by Hero Magnus
This week, I got the wonderful chance to speak with up & coming artist Kimberly Shires, a native to the DMV area, about her new single called “Ride Your High.” “Ride Your High” is Shires’ debut single. The record is a bluesy rock tune with her sultry vocals and features her own father, Dean Shires, on the organ. The record was produced, mixed and mastered by Max Rich of Los Angeles, CA, who also played guitar and bass for the track.
While this is Shires’ debut single, it’s certainly not the first time she’s been involved in music. It might not even be the first time you’ve read her name on this platform. She is also one of the writers at Alchemical Records. Shires is the type of person who really goes for it, and in that vein she has been dedicated to different forms of music for decades.
Shires is a conglomeration of things. She’s a music journalist.. She’s got a music degree and is a classically trained clarinettist. She’s a corporate ladder climber, a road biker, and a songwriter. At one point she even thought she’d join a military band.
Shires’ interest in music began with clarinet and French classical romanticism when she was around fifteen years old. She fell madly in love with Francis Poulenc’s Sonata for clarinet. As a teenager, she became obsessed with the clarinet, and spent hours every day practicing. Going to music school seemed like a natural path. And as Shires described herself, “I’m one of those people who if I decide I wanna do something, I can do it. And I do it all the way.” So she studied clarinet, got into music school, completed her music degree, and started auditioning for military bands, where she was accepted into the US Navy Band.
But something didn’t feel quite right. “When you have that passion really young, sometimes you end up beating it down. You can burn out and start questioning whether or not it’s the right decision,” she described. Shires quit classical music, hopped on the corporate ladder, and took a fifteen-year hiatus from music as a whole. But that decision began to tickle at her. Shires described, “Something strange happens in your brain chemistry when you turn 40. But, instead of buying a Corvette, I bought a guitar.” The transition was quick, too. Shires woke up one morning, realized she was missing something, and decided right then and there on songwriting. She moved fast in learning songwriting, vocal and guitar skills, seeking out expert mentors to help her along the journey. Shires wanted to focus on learning everything the right way. After her fifteen-year break from music, Shires didn’t want to mess around: “I’m proud that I’m not self-taught. Being a former music educator, I know the value of learning an instrument correctly from the beginning. At least for me, that was faster than teaching myself.”
As it turns out, “Ride Your High” is Shires’ breakup song with classical music. She described, “Don’t underestimate the amount of trauma that goes into being classically trained. It can scar you forever, better or worse. There are good scars too, like a tattoo that you admire.” As a matter of fact, the song was born out of a conversation she had with her producer, Max Rich, who shared many of the same sentiments about his own classical routes. Shires said, “That’s why I asked him to produce it. That song is his too.” But Shires isn’t bitter; she just needed to find out what would serve her better: “Following that path wasn’t leading me to what was really feeding me musically. It took me a long time to realize that.”
Going forward, Shires wants to use her skills to pursue working in sync licensing, which would place her music into a variety of different films and television shows. It’s a great combination of her musical ability and business degree. Sync licensing requires a combination of musical acumen, business strategy and tenacious persistence. Shires has been training for that her whole life!
Alchemical Records has also been a big part of her music journey. We are lucky enough to have Shires here as a writer and fellow musician. Writing with Alchemical helped her bridge the gap between loving music and creating it again. Shires described, “When I first started getting this bug to write and to play, I was really insecure about sharing my music. The only people that ever heard it were my instructors,” she said. Shires wanted to wait to share her work until she reached a level of ability that she was proud of, everything she knew she was capable of doing: “I kept what I was doing mostly to myself, but I wanted to be part of a music community.” So when she found out that Alchemical Records was looking for writers, Shires was eager to sign up. She’s a terrific writer, and found the most joy and inspiration in interviewing other musicians, making friends, and doing co-writes with fellow writers. “I got huge energy from talking to other musicians: finding out what they’re passionate about, what was driving them, what they’re working on, how they approach it.”
Now, after building great relationships and improving her art, Shires is ready to share it. Her first single comes out on December 21. Listen to “Ride Your High” and keep an ear out for her future work. Shires has come full circle in her intense journey.
You can find “Ride Your High” on your favorite music experiencing platform here.
March is Women’s History Month, and this comes with a reflection and appreciation of women contributing to the music industry. From producers to writers, women have been the arbiters of some of the most influential pieces of art. D.C.-based Colombian singer, songwriter, and first-time Wammie nominee Laura Luv talks to contributing writer Margaret Adams about her background, as well as how her Colombian heritage and women have inspired her music, especially through her newest self-titled EP, Laura Luv, and why the presence of women and female representation is important in the music industry.
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