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INTERVIEW: Dutch Caribbean artist Kris Berry

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

Hi Sweet people at VENTS! I’ve been wonderful thank you very much.

Can you talk to us more about your song “Perfect Storm”?

Oh sure, Perfect Storm, to me is about embracing imperfections, as is in our relationships, and taking experiences in, as the generosity of lessons that life has to give. Be your own hero is what I’m saying, we all have everything to be anything we want to be. Take this personal experience, flip it around and make something that the Universe will resonate with.  “Perfect Storm, come along, put my coat on keep me warm, Broken home, you’re on your own; so much stronger than before…”

Did any event inspire you to write this song?

Absolutely! Every song is so autobiographical…

Any plans to release a video for the track?

I would love to!… I believe the track deserves that visual accolade, doesn’t it?

The single comes off your new album Berry Street – what’s the story behind the title?

So the story is: In the exploratory process of songwriting, in search of my sound, and my desire to align my colour with a fitting production, a London based friend of mine advised me to approach these two producers he knew back in Brooklyn, New York, as he thought we would definitely hit it off in terms of sound ideas and my vision for this album. So I met up with them on a winter’s night in Paris (they happened to be there, I happened to have a car and so I drove over there), and we had an instant click. The moment I shared with them my musical inspiration and guideline for this particular album, I learned that they were predominantly the producers behind these artists/songs I had used as a reference! Not only did this come as a pleasant surprise; when I arrived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for the ‘trial recording week’, I noticed their studio was located just off Berry Street! I thought this was a nice ‘omen’ and maybe even a good working title… So in the end, that seemed like the logical way to go.

What made you want to do a concept album?

Is it a concept album? I approach things very organically I must say. I am a very spiritual person, and believe that what is meant to happen comes to fruition in the way it is meant to. I chose for the coloured lines on and inside the vinyl, because these colours represent nature’s way of visualising the frequencies we resonate with. The colours are in natural order of how the human body’s energy points are allocated. The blue one is the colour of the throat chakra, throat representing the heart of my instrument, hence the transparant blue vinyl for Berry Street. Also organic is the cover photo shot. The photographer took a test shot for light checks etc, and after doing an extensive shoot, I opted for this very first raw test-shot.

How was the recording and writing process? 

One of the most satisfying professional experiences I’ve ever had, with these very kind producers. You could feel the energy in the room while recording, and I hope that can be felt through this piece of music.

What role does Curacao play in your writing?

So much and more! It is my island of birth, the little rock I was raised on by very open-minded mom Omayra and (step)dad (Eugene Berry, hence the artist name/ we’re a blended family, like the Brady Bunch). Curacao, if you are open for these things, is not only a most beautiful piece of natural perfection with its pristine bays and rich historical “melting pot” culture, but it has a kind of magic to it, if you want to see it, it is there. I try to use a piece of that magic whenever I sing. It is within me.

What is it about Jazz that you find so fascinating? 

Jazz is free, boundless, and yet you can feel the difference between showing off and showing love. Music can get very mathematical if you let it, but I am a self-taught artist/songwriter and I chose for music in a most intuitive way. Just quit my job, dropped everything and went for it. I believe it’s the first time in my life that I didn’t think. Very ironic if you know me. Jazz gives freedom to explore the extremities of melody. I always loved the tune “The song has ended but the melody lingers on”.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics? 

Song. Since I was a little girl I would ‘listen’ with special ears to lyric and melody, always have. The old children’s nonsensical tune called ‘Go get the Axe’ was a good example of how infatuated I was as a child with the meaning of lyric through song. I remember the line: “I fell from a window, a second story window; why did they build the shore so near the ocean?” And I remember really digging deep into analysing that sentence -and its possible meaning- and my mother couldn’t answer that question, because I was too young a child to be having a philosophical debate with.  Inspiration. Life is very generous, you know, when you don’t see it the first time, it will provide the circumstances, experiences and wisdom to see yourself in it, until you actually do. So too do I feel and find inspiration in the forms of relationships, experiences and epiphanies to come with topics to write about. My debut album Marbles was actually just a written down scrap-heap of thoughts and feelings I just ‘felt’ I ‘needed’ to pen down, which resulted in that first record and also resulting in a new life, taking the giant leap of faith from a corporate steady office job to listening to my heart and the music.

How are you preparing for your upcoming tour? 

Well there were many pre-productional things to take care of, varying from booking accommodation for the band to getting creatively ready with a fitting live set with the band and so on. I guess mentally, I was focused on trying to be in it with my heart and the most positive of vibrations, in order to truly take in the blessing that is touring with Mr. Porter and cherishing every memory made with the musicians and with the crowd.

What are you looking forward the most?

Connecting with people through music. Always. and travelling, new things. Growth.

Having been invited by Grammy winning Gregory Porter himself – how did that come about? 

I met Gregory at a radio show in the Netherlands where we both performed (him with “Water” and I with my first bit of music at the time, it was January 2011) and we kept bumping into each other musically (for instance at The North Sea Jazz Festival that same year) through our Dutch Distributor and one day me and my parents were in New York and Gregory and I hung out for an afternoon and he let me listen to what is now known as “Liquid Spirit”, which I was very pleased to hear, and from that special moment on, we became “homies”. Like he’s my distant big brother in some way, inspiring me to grow, stay humble and work hard and grow some more in life.

How much pressure and relieved did you feel by the invitation? 

At first I felt like it was just an idea, not an actual fact; but when it started to look like this was a real thing, and we had a phone call about it, I think I danced with my boyfriend in the living room and we both had tears of joy.

Any plans to do a live collaboration? 

None yet, but who knows, let’s see what happens.

What else is happening next in Kris Berry´s world? 

I am very much making a start in writing new material, just came back from an exploratory trip to Los Angeles where I started working on some nice demos as well as plans to do some writing when I’m back in Amsterdam. But hey, first things first, I see I’ve got some pretty awesome things to do these days, like eleven shows with a living jazz legend, including two more Royal Albert Halls. My parents, whom I love the most in the world, will be flying into London all the way from St. Martin in The Caribbean, and if that’s not happening, then I don’t know what is.

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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