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~Kristiane’s Full Bloom

The FADER signed pop savant, Kristiane, saddles up to release her second EP, State Lines. The project is string heavy with unfortified lyrics that carry us through Kristiane’s full bloom as both a lover and a woman breaking through to tangible adulthood. State Lines will be available to stream and purchase August 3rd.

Separated by our own state lines, Kristiane sits across from me over zoom for this interview. But unbeknownst to the singer/songwriter, there is an elephant in the room. When one speaks to a twin for the first time, while being friends with the other twin, there’s a perturbed sense of deepfake quasi-familiarity. And my raised eyebrow continues its lifespan when listening to her two EPs, I Miss Myself Sometimes and State Lines. Cleverly sculpted, they both speak to the uncomfortable truths that lost people must face. And in finding a voice for quiet thoughts, Kristiane feels like someone we already know, twin or not.

Oona: Hi, how are you? Are you in LA right now?

Kristiane: Yeah, I’m back in LA. I was in New York for June. Yeah, I was there for work, music, etc. And now I’m back in my little apartment.

Oona: I just listened to the new EP. It’s such a new sound for you. It’s really good.

Kristiane: The evolution is strange. Sometimes I listen to my first EP, I Miss Myself Sometimes and I’m like, I can’t believe that’s me. I still love it, but it’s strange looking back at different chapters of your life and seeing you were a different person.

Oona: What got you into making music?

Kristiane: Growing up, my grandma sang in local jazz and cabaret shows in LA. So my sister Britt and I grew up going to see her at her shows and saw how she really just did it for the love of music. She wasn’t pursuing anything. She was in her seventies and just loved jazz music. I think seeing someone do it just for the pure, like love of music was so much more powerful than really being in the industry or pursuing it. Her love of music really stuck with me. That’s kind of what inspired me to start.

Oona: So what age were you when you started writing songs?

Kristiane: I started singing and playing the piano when I was like a baby. Yeah. Like probably two or three. And then I sang in choir and was in plays like my whole life and I didn’t start writing songs until I was 15. I remember like the first song I wrote, I was 11, but it was horrible.

Oona: Do you remember what it was called?

Kristiane: The one when I was 11, no, but the first song I wrote when I was 15, it was called New Song. Also horrible.

Oona: At what age did you think you wanted to pursue music as a career? Or were you trying to follow in your grandma’s footsteps of having music be a way of expression and something to just love

Kristiane: I definitely think that’s what made me stick to pursuing music. All the industry stuff is so hard, you know? When I was around 15, I was like, “I want to do this. This is my dream”. And I was spending like five hours in my laundry room, writing songs after school, every day; performing at school, performing around LA. But my parents were very realistic with me. Because I’m from LA, they were like that {realistic} because it’s so competitive. I think that made me feel like even if this doesn’t work out, it’s okay because I have this really pure love for music and that’s what continues to keep me safe.

Oona: That’s a good way of thinking about it. What does your songwriting process look like?

Kristiane: Usually it’s just me and my guitar and it’s either right in the morning, when I wake up and then I’ll bring it to my session that day. Or it’s really late at night. But it’s hard because I live in a studio with my boyfriend.

Oona: Does he ever get annoyed with you?

Kristiane: No he’s just like, “It’s music to my ears. Please keep going!”

Oona: That’s really cute. So, you were signed to FADER in 2021. How do you feel that has affected your songwriting process?

Kristiane: That’s an interesting question. Honestly, I would say FADER is so wonderful and I really mean that candidly. They really trust me as an artist and a writer, they don’t censor me and just let me have freedom of expression. But to give you an answer, like maybe having slightly more eyes on me in the industry has an effect. I do put a little more pressure on myself when the music comes out. But then I try to kind of tune it out because at the end of the day- so cheesy, but- writing really is therapy. So ultimately I just try to remember that.

Oona: You recently received a degree in Creative Writing from USC. Congrats! What impact do you think getting a higher education has had on you as an artist?

Kristiane: I originally thought in high school that I wanted to go to college for songwriting but I didn’t get into the USC songwriting program. But I’m so grateful. Hindsight is such a beautiful thing because I loved being a creative writing major. I think it strengthened my ability in all forms. I actually wrote a novel during quarantine. And it also made songwriting a lot less formulaic for me.

Oona: Are you reading anything right now?

Kristiane: I am right now. I’m reading the Idiot. Britt actually recommended it to me. It’s literally phenomenal.

Oona: No way. I think she just recommended that to me. <Laugh>

Kristiane: <Laugh> I also just read this book and it’s super under the radar. It’s called Cleopatra in Frankenstein and I don’t know why more people don’t know about it. Or maybe they do, and I don’t know anything. It reminds me of Sally Rooney, but more visceral. Really good.

Oona: Done. That’s next on my list. You have a really different feel in this new EP, State Lines. What changed in your life to take you from the melancholy of your debut album to the energized resonations in your second album?

Kristiane: I think honestly it’s such a reflection of my change in mental state. Because with the first EP, it was during this time in my life where I was so insecure. I mean, I still am. But back then it was crippling. So there was this softness and vulnerability. And I found a lot of freedom from expressing that. But then with this new project, there’s more of a catharsis because I let go of so much. I feel more assured with who I am and with what I have. And also the sounds that I’m really drawn to are either girl rock Anthems or very soft strummings on the guitar. The latter is honestly what I want to continue to foster and develop. Cause at the end of the day I’m a songwriter. But I really loved exploring this anthemic rock style because there’s something really freeing about it when I listen to the songs.

Oona: On State Lines, you worked with producer Cooper Holzman. What did your process together look like? And how did he help shape this new sound?

Kristiane: Cooper was the executive producer of this whole project. And he actually worked on my first EP, on my two favorite songs from it. We really connected musically. I think we really just understand what one another likes and have an unspoken language. So when I was going into making State Lines after having a first EP under my belt, I was like, “Okay, I just wanna work with one person now.” It feels really sonically cohesive. This album feels like me and another person’s baby. And also, Cooper is just so creative and thinks outside of the box. He understands the nostalgic; made this in a garage feel. That’s like what we both wanted it to feel like, you know? He’s an amazing musician. Not all producers are incredible musicians too.

Oona: Do you like collaborating with people?

Kristiane: Candidly, I prefer writing alone. Because it’s so personal to me and I find that since I’m doing it so often, I very much have a repertoire. I have built such a relationship with it and with myself. But I worked with Caroline Penell on Before The Night Is Over. She’s like my literal songwriter idol, so working with her was a dream. I do love learning from people like her and Cooper. And Cooper is so good with melodies, so in that way I think it’s really important to work with other people and to push yourself. So I guess I like both ways.

Oona: How do your two EP’s compare for you?

Kristiane: I would say I prefer State Lines. I mean, I love I Miss Myself Sometimes because when I listen to it, I feel for my old self so much. I’ll think like, “Oh my God. Like, girl, you are worthy of love.” And it’s not to say that I don’t still struggle with those emotions but now I know how to regulate them. State Lines also just feels newer because it’s indicative of everything that I’ve gone through in this past year. And now as I’m writing my next project, it’s this constant cycle of putting out what you were feeling a year ago but then having everyone experience it in the present.

Oona: What was your head space when you were producing State Lines?

Kristiane: I think I really struggle with letting go and self-identity and letting go of past versions of myself. That’s a theme, even in I Miss Myself Sometimes. The closing song <in State Lines>  is called I’ll Call. And it’s basically like, “I’ll call when I get myself back.” I was in the midst of graduating college and I was feeling stuck in a lot of ways. I didn’t wanna be there anymore. I was dreaming very much outside of where my life was and I just wanted to move to New York. There was so much that I wanted to do and see. There was this dual sense of hope and longing, but also restlessness. So I think that, and general feelings of depression really come through in my songs, Before The Night Is Over and I’ll Call. But then I was also in a period of very intense love with my partner and feeling really grateful for my life. I think that’s what is really different between the first EP and this one. I now get to talk about love in a more actualized sense. It was no longer, “Do you love me? Do you want me?” It was, “I love you. You’re my person.” You know? For the first time, I really felt like I was letting myself be loved. So that was really special.

Oona: What was it like filming your most recent music video for your single, State Lines?

Kristiane: Oh my God. It was such a dream, honestly. It was so cathartic and fun. But also terrifying. I’d never done a music video in that way before. You know, with a whole crew and have it be, like, a whole thing. But I felt so lucky and grateful that I had people that were there to actualize my creative vision. I kept thinking about how fucking lucky I was to be there in that moment. That’s truly how I felt the whole day. And my best friend, Kelsey, who plays bass for me was there and it was an all girl band. So we were just playing like Hole and Liz Phair and dancing with the directors Jeremy Reynoso and Silken Weinberg. I’d worked with them on, I Miss Myself Sometimes when we did the cover shoot. So it was really fun to do an actual video with them. They are just so talented. I felt so lucky to work with them and it was so fun.

Oona: How involved do you like to get in the visual side of your music?

Kristiane: Incredibly involved. I’ll literally make a PowerPoint of me with every song on it. I’ll get visual references from like Pinterest or Tumblr, or whatever, and create a whole world of what I want it to look like. And then my manager and I will like present it to FADER and they’re like, “Okay, sick. Let’s find the right people who can make this happen.” But it’s very collaborative. It’s definitely a collaboration between me, my manager, Sabrina, who does creative for FADER. It’s very collaborative, but ultimately it very much starts within me. Because it’s a direct reflection of my music so it has to feel really authentic. And I feel like this EP is a lot more indicative of my taste visually just because I had a clearer sense of what I want and how to do it. The first EP was very much trial and error. Not that I’m not proud of it. I totally am. It’s just, you learn as you go along, you know?

Oona: In your music video for, I Wish I Could Be Your Girl, your boyfriend was featured as your love interest and your sister directed it. It got me wondering if you feel like your songwriting is an honest reflection of your life and your experiences?

Kristiane: Yeah. I would really say so. I think, ultimately, the thing that I love so much about making music is that it’s storytelling. And I look back at it as different chapters of my life. The I Wish I Could Be Your Girl video was so special because when I look at that video, I feel like it’s such a pure encapsulation of what it feels like to fall in love and what it felt like to fall in love with my partner. Britt is so fucking talented. Like she just really captured my feelings of longing that I felt for my partner. And still do, but back then it was in an almost insecure sense. But yeah, I would definitely say my music is a very direct reflection.

Oona: And do you ever try to fictionalize your storylines? That always interests me with songwriters. Where sometimes they’ll, you know, watch a movie and then write a whole story arc that has no solidified connection to their personal life.

Kristiane: I definitely have done that. I used to write songs for my friends in high school. I would tell them, “if you have an experience, message me about it and I’ll write you a song.” And then I would send them voice memos. That’s how I got good at songwriting, I think. Like putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Especially with people I care so deeply about. I feel like writing songs for them was kind of my love language. Especially before I had any real love experience myself. Now I would say I can get inspired by books and movies. I’ll look for words when I’m reading and I’ll underline them. Or if I watch a movie, I’ll write down certain phrases. That’s always a really inspiring way for me to find the start of a song.

Oona: Are you going on tour with this album?

Kristiane: Yes. I hope we are. We’re in the process of figuring that out right now. I’m doing a release show for it. And I’m definitely going to do shows in LA and hopefully I’m gonna be doing a tour. I’m confident with the release but we’re kind of just figuring out the details right now. So everything’s a little up in the air. The release date is August 26th, so it’s right around the corner. I’m like, what the fuck? That is so, so insane.

Oona: Okay, excited. What do you hope people take from this project?

Kristiane: I really want people to feel less alone and feel more understood. And I want them to feel like somebody else understands them in their feelings of coming into adulthood. It’s a really confusing and really painful time, but it’s also really beautiful. But we’re all kind of in it together. Especially with this age group, we’ve seen things inevitably get worse, but they will also get better.

Oona: I was going through a breakup when I found your debut album and I listened to it so much. Like an embarrassing amount. You definitely have the ability to create things that people can connect with.

Kristiane: That literally makes me like… I’m gonna cry. I needed to hear that today.

Oona: Final words?

Kristiane: I hope people listen to State Lines, in order. On public transit or while driving.

Check out Kristiane on Spotify.

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