THE majestic Kris Angelis has been telling me…
about her incredible single, Photobooth, and whether there is more material coming later in the year. The American songwriter talks about music arriving in her life and how she spends her free space and time; whether awards and plaudits (she has received) propel and influence her – she discusses gigs and whether she’ll come to the U.K.
Angelis provides advice for new artists and talks about her acting work; whether there are some new acts we should keep abreast of; if there are any ambitions she wants to fulfil before the end of the year – she ends the interview with a rather cool choice.
Hi, Kris. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi! I’m busy; busy trying to get everything done involved with putting out my new E.P. My week was fun. I went up to Seattle to film an interview and performance for a show called Band in Seattle. Everyone on the show was great and I used to spend a lot of time up there and lived in the area for about a year - so it was fun to be back and the weather was gorgeous!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hello! I’m a Folk-Pop singer/songwriter. I was born in Gainesville, FL and spent my childhood on a farm outside the city with horses and cows and a bunch of my family all living on the farm! Then, we all moved to Carmel, CA where I started acting in plays and eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and music. I have a cat named Ilean because her adorable little head is always tilting a little left-of-center due to an ear infection when she was a kitten before I adopted her. I talk about what I like to do other than music later on.
Photobooth is your new single. What is the story behind it?
It’s based on a fun night that I thought was finally going to be the beginning of something but it turned out to be the end. It’s about saving those moments and not letting them become tainted by how they turned out or ‘what could have been’. I thought it was an interesting and relatable concept how we can have such fully-formed emotions and imagined futures captured in a moment and then all that’s left is the photo.
It seems there is a personal edge and some emotional memories attached to the song. Was it hard putting the words together and casting your mind back?
Not really. I had thought about those images and memories a lot and had processed it so by the time I was forming them into a song; the lyrics came easily and it wasn’t emotionally hard to go there - especially because that song is more about the happy moments that were caught in the photobooth than the way it ended up.
How do you feel you’ve progressed as an artist since your beginning? Do you feel more confident now?
I absolutely feel more confident now! When I first started, I was terrified to co-write because I was afraid of what the other person would think and now I love co-writing. I still sometimes say things that don’t work - but so does the other person and that is why we co-write. Two minds can more quickly decide what works and what doesn’t and the things that don’t often lead to the great stuff! I also used to be so scared to sing in front of people. I would shake and barely be able to make a sound, so it still kind of amazes me that I do this! I’m not saying that I don’t still have insecurities or things I want to get better at (or try differently but that’s good).
We need to feel some discomfort to grow.
PHOTO CREDIT: @shilohstrong
Are you working on other material at the moment? Will we see more before the end of the year?
Yes! I actually just completed an E.P. that Photobooth is the first track on. It’s called Pieces That Were Stolen, and it’s set to come out on August 3rd. I’m also hoping to put out a Christmas E.P. and possibly another covers E.P. - but that might be at the beginning of next year.
Your music has won awards and you are a celebrated songwriter. Does that recognition and plaudit drive you forward and keep you aiming high?
Yes! It definitely helps to have that outside encouragement and recognition. I’ve always aimed high but I think every little win makes you believe that the big ones are possible and, regardless of winning, you can learn a lot and get seen by more people from being part of competitions. Throwing your hat in the ring is a huge step and a win in itself.
Which artists did you grow up listening to? Who do you rank as musical idols?
I grew up listening to my parent’s records: The Beatles, the Eagles; The Platters, The Archies; Elton John, Nat King Cole; Garth Brooks and Classical like Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Mozart. Then, I started discovering music for myself and the biggest one that really launched my interested in learning harmonies and making music was Hanson. I’m still a fan and go to their shows when they come to L.A.! My bass player is actually their bass player now!
I also listened to Dave Matthews, Rufus Wainwright; David Gray, Queen, Elvis Presley; Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Monkees; Tom Petty and so many more that I’m going to kick myself for not mentioning - and then the other artist I discovered who was a huge catalyst for me in my own songwriting was Brandi Carlile. Since then, I also look up to Ingrid Michealson, Damian Rice; Ray LaMontagne, Katie Herzig; Gregory Alan Isakov, Regina Spektor; Rachel Platten, Rachael Yamagata and, most recently, Jeff Hahn to name a few.
How does your acting work and performance skills mix and blend with your musical expression?
People have always told me that I’m very expressive on stage. I guess maybe I should watch videos of myself to see exactly what that looks like other than some pretty intense faces sometimes! I guess it’s probably due to a lot of training I went through with the Physical Theater Conservatory and company I’m an original member of, Not Man Apart. We did a lot of work on grounding and using your whole body. Also, I suppose, the experience of being on stage, telling stories and getting feelings across to an audience comes through when I’m singing as well.
I try to just experience what the song is for me and connect with the audience and hopefully they feel it in whatever way it’s resonating with them. That’s what I love about music and songs: they can have so many meanings for different people and even for the same people at different times.
Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?
I will be on tour all over Germany, put on by Songs & Whispers, from August 21st to Sept 23rd. I am hoping and planning to do some touring in the U.S. before the end of the year and that is still in the planning stages. Coming up, I have a couple of shows at Hahn Winery in Soledad, CA on July 1st and Aug 5th…and my big C.D. release/birthday show is on July 21st at the Hotel Cafe at 8 P.M.! You can get tickets for just $10 here.
Might you come to the U.K. and play here?
I have played in the U.K. before at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and I really want to come back! I might be able to get over there after the Germany tour.
Do you have any ambitions to fulfil before the end of the year?
My goal is to sell out the Hotel Cafe show on July 21st and to get my E.P. on the Billboard Heatseeker Charts. I’m hoping to get a lot of pre-orders and downloads in the first week to make that happen! I also really want to go to Italy; just to go there and eat delicious pasta.
PHOTO CREDIT: @shilohstrong
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
There are a lot of wonderful moments but some of my favorite times have been when I was busking at the Edinburgh Fringe festival with my twin sister. We sing melodic songs with harmonies and an acoustic guitar so, while most of the other performers could not do their shows in the rain, that was our golden time.
We would sit out along the wall of St. Giles Cathedral with an umbrella and I guess it just went with the environment of rain and lights shining off the wet pavement - and people would stop huddled under their umbrellas and listen. We had over fifty people gathered around in the rain sometimes. I couldn’t believe it! It felt magical and intimate and honest.
PHOTO CREDIT: @shilohstrong
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
Oh, wow...that’s such a commitment!
Going along with the stories of the artists who influenced the sparking of my musical career the most, I guess I’d have to say the first albums I heard of those artists: Middle of Nowhere by Hanson and the Acoustic E.P. by Brandi Carlile (along with her eponymous debut album) Those were formative and I still love them!
Is it weird if I say my own first album The Left Atrium for the third one? Since the question is which ones mean the most, that is true. That album was extremely personal and the first time I picked myself up and did all the planning; was very hands-on with the musical arrangements, promotion etc. and it was a huge personal accomplishment and a big step in my career.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Write as much as you can - it doesn’t all have to be perfect and amazing. Keep going. Try new things; be resourceful, persistent and polite. The ones who succeed are the ones who are left. Surround yourself with positive people who are doing what you want to do. Read and listen to music business books and podcasts.
Look up Ari Herstand’s book.
IN THIS PHOTO: Paris Carney
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Crimson Calamity, Lyndzie Taylor; Paris Carney/O’Neil Hudson (she has two projects with different names and both are great!); Dree Mon; Jon Bryant. These are not NEW but if you haven’t heard of Gregory Alan Isakov, Katie Herzig or Jeff Hahn, you should!
IN THIS PHOTO: Jon Bryant
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I don’t know if it’s really unwinding because I get competitive (in a friendly way) but I love playing games with my family and friends. We play running charades, Pandemic Legacy and D&D. I just got the Game of Thrones Settlers of Catan which I’m very excited to play once I finish all the prep work for getting the E.P. out. I’m going to get a little break soon for 4th July (our Independence Day) and I’m going to go up to Northern California and breathe the fresh air; go to the beach, drink wine among the redwoods and laugh with friends.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
How about I Was Born by Hanson. I think most people haven’t heard anything of theirs since Mmmbop and they’ve been making great music ever since then - with I Was Born coming out just last year. It’s my jam when I’m feeling like I want to take on the world and it would be awesome for other people to hear it and get uplifted, inspired and pumped too! (That or Muscadine (or Wine and Whiskey) by Jeff Hahn - so beautiful)
Follow Kris Angelis