INTERVIEW: Operatic Punk Piano Songstress, Kristeen Young

Hi Kristeen, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Very Nice, Thank you.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Nice”?


Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Yes. The 3 verses discuss 3 different people, real people. It’s about people who use Nice-ness as a mask or weapon, the tyranny of positivity. I have no idea where the actual music comes from. But it’s opera light, I’d say, mixed in with dissonant rock.

How was the film experience?

Quick and hot. We filmed on a humid, sweltering, September night in St. Louis …in an old church with no AC. I loved every minute.

The single comes off your new album Live At The Witch’s Tit – what’s the story behind the title?

It means I’m nourished and alive, suckling at the breast of the beast and I have powers.

How was the recording and writing process?

Writing was like water. Recording was like cigarette burns.

How much did Tony Visconti influence the album?

He’d mostly help us when we stuck… trying to get an effective effect or mix. He’d come in and click click click… and we were grateful and tried to learn. I love working with people I can learn from.

Does acting influence your music and the other way around?

I’m not an actor, but I like films very much… TCM and such. I guess it HAS to influence my music because I was formed on old movies… when I was growing up. It’s how I learned how to talk and behave… since I didn’t want to be like people in my neighborhood. Which sounds awful… but, it’s true. So I guess I’m awful but true.

You brought some special guests into this record – did you handpick them or how did they come on board?

I hunted Nick Zinner down. Found him through a friend of a friend. I wanted him for the last record but couldn’t get to him. Was blocked by his management. Ha. Industry. Yuck. Anyway, he is my favorite guitarist of all time. So inventive and cutting at the same time. I was very lucky he agreed to play. He plays on 6 songs. On some of them it’s more atmospheric so you wouldn’t obviously notice him but it makes all the difference. When we were mixing I noticed that the piano was playing the traditional guitar role and his guitar was taking the traditional space of where the piano would be. I met John LaMacchia through a friend at the rehearsal space where we practice. He is such a talented guitar player. He played his beautiful part on You Might Be Ted, But I’m Sylvia with a coin…..a dime or a quarter? But we were dazzled. I’ve known Sarah Register for quite some time. She has excellent instincts regarding music ….not just guitar. I was so happy she agreed to play on my pop nonsense. She ’s a real artist. And Vernon Reid, who played on I Love You Sooo Much. I love HIM so much. He played the perfect solo, of course, for the ending of this song. I met him through my friend Leon Lamont from St. Louis and I was over the moon thrilled that he agreed to play on my song.

What did they brought up to the table?


Any plans to hit the road?

We just finished a residency at Bowery Electric in NYC (where we live). Our next dates are:

June 18 at the Echo in Los Angeles

June 23 at DNA Lounge in San Francisco

June 27 at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, CA

What else is happening next in Kristeen Young’s world?

The past couple of years have been particularly harsh (in my world), strange occurrences and obstacles, illnesses, people dying… but I’m feeling like upward spiraling now.


About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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