Kiara Jordan is a special kind of artist; she believes in using her music to make a change. Her new song, ‘Young Man’ is a case in point and just by streaming it you can help her make a change in people’s lives.
All photos credit Jordan Paunova
Kiara Jordan is a London based but South African born songwriter, singer and producer. Her new song is out now on all streaming platforms and it is accompanied by a powerful video. Every facet of this song has been created by this hugely evocative young woman who wants to change the way we look at the suffering of others. She feels so strongly about this that proceeds from this brilliant and moving new song will be given to charity. I am blown away by a young artist who feels so strongly that she is willing to use her art as a conduit for good. Just by supporting this artist we can change the things in this world that desperately need to be changed.
Kiara says of the song: “South Africa is considered to be the world’s most divided country. So I want to use this song as a platform to highlight the systemic racism and discrimination so many of the population are exposed to. I want to start a conversation – why is it that people in power are willing to turn a blind eye to the suffering of their own people, if not deliberately to make their own people suffer in order to better their own lives. The corruption of governments and political parties have destroyed incomes and well beings, and have forced their own people to suffer. I want to shed a much needed light on this struggle, and to question why people in power are being allowed to take away the freedom of those whom they govern.”
I was honoured to be able to pose some questions to Kiara and I hope her responses at the very least introduce you to her music. Please take this opportunity to engage with the music. Together we can make a change.
EP: Growing up in South Africa and then moving to London must have given you a very personal insight into the similarities and differences of people in those countries. How has that inspired the very powerful lyrics in your new song ‘Young Man’?
KJ: First and foremost, thanks for having me. I like to use the metaphor of a forest to explain how I felt writing ‘Young Man’. When you’re inside a forest and you look around, you are in between all the trees. You can’t see the whole forest. When you’re outside the forest looking at it, you can see the whole thing – all the trees together. In a way, moving to England was like stepping outside of the forest. I don’t think I had quite processed what it was like to live in such a divided country, until all of a sudden, I didn’t.
The struggles of those that live in South Africa became much more evident, strangely enough, once I wasn’t surrounded by them, but was surrounded by first world infrastructure and people. I want people in more privileged countries, such as England, to become aware of the struggles so many are facing across the world, because the mentality of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ has become far too popular. Being able to live in what felt like two different worlds has shown me this.
EP: The video has a repetitive visual that accompanies the chorus of the song. Was this a conscious effort to visually represent the never-ending loop of oppression and hopelessness for the poor?
KJ: I’m actually really happy that you noticed this – you’re spot on. I used the same visuals in the chorus to symbolize how oppression is a constant and very real struggle people are facing – people have been discriminated against for years, systemically oppressed and put down daily. It seems to be a never-ending loop, and change starts at the top. If our systems and powers remain in the same vein, the hopelessness of our people, the human race, will continue.
EP: I heard that the profits from this song will be donated to charity. If this is true, what charity is it and how can people find out more and support the charity if they feel moved by your song?
KJ: Indeed, the recent riots in South Africa that were visualized in my video caused an incredible shortage of food and supplies, leaving lots of families starving. This leads to further crime in the country, with people stealing to support themselves and their loved ones. Now more than ever, I wanted to use this song as a platform to be able to donate to those in need. The proceeds from ‘Young Man’ will be donated to a South African charity, Operation Hunger, which aims to fight hunger and malnutrition throughout the country. Simply by streaming the song, or video, one is donating to the cause. Furthermore, they can visit the Operation Hunger website to donate directly.
EP: For a young singer, your song writing style is hugely empathetic. In fact, your lyric “young man, old eyes” from your new song has a duality that suggests things never change but could also belie an old head on young shoulders. Your music stands out because you are able to see the world through other people’s eyes. One of my favourite songs is the brilliant ‘Walk a Mile in my Shoes’ which I first heard sung by Elvis. It’s a song that says, “before you accuse, criticise and abuse, walk a mile in my shoes”, and at the time was seen as very political for Elvis. Are you keen to use your music to change things and shine a light on what you think are political injustices?
KJ: I would love to use the platform that I have to cast a light on political injustices and social issues – the world is becoming seemingly more chaotic, and I think using music as a means to speak about such topics and raise awareness is incredibly effect. I would love to be a news board for youth, sharing what I believe to be worth speaking about and shining a light on. If my music has the ability to change something, even if on a very small scale, I would be ecstatic.
EP: The video for the song is very powerful. How involved were you in the conceptual feel of the video and the voice overs used in it? Is film making something that appeals to you or is it just an extension of what you want to achieve musically?
KJ: Throughout my life, I’ve used various art forms to express myself, some being writing, singing, and photography. There is something very powerful about combining these platforms to create something that stimulates different senses. The creation of the song and video was done entirely by myself, from my bedroom, after hours of searching for footage on social media platforms, from actual people in South Africa, and news outlets, to create the music video. Film making, like I said, is a beautiful way to visually express myself, and in combination with music, can be a very powerful tool.
EP: You’ve received some support from blogs like Loud Women and LeFutureWave. How did that come about and is it exciting that your music is getting this kind of attention?
KJ: It’s extremely exciting. Over the course of lockdown, I started releasing my music, and with little to no connections in the industry, I began submitting my music to blogs on a platform called SubmitHub. My songs have received far more recognition than I ever thought possible, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have my work shared.
EP: This is your first release of 2021. What do you have planned for the coming months with music releases? Will we see an EP soon?
KJ: I have one song on the way, currently in its production phases, however I’m looking to release an EP next year. I can’t wait to begin sharing what I’ve been working on, and hope that is touches people in the way that my previous music has been able to do.
EP: As we come out of the various lockdowns and try to get back to some semblance of normal as we emerge from a global pandemic, hopefully, do you feel the enforced break between releasing ‘Three’ last year and ‘Young Man’ now has helped you to look inside your creative soul and really settle on the artist and person you want to be or has it been an annoying delay to what you want to achieve?
KJ: I took almost a year out between my previous release and ‘Young Man’, reflecting on the type of artist I want to be. With help from the likes of Tom Graham, I became aware of the power that my platform could have if I used it effectively. My music style has evolved into something more contemporary, and my writing has evolved into more honest reflections of not only what I am going through, but what the world is going through. With each release, I have pushed personal boundaries, in terms of production, vocal ability, press, etc., and think that the time I spent between releases helped this growth occur. I’m very grateful for it – reflection is always good.
EP: Who would you say are your musical inspirations and, for a singer like you, where else do you find inspiration to try to affect change?
KJ: Tracy Chapman was always a huge inspiration for me – especially in terms of political and social change. After listening to her song, ’Talking ‘Bout a Revolution’, I became drawn into the idea that songs could be more than just break-up stories and light hearted pop. In terms of musicality, one of my biggest inspirations is Tom Misch – after watching him perform live, and exploring both his instrumental skills and production ability, I would love to be able to create and produce on the level that he does. In terms of lyricism, Don McLean has been a huge source of inspiration. With classics, like ‘American Pie’ and ‘Vincent’, he draws me into the story he is telling with the words he uses, and it inspires me to want to do the same.
EP: Finally, thank you for your time; are there any plans to play any live gigs and where can we find out about your music and plans for the future?
KJ: Thank you so much for having me. I have three gigs booked over the next month or so – one on the 16th September at 26 Leake Street, another on the 1st of October at The Slaughtered Lamb, and another one on the 27th October at The Lucky Pig – all in London. You can find out more on my showcase page https://www.musicgateway.com/creative-professionals/musician/kiara-jordan, or on my Instagram @kiara.jordan – thanks so much again!