American singer/songwriter Kris Angelis released her new single “Photobooth” on May 10th.
Fusing elements of folk and pop, Angelis introduced her sound through the debut album “The Left Atrium”, followed by the EP “Heartbreak Is Contagious”, which both received critical acclaim and saw time in the Top 10 on iTunes Singer/Songwriter charts.
“My music is still based on organic sounds but I do love the little fun, unique flavors that can be added with electronic elements even if they are more of a feeling than something you can actually hear. I still call my music folk pop because while it has a lot of modern singer/songwriter pop sound, I still have a basis in story in most of my songs and always want real instruments and a message I believe in,” says Angelis.
Produced by Billy Lefler, the Los Angeles-based artist will be revealing her new EP in August 2018.
“Photobooth” is now available worldwide.
Introduce yourself. What’s your story?
Hello! I’m Kris Angelis. I grew up on a 45 acre farm outside of Gainesville, FL with horses and cows playing in the pastures and forest and making up songs in our tree house with my identical twin sister. Then we moved to Carmel, CA when my mom got a job there and I started doing community theatre and danced. Eventually I moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and music. When I’m not working on music which I’ll get into in the rest of the interview, I like playing awesome nerdy games with my friends and family like Pandemic Legacy which is a long form board game that unfolds as you play successive games, D&D, and running charades. I also like to read, cook and bake.
Do you remember your first musical memory?
The first musical memory I can think of right now, is standing on the stair landing in my house and just singing without words. The first music I remember experiencing is an album my grandparents had of Strauss waltzes. My sister and I would listen to them and they were the soundtrack to our play. With so many different feelings, swells, and instruments, it made playtime dramatic and fun!
What got you into music?
I always enjoyed listening to music and sang in choir and little school plays and played violin in youth orchestra, but when I heard Hanson (yes, mmmbop!) is when I got really inspired and started learning to harmonize with my twin sister. I had always felt like the musicians I listened to were these other-worldly people and I couldn’t do that but Hanson was so young and I felt closer to them and thought maybe I could do it too. Then coincidentally, I saw Brandi Carlile and her band Tim and Phil Hanseroth opening for Hanson and just really connected to her raw emotion and voice and what her songs were about which I felt was deeper and more poetic than what I had heard in the mainstream at that time. I became friends with them (first connecting because Tim and Phil identical twins too) and had the great fortune of learning a LOT of what I know about playing guitar, songwriting, and performing from them.
You recently released your new single “Photobooth”? How did this song come about? What’s the story behind it?
“Photobooth” came about because I’ve always loved photo booths and thought they were so romantic and fun and I had one night at a party with someone who I was hoping for a relationship with. We went into a photo booth and I thought it was finally going to be the beginning of something and it ended up being the end but I still had those memories and photos and I just thought that would be a fun thing to write about. How you can capture moments and all their real feelings and imagined futures in a flash of light and then all that’s left of them is the photo.
How did your sound evolve over the years?
I started out very folk, almost country, and super organic and over the last few years, I’ve worked with co-writers and producers and become a fan of more music that have all influenced me and helped me explore new sounds and get out of my comfort zone with writing style and production which has led to a more folk/pop sound with more electronic elements.
How would you define folk music?
I’m not sure if this is the actual definition but what I think of as folk music when we’re talking about current folk sound as opposed to the old songs people used to sing around campfires, I think it still has a root in storytelling and organic/acoustic instruments. When I think of folk music, it usually has harmonies and strings too which I LOVE. Not all of my stuff has those but that’s why its folk/pop.
What do you like the most about songwriting?
I like that it’s a way to get feelings and thoughts out in a productive way. You can say something in a song that you wouldn’t just say in a conversation to someone’s face and that can be very liberating, empowering, and cathartic. It’s also all of those things just to SING! It feels awesome to sing and melodies can evoke so much emotion which takes songs to the next level from poetry. Poetry is wonderful but I love that with a song, you can say something so simple and colloquial and it’s raised up by melody. Music is a universal language.
How do you usually write your songs?
I usually have feelings or thoughts that are weighing (not necessarily in a bad way) on my heart and mind and I’ll just write down little thoughts and snippets as they come to me in a journal or a note on my phone. A lot of times I get inspired with melodies or lyric ideas while I’m doing something else that’s on autopilot and frees my mind so I’ll record ideas on my phone as I’m walking or driving (I have bluetooth!) or even in the shower which means I have to keep repeating it until I get out so I remember! Then I’ll sit down with a guitar and form some of the ideas into a piece of the song and build around that. I tend to be more lyric focused so I usually want to know what the song is about first before I start making the melody and I also like working with co-writers because it brings a new perspective or new chord progressions into the mix.
If you had an advice to give to new songwriters, what would it be?
Notice everything around you. Notice the way the sun hits the trees as its going down, or how a juicy peach tastes as the sun hits your face on a summer day and how that feels. Using the senses to create feelings and imagery is a great way to make relatable and deep touching songs. Also of course notice how things make you feel emotionally. And write all the time. Don’t only wait to be inspired. Try stream of consciousness writing just in a journal or with an instrument. Write a song based on anything with no pressure. This exercises the mental muscles and makes it not so precious and anxiety ridden. Then you’ll be able to write freely without judgment and actually get some great stuff. It doesn’t all have to be amazing and you shouldn’t expect that of yourself.
What makes a good lyric?
That is a question whose answer really depends on who’s listening but I think a good lyric says something relatable but in a way that is maybe slightly off from how someone has thought it before or how it’s been said before. Not too convoluted or flowery so that it looses its basic human experience and emotional meaning but still somewhat poetic. Like one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite artists, Gregory Alan Isakov (there are a bunch, listen to his music!) “They say the road to every truth is just a cul-de-sac” Or just really bare and raw and real like A Great Big Worlds “Say something, I’m giving up on you” If you can do both in a song, that’s magic.
What inspires you the most?
Songs that I love inspire me the most for creating my own music. I know that I’m really enjoying an artist at a live show, for example, when I keep wanting to take out my phone and write down lyric ideas and can’t wait to get home and write. Sometimes I am inspired by books or films who’s stories touch me or things that I hear about from friends.
Do you remember the first album you’ve ever bought? Which one was it?
Yes, I believe the first CD I ever purchase was Savage Garden’s eponymous debut.
What are you currently listening to? Any songs/artists you’d like to recommend?
I discovered Jeff Hahn a few months back and have been listening to his album Black Rose Tattoo on repeat! That is what I consider pure folk music and it’s making me want to add more fiddle to my stuff! I also recommend Crimson Calamity. They are a duo of badass women who bring “hellfire and harmony”. I’m also listening to a lot of Sia lately so I’ll let you imagine how all of those influences might meld together in my music! Epic belting vocals with some electronic elements but also fiddle and banjo? I like it.
What advices would you give to anyone who’d like to work in the music industry?
My advice is to read Ari Herstand’s book “How To Make It In the New Music Business” and listen to music podcasts like “Female Entrepreneur Musician” (not just for females) and learn all you can. Surround yourself with people you can look up to and you’ll be able to learn from them. And if you really want to do it, just stick with it. The people who succeed are the ones who are still doing it when everyone around them has given up.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
I think the world would be a better place if people would consider others more. Even if it’s just in the seemingly small but actually huge ways of caring for our environment like not littering! If we cared more about the people around us and our communities as a whole instead of the every man or woman for him or herself mentality, I think that would make the world a better place. The problem happens when some people do that and others don’t or even take advantage and it can create bitterness. Also in the same vain, letting people do what makes them happy as long as it’s not hurting anyone without trying to stop them or infringe on their joy. Because the world needs people who are enlivened.
Any upcoming project?
I’m finishing up a new EP that will be coming out this August. It’s produced by Billy Lefler who I love working with and who has pushed me in writing better and better songs for it. I’m actually in the process of crowdfunding for it by doing a pre-order along with fun packages including stuff I’ve never had before like T-shirts, signed handwritten lyric sheets, and one-of-a-kind single song vinyls that I’m very excited to be going to record in NYC this week! You can take a look at the packages and pre-order the EP for any price you want at https://krisangelis.bandzoogle.com/album-fund-pre-order-now. The iTunes pre-order will be starting mid-June in conjunction with the release of the music video for “Photobooth” which my twin sister, Alix directed and is editing! I think it’s going to be really fun. There’s some magical stop motion stuff in there!
What’s your purpose?
That’s a big question and I’m sure there are things that I will discover as I keep living but so far, my purpose and intention is to make music that inspires and makes people feel the way I feel when I listen to music that I love. To help people feel like they are not alone. And to use whatever platform I achieve to help communities in whatever way I can. I think it’s important to keep arts in schools and give children (and adults for that matter) of all backgrounds the chance to create and express themselves in a positive and productive way. Hanson and Brandi Carlile Band are not only greatly influential to me with their music but in the way they conduct themselves as people and in their careers - they have been very active in helping their communities and the world and I aspire to that.
Connect with Kris Angelis: