Kyla Reid didn’t know “Do You Mind” would land her on a Drake album.
“When we got the call and they said that Drake was wanting to sample it, I honestly thought someone was April Fooling me,” she said. The song was released in 2007 with now-husband Errol Reid aka Paleface, one half of music duo Crazy Cousinz, who’d go on to concoct an infectious funky house remix of “Do You Mind” a year later. “I think we charted at #47 in the UK charts the first time around and had quite a bit success with it,” she continued.
And that was all the success she thought she’d see.
Enter 2016, and the singer now finds her name next to Drake’s on the UK and Billboard charts – a complete 180 for the wife and mom, who, until this year, had put her music career on hold to focus on her family. Ready and re-inspired, Kyla’s back in the studio, and she’s excited to share with the world what she’s been working on.
TUD spoke with Kyla via Skype about her “One Dance” feature, the legacy of Aaliyah, and what to expect from the UK songstress going forward: “I’ve got some stuff coming out really, really soon . . . Dreams do come true if you work hard and you get your head down.”
TUD: So you have a song with Drake on his new album!
KYLA: I know, isn’t it crazy?!
I was looking at your Twitter just now, and I see that “One Dance” is currently #2 on the Billboard charts and #1 the UK.
Yeah! I was always striving for number one in the UK, and the US Billboard charts is just like a dream that I never thought would happen. It’s amazing.
Drake reached out to you to use the “Do You Mind” sample, correct?
Yes. Basically, his management team contacted us about a sample, and then when we got speaking to them they were like, “How would Kyla feel being a feature?” – which I really wanted, so it was amazing. It was a track that I had done called “Do You Mind” a good seven years ago. We released it in 2009, and I think we charted at #47 in the UK charts the first time around and had quite a bit success with it. [I] really just thought that’s all I was going to get out of that tune and just move on and start a family. To just get a feature is amazing.
What did you think of how the sample was used? When you originally recorded the song, did you ever imagine that someone like Drake would want to sample it?
Yeah, I couldn’t believe it! When we got the call and they said that Drake was wanting to sample it, I honestly thought someone was April Fooling me because I was like, “You’re talking about the Drake?” I was dead chuffed. When we had the meeting, we didn’t know how it was going to sound, but I’m dead pleased. I think they’ve done it justice. I really love “Do You Mind,” and the whole spin they’ve come with [for] “One Dance” is amazing.
The original song falls under the umbrella of funky house/UK Funky, which you previously mentioned you weren’t familiar with until you just sort of fell into it. Tell me more about the genre’s sound and how it contributed to you as an artist.
I’m obviously married to him now, but I met this guy called Paleface, and we’d done [“Do You Mind”]. It was originally done to sort of like a bassline track, and then he went out and got loads of remixes. [With] the remixes we got a funky house mix, and that was the mix that went on to do really well. I’d never heard of the scene, so when I actually landed doing UK Funky, I was just trying to learn about it, to be honest. It was like a whole different sort of style that I’d never heard before – the drum beats and the patterns. I remember doing an interview and they were calling me the “ambassador” of UK Funky, but I had never heard of it. I was dead excited because it had been going for a little while, but apparently it was quite new, quite fresh. When I first started out, I was more sort of an R&B/pop singer, so it just opened doors I never thought of. It opened me up to do house tunes, soulful house, and I loved it. I had a wonderful career through Funky, but that’s not all I can do.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I would say back in the day my influences were Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston. I love the Motown stuff – Stevie Wonder. [I’m] a big fan of Aaliyah. I was very much into the pop world and listening to R&B singers.
Aaliyah, man… She was amazing.
Do you think the R&B climate would be different if she was still around?
Definitely. She was amazing. She would come with like a soft voice but a really hard R&B beat, if that makes sense. I think R&B would still be – not saying that it would still be around, because it’s still around – but I do think that it would be different if she were still around.
Some would argue that R&B’s been watered down by other genres.
To be honest, I think if you look at other genres – I mean, even with Funky House, people would say Funky House sort of died and went away, and I just think things evolve and change. So I wouldn’t say it’s watered down, I just think everyone is just trying to be fresh and current and bring something different so it just kind of makes the sound change.
Tell me more about how you got into music.
I’ve been singing from the age of three. I was singing at my family’s parties and things, and then when I got into school – I must’ve been about 14 years old – [I joined the] school choir and really enjoyed that, [so I thought], “Maybe I could do this solo.” When I left school, I went and bought my own sound system, and me and my dad would just go along to all the pubs and clubs around the local area and just sort of do our own little cover shows. [I was] covering the Aaliyah tracks and the Alicia Keys and just showing people what I could do. And then I eventually – I must’ve been about 20-something – I decided to do my own video. That caught the eye of DJ Paleface, so he contacted me and was like “Let’s do some tunes together,” and I was like “Yeah, let’s do it!” I think we did three [songs] and we were really trying to go down a R&B/pop route, but the UK Funky remix, as soon as it went out, it started getting lots of love. It just pushed me into doing [music] professionally, so I haven’t stopped since, apart from obviously giving a break to have a little boy. It was just sort of like learning. You know? Like “Maybe it’s just a nice little hobby,” and then actually finding my passion at a really young age.
What’s it like balancing music with family?
It has been very challenging, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve got a little boy. He’s two and a half, very musical. And it’s hard because it’s trying to balance your career and being a mom as well. I feel like I’m balancing it really well, but I wouldn’t say it’s easy. It’s not easy, but I think it is very possible and I’m living proof that you can do it. Everything falls into place and I’ve got a very supportive family, which helps massively. My husband’s family and my parents – they’re very good and they’re there every step of the way. Also, it’s lovely because when I’m doing things – I had a photo shoot not so long ago and my little boy came with me and it was just a really enjoyable day and he got to share that with me and we got some pictures together. So it’s hard, but doable.
Yeah. I love being a mom. I love singing. Why can’t you have both? A lot of people would say you can’t but I think you can balance it if you work hard and you plan everything out properly it works.
I mean, Beyonce and Jay-Z are doing it!
Exactly! You see Beyonce doing it, you see Kanye West and everybody do it, so it is definitely doable. We’re getting there. It’s been an amazing journey that I can share with my little boy, so it’s lovely.
You’re working on a new album?
Yes! I’m actually working on quite a few bits really. Before I got married and had a little boy, I was working on a new album. Unfortunately I got sick when I had my little boy, so I had to step away, and that kind of took me out the game for about three years. So I’ve got all this material and I’ve been back in the studio working hard, so I’m just gonna gather all my music together and try to make it all work and tell a story. Hopefully, fingers crossed, you’ll hear some new material from me.
Will this be your debut?
To be honest, I am still trying to work out what I’m going to bring out and give people because I’ve got so much stuff, and I just want to make sure that I’m what giving out is the right stuff. I really wanna sort of show everybody who I am, and I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to show people what I’ve got. I want to show everybody the diverse me and show people that I can do a tune on an R&B song, I can do a tune on a house song, I can do something on an Afrobeat. I really want to show that. When we decide what we’re actually bringing out, it will definitely be my debut.
Do you think Drake might be a part of that?
You know what? I hope so, I really do. He’s the most amazing guy to work with. His team [is] so professional and brilliant and have been letting me know every step of the way what’s going on and what to do. When we had the meeting with them, they said that they definitely wanna keep doing work in the future, so there’s nothing there in the pipeline at the moment, but all I can do is have my fingers crossed and hope that definitely there should be something. I would love to do something else with Drake. It’s been amazing to work with him so far.
Has he given you any advice?
I actually haven’t spoken to him yet. We’ve got really busy schedules, he’s obviously working really hard. So I know we’ve been really busy, but I’m really looking forward to talking to talking to him ‘cause I am really gonna pick his brain and get ideas and and ask for advice. I know he once was an artist coming up, and I just wanna see how he got through things.
It’s amazing to see how far he’s come in a relatively short amount of time.
Yeah, it’s been so quick! And he’s brought out so much material and it’s all so credible and amazing . . . I feel very lucky to have my name next to him.
PHOTO CREDIT: Shane Anthony Sinclair via Three Point Solutions