Marriage, motherhood & music

Married duo Kyra and Tully will release their new album tonight at The Grad Club.
Married duo Kyra and Tully will release their new album tonight at The Grad Club.
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Photo courtesy of Kyra & Tully

Interview/Preview: Kyra and Tully CD Release Party @ The Grad Club, tonight

When listening to husband-and-wife-group Kyra and Tully’s music, it’s easy to understand why they chose the Grad Club for their self-titled CD release party. Their blend of ’60s-and-’70s-inspired folk music conveys a sense of intimacy that would be lost in larger, more impersonal venues. Unfortunately, that is a challenge they know all too well—both remember their days as a weekly Loblaws house band.

“[Loblaws] actually paid really good money, but I totally hated it because we just didn’t gel with the vibe,” Kyra said in a recent telephone interview from her home in Kingston. “They wanted people to shop, and so covers worked a lot better and [with] us doing original music, you could just feel the friction between the store and us!”

“It was slightly surreal because ... you were playing to the people shopping downstairs,” Tully explained. “Talk about being separated from your audience.”

Now that the “supermarket tour” is in the past, things are looking up. Since then, they have hooked up with a local label, turned a fan into their manager, recorded a debut album and become parents for the first time. Surprisingly, having to care for a son has not slowed them down one bit. Not only did Kyra gig throughout her pregnancy, they’re taking the opportunity to focus on their music now that their son is a toddler. That’s right, having a toddler gives them free time, at least when compared to a newborn. I guess it all depends on perspective.

So what is the key to juggling a developing band, a young child and two careers? Get lots of help. Kyra and Tully said friends and family have pitched in to make their music career possible.

“It feels like there’s a real army of friends and family behind us,” Kyra said, right before she described the financial help their web designer—another friend—offered. “They’re doing it because they believe in the music, so it’s really an amazing thing.”

Finding childcare would also be a hassle if it weren’t for the “army.” To make time for our interview, Tully’s parents came to their house to look after the baby. Grandparents are also the first call for babysitters on gig nights, which are getting increasingly frequent.

“Tully’s parents are wonderful,” Kyra explained. Tully likes to refer to their musical career as the “tip of the iceberg.” No one really sees how much behind-the-scenes work is put into the band, though the musicians are the ones who get the credit.

Kyra and Tully have tried to increase the amount of shows they play due to their upcoming CD release. Kyra does not hesitate to describe the recent activity as the biggest the band has been.

Tully is more apt to take a come-what-may attitude, but his laid-back aura betrays a growing excitement. Of course, the laid-back attitude makes sense. Unlike some bands, Kyra and Tully aren’t desperate: they both have budding, non-musical careers, Kyra as a journalist and Tully as a sketch artist. They are even proud to announce that a Toronto magazine is interested in Tully’s sketches. So there’s no problem with keeping the music thing low-key.

It’s probably better that it stays low-key, because neither musician said they know what they’ll do if they have to tour. Kyra said she would never leave their son at home, but it’s hard to imagine a kid growing up on the road. Still, she assured me that there are plenty of musicians who bring their kids along on their tours. They just have to trade babysitting duties with other parents during performances. After all, Kyra and Tully had no problem bringing their son into the studio during the recording sessions.

Then again, the studio where they recorded, Leopard Frog Studios, is definitely the place where you want your kids to hang out. It’s located in a farmhouse on several acres of lakefront property in Kingston, and the place is so nice that it is regularly rented out to vacationers. It even has a beach.

Kyra and Tully say they’re happy with whatever comes. They’d be equally content with touring coffee houses or headlining folk festivals.

“We’re laid-back but we’re pretty intense about it,” Kyra says. “It feels really exciting, and we’re just kind of waiting to see what happens.”

Tully adds, “You can do music on different scales, you know ... You can keep recording and sell a hundred CDs or you can try to get on a major label and try to sell millions.”

Though they try to keep open minds, it sounds as though Kyra and Tully would rather be smaller-scale musicians. It’s the closest to life as they know it, a good thing because this is a life they enjoy living. Whether they have 100 fans or a 100,000, Kyra and Tully are happy to embrace whatever comes their way.

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