Kristina Train Interview
We recently caught up with the talented Kristina Train who is on the same label as the likes of Rihanna & Taylor Swift, she talks to us about her move from the USA to London and about her incredible album “Dark Black”.
You’re originally from Savannah, Georgia – for people who may not know can you give us a brief intro about yourself and the early stages before taking the risk to move all the way to London to begin your music career over here.
I was raised in Savannah which is a swampy, dreamy and magical place to grow up. I think it teaches women especially both grace and grit. I grew up playing violin and singing and was surrounded by sounds of southern American soul music.
Although I love Savannah dearly, I needed to get out and stretch my legs a little. I left home at 18 to pursue music in New York City. There were a lot of up’s and down’s from that point to arriving in London but I’m so happy I’m finally here. There’s no place like home!
Not only are you an extremely talented vocalist but you also write your own music and play the violin – are there any other instruments you play?
I can thump out melodies on the piano and play a handful of chords on the guitar and I’ve recently picked up the castanets…. I’m not sure if any of that actually qualifies as playing!
If you could describe your music in five words, what would they be?
Honest, true, painful, beautiful and healing
What made you want to come to the UK compared to any other country?
In my opinion, London is the best city to live in the whole wide world. It’s happening! I feel very at home here, constantly inspired and truly content. When things are that undeniably good- it just made sense for me to do whatever possible to have a life in this place.
How did the signing with Mercury come around and what made you want to sign with them?
It’s funny because one day no one would touch me and the next I was getting wined and dined and all that crazy stuff. As nice as being courted is, it comes down to substance from both the artist and the label for things to really work. Mercury has an incredible roster of major pop acts but also a growing cradle for what some might call more organic music.
I found a team who are behind making things happen for massive hit single artists like Jay-Z, Rhianna, Taylor Swift and the Killers but also have an interest and passion for album artists like Jake Bugg, Maverick Sabre and me among others.
I know it’s probably more fashionable for artists to go around bitching about their label but I love mine.
Everyone I work with at Mercury are at the top of their game and they are the only people I trust with my career. They let me make my album 100% how I wanted because they believed in my music and knew exactly who I was when they signed me. There was no post-signing identity crisis. They give me the creative freedom I need to keep producing music and growing as an artist.
Even now after ‘Dark Black’ is finished and out for sale I’m hearing some tunes differently since I’ve been playing them on the road. My label encouraged me to go back in the studio and re-cut them in a new and different form to be able to give fans the most content possible from my album. I don’t know about you but I think that’s pretty cool…
Was the album fully created in the UK or did you begin working on it before you moved to London?
The entire album was made here in London predominantly in my friend, Martin Craft’s living room. It took a complete year to make from writing to mastering.
You have worked with Ed Harcourt & Martin Craft – how did this come about?
Martin and Ed are my very close friends as well as musical inspirations. Because my album is so personal, I needed to make it with people I trusted. It took years to build that. I’ve known and have been making music with Ed for five years and Martin, almost three so it’s been a long time finding our rhythm.
Which artists have inspired you the most?
Ahhhhhh Joni, Dusty, Aretha, Patsy, Ray, Roy, Elvis, Frank, Neil Young, Sandy Denny, Judee Sill, Glen Campbell, Laura Nyro, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Julie Andrews, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Scott Walker, Bill Callahan, Portishead, Peggy Lee.
There are so many and so many more that I haven’t discovered yet. I am still learning and being inspired on a daily basis.
“Dark Black” did very well in the UK, did you expect the album to do so well considering you were a new artist?
I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure how or if people would react to my music and my voice. UK radio has been so supportive and I recently was asked to play on Later with Jools holland, who is a hero of mine. I am thrilled that ‘Dark Black’ is gaining momentum here in the UK because it is where I want to make my home.
How did you celebrate “Dark Black” doing so well upon its release?
I had a quiet celebration, but I am superstitious and I don’t want to jinx anything yet, plus I was still recovering from the celebration of finishing it!
What is your favourite song on “Dark Black”?
Stick Together or Everloving Arms. Uuugh I can’t commit- it changes
You have released the album now, what’s next?
So I’m putting out my next single shortly and shooting some more videos.
I’ve got the Live From Abbey Road TV show which is great because it can give people a peek at what my live shows are like. Full on UK and Europe touring in the new year. Then we’re hitting The States.
Do you have any plans for a headline tour across the UK? And what sort of venues?
Yes absolutely. I like intimate venues because I prefer personal spaces and getting to know my audience but we keep getting asked to do some pretty amazing support tours so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Out of all the people you have worked with so far, who did you enjoy working with the most & why?
I’ve been lucky to work with some amazing players over the years. When I was a teenager I played violin in a badass horn player’s band called Rosa King. She also left America and came to Europe to build her career in music. I learned a lot from her. She was very wise.
Then there was Al Green and Willie Nelson who stick out.
However, my biggest influence and mentor is without a doubt Herbie Hancock. He gave me my confidence back and challenged yet nurtured me and is a big part of why I was able to take the leap of moving to London. I will always be grateful to him.
You recently performed on Later with Jools Holland show, what was that experience like for you?
It is an experience I will never forget. Jools is fantastic. He is a guardian of music. He is the only TV program in the English speaking world that is all and only about music. He champions new artists and pays homage to the greats, always giving us fans personal, intimate and unique performances by great musicians. I am so thankful that he does what he does. We are very lucky to have him. He is also a wonderful musician himself!
You have toured with Amy McDonald & Gotye – how was that experience?
It was a ton of fun. They both have very loyal and respectful fans. Amy puts on a fantastic show and Gotye blew me away hopping all over the stage to play a multitude of instruments while singing in a voice of exquisite tone…………………..ok, fine, I admit it- I’m in love.
We think your album should have been nominated for a Brit Award – is winning a Brit Award on your list?
Haha! Wow- well thanks!
Winning any award for my music would be amazing but if I ever did get that kind of recognition, a Brit would be my most prized possession because this is my home now and I love the UK so much and feeling accepted on that level by this country would mean everything to me.
Which UK artists are you currently listening to the most?
Alt-J, Field Music, Michael Kiwanuka, Rumer, Plan B, Django Django, Cherry Ghost
Which UK artists would you like to work with & why?
I’d love to work with Richard Hawley. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time and always hoped that our paths would at some point intersect.
If you could do a duet with anyone in the world, which artist would it be and why?
Bruce Springsteen. He almost made me drown when I was 9. I’ve got unfinished business with The Boss.
Favourite song right now?
Freeway by Kurt Vile
You can keep up to date with all the latest with Kristina Train via her website: http://kristinatrain.com/
Dark Black is out now – you can get it via: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/dark-black/id569935610