Mon, 28 Jul 2008 12:04:06
Krista is New York. She's got attitude to spare but is also extremely warm and friendly—just like the Big Apple is on its best days. Judging by her spunk, talent and charisma, there's no doubt she's a star in the making. Produced by Camus (Tina Turner, Chaka Khan), her music's got a razor sharp edge honed on hard rock melodies and quick, incisive raps. She can carry a chorus to the sky and back, but she can also spit fiery rhymes that could rattle the hood to its very core. She's just itching to shake things up, and right now, she's at home in Brooklyn gearing up for her set at this summer's Lollapalooza. The show will be one of many preparing the world for Krista's debut album on J Records. Even though she's sharing the stage with some bona fide superstars, she doesn't sweat it. "I used to say, 'I'm nervous,' but now I know it's excitement. I can't wait to get out there!" A true New Yorker, she's not afraid of anything. She talked to ARTISTdirect about her music, New York and possibly learning how to speak Italian (It might help at all those authentic restaurants back in Brooklyn!)
Was there something in particular that inspired you to blend rock and hip hop in your music?
That sound has always been there. I feel like I'm just being me as a person. I came into Camus's studio, and I said, "Yo, just pay attention to me." He was like, "You're great!" I responded, "Finally, someone noticed!" [Laughs]
How closely did you and Camus work together on your music after that?
We worked together on everything. This was totally a partner project.
You met him at a Suicide City show, right?
Yeah, we shared some mutual friends. We were both invited down to see Suicide City play. I wound up bumping into Camus, and my friend Ronnie introduced me to him. Ronnie told Camus about me. He was like, "She's a singer, she writes and she's great. You should check her out." Two weeks later I was sitting in his studio. We started jamming, and I was singing him some songs. We just clicked.
Do you feel like you two instantly had a creative chemistry?
I felt like it was really natural. I didn't have to put on a show, talk a certain way or be extra polite.
The music's raw, so it's great you could be yourself from the start. Where are you coming from as a lyricist?
Personal experiences and situations that I've gone through inspire me. They don't have to really be personal all the time. If I click with you and you tell me something that you haven't shared with someone, I may find it inspiring and write a song about it, but I wouldn't just put your business bluntly out there. I always try to write songs so people can interpret them however they want to interpret them.
You tap into a pretty honest anger that a lot of kids will identify with. Would you say that's the case?
Yeah, a lot of adults forget that being a teenager is being angry. It's being rebellious and being unsure. It's all of those things. I see a lot of anger in the kids that are around me now, and I've definitely felt all of the anger that you hear on this record.
Was it tough to stand out in New York growing up?
Sometimes I think to myself, "I'm signed to a major label, and I'm about to drop my first album," but then I walk around here and people will push me with their shoulders and elbows. It makes me laugh, because I don't stand out, but when I open my mouth, I do! I don't even have to sing. You can tell I'm from Brooklyn when you hear me speak! [Laughs]
How much of an influence does New York have on your music?
Oh my God, it's my life. I wrote a song about it. It's called, "It's Not Where I'm From, It's Who I Am." Brooklyn is part of me. New York is going to be involved with whatever I do throughout my career, because it's in my blood. I can't get away from it. It's my attitude. The reason I rap is because it's part of that attitude. I don't consider myself to be a rapper. When I spit, I'm just talking with an attitude. That's really how I came across rapping. Kids would be on my street corner rapping, and I was the rocker girl walking out past them. They'd turn around and spit rhymes trying to knock me. So I'd come at them with an attitude and start spitting rhymes back at them. I had a lot of friends who were trying to do their thing as producers and rappers. I was always that music chick who could sing. Everybody wanted me to be down with their crew for hooks. It pissed me off. So I'd spit a real gangsta rhyme for them, and they'd realize, "Wow, she can rap too." Then they'd forget about me again, and I'd have to write another rhyme and be like, "Yo!" [Laughs] I grew up with my brother and my cousins. I had a lot of friends who were boys. I was a tomboy growing up, so I got real involved with the hip hop through the boys.
You have a pretty diverse background too.
I'm Puerto Rican and Italian.
Would you say New York's an especially "Italian" city?
It's funny because I grew up with my Puerto Rican side, but I can't help but look Italian and sound Italian when I talk [Laughs]. It's just there. I was speaking to Camus about it earlier. I know a bit of Spanish, but I want to learn Italian. Recently, I was sitting next to these people who were having a conversation in Italian. I don't know where they were from exactly, but the way they were speaking was so pretty. It was like Spanish, but it was just so pretty the way they were talking.
Maybe you could do a song in Italian some day?
Who knows? Maybe I could learn it first! [Laughs] I hope. I get easily intimidated when it comes to learning languages, because I feel like I've got a bad short-term memory.
When you switch from singing to rapping, do you feel like you're taking on different personalities inside the song?
Yeah, I definitely do. When I'm singing, I'm feeling pain, and I'm unleashing it through my voice. When I'm rapping, I'm really serious about what I'm saying. I'm not just hurting. I want you to listen.
You aren't holding anything back.
Yeah, I can't hold anything back in music because it's my therapy. If I'm not allowed to express what I feel through it at all times then I don't know what I'm doing in this industry right now.
What's the story behind "Temporary Insanity?"
There was a big argument going on at my house. Everyone was yelling at each other. It was all happening in the middle of my bedroom. I was just sitting there watching my family go crazy. Then my brother came in. He took my big-ass trashcan, and he threw it into my full-body mirror. I was like, "You guys are crazy!" So I grabbed my stuff, and I walked out. I just thought, "My family's crazy. I don't know how to feel about this. I can't take it." If it was on a T.V. show, everybody would've been watching right then.
“If I'm not allowed to express what I feel through it at all times then I don't know what I'm doing in this industry right now”
What's "Missile" about?
It's about a guy I used to date. However, it's more about situations where I feel like I've completely lost control and, no matter what I do, it's never going to be right. When I was with that person, I felt like I was falling apart. I was in the relationship so long that I lost my identity. I didn't understand me anymore. I didn't know what I wanted anymore. I felt like I didn't want music, but he wanted music, and I just wanted it because he wanted it. I needed to get away. I lost myself, because I was so confused. I was with this person for so long that I became like him. When you're with somebody every day, you don't realize how much of an affect that they have on you. I needed to break away and be by myself, because I felt like I was dying in that relationship.
Are you excited for Lollapalooza next week?
Hell yeah! I'm very excited. I don't even know how big the crowd's going to be, but I'm excited. Whatever it will be, I'm ready for it. We get about half an hour, so it's six or seven songs. I'm going to be in Chicago too, and I've never been there.
Did you record everything in New York?
Mostly, but we did a couple songs at NRG in L.A. Chris Cornell was in there dropping his album. P.O.D. and Ill Nino were also in there. I love New York, but I really enjoyed my stay in L.A. I'd be at the studio all day and then at night, I could sit by the pool for an hour and just chill. I stayed at Le Parc hotel, and I felt like it was home.
Where can you always go in New York and feel inspired?
Honestly, I used to find comfort and inspiration when I locked myself in my bathroom. I lived in a very small apartment with five other people. So that was like my inspirational spot. When I met Camus, it became his studio, because there was so much more there than there was in my stupid bathroom.