Singer, songwriter, artist; Krista D is an emerging talent beginning to lure keen attention especially with her multi-flavoured rock bred sounds. For our introduction to the Canadian’s music we had the pleasure of talking with Krista about her sounds, songwriting, other projects and much more…
Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.
Thank you for this opportunity!
Can you first introduce yourself and tell us how you began making music?
My name is Krista Acheson and I’m a singer-songwriter, with no official live line-up right now. I record with the help of session musicians and I’m mainly a studio project. I started writing quite young, around 14, and completed my first full length album at around 16. I was moderately active up until 2008 then I took a 7 year break. It’s been awhile since I’ve officially released anything.
Have you been involved in bands or projects outside of your solo work and if so how has those experiences affected your own creativity?
One other band I sang with a long time ago was called A Beautiful Disaster from Moncton, NB. They were a wonderful, talented group of guys. We weren’t really similar in style preference, but what I did learn from that experience is that music can be fun. Not that I never have fun with my own music, but when I write something it begets the process of tracking down session players and doling out money. It was just nice to play for the joy of it and get paid opposed to always being the one who is paying.
For the sake of style variety and a different direction, I actually have two other projects I’m doing right now, but they are also governed by me. Hooha and the Peter Guns is a project I will be releasing experimental rock music under and I have a soft rock project called Molly Grue. I intend to release EPs for each of those this year.
Any particular story behind the name Krista D?
I was young when I started in music so I just based it on my name, Krista Doucet. I was also recording in the Christian music genre at that time but as I got older I disconnected from that lifestyle. I decided to keep the name but ,in order to indicate the life shift, I visually branded myself to allude to the character Sandra Dee from the 70’s movie Grease; who also underwent a bit of a life transition in the film. The band logo, the name of the EP, the pitiful accordion bit I play at the very end of You & Me, are all references to the movie/musical. There’s also a snippet of the movies’ audio hidden somewhere on the EP.
Was there any specific idea behind your music and songwriting when starting out in what you wanted it to offer?
Forming my project was mostly initiated by the discovery that I had a knack for singing and songwriting in my early teens and I have carried on with it because it’s another branch of creative expression; aside from the visual art I create.
Intent-wise, I like there to be levels of meaning. For example: I would want people to listen to a track like Run Jane Run and catch that the title, and writing format, is alluding to the old Dick and Jane phonics’ books. There’s also no chorus in the song; and that kind of forces people to have to listen to the lyrics. It’s a simplified story about a mother who experienced trauma and refused to deal with her subsequent coping behaviors which then resulted in the same behavior pattern being replicated by her daughter. So it’s a song written in a basic teaching format about a topic I feel is very important.
Sonically, I choose genre to direct mood. I pick elements from various genres that I feel make a song sound happy and then contrast it with some punk rock elements because then the tone goes from happy to snarky. I also think applying perkier genre elements make lyrical content dealing with rape or domestic abuse more emotionally palatable.
How has your writing and music evolved over time?
I have to say that I didn’t evolve on this project, at all, especially as a few tracks are re-mastered re-releases from a previous album. I chose to give a few tracks a second chance because I’m very eclectic and I tend to bounce between different genres a lot. The last album was a bit of a marketing nightmare as a result of being so mixed and it didn’t do any of the tracks any favors. That’s why I’ve decided to divide my songwriting efforts into 3 projects. This project is the one I’ll release any tracks that are a hybridization of punk rock, ska, 50’s style, 3 part harmony and doo-wop. Once I complete the other two EPs and I step back and look at all of the material as a whole, it might be clearer if I’ve evolved as a writer.
It evolves a little depending on what musicians are brought in to play the project; mostly because their taste and style is automatically imprinted onto the song by the way they approach it. Where I don’t have a consistent band line-up the only thing that is left to truly evolve is me and I don’t feel I ever change very much. Overall, I feel I have a distinct pattern or rut, depending on how you view it.
So anything you try or new hues you bring in to your music is organic or more deliberate?
When I try something new it’s usually through introducing a different instrument and it’s stemming from the desire to enhance a mood; at least in my mind. I’m not sure it translates to anyone else. Like for Simple Social Tragedy, I decided to write a tuba part because I wanted to communicate a lumbering drunk feeling… like the soundtrack in an old cartoon. I’m probably a nightmare for the session musicians because my main directions are mostly “can you make your instrument sound drunk? Or can you make your trumpet sound slutty? I have a new track I’m working on that I want to hire a harmonica player for. Getting to incorporate a new instrument is always super exciting!
Are there any particular inspirations which have impacted on your music and how you approach and think about creating and playing?
When I was young, I was not really allowed to listen to music that wasn’t religious but I was sometimes able to listen to an oldies radio program called Finkleman’s 45s. I loved it. I attribute a lot of the genre elements I mix into this project to listening to that program.
Tell us about your songwriting, the processes you go through etc.
I think it’s one of those things that processes on a subconscious level and then, once it knits itself into a song, it floats to the surface and I hear it in my mind, sometimes completely formed as if it’s a song that already exists. The emergence is either triggered by a chord progression or sometimes nothing at all. Recently I had a melody repeating in my head but I was going to bed and too lazy to write it out, but when I woke up in the morning, it was still there… like it insisted on wanting to exist. So I’ve written it out and now it’s in queue to be recorded. A frustrating element to my songwriting is that I don’t even play the instruments I hear parts for. I’m sure other songwriters experience it too, but most writers I assume are at least good at one instrument. I think that’ll be my next focus; learning to play at least one instrument well, opposed to being able to clumsily half-ass several.
Where do you draw inspirations to the lyrical side from?
From the people I meet and the things that I’ve experienced. For example: Penny for your Thoughts is about the life of a woman I used to work with named Penny and likewise Black Eyed Susan is about a woman I knew named Susan. Sometimes the songs are about my own experiences; Land Mine is about the emotional process of trying to deal with a bad relationship by starting a new one that promised to be just as tumultuous. My life was a big mess when I wrote Land Mine, so the concept of dancing through volatile, unseen explosives was an apt allusion.
Could you give us some background to your latest release?
This is my first release after dividing my music efforts into three. I’ve already divided my visual art, and now I’m re-launching my music career as a trimorphic singer-songwriter. The Krista D project is the one with the most experience behind it, so I’ve started with this one.
Give us some insight to the themes and premise behind its songs.
The general theme is it all stems from life events. When songs are borne out of an actual experience, or emotion, I think it’s easier for listeners to automatically relate to.
For example: Simple Social Tragedy is about a guy who relentlessly harassed me in a bar; with such a bizarre intensity it had to have been a bet. I’m sure the track is relatable for any person who has encountered the feeling of being reduced to a sexual conquest. That feeling where the person approaching you seems to have zero awareness that you have any thoughts or feelings; you are merely a thing they want to use for their own pleasure.
Do you enter the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?
I’ve been told I do things oddly, but this is my general process for anyone that is curious. First, I make a painfully rough demo. If I have no guitar player to help me do that, I’ll just record myself singing the melody and lyrics in the structure I want. The demo goes to a session musician who plays guitar and bass to a click or programmed drums. I then do scratch vocals. Then I hire a drummer. I listen to the track and decide if I like how things are feeling and if not I’ll bring in an additional guitar player whose musical background is a different genre to try to manipulate the track to the feel I’m looking for. If I decide I want to add an instrument, such as a trumpet, I work something out on a keyboard. I take the part to an engineer to help me patch the midi to its desired instruments sample so I can hear the part in context to the song. If the part I wrote works, then I hire someone to write it as sheet music- which I then give to a session player. Then after I have all the additional instruments parts in, I clean up my main vocals and do background vocals and harmonies. That’s basically the convoluted process of how a song comes about.
Is there a live side to Krista D?
You know…I’d have to say playing live is currently my least favorite thing about music, but that’s because I’m fairly reclusive personality-wise and it’s expensive to hire live session musicians. If I ever find a nice group of people to play with regularly, I’m sure it would be a lot more fun.
It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it? Are there still the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there?
You know…I’m not quite sure yet. Locally I’ve had a difficult time connecting with live musicians so it’s been a challenge for me to get out and play. I’ve been told it’s a great community though. Other musicians I meet seem to be very embraced by it. I, however, will be playing my first show in this city next month, karaoke style, with mannequins as my band. I do have a band to back me if I play in the Maritimes or in Calgary, if I travel west. So, as soon as I finish up some visual art projects for local gallery shows, I may just plan to tour outside my city.
How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date?
I actually have very little social media presence right now, and that’s a combination of my being terrible at it and the fact that my online social media efforts are divided into 6 projects. But the internet, in regards to connecting me to places I can’t physically travel to, and making my music accessible worldwide, is an extremely positive and vital thing.
Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?
Thank you for the interview! And thank you to anyone who read the interview and listened to the EP. If anyone is interested in following my 3 music projects and/or my 3 visual art aliases, feel free to add me on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/krista.acheson https://www.facebook.com/theoriginalkristad/ https://www.facebook.com/KristaAchesonArt/ or everything is accessible individually through here: http://www.trimorfik.com
Pete RingMaster 19/03/2018
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