Krissy Krissy Builds It Up Brick by Brick: The Autostraddle Interview

Soulful pop powerhouse Krissy Krissy spent the past year doggedly promoting her music all over the Internet and all over the world. In the midst of a spectacular tour with Girl In A Coma, Krissy was nominated to be VH1’s next You Oughta Know emerging artist, and spent most of her time on the road meeting new fans and encouraging them to vote.  After several frantic all-night voting sessions, she ended up coming in a close second, but charmed the hell out of our interviewer with her enthusiasm and positive attitude.  We caught up with Krissy the day before voting closed, and fell in love a little bit.

Photo credit: Joseph Keller

Photo credit: Joseph Keller

Krissy Krissy: Sorry, I’m in the midst of voting and trying to collect people to vote.

Is today the last day?

Yeah, today is the last day for voting. It’s been stressful, but I have a bunch of people here at my house going on this big vote rampage.

Can you vote several times from one computer?

Yes, you can vote several times, as many times as you can. So when I saw a 212 number I was like, “AHHH, it’s VH1, I lost!”

So you can basically never put your phone down or get off your computer at any time?

Right, yeah. I’m actually attached to the charger as we speak, and people are in the kitchen, there’s an iPad in the bathroom, all over the place. I’m just trying to get as many people – you know, tell them to come over, I’ll give them coffee and stuff like that – just vote much as you can, it’s the last day. We’re trying here!

I think by the time this interview goes up the results are going to be in, but what’s it like being in the eleventh hour?

It’s stressful! I got the call that I was one of the finalists on November 8th, and what’s been amazing about that is that I actually had a show in Brooklyn that night, I opened up for an amazing group called Girl in a Coma. I love them very, very much.

Yeah, I love those guys.

They gave me the opportunity to spread the love and promote as much as they can. They actually put some of their merch, they allowed us to offer it for free, like their pins and their buttons and stuff, if you vote. So I’m getting a lot of support from them, I got a bunch of support from Brooklyn and then on the 8th when we had that show, they announced the finalists on VH1 so I could start promoting it at all the shows after that. And then I was actually doing a couple more shows with Girl in a Coma and they allowed me to promote it on the 12th in Virginia, I did Penn State on the 15th, I did a bunch of stuff in between that week, I had a photoshoot on one day and I was promoting it in the state that I was in. I’ve been very, very busy ever since it started, but now coming down to the wire it’s (laughs) nerve-wracking, you know? I just want an answer now, like, did I win or did I lose? My anxiety’s going through the roof, but it ain’t over ’til it’s over. I believe that my fanbase and my buddies and everybody that believes in me.. If we don’t get to win then we just created an army. It’s stressful.

Have you learned anything about your fanbase from this competition?

Oh, of course! I mean, they’re loyal, they’re faithful. You really get a lot of loyalty from them.  They’ve been kind of ripping the guy in first place apart – they’re like, “He doesn’t deserve it, blah blah blah,” and I’m like, “You guys, relax.” We’re all finalists, we all supporting a great cause, we’re all doing this to win. But they’re loyal, that’s one thing. And it’s a lot of them, I have a group of girls from Oregon who are voting non-stop, they actually stayed up with me the whole night via Twitter, having a whole conversation with them.  On Facebook I have amazing people from all over, from Denver, Colorado, Indianapolis, people obviously from Brooklyn, Manhattan, people from San Antonio supporting the movement. Not even just the United States, we have people from Germany who have been supporting and pushing, so it’s been amazing. It’s a lot of love.

That’s awesome. I saw that you did a bunch of video diaries from the road, too.

Yeah, I just kind of wanted everybody to – you know it’s a big thing, especially coming from this little town in Brooklyn/Bushwick area.

I live in Bushwick, too!

I’ve been living here my whole life. It’s such a small area, this little area, everybody knows who you are, and not a lot of people great come from Bushwick. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but it’s a hard place to be in, you know what I mean? It’s really difficult, even on the road – I found out my cousin passed away. You really have to succeed or you can let this area drown you whole. I just want to bring something back home to Bushwick, and I wanted them to understand, “Hey, listen, I know you guys all can’t come with me on tour, but I’m going to bring the tour to you, and let you see these different things, and how Bushwick touched down in Long Beach and LA.” It was pretty awesome that they would text me, “Yo, I saw you do this, you got stuck out of the car, you got this, you got that!”

Was there anything about touring that surprised you?

We did a competition – not a competition but more of a “Get a chance to meet and greet Krissy” at your next city – and what surprised me was that there were fans and there were people that we had to pick from in order to have a drink with at every city. I didn’t think I had a fan in Indianapolis or in Minneapolis, I didn’t know that my music reached as far as that. And even when we got as far as California and different areas of the country there were people lining up just to see me, just to meet me, saying, “Hey, your music – I heard it one time on MTV” or “I heard it one time on Spotify and it really touched me and I was hoping you’d come to my city, and you did.” That moves me so much, that my record and all the work that I’ve done has come as far as the west coast.

There was one song called “Above All” that I dedicated to my dad, obviously that was my message to him in the midst of him passing away.  I just released the video on Vevo. That song really speaks to a lot of military families, a lot of families that lost a parent or a child, that’s now their song for their love ones that have passed on. Or even to their future loved ones that they’re going to commit to marry. That means a lot, it really does.

That video was very, very difficult to make. We did that video February of 2013 and my father passed away November 4th of 2011 so I was actually still in the funk of it, obviously I still am. To make that video, that’s as raw as it gets, that’s raw footage of me crying. That was my first time being in a hospital again since my father had passed away. If I didn’t shoot that scene I still wouldn’t have entered a hospital; it’s still very traumatic for me. I spent a lot of my years in a hospital and he spent his last day there, so when I found out that was the storyboard it touched my heart. I’m able to share my love for my father, my love for this most precious person, to the world, but it was very, very, very difficult to embody exactly what it is that I was feeling. It was hard. I couldn’t stop crying. The gentleman that played my father kind of had his hands, had scarring and all that, because my dad was a carpenter as well so their hands are rough and their nails are chipped and stained from them being at their jobs, so when I saw that gentleman’s hand I was brought back. November is always a bitter month for me because I did lose my father, but now it’s kind of changed a little bit because I have the opportunity to express how much my father meant to me in the month of November.  I was able to release this video almost two years to the day since he passed. It’s a very precious video to me, very personal.

As for something a little bit lighter, were you actually discovered in a karaoke bar?

Yes, I was.

What were you singing?

“Like the Way I Do” by Melissa Etheridge.

That. Is. Amazing.  Is that your go-to karaoke jam?

Yeah, it’s funny because they don’t expect that coming from someone like me who rolls in their with a hat backwards, a flannel shirt, all tatted up, singing Melissa Etheridge. They probably expected me to rap or some shit.

That’s awesome. So you did the big tour with Girl in a Coma and Hunter Valentine, what was that like?

It was an amazing experience. It was life-changing, I can’t say it enough. Hunter Valentine, we were on tour with them for maybe five cities and then they had to drop out because of something else they did, but then I continued on the tour with Girl in a Coma. I tell you, those girls taught me so much, I give a lot of credit to them.

I feel like they matured me in some way and I really do have such a great love and respect for those women. They have become some of my greatest friends because I mean, you spend thirty days with them obviously, and you get to know them here and there. You spend eight hours in a venue from mic check to performance to afterwards and load out, you spend a whole working day at a venue. I would be picking at them and wanting to take in as much advice as they could give me. What they’d tell me was me that they partied hard, they’d do what they had to do, but it always goes back to the basics, making sure you try your best to stay healthy because the worst thing you can do is disappoint your fans.  Me, I like to drink, I like to have a good time, but being with them – they’ve been on a roller coaster for more than ten years. They tell you, “Ten years from now you’re going to look like us. Ten years from now you’re going to feel like us, so if you can take care of your body and not drink and not do stuff, don’t.” And I was like, “You’re right.” So they made me a little more of a responsible artist.

I want to be alert, I want to be aware, I don’t want to be drunk, I don’t want to be somebody who doesn’t know what the hell I’m doing. I want to be available and awesome and alert all at the same time, and that’s what they showed me, they taught me that. And they’re great, at every city I was able to bond with the band. It was so surreal because when we got back to the George Washington bridge, driving from Chicago, we were like wow, we drove from one side of the country all the way to the other side and back with no ticket, with no car accident, everybody is healthy, we all had a great time, no arguments, just “Let’s get this done. Let’s do our best.” We gave 100% onstage every time and it was a life-changing experience. I feel like it was meant for me to really bond with that band because I learned so much. And even to this day I hit them up like, “Yo! What do I do in this situation?” I love them. I really do praise them, they’re great, great people.

I don’t want to sound cheesy or corny. For my first tour it was a major city tour, I mean there were venues that were packed out five, six hundred people.

That’s pretty great for a first big tour.

I was a pretty dope tour. I’ve done different shows, I’ve done different cities, I’ve done Florida, I’ve done Minneapolis on my own, I’ve done all these other things, but that consecutive, constant show – my voice being on point, my whole band being healthy and right, slept well, well taken care of, everybody showered, we’re great.

It’s kind of unusual to see – I mean, I know your band isn’t all girls, but to see a bill that’s all female-fronted, never mind all out, queer bands. 

The thing about me is I’m kind of – forgive me for saying this, but I don’t see gender, I don’t see color, I don’t see anything, I see music, I feel music. It’s just by happenstance that my band is all men. By happenstance my band is black. It just is what it is, these are the people I mesh with, this is what I got along with. I tried auditions. Going on tour with a queer band or a gay band – I’m gay myself, you know? Going on tour with a gay band doesn’t make it any more uncomfortable than going on tour with a straight band. It is what it is, we just had a great time. Everything that we’ve practiced, everything that we’ve done, we put it on stage, and everybody loves it. People who didn’t know about us know about us now. That’s what I got a lot – “I didn’t know about you. I didn’t know who you were, but I saw you on the bill, I looked up your music, I loved it, and your live performance is so much better than your CD.” And that’s the best compliment I can get. It was great, the fanbase is awesome, love is love, and that’s what I kind of want to show every time I’m on stage. It’s kind of crazy but I’m gay, I’m a minority, so is my band, my band is a minority, but the music speaks out. It doesn’t matter what I’m playing or who I’m playing with. And Girl in a Coma is all Latina, so it’s like there were so many other things besides queer and straight. And that was an amazing experience, that all of us together were able to speak to the same type of crowd and win. What beats that, know what I mean? It was comfortable. I’m always comfortable, I’m comfortable with anybody. And if they’re uncomfortable with me that’s their problem.

What’s next after the contest wraps up?

I don’t know. Hopefully maybe a lot of doors open up after this contest is finished, that’s what I’m hoping for. Other than that, whether we win or lose, if you want to move you’ve still got to continue working, continue trying to get on tours, continue to build a fanbase.  And just steady grinding, always working, always working, regardless of what accomplishments we have or what defeats we have. Our focus is us, we are the only ones – we’re an independent group and we are the only ones who are going to get us to greater places. If the grace of God shines his light on us and allows us to win this contest then we win, and if not we don’t, but it’s not going to change the trajectory of our vision. We are going to continue to grind, we’ve got to have that mentality where you’ve got to build yourself up, you’ve got to build it up brick by brick. We’re working, we’re still working.


Krissy Krissy is rounding out the year with a few local shows.  Her record Above All is in stores now.

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Stef Schwartz is the Music Editor and self-appointed Vapid Fluff Editor at Autostraddle.com. She's a rock'n'roll jack-of-all-trades, vegan crusader and legit professional weirdo. She lives with her cat Scully in the wilds of Los Angeles, where she writes terrible dance music, drinks quality bourbon and misses New York City. Follow her on twitter.

Stef has written 104 articles for us.

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