An Interview With the NYC-Based Musician KRISTEEN YOUNG About Her Newest Music and More!
Posted On 06 Jun 2017
Meet the NYC-based, eclectic, operatic-punk piano artist, Kristeen Young. She recently released the track/video, “NICE,” from her upcoming album, Live at the Witch’s Tit, due out later this year.
The new album features a diverse line-up of guest players on various tracks, including Megan X Thomas (Ghost) on bass, and Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), John LaMacchia (Candiria) and Sarah Register (Talk Normal) on guitar, and was co-produced by Young and Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T. Rex).
Young’s last album featured Dave Grohl on drums, who raved, “Working with Kristeen was effortless because I think we both shared the same vision, or direction, the same conviction and passion (though her passion is a f*cking monster). She drove me to play harder, and kept me focused, even in moments of beautiful, chaotic noise. Every take I watched her, eyes closed, pounding her piano, screaming into her microphone so loud it overpowered my drums at times. It was an audience of one, but she filled the room like it were a stadium.”
Additionally, she has appeared on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and David Letterman, and has received high praise from tastemakers like NYLON, Billboard and Noisey, among others.
Kristeen Young discovered songwriting at an early age, using it to escape from nightmarish foster and adoptive upbringings. Musically and lyrically, Young is as wide-ranging as they come, referencing influences from Prince to Monk to Maria Callas to Bartok to The Beat Movement writers.
Learn more about Kristeen young in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it?
Los Angeles. No music. I can’t write with music on in the background.
How is 2017 treating you so far? Did you approach the start of this year any differently then you did last year?
Yes, I’ve gotten some nice treats this year. I didn’t consciously approach this year any different from the last year…..but I seem to be playing 10 times more shows….so that’s where my head is I guess.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician?
I just knew I wanted to make things. I enjoyed making things.
Later this year, you will be releasing your album, “Live at the Witch’s Tit.” Can you talk about putting this collection together?
I wrote songs and then I recorded them. I co-produced the album with Tony Visconti. We both also mixed it with help from engineer, Erin Tonkon and drummer, Jefferson Wayne White. Megan X Thomas (who is now in the band Ghost) played bass. We had a few guest guitarists: Nick Zinner (from Yeah Yeah Yeahs) plays on 6 songs and Vernon Reid (from Living Colour), John LaMacchia (from Candiria)
How do you think your sound has grown on it? How did it compare to other music that you’ve released?
I don’t know about “grown”. I just want to write music that makes people really feel something. It’s not my place to compare and contrast my music that’s more like your job….or someone who isn’t involved in the making of it
“NICE” is the name of your latest single. What was the inspiration for this track and what was it like shooting the video for it? How creatively involved were you with it all?
Yes, I wrote the song, made my outfit in the video …as well as the collages you see throughout. The shoot was on a very hot and humid St. Louis September night in a building that used to be a church on Cherokee Street. We didn’t do many takes because the neighbors complained about the noise.
You have a lot of experience with doing weekly residencies so I am curious to know what you think the best thing about doing them is? What is the beauty of coming back to the same venue each week?
It gives people a chance to hear about you and hear about your show and attend….it gives space for momentum. It’s also easier in the financial sense for us DIY people. Touring is very expensive.
What artists have continued to inspire you and your music?
Artists don’t inspire me. Individual performances can. Movies can. And of course every day life does.
Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
PnB Rock, Grimes, Kanye, FKA Twigs.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
That it makes them feel something…maybe get some emotion out….and that it makes them feel free….lets them know they have options in life….even when it seems like there aren’t any. My music champions the individual….the truly individual person….the person born with nothing but a lot of will and spirit…..the unique person who is a mix of incongruent traits and tastes and everything else.