Kalikah @ The Firkin Crane, Cork 23 April 2017


Kalikah’s debut single ‘Black & White’ is out now.

When it was first announced that Cork based art pop singer/songwriter Kalikah (aka Tiffeny Joyce) intended to launch her debut single ‘Black & White’ at the Firkin Crane Theatre, I must admit I was a touch surprised. The venue is usually home to productions of plays and dance pieces that would need to utilise the full size of the theatre’s not unsubstantial stage. Even though I had seen a number of press photos of the enigmatically visual Kalikah, and the ambitious video for ‘Black & White’, I continued to wonder what exactly she would need with such a stage.

But before the slightly demented spectacle of Kalikah in full flight, is Dublin rapper Ophelia MC. At times recalling Zack de la Rocha or Kate Tempest with her politically and socially conscious rhymes, she is an imposing and visceral force even though she is only accompanied by a backing track and her words. A complete contrast to Kalikah in both genre and presentation, Ophelia provides an intriguing foil for the singer/songwriter while also impressing in her own right.

What is really interesting and intriguing about Kalikah is the dichotomy and contrast that is inherent in her presentation. Visually, she melds the latex and seductiveness of the dominatrixes of S&M with heavy Christian religious imagery to arresting affect. The result is not exactly gothic, not exactly Wiccan, but pulls together so many different completely disparate influences to create something riveting and unusual.

Her performance is interspersed with clips projected on stage which give the audience an insight into the character and the motivations of her creation. For me, the character of Kalikah calls to mind the goddesses of Ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt. An emotional and human creation, the character is a far cry from the Judeo-Christian God we all in Ireland know only too well. She is not a perfect or infallible creation, but one that explores both the dark and light present in the human condition.

This elaborate and considered production is further contrasted with the accessibility of Kalikah’s music. For the most part, her and her band present a pop inflected form of rock music where melody is prioritised. It is best represented by her debut single ‘Black & White’, which is tonight received as if it had not just been released in the last few weeks but was a pop standard for years.

As she runs through the rest of her set, which essentially comprises her upcoming debut album, it is obvious that Kalikah is unafraid to experiment within her pop format as songs deftly touch on Middle Eastern rhythms and melodies at times, incorporate drum n bass elsewhere, and head into a metal tinged form of hard rock for one number.

For a succession of songs Kalikah and her band are joined on stage by dancers who play out the themes and narratives of her songs. Of particular note is one such performance that seems to touch on the complications and perils of a broken relationship in its death throes. The dancers’ performances are filled with vigour and visually complement the fascinating themes and notions of Kalikah’s songs.

Kalikah is a bit of an anomaly. She’s a DIY, independent musician with a pop sound and a theatrical bent. Undoubtedly, that’s an unusual and unique combination. Let’s see how that turns out for her. I’ll be watching, and listening, with interest.

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