After several years in the musician closet, singer/songwriter/bedroom producer Krista is finally putting together her debut album SWIM. Since Krista loves writing about herself almost as much as she loves writing music, we asked her to document her process while simultaneously trying to stay afloat as a 21-year-old alone in the concrete jungle. This is the second in a series.
Dec 9, 2016 9:51 AM Friday
My dog was in my dream last night. I was eating Pringles and cuddling him. I officially dropped out of school a few days ago. I also talked to my mother for the first time in a month. She said she creeps on my Twitter and doesn’t like me saying the word “pussy.” On my way to the gyno to get my pussy examined earlier in the week, Joe, producer who works with Knobody, said he wants to include me in a writing session he’s doing with this girl who was a finalist on The Voice. Apparently, she has some major interest from Sony. Getting a placement with her could really help me. I told him I’d get some ideas together. It’s a little crazy that he asked me to get involved, though, since he’s only heard my covers and one barely finished song from my album. He said he really liked it though. Hmm. Okay gotta be at werk in a little g2g.
Dec 11, 2016 8:26 PM Sunday
I’m mad for reasons I cannot yet elaborate on a public platform. But I am very mad. It is, however, snowing for the first time here in New York and I can see my neighbor’s Christmas tree from my window and that is nice. I’m also mad because I have not had any time for music. Or I have, but it’s been taken up by PURE BULLSHIT. I may have to abandon my proposed release date(s). I just really wanted this thing out before my 22nd birthday (Feb 3rd). Some personally #significant dates fall in Jan/Feb but at the end of the day I need this to be the best possible product, so fuck all that sentimental shit.
My dog was in my dream again last night. I was trying to put him in a Ziploc bag and send him back to heaven. Simon was the first person I sang to. I drew a picture of him on my AP music theory exam and that’s how I passed. He was the only one who ever heard me practice for my Berklee audition, and he died just a couple weeks after. I hope it wasn’t because I sounded so bad. I wouldn’t let my family, or anyone, hear any of my original music for the first seven years I was writing it. Only him. My mom and brother ended up hacking into my computer to find it –still a sore subject– but they still haven’t really heard anything finished. So this album thing is kind of a big deal. And 99.9% of my friends have never heard any of my original music. It’s gonna be weird.
Dec 12, 2016 11:40 AM Monday
Even though I haven’t had much time, it’s kind of crazy how much even the smallest amount of dedication to this stuff matters. I just worked on the album for an hour and got one totally new song, and another that sounds like one. I set out today to work on the third track “Chasing Heroes” because it just felt a little empty and not really congruent with the rest of the work. In terms of colors, it’s been on the yellow/lime green side for me and every other song is in the darker reds, violets, blues for the most part (aside from “Ready,” but it’s almost…ready). “Believer” is gold-ish. They are all very rich colors. So this song has really stuck out to me like a sore thumb. Way too bright and empty for this project and I’ve been meaning to fix it. Well, I did! And all it took was one prolonged A note!! I used to abuse this trick when I was younger to get a more dramatic or cinematic feel. Haven’t done it in a while, but it worked! It’s totally like red/purple now. Still not super dark, but at least in the right family. And some light might be a nice break. I was trying to come up with an intro to “SWIM,” the last song, because it currently begins very abruptly, but I actually ended up making a whole new song by accident. The plus is that it recycles melody from a song I sincerely thought would never see the light of day called “Medicate.” The downside is that it borrows a tiny bit of melody from a demo I sent to Vinny, nice songwriter boy. I’m not sure the demo song will even get anywhere and I don’t want to sacrifice good material for myself so I’m just gonna keep it. Also, I really think I’m the only one who would notice. The new song goes well with the EP I’m planning for after this album so I think I will save it for that.
3:12 Can’t stop yelling “Fuckkkk.” Didn’t think Sony HR lady was gonna call, but she did. Turns out the recruiters are looking for at least a year administrative experience in a corporate setting for the job she recommended to me. She said if I see any jobs that are really entry level to let her know and she’ll forward my documents to the right recruiter. That is very nice of her and very important. Ugh was really hoping something would happen with this one though…
3:22 Fuckkk my piece for Complex is not going up because they are cutting editorial pieces and “pivoting” towards video content. I did just see a few great writers lose their jobs about a week ago. Ugh. Oh well, gotta try to see if I can get it elsewhere! Gotta keep it movin.
4:06 Just applied for one last job at Sony and emailed HR woman. I wonder if I look annoying or dedicated.
Dec 13, 2016 9:20 AM Tuesday
Vinny got back to me at 1:30 last night about the demos I sent him. He says he’s going to send one of them to the producer and see what he thinks! So curious about how this all works. I have no clue. Do I have to pass all of these songs by the producers before I can pitch them? That would be annoying. I thought you could just pitch them and if they land somewhere then you tell the producer. I don’t know, this world is new and weird to me. I asked him about it.
12:27 Vinny explained. Guess they always run it by the producer to see if he likes it or wants to re-work the instrumental. Cool with me. He says he sent it and will keep me updated.
Also, good news. When two doors close, the last one sometimes opens! Got an email about that last Sony job I applied to saying they want to do a video chat on Friday to talk about the role and my experience! Woo. Always do you, people. Never be afraid of being annoying. It’s your damn life.
Dec 14, 2016 12:49 PM Wednesday
Got an email on my way home from work yesterday and I also have a phone call with SESAC on Monday. Bless the lord. My horoscope says if I am unhappy or happy right now, it’s because I set myself up for it in the past, and I am now setting myself up for the future. Seems like all this stuff is startttting to pay off, but I don’t know. Definitely not happy where I’m at right now, but things are certainly looking better.
Dec 17, 2016 5:15 PM Saturday
Did some good deeds 2day. Fixed “High” this morning. This is one of my favorite songs and I kind of released it already (unlisted on YouTube so not really) on Halloween purely because Halloween is #significant to me. I got some good feedback which was nice, but it definitely was not ready to be out. Especially in the context of this album. The production is totally not cohesive with the rest of the work and sounds like some kind of sonic speedbump breaking up the whole thing. The answer is always more strings though! Don’t let them tell you otherwise. It worked. I think it sounds much better and I actually like it again. This song took so long to mix, and now, with the adjustments, it will be even harder. Oh well, I am willing to take it on! I also got started on the three-song EP I want to release after this album. My attention is all over the place, but I need multiple things to work on or I won’t finish anything. I’m going to do something totally out of my comfort zone with this new project and keep it super minimalistic and primarily acapella. It’s gonna be tricky for me, but I think it will be refreshing because this album is very very heavy. It snowed for real today and it was so nice.
Dec 19, 2016 5:37 PM Monday
Fried AF rn. Had an interview with Sony Recruiter then went to work for a little. Went well. I have an interview with the hiring manager for the position Wednesday right before I leave for MA for Christmas. Producer Joe wants to meet tonight. I’m going to his apartment/studio. We’ve never met before, or spoken on the phone, and I have no clue what he looks like. So this is not ideal, but I feel like guys just don’t get it. Can’t live in fear though!! I’m not getting weird vibes at all, but I don’t want to jinx it. I scoped out the location on Google maps. It looks decent and like there are plenty of people in the building if I need to scream or something. I need to be alive to write for this girl anyway so I think I’ll be good.
6:58 Woo and another interview with SESAC is secured for the day after I get back to NY on the 28th. Things are looking up!
Jan 12, 2017 12:05 AM Thursday
Damn I have some catching up to do. LOTS to cover from these past few weeks. Let’s see…
19th) Met up with that Joe guy. Turns out he is actually really cool and way more legit than I ever thought! Also way older than I thought… he has a daughter my age. He told me some things about Jay Z that I swore to never repeat. He really likes me which is cool too. I showed him some demos I produced myself and some that were produced by others. He said he likes the ones I did myself way more. I always assume it will be the other way around. I almost didn’t even want to show him anything I did myself because I’ve just been made to think it sucks because I don’t produce super “professionally.” What I’ve learned about music though is it’s all preference and nobody knows what the fuck they’re talking about so you just gotta do you.
21st) Interviewed for the Sony job at The Orchard. It went well. The office was really cool and all the people seemed chill. But they said they wouldn’t be making a decision for a while.
I went back home to MA right after the interview. My dad picked me up. I didn’t say a word to him. I was petty AF and had my little brother relay texts when I touched down. But not actually that petty because I was mad for a damn good reason. I got home and didn’t speak to my mom either. Finally they taunted me enough and the next afternoon I broke down and screamed like never before. I won’t get into it, but they realized they were wrong, which does not happen pretty much ever. I went to the dentist (no cavities woo!) and my dad and I had a long talk after. MUCH NEEDED conversation. He realized there are many things he doesn’t fully understand and apologized for being childish and immature. And as a mature person myself, I fully forgave him and all was great after that and I had a damn good Christmas with everyone. Even ended up hanging out with my Uncle who I hadn’t spoken to in six years. Now THAT is what I call a break. Designed my next three album covers and have 3 album/EP tracklists totally planned out. LOL really have some attention issues.
27th) Headed back to New York with a few relationships back intact and felt great and refreshed and awesome. Got an email as I was getting on the bus saying the producer liked the demo Vinny sent him, so we’re gonna go further with the song. Very cool!
28th) SESAC interview at HFA happened and went well. I did my first co-op there so it was great to see some of my old co-workers.
29th) Went over Joe’s house to work on some music for The Voice girl. She was on Pharrell’s team and has a song out now that he wrote and produced, which is pretty sweet. Got a voicemail from SESAC HR during the session and called back. Found out I got the job!! One day after the damn interview! Cool. Gonna have a mf 401k and benefits. I couldn’t mention this before, but I was stuck in the most unfortunate work situation I’ve ever been in in my life with a demon boss at that vocal school (she actually appeared in my dream as a demon before I started so I knew it was going to be bad). I am so happy to be free.
2nd) My brother sent me a really cool beat and I wrote a song to it called “Chain Me.” I like it.
Went to Joe’s a few more times and finally on the 5th and 6th I met with The Voice girl and had a nice couple of days with her and her mom. I added a few things to some songs she was working on and it was very cool. Her people are making her record this one song about being cheated on– you know the typical female heartbreak song thing– and she was not having it. I love a girl who can stand her ground. She said she can’t relate to the song because she’s always the cheater and asked if we could flip the lyrics. I was all for it, but all the dudes said it would “narrow her audience.” I thought it was bullshit and voiced my opinion as much as I could, but it didn’t get anywhere. That’s the music industry for ya. I wrote the bridge though and lyrically put some control back into her part, which she liked.
7th) The next day I could not move because I was so sick. Threw up over ten times. Was supposed to go to this huge event with a bunch of billionaire real estate people Joe was performing at. He actually had asked me to sing with him there, but I told him I’m not a live performer. Good thing I said no because that would not have been pretty.
A couple days later I recorded an Ed Sheeran cover, even though I swore to never do another cover ever again. Again, it’s the attention thing. Can’t fight that feeling.
10th) The late Jenni Rivera came to me at approximately 1:30 AM, not in a dream but actually, and told me to “Live with life.” This could be taken a few ways, but I took it two ways mostly: to live with energy and purpose and all that, and to live with what life brings–don’t fight it.
In the day I decided to listen to k-pop for the first time in forever. I was singing at the top of my lungs, and couldn’t believe I’d forgotten how amazing the Korean music scene is. Not even two hours later nice songwriter boy Vinny sent me an email asking if I could write some songs for a few k-pop groups–one of them (the biggest girl group over there) I love! I was so excited I dropped everything and ran to my room to get brainstorming. I came up with 3 full songs and 2 half-songs that night. Don’t want to speak too soon, but I feel really good about these. I mean, this is my niche after all.
12th) And that brings me to today. I’ve really neglected my album because of all these things that have come up, but thanks to the help of my little brother and Buddy Holly and Kurt Cobain I’ve realized this album is supposed to go out after my 22nd bday rather than before (long story for another day maybe). I realize now the true meaning of all the deadlines I’ve set for myself in the past. They were meant to get me to other unforeseen places. If I hadn’t released my first original song on Halloween I would have had nothing to show Joe and he would’ve never asked me to write for that girl. And if I had never matched with that creepy Warner Chappell producer on Tinder and gotten demos together for him even though he didn’t fucking listen I would’ve never had demos ready in time for Vinny to hear and he would have never wanted to collab and I wouldn’t be writing fucking k-pop, or that song that’s now being developed by a really good producer. And Joe wouldn’t know my potential as a songwriter/producer either. So I have relieved myself of the pressure for now and I’m going to wait until this shit is really ready. Whenever that may be…
Krista writes and makes music.