Kristen Nichole: Experienced Innocence
by: iman n. milner
photos by: Davide Anderson for EDGE Magazine
There was something simply beautiful about the vocalists of the past. They understand the importance of making us live inside of their experiences for the duration of a song or for the life of an album. You could hear the experience in their harmonies and the love or loss in the beauty of their melodies. Music doesn’t feel like that anymore very often. An obsession with pop has left those of us who found ourselves in the works of rhythm and blues greats, searching for substance. Rest assured, your search is over. Mixing the pure tones of a young Tamia with the edge of Aaliyah, Kristen Nichole is R&B’s rebirth of experienced innocence. It is our honor to present her to our readers. Explore the heart and mind of a woman mature beyond her years.
Who is Kristen Nichole? As a woman and as an artist?
Kristen Nichole is a free, loving spirit but guarded from love. I laugh too much and I don’t cry enough. I have my mother’s bite, my father’s business mentality and my grandmother’s voice.
Who or what inspires your artistry?
I’m inspired by a lot of different things. Love and relationships (not always my own), other artists, nature. Living in general is so spiritual and remarkable. The way our bodies move and work and feel in different situations. Emotions can take over your life, the way you treat everything and everyone around you. I’m inspired by all of it.
What do you think is your responsibility as an artist?
I feel responsible to share my gifts & talents & change the world in some type of way. Like in the movie Sparkle she said “why would God give me this gift if he didn’t want me to use it?” I feel the same exact way. To have been thought about and created in the eyes of God & placed on this Earth for a purpose, it’s nothing short of a miracle. Choosing to work in entertainment is not the most chosen path and for the masses that do want this they think it’s supposed to be easy. Choosing to pursue music has been one of the hardest decisions of my life but quitting sounds just as insane.
What have you learned about yourself through your experiences in the industry?
I think I learned the most about myself in this past year. I spent about a year putting my energy and talent into another signed artist as a background singer & dancer. I went to rehearsals every single day, pushed my body to the limit when it came to dancing and really believed in the process. I would never take back the experience of going on tour, traveling, living out of suitcases and performing in front of different crowds and people, even ones that didn’t speak English or know what we were singing about. All of it made me realize I’m more fit for this than I thought. Every artist goes through a time where they question their talent or the reason they’re doing this at all. Why am I choosing the hard road when I could just get married and have four children while working a normal job with a normal schedule for the rest of my life? That’s what we’re taught growing up: start a family and live a stable life. I went to college, got my degree and worked but it taught me that there’s so much more out there than just the daily grind. I have books yet to be written, businesses yet to be created, songs yet to be sang. There’s so much more to life and whatever that is, I’m going to live it and go after it.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career?
Not utilizing all of my time and wasting it on questionable situations. I’ve spent many years not progressing at the speed I wanted to mainly because I was still figuring this music thing out and “waiting” on other people or the next “right” situation. Finding producers or people that are willing to invest time in you isn’t so easy. When you start out you’re not completely self-reliant in knowing how to work every single tool, recording yourself, videotaping yourself and managing yourself. I had to figure it all out. Whether we like it or not it takes other people and a combination of their skills and yours to get you where you need to go. I spent years trying to just get in the studio and not one solid song came out of it. Finding a reliable producer is honestly one of the hardest steps when it comes to making music. That’s why I started learning to record myself and do references. I had to learn to be proactive so that time wasn’t being wasted when I couldn’t get in. You should always be ready.
What can we expect from your new music?
There’s a lot of growth and maturity in my new music and I think everyone will be able to tell. I didn’t really know who I was as an artist and everyone kept trying to TELL me who I was and how I should sing. All I knew was that I could write. A&R’s wanted me to cut or dye my hair, people said I should dress a certain way, I had to be a pop artist or it wouldn’t work or create some type of gimmick. I felt so boxed in & just couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just be myself. Problem is I didn’t even know who “myself” was and they didn’t either.
How has love and growth affected your sound?
Love has everything to do with my growth and sound. Without love and without the pain I went through as a result of it, this project wouldn’t be happening the way it is. I was in a really bad space just under 2 years ago. I felt hurt, betrayed, confused, sad, depressed. In reality I just felt dark & angry at everyone for what happened to me in my relationship and all I wanted to do was run away, so I did. I completely isolated myself from where I came from, my university and sometimes even my friends. I traveled a lot, took on a lot of random jobs and somehow ended up back in music. A lot of soul searching needed to occur for the music I’m making now to come to fruition.
What do you hope your legacy will be?
I’m hoping that at the end of the day, people will accept the fact that I make music because I love it and not because I want something out of it or need anyone’s approval. You can be successful just by being fully committed to who you are. The creation process in itself gives me a high that is completely unexplainable to anyone who’s never felt it. I love to perform & when I’m not doing anything creative with music I almost shut down and become a shell. I just want to touch people & make them feel something. If only 2000 people hear my music or 20 million, I’m fine with either. I don’t really want fame because it will change the way I have to live my life on a day-to-day basis but I accept it for what it is if that’s my destiny. I want to create music that is timeless so years down the line your daughter’s daughter can feel me & say “I feel like this Kristen Nichole song is talking about my life!”
Follow Kristen Nichole: @KNicholeMusic
Music and Links: KristenNichole.com