Kidaudra: Forever Young, a Way of Life
by Gina Lee
“I feel like I don’t ever want to grow up. I feel like I’ve been a kid for a long time. I really cherish the experiences I’ve had learning the world as a child, adapting to this crazy society; and I feel like a lot of my inspiration still comes from things that I’ve experienced when I was a kid.”
When Kidaudra came to Philly in February 2014 to perform at Excuse Me Miss, an all-ladies music event, the 26-year-old electronic musician didn’t expect her audience to be so receptive to her sound. The crowd, gathered at Silk City Diner Bar and Lounge, welcomed Audra Kizina to the stage and danced her whole performance through as if her set was the moment they’ve all been waiting for. She described her Philadelphia audience as “the most receptive crowd,” further reminiscing on the night by saying, “There was some point when I looked up and everyone was kind of just standing around me and looking at me. Every time I’d put a beat on everyone would just be like, ‘Aaaaaaah!’ It made me so excited... I definitely want to do Philly again.”
Alone on the stage with her keyboard, Kidaudra managed to put her spectators in an electronic trance with her choral harmonies and layered vocals. And then, she would drop the beat and somehow manage to coordinate the neon lighting on her keyboard with her song. She was a multitasking talent, for sure. The crowd ate it up, but for Kidaudra, the harmonies, beats, and lights were all intertwined as one. “I like being a composer and I feel like the vocals and the music, in my mind, they are a part of each other, so I don’t feel like I’m singing and also doing other stuff. It’s all kind of just one whole thing.” As natural as music seems to come to Kidaudra, she admitted that she always saw herself as a visual artist – a painter. She proudly confessed, “I thought my calling was to be a painter.” Kidaudra’s family wasn’t even aware that she liked to sing and that she wanted to perform until she actually started performing. When asked what lured her away from visual arts and into music, she stated, “I realized music is just more kinetic. It can really touch people immediately with the beat. People just move. A song goes straight to the heart.”
As Kidaudra, Audra Kizina has been performing since 2012, but she has known music all of her life. Since her mother gave her a toy keyboard at one point in her childhood, she’s been hooked to music. Now, she proudly carries around her appreciation of that childhood, hence the name Kidaudra. “Kids can be curious, and they come up with new stuff, and they’re not jaded. I’d like to try to maintain that for a long as possible.” As she drifted into a nostalgic childhood nirvana, Kidaudra recalled:
“My mom got this old piano that someone was throwing out, and all the keys were black, and it was completely out of tune - and some of them were always stuck down, but she still brought this nasty piano in the house. I would just sit there and play it and listen to the notes and how they joined together with harmonies and dissonances. She would set up a little tape recorder next to me while I was jamming away. I was like four, just making a mess. And then we would listen to it together after. I think that really did a lot.”
It did so much that Kidaudra toyed around with music on her own and realized if she could have one tape recording her on the piano, she could have another recording her voice. At the age of 14, she had two tape recorders and a boombox with a cassette tape, ready to record. It wasn’t until 2005 that she acquired a laptop and started messing around with beats. This was the evolution of Kidaudra.
“I’m not really good with genres, so I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in because I’m influenced by everything. I really like 80s new wave and I really like old jazz and Motown - like the Supremes and the Temptations.”
While Kidaudra makes electronic music and really enjoys house and industrial, she knows that her interest in a broad range of musical genres has always been an integral part of her growth as an artist. Captivated by Judy Garland’s heavy, throaty vibrato, Kidaudra immediately fell in love with that sound; it was her gateway drug to jazz music. The musically motivated Kidaudra picked up trumpet at a young age, playing from elementary through high school and a little in college. “Last time I got it out, I put on a Miles Davis record and I tried to play along with it, like improvise. My neighbor totally knocked on the door; she’s like, ‘Can you keep it down?’ So I’m like okay, I’ll put it away. So that was the last time I got it out.”
“Everything that I’m influenced by kind of shows up somehow in my music.”
Having been born in Fredericktown, PA and moving to Little Washington, PA for a short time in her childhood, Kidaudra has a special tie to Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia. Now, the Westchester, NY resident and former Manhattan dweller is anxious to get back to the city of Philadelphia, noting one of her favorite parts of the Philadelphia Excuse Me Miss show was meeting Ganou, a solo electronic musician from Philadelphia. “I was like who is this girl? I want to know because she has such a powerful voice.” Kidaudra came to meet Ganou through a culmination of people that she knew from Pennsylvania. She placed Ganou on her favorites list and at the top of her collaboration bucket list. “I love collaborating. Collaborations are both beautiful and like a game. I’ll send a track out and they’ll send the track back with edits and changes.”
“Every time I collaborate with somebody I learn new things.”
Audra Kizina, in an effort to preserve her childhood, continues to make an eclectic mix of house, electronic, and pop – a complete blend of everything she’s carried with her from her younger years. Her music is a way to connect the beauty of yesterday with the magnificence of today. Kidaudra is currently working to finish her debut LP and hopes to have it completed relatively soon. “I just want to take my time with it because I feel like I’m a borderline perfectionist with it, but I also I want there to be room to grow, obviously.” In the meantime, her July 2012 five-track EP, Unknown, houses an electric array of electronic sounds and choral arrangements, which can be described as a rollercoaster of melancholic, hopeful, aggressive music.
“I love doing this just for the sheer enjoyment of doing it and making music. I dream of being successful and I dream of being able to travel and play all different cities, but I’m just happy to be making music, so whatever happens, happens.”
Photography by Tyler Kai Jones