While some are subdued or destroyed by the hardships and circumstances facing them, others are strengthened by the struggle and formed by it. Growing up in Sunset Park in Brooklyn, J Records’ new artist Krista has come through a difficult home life and youth to write music that combines various elements of Rock, Hip-Hop and R&B that is then filtered through an incredible voice that can range from pure vocal to unfettered rap. I had a chance to sit down and talk with Krista about her debut album set for release early this year, her first experiences touring and what you can expect from her music.
AC: Growing up, what were your musical influences?
K: Basically everything influenced me. I listened to a lot of dance music because my mother likes to dance, and I listened to a lot of hip-hop and R&B because of the neighborhood I lived in, but then I always felt like I related a lot more to Rock and Roll every time I listened to the lyrics in the songs.
AC: Any specific artists or acts?
K: I would say that I based a lot of my vocal scales on Mariah Carey, I listened to her and tried to follow her scales. Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant because the voice that came out of him and the way that he looks are totally different. This slim tall guy with a fro and then his voice comes out like this beast.
AC: When did you start viewing your writing as a potential career?
K: When I was about 12, my uncle was inspired by the way I would write lyrics to his guitar playing. He would come over and play guitar after dinner sometimes and I would come up with old school doo-wop type songs that he really liked.
AC: I read that you got into a bit of trouble when you were younger?
AC: What was your process of growing out of that, and was there a specific turning point for you when you decided that you were going to go in a different direction?
K: Growing up, my household was not really stable. We lived in one place, but it was very dysfunctional. My father worked at night, my grandmother was super conservative. I acted out a lot, but I started meeting people who didn’t have it as bad as I did and they would tell me that I had potential. One day this kid came up to me in the street and told me that I should be hanging around with people who were doing things with their lives and not just in the street and that really woke me up because I never thought that someone would look at me and think that they wanted more for me.
AC: Talk about going from writing to actually working on an album in the studio. What was that process like for you?
K: It was surreal and a dream come true to be able to have unlimited access to an amazing studio and I made use of that as much as possible.
AC: Did using the studio change anything about your writing style or the way you were approaching your music?
K: The producer I worked with on the album is a writer and he’s very structured. He helped me learn how to focus and structure my own songs more
AC: What can people expect to hear on your album?
K: Aggression, emotion, honesty and personality.
AC: You have two singles out right now. Talk about them in terms of what they sound like and their subject matter.
K: “Temporary Insanity” is the Gorillaz single, that’s what everyone calls it, and that’s a song that I wrote about a situation that was going on in my house when I was younger that was making me feel like a crazy person that didn’t belong here. My second single is “Missile” and that song is just about a past relationship and feeling like I’ve been with the person for so long that I don’t even know who I am anymore, and when I’m by myself I know who I am but when I’m with them I’m lost.
AC: What has touring been like for you?
K: It’s been going fast and it’s been a little scary for me going from a studio and having never seen the country or any other states before and all of a sudden getting thrown into an RV, flown here, flown there, and all these different sceneries in a matter of hours, it’s overwhelming. But I’m very excited and very humbled by the experience because its definitely been my dream.
AC: Your music mixes and matches different genres. Talk about those and how you think that this blend is going to speak to fans.
K: Well I never approached my style as a formulated idea. I wasn’t, “Ok, I’m going to sing, then I’m going to rap.” It’s just something that happened because with my generation and all the different types of genres that have been introduced to the music world in just the past 15 years, music has changed a lot, and that includes the way people listen to it and the way people take it in. I grew up in a neighborhood where everybody loved to listen to Hip-Hop, but I loved to listen to Rock. Music was a way of life in my neighborhood. The people who listened to certain types of music created certain cliques and if you didn’t listen to it and you weren’t down, then you were an outcast, so that’s what I was. I started my first band in 3rd grade.
AC: What other artists are you listening to now?
K: I always go blank when people ask me that. I’ve been listening to Shwayze’s album a lot while I’ve been on tour with them, and I like a lot of underground artists who haven’t broke yet because I like to feel personally attached to them from an early stage, and that’s what I’d like to do with my fans. I’m listening to a lot of dance to keep my energy up.
AC: What MixMatchMusic does is gather artists from all over the world and give them a space to collaborate and take a little bit of this, a little bit of that and see what happens when you start putting things together. But there’s also a strong emerging culture of people remixing artists. How do you feel about fans interacting with your work in this way and putting their own touch on it?
K: I would love that, I would love to hear it. It would be flattering to think that people were interested in taking my songs and flipping it their own way.