next summer. I think I can reach that goal. That’s all I’m thinking about, these new songs and putting it all together, and I’m really excited about that.

What can you say about the new songs as they’ll compare to the EP you have out now?

I feel like the songs on Health have a sort of darker vibe overall. These songs are much brighter, sonically? I’m saying vivid. And I want more...unrelenting. Not like “in your face,” that would be the wrong way to describe them. But bigger, more varied in their approach. These are all very abstract things that I’m saying. [Laughter] I’m a very visual thinker, so I’m picturing them in my mind and there’re like these like bright colours! They’re coming at you!

— Interview by Po Karim - Wavelength

"Kira May 'Health' (EP stream)"

Vocal looper Kira May previously gave Exclaim! TV a live taste of her debut EP, and now the five-song collection has arrived. The Toronto singer will release Health on January 31 with a show at the city's Measure, and the EP is available to stream now on

May concocts intricate arrangements that centre on her voice, from the chopped-up vocal riffs of "Cut Off Your Shadow" to the rhythmic exhales of "Never Broke a Bone" and the woozy AutoTune effects of "Visions." The songs also incorporate twinkling keys, pattering beats and other electronic elements, courtesy of Charles Tilden.

The bill this Friday at Measure also includes Zoo OWL and ZORDS. But for now, sink into Health below. - Exclaim!

"Remix: Delta Will x Kira May"

Kira May might still be a relative newcomer to the Toronto electronic scene, but her loop-based compositions and performances have been attracting attention from all corners, and we were not immune. So we’re ever-so-pleased to get to premiere this Delta Will remix of “Visions,” the closing track from her excellent January EP HEALTH. Delta Will take the meditative and languid original into a much more uptempo direction, chopping up Kira’s many vocal samples and turning it into a slightly-frantic, but still grooving, head-bopper of a track.

If you’re in Toronto, Kira May opens for Nat Baldwin (of Dirty Projectors) and Black Walls this Thursday at Wavelength at the Monarch Tavern, which seems like a show well worth seeing indeed. - Silent Shout

"New Canadiana: Kira May - Health"

From the tonal shapes of Ajay Mehmi:

Kira May’s sound is comprised of a seemingly colossal foundation, which allows for primitive utterances to surface above its texture and richness. She and instrumental collaborator Charles Tilden create earthy soundscapes that are driven by the beautifully manipulated notes responsible for breathing life and nuance into the core of the music. May’s voice forms lush, tonal shapes ranging from ethereal hums to bold cries, effortlessly sliding from pitch to pitch. Each song on the Health EP unfolds to reveal a process guided by intuition, creating a natural and intimate vibe so the listener can follow every breath to the beating hearts at the centre of it all. - Weird Canada

"New Music From The Inbox, 10 February 2014: Kira May, The Acid, The Wet Secrets, PUP, Meanwhile"

Album Stream:

Artist: Kira May “Never Broke A Bone”

Breathlessly melodic and deeply rhythmic.

Sounds like: “Baby, I’m bleeding, I’m falling apart…”

Link/Listen/Watch: Stream HERE. - A Journal Of Musical Things

"Kira May: "Health""

When employed with enough creativity and a strong aesthetic perspective, there is nothing more evocative and emotionally affecting than the magic of singing. This artist demonstrates the limitless potential of the human voice, and in the process she takes the listener into a deep and intimate well of emotion.

Kira May is an artist with a rich and malleable voice that falls somewhere between the modern soul divas and the experimental vocalizations of Bjork. On the EP “HEALTH”, her tracks are built from simple bass-lines and looped vocals, which she uses to create everything from complicated poly-rhythms to surreal choirs. Hooks are propelled by breathy beats and lush, dark musical ambience. Melodies dance in the moonlight, luring you into a haunted serenity. This is dark, experimental, mysterious pop, created by sheer will and the power of human lungs. The musical foreground provided almost entirely by looped vocals, stretched and distorted through time and space. Minimal instrumentation allows the vocal tricks to assume bigger impact. Breathing takes the place of snare drums, and the choir of the self assumes the place of the backing band. The odd keyboard makes an appearance, like an understated cameo role in a film noir. The bass is rich and thick, re-contextualizing the thump of hip-hop and dub music.

Lead track “Cut Off Your Shadow” is sort of a post-modern reconstruction of a funky R&B jam, with a wonderful hocketing vocal that overlaps itself. The song is cyclical, an ouroboros made of hip-hop bass and abstracted beat-boxing. The vocals rise and merge with each other, slowly enveloping the song like molten rock from a long-dead mountain.

“Never Broke A Bone” begins with a simple breathing pattern which gives way to a lush bed of closely voiced chords. The melody sways serenely before a deep bass tone pulses into the foreground. “Baby I’m bleeding, I’m falling apart” she sings, giving voice to feelings of personal disintegration. The song is a hymn for the dispossessed.

“Wolves” introduces a singsong melody wrapped in an otherworldly, throaty purr. A pulsing bass provides a deep hole for the song to tumble down into. A keyboard ostinato phrase cycles between spacey guitar noises. A gritty vocal grabs the listener by the back of the neck. And then blurred glossolalia fills the air with wordless ache, before the digital distortion comes over, rising from the blackness with the massive momentum of a rogue wave.

“Ghosts” is upbeat and hypnotic. Starting with scraped strings and some interstellar noise, chiming guitars eventually give way to staccato digital funk. Swirling background moans rise and fall. Ping-pong arpeggios build the tension as ambient loops churn the melody into a poignant pop arrangement.

“Visions” brings the EP to a close with a careening pop song with a slow-burning chord progression. Auto-tuned vocals provide a synth-like backdrop for the raw lead vocal, which wraps itself around the beautiful melody in a loving embrace. The song lurches into a higher gear with the addition of more drums and some gorgeous hanging chords from a guitar. The voice crescendos and then suspends itself in the air like a mirage, before disappearing back into the opaque haze of the moonlight.

To download the EP “HEALTH” by Kira May, click here.

Kira May links:

Kira May Twitter
Official Facebook Page
Bandcamp - Audioreckoning

"Interview: The Many Layers of Kira May"

This Friday, the Red Garnet hosts local synth-pop band roboteyes and Toronto electronic pop artist Kira May. Read what she has to say about looping, Björk, musical gloves, and the beauty of cemeteries.

Many of you out there will be familiar with the high-energy synth pop of roboteyes, and their dramatic diva frontwoman Kate LeDeuce (see our review of their debut EP, and check out this video) - but this is the Peterborough debut for Toronto’s Kira May.

May is a vocal looper, creating evocative, multi-layered music from only her own voice, sampled and played back over and over using the loop pedals, which looks a little something like this:

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I recently got in contact with Kira May via email. Here’s what we talked about:

Can you walk us through a Kira May live performance? How do you build your complex, layered sounds on stage?

The songs are made up of vocal layers predominantly, so I’m singing each layer one at a time and manipulating my voice with effects where necessary in order to achieve a lush, full sound. The songs usually get pretty big by the end! And Charles Tilden joins me on bass and guitar, which gives the songs a lot of exciting variation that I could not accomplish with my looper alone.

It seems like more and more artists are embracing the possibilities of looping. Where do you see looping heading in the next few years?

The more minds that tackle an art form, the more varied and experimental it becomes. I’m excited to see where looping will go as more artists figure out how to push the boundaries. I can’t even begin to guess where looping will go. I recently saw an insane talk with Imogen Heap demonstrating her musical gloves, and the whole stage sort of became her looper, which she could conduct and orchestrate with her gestures! I’m not very technological and I can’t even begin to understand how that works.

Your debut album, Health (listen here), has a dark, almost mournful quality to it. Where do you think that comes from? Is Kira May a dark person?

Kira May is not really a dark person! I would actually describe myself as a sunny person, but I’m very sensitive and my emotions are extremely vivid. Health was written at a time that was very shrouded in darkness and uncertainty, and so it makes sense to me that the record has that vibe. It’s very much about feeling haunted by the past, and lost inside of your own emotional landscape. I think I was mourning a lot of things and really learning about who I was and what I could become.

Who has influenced you, musically? Who are you listening to these days?

Kira May and roboteyes

I’m a huge Björk fan. She completely opened me up to what music could really feel like, and how there are really no boundaries. I love how she sings with reckless abandon! I really am drawn to singers whose voices feel full of a desperate need to emote! No holding back! I also take a lot of inspiration from minimalist composers like Nico Muhly, Steve Reich and Arvo Part, also for their ability to generate so much emotion from sound. And I love the repetition that is inherent in a lot of minimalist music, which sort of explains why I love looping so much. It’s hypnotic!

At the moment I’m really love Ought, a band from Montreal. So good! I recently heard “High Life” by Eno and Hyde and it is unreal, everyone should listen to it! But ultimately I just like music that gives me that special feeling in my chest, or makes me feel curious. There has to be some adventure or exploration to it.

Is this your first Peterborough trip? Please name the top 5 things you know about Peterborough. (If you run out of things you know about Peterborough, making things up is always encouraged.)

I have been to Peterborough only once before as a child to visit my grandmother’s cousin. My sister and I spent the day catching toads in the backyard. So one thing I know is that Peterborough has a surplus of plump toads. The second thing is that my beautiful friend Jen lives there and she has the best Instagram full of dreamy nature walks. Third: I read that Peterborough has the oldest public cemetery in Canada, which is intriguing to me. I find cemeteries to be the most peaceful, gorgeous places, and when I travel I make a habit of visiting the local cemeteries whenever I can. Fourth: Someone told me that The Only Café in Toronto originated in Peterborough. Fifth: Peterborough is the home of Roboteyes! Come and dance to their awesome sounds at The Garnet on Friday, where I am also conveniently playing. - Electric City Live

"Kira May w/ Zords, Zoo Owl @ Measure"

A live show can either go one of two ways, in terms of how a bill is booked—it can be a bunch of bands thrown on a bill at random, or, in the case of last night’s EP release show for Kira May at Measure, every band seemed a perfect fit. Of course all three bands (apologies to John Shape, who I’m positive ended the night on a good note, had I seen him) I saw last night are very different, but all succeeded in getting the audience moving in one way or another.

... Opening with the sounds of “Cut Off Your Shadow” from the now-released Health EP, she quickly proved herself a force to be reckoned with. Listening to the EP, you can try to make guesses as to what constitutes each individual sound—her voice? an instrument?—and live you’ll find all your guesses to be wrong.

Wielding two mics, May had an arsenal of sounds at her disposal, not to mention the guitar/effects backup from Charles Tilden, who throughout the night looked like he had reached some sort of inner peace. With just her voice and pre-programmed beat, May could make her music sound like a guitar was playing even if it wasn’t. By essentially beatboxing into the manipulated mic, May could give off the sound of percussion.

As the set went on, May pulled out a cover song, which featured Tilden on his “beatboxing debut.” Before long she was singing “Ghosts” and ended her set on a rapturous note to rapturous applause. - Michael Thomas via Grayowl Point

"Band of the Month: Kira May"

Friday….What a day!

Today’s band is Kira May. A Toronto musician whose
hypnotic and soothing loop mastery quiets and captivates entire rooms upon her first breath.

Powerful, layered vocal harmonies, and slow, softly haunting melodies keep you listening to every word. And at live performances she’s known to have appropriately intense visual projections, adding depth and colour to the stage as Kira tweaks her effects on bended knee.

Here’s a little taste of Kira May’s work below. See her live at an art gallery opening or another DIY venue as soon as you can. - Greg O'Toole

"KIRA MAY "HEALTH" new EP [review]"

My first experience with Kira May happened when my friend and fellow blogger, Ashley Ashbee, messaged me on Facebook with a link to a video that she thought I would enjoy.

I clicked the link, pressed play, and was literally floored. I was writhing around in ecstasy on my carpet when I messaged her back with a simple "WOW" in all caps.

The video in question was this, a live version of Kira May's "Never Broke A Bone." Please watch and make sure you are already sitting in a comfortable chair or have something soft under you to break your fall.

I love this live version of the song. I sit in my office and keep the youtube going all day, pressing repeat after it finishes each time. It's so emotive, I almost want to cry sometimes while listening. The video itself could be better: I wish we could see Kira messing with the loop pedals, actually creating the sounds on the spot, but I guess the video's lacking is just extra incentive to get myself to Toronto to see the magic happen in person.

I say magic, not to be corny, but because I really feel like the music Kira May makes is hauntingly ethereal. It feels other-worldly, like it could have only come inside a black silk hat or with the help of a wizard wand or potion. It makes me feel things. I like it when music can make me feel things. It's rare.

The entire EP is beautiful. Kira May spins together pretty sounds using mainly her own voice, but incorporating other sounds and instruments. The beauty is in the loop. Breathy layers over layers of gentle vocal percussion and layers of Kira May absolutely belting it out.

When I posted the "Never Broke A Bone" video on Facebook, I quickly started a Kira May cult following. So many of my friends became entranced by the technique and emotion, and started posting on Facebook about how they couldn't stop listening to that one song. Now, with Kira May's EP, Health, we have at least four more reasons to keep listening. - See more at: - Tsaritsa

"Loopy Tunes: Where is that Sound Coming From?"

Kira May is a Toronto-based musician and visual artist whose music explores the possibilities of using voice as an instrument in its own right. Melodic, rhythmic, and textural elements are explored in layers, creating thick and expressive soundscapes. Here, The Missing Slate’s Mavra Bari talks to her about what sets looping apart in the music scene and makes it such a fixture in Toronto’s urban landscape.

I first saw Kira May live in Toronto during one of The Drake’s historical Elvis Monday nights. The venue was packed, the audience bustling, but as soon as Kira’s haunting and sultry voice filled the air, there was an attentive, almost reverent, silence. Watching this diminutive and pretty young lady mesmerize Elvis Monday’s notoriously hard-to-please crowd was proof enough that this girl was something special. Kira’s body was in constant motion—bending, swaying, stepping—with her hands adroitly working on mic, sound machines, and cords. The finesse and grace of her performance reminded me of one modern yet oft-forgotten aspect of underground music – looping. Music legends such as Frank Zappa, Imogen Heap, and Björk have used the technique extensively, but a new breed of musicians which includes Kira May is taking looping to a more sophisticated level, turning it into an individualized and liberated form of expression.

That being said, vocal and music looping still isn’t as prevalent as one might imagine, especially outside North America. It was something I didn’t realize until my British friend expressed bafflement at the show: “What is she doing?” He was completely dumbfounded when I explained the process to him, and though he had been to live music shows around the world, he had never seen a music act comprised predominantly of loops. Sure enough, on asking musician friends and connoisseurs around the world about the music looping phenomenon, I found that only a handful were well-versed in it.

As an avid live-show goer in Toronto, I had come across many breathtaking loop artists such as Armen Bazarian and Delta Will, and the experience of seeing such a solo act is extremely different from seeing a cohesive band’s performance. The connection between the artist and the audience is closer somehow, more profound. There is a pronounced vulnerability that the musician exudes on stage, as energy is not diffused among members but concentrated to a single entity. Moreover, a deep interaction takes place between the artist and his/her mechanical instrument; the human and the machine are inextricable, which makes the performance all the more curious and engaging.

Kira May offered some first-hand insights as to why and how this is so.

Kira, first off, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, and how did you find your way to becoming a Toronto-based musician and visual artist?

Kira: I’m originally from Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto. I remember as a child being so drawn to the city, and so interested in the music there. As soon as I found music that spoke to me, it became a huge part of my life.

I’ve been a bedroom singer and songwriter since those early days of falling in love with music. I have a very shy side to my personality and only recently found the courage within myself to sing and create publicly, but it was a huge struggle. Painting, on the other hand, came to me very naturally and served my need to exercise creativity in the solace of my own private space. I have a deep love for visual art, and studied painting in school. I am grateful for that experience because it allows me to think about music in visual terms, which lends itself well to my process.

Your music is described as “experimental vocal pop” on several forums. Can you elaborate what that means?

My songs are almost exclusively made up of vocal layers. The compositions are generally pretty lush and full, andthe idea behind the project is that most, if not all, elements of the songs are generated by my voice, which is looped and manipulated by a variety of effects. I would call the music experimental because it is driven by exploration and curiosity, and sometimes falls outside of standard pop conventions. But, at the same time, the songs often follow familiar, relatable structures.

There is an array of diverse musical talent in Toronto, but looping artists are really novel and self-contained. What are the benefits and setbacks of being a one-woman show on stage?

I was drawn to looping out of necessity because I was too scared to collaborate with other musicians. The rise of looping was a godsend because it allowed me to create songs on my own without compromising the sound that I wanted. Once I started playing with looping technology I really fell in love with it. I have been a fan of minimalist music for a very long time. I adore Arvo Part, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly and Dan Deacon (who, in my mind, addresses minimalism in a very contemporary way). I love repetitive music with gradual changes that build in intensity because it really allows you to get inside the mood of the music. This approach to music feels so natural to me—I respond so deeply to it. The process of looping lends itself extremely well to this repetitive and layered song-building that really moves me.

There are many benefits to being in control of the sounds, but the major setback would be that a machine can never deliver the energy and presence of a person. Fortunately for me, Toronto troubadour/music-magician Charles Tilden has joined my live show and adds his own spirit to the songs.

Has something ever gone terribly wrong during a show?

Ha-ha! Oh yes. Unfortunately that is the nature of the looping beast. During the Health EP release show in Toronto, we were playing the very last song, which was going to be very large and dense—the grand finale of the performance, so to speak. Somehow a cord knocked a dial on my looper and every layer I had built was wiped out. I thought, we can’t end the show like this! I decided to build it up again and finish the song properly. It could have been disastrous, but I felt like the crowd was with me. And I like to think that the unplanned moments add a sense of humanity to the performance. The good news about unplanned disasters is that you surprise yourself with your ability to handle them in the moment. And when the worst thing happens, you learn that it’s not really that bad, and you become fearless about future performances because you know the worst thing has already happened and you made it work!

To those who may not be familiar with your genre or looping in general, how would you describe the process of creation and performance?

My process is very much anchored in playfulness. I sit down on the floor with my equipment around me and just explore ideas as they come. When you are just playing for the sake of play itself, you lose a lot of self-consciousness and can be completely true and authentic without any pressure, and I think that’s how you can get into a flow state. When you’re in the flow state—that’s when the really good ideas come! When an idea gives me a really excited feeling, I know I should go back and work on it, flesh it out. I work with very minimal equipment, and working within set limitations is a challenge that I enjoy. It also makes the process manageable, not too overwhelming. Like, “How much can I do with the least amount of stuff?” Working within boundaries allows you to explore all of the possibilities that exist there. I’m developing new material now and I already know that I will need to add to my arsenal of gear. It will be fun to work within new parameters.

What sets looping apart from using other instruments? Do you think it’s more or less work or a completely different experience altogether?
I wouldn’t say that it is more or less work; it’s just a different kind of work. When you’re looping, your attention is a bit divided—rather than just channeling all of your focus into your voice, or your guitar or whatever you play, you are monitoring the recording and playback of all of the layers. But the bonus is that you can maximize your sound by adding harmonies or other elements that wouldn’t be possible in real time, unless you split yourself into multiple people. An instrument is just a means to the end of self-expression, and in that sense, the looper sort of becomes an instrument in its own right.

Your debut album was released January this year. Tell us about ‘Health. It’s an interesting album name, could you expound on why you chose it?
The songs on Health came together at a time when I felt very lost. I felt conflicted about a lot of things and very divided, like my body and mind were a type of wilderness that I was trying to navigate through music. The album came to be about the wilderness of the human landscape, health being the goal. The EP considers paradoxes—the pulls between the present, past and future, and the animal versus the spiritual. I wanted the EP to feel a bit haunted, because it is very much about being haunted by our ghosts—those challenges that we must face and bring into balance in order to feel peaceful. Health seemed like the best title for this collection of songs because it was the goal of the album, and also very self-fulfilling. I felt that I had faced a lot of my demons while making it, and felt like a healthier human as a result.

Your music has a definite haunting quality and darkness to it. Where do you think that quality comes from? Is it deliberate or inherent?

The moody nature of Health happened naturally because that’s where my headspace was at the time, and I decided to go with what felt natural. I kept seeing this image of a dark forest full of animals and ghosts in my head. I saw dark blues and greys and silvers all over the songs. Ghosts were a huge conceptual part of this album, and by that I mean the people and memories that haunt you because there is some part of your healing that you have not addressed. The body of work that I am currently working on has a much brighter sound because I feel differently now, and the concept behind these new songs calls for a more multi-faceted approach.

Any pearls of wisdom for other aspiring musicians who want to try something new?

I definitely encourage exploration. As a listener, it’s so exciting to hear music that is unlike everything else I’ve heard. My journey has taught me to trust my instincts, and do what feels the most natural. The goal is to be authentic and sincere with your explorations; people will always connect with truth. - The Missing Slate


Health (2014)

Songs by Kira May
Vocals performed by Kira May
Guitars, bass and synths performed by Charles Tilden (Parks & Rec, Delta Will)
Produced by Charles Tilden
Mixed by Emilio Guim (Lullaby North)
Mastered by Milan Schramek at Lacquer Channel



Kira May is a vocal loop artist from Toronto. With a mic and a loop pedal, Kira methodically layers each composition with soaring harmonies, beatboxing, and vocal effects to create lush, full-bodied arrangements. Musical influences ranging from Bjork to trip-hop to classical minimalism are intricately synthesized to create a mixture of densely vibrant pop and haunting sound-scapes. Kira’s work deals with issues relating to the health of the body and mind, particularly where it is at odds with anxiety and trauma while exploring the melodic, rhythmic and textural possibilities of the voice.

Since the release of her debut EP Health in early 2014, Kira has provided live support for artists such as Nat Baldwin (Dirty Projectors), Absolutely Free, Doomsquad, DIANA and Moon King. She has also received coverage from many notable blogs and media outlets such as Exclaim!, Alan Cross’s A journal of Musical Things, and Silent Shout.

Kira May’s first full-length record will be released in 2015, exploring over-saturation of the senses and internal body systems. She looks forward to sharing it with you!

“When employed with enough creativity and a strong aesthetic perspective, there is nothing more evocative and emotionally affecting then the magic of singing. This artist demonstrates the limitless potential of the human voice, and in the process she takes the listener into a deep and intimate well of emotion.“ – Audio Reckoning.

"The music of Kira May broods like a low-hanging fog diffusing moonlight. The versatility of her alto is nothing short of remarkable, twisted and knotted into percussive, rhythmic, and harmonic loops." – Wavelength

“Waiting anxiously for more from this new talent” –Silent Shout

Band Members