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Kyan

Nothing Beyond is a story that begins at the end, or at least what felt like the end for UK singer-songwriter Kyan. It was October 2015 when a disastrous 24-hours sent the soul prodigy tumbling into a void, unable to imagine his future. “It was like I had lost everything, personally and professionally,” recalls Kyan. The same day his major label record deal ended, his relationship with his long-term girlfriend crumbled, and “all of the sign posts to who I am and what I was about were suddenly taken away.” A period of deep depression and soul-searching en- sued. “The question became, who the fuck am I?” he says.

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Nothing Beyond, Kyan’s innovative, power- fully honest new visual album, is the sound of him striving to answer that question, to nd something amidst all the nothing again. It’s a debut at once expansive and crushingly intimate, full of poeticism, piano melancholy and passionate moments of ex- plosive melody, from one of Britain’s most exciting and enigmatic emerging talents. Nothing Beyond – released as a visual album, accompanied by 10 evocative music videos – packs more of the genre-bending artistry that made him so hotly tipped when he rst landed on people’s radars in 2014. That year’s debut EP, The Purple Ex- periment, set him on a course towards tour dates with London Grammar, a massive collaboration with electro-pop king Madeon and more than 7m Spotify streams, not to mention praise from Billboard, the Sunday Times, Clash and BBC Radio 1. The Purple Experiment and its two follow-up EPs “were quite metaphorical in their lyrics” though, says Kyan. “This time, all I could write about was how I felt. I wasn’t afraid to be direct.” An artist with a limitlessly expressive voice that tremors with emotion at every turn, Kyan’s captivating sung melodies sit at the centre of this unique album: a virtuoso vo- cal that can dovetail from a soaring falsetto to a deep, powerful baritone in a second. Rebellion pulses beneath the surface of the record, from its raw instrumentation to its experimental orchestral interludes and out- ros, full of unexpected modulations. It takes a de ant spirit with a strong independent streak to self-produce and self-fund an al- bum (Kyan also launched a Kickstarter for the record which quickly reached 127% of its funding target). Factor in the arresting visuals created for each track, and you’re left with a piece of true audio and aesthetic artistry – a release that’s testament to Kyan’s irrepressible vision and refusal to compromise. of ‘Don’t Want To Let Go’, the album is a testament to the magic of music. Which should come as no surprise, given Kyan’s strong relationship with music from an early age. His aunty in London kept boxes full of hundreds of cassette tapes spanning everything from Zook and Hi Life to vintage hip-hop that were an early inspiration growing up. “That was where I started ex- ploring and becoming obsessed,” he says. “I also had a friend whose dad was a DJ and used to get old Missy Elliott instrumentals. I tried to rap over those, probably really badly,” he laughs. An “odd one out kid” at school, he threw himself into the vivid worlds of rap greats like Arrested Development and A Tribe Called Quest till his mum bought him a Yamaha DJX2 keyboard as a Christmas present aged 14. Using this keyboard, Kyan began layering beats, exploring chords and synth sounds, and developing a production style. “I played it every day and started to write my own music next,” he says. “All I wanted to do was be Stevie Wonder.” Stevie Wonder’s in uence still looms large on Nothing Beyond. Bolstered by dazzling modern production, tracks like ‘People Over Empire’ carry the Detroit icon’s melodic e ervescence, infectious energy and talent for searing social-political commentary. On the stirring ‘People Over Empire’, Kyan warns oppressors of di erent kinds: “stack your empire and build your walls while you still can, ‘cos tomorrow we take it all.” Kyan’s brutally honest lyricism is part of what makes Nothing Beyond so special. You don’t have to look far for examples of that brutal honesty on the album. “I just booked myself a ticket for LA, like the sun can burn away the sun, like the girls can fuck away the heartache... I wish I could fuck away the heartache,” he con des The album’s nal track, ‘Like Summer’, written as the album was being mixed, sees Kyan complete a journey, re ecting on the previous two years and coming to the realisation that things were beginning to shift. “Depression is like sleep paralysis. You’re aware it’s happening, you’re trying to do everything you can to pull yourself out of it, but you can’t do anything about it. ‘Like Summer’ was the moment I realised that I was starting to get over it and I could see value in myself and the world around me,” he says. Its lyrics pull no punches.“Checking in to the nightmare, a key card for my descent, I stayed down on the bottom oor, stuck in four walls that I wouldn’t recommend,” he sings. “I’ve never felt that down, I’ve been to the edge and back around, and I never thought I’d make it out, now I’m awake, everything feels on ‘LA’. Over dusty desert guitars on the album’s title track, he sings: “If I had lungs to breathe, maybe I’d tell you how it feels to see nothing, how it feels to be nothing.” These tracks were written in Airbnbs during periods of solitude in LA, as Kyan attempted to outrun his depression. During this time, music poured out of him. “I wrote these songs for myself in an attempt to deal with how I was feeling. At the time, these songs were not written to become an album and it was that di erence that allowed me to really let go and tap into true inspira- tion.” From the Radiohead-esque solitude of ‘Neighbours’ and Beatles-like wonder of ‘Lonely River’ to the choral harmonies like summer.” These are more than lyrics – they’re Kyan’s truth. “Now there’s no question in my mind about who I am,” the singer explains on the brink of the album’s release. It may have come from a moment when he was fearing the end, but Nothing Beyond feels like just the beginning.

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