Krista is Brooklyn born singer, songwriter and musician whose artistry is built on the rich, layered dichotomy between struggle and expression. She has a life of experiences that belies her age, and which she draws upon to form her singular identity as a vibrant, emerging artist. What she has felt in her life, you will feel in her music, and like her background, Krista’s music brazenly defies categorization: a combination of soaring vocals, big beats, beautiful melodies, and street-savvy raps.
It’s an appropriate sound for Krista, who comes from the mashed-up streets of Sunset Park, where a stroll down the neighborhood streets is a kaleidoscopic merging of colors, cultures and flavors. Krista is herself a mash-up, the product of a Puerto Rican father and Italian mother, and growing up in a neighborhood rigidly defined by cultural identity, she both embraced and was alienated by her mixed-race heritage. "My neighborhood, growing up, was very hard," Krista explains, "but all the bullshit around me was what I knew I didn’t want to be. I used it as a springboard to try and do everything right."
Like her mashed-up upbringing, Krista’s music is an amalgamation of sounds. She is as inspired by street-reared rappers, like Tupac and Biggie, as she is the escapist rock of Evanescence and Linkin Park, or the angelic voices of singers like Celine Dion or Sarah McLachlan. Really. One moment her music pulsates with the rhymes and beats of a boastful, savvy, street-reared MC, and the next her voice soars with melodious lyrics of alienation and suffering often on the same song. She mixes live instruments with bedroom beats, and incorporates the sass and fire of her heritage into everything she does.
Krista’s break came at the age of 16, when she met her current producer, musical mentor, and music industry veteran, Camus Celli (Gavin DeGraw, David Byrne, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner). They met at a hardcore show for the band Suicide City, a side project of Biohazard’s Billy Graziadei, who is a mutual friend. "(Billy) introduced us that night and told Camus that I was a singer," remembers Krista. "I didn’t think anything would come of it but a couple of weeks later I was in his office singing him some songs I think it was Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Angel’ that won him over It’s been a real partnership ever since."
Indeed, Camus recognized in Krista, more than just a good voice, but a girl who had real soul, shaped by a rollercoaster life. He took her under his wing making her the hallmark signing of his new Vel Records and worked for two years to help develop her sound. "I’m all over the place musically, and it was really hard to hone any sort of style," says Krista. "But I think he knew that I wasn’t just in this for short-term glory and neither was he. So we would just go to the studio and experiment, find a chemistry, just try things out to see what kind of a style I felt comfortable with. It was a real organic process. And his support really gave me the confidence to just go in the studio and show who I was."
Once Krista felt comfortable with her voice, she would find the interest in her songs to be widespread. But it was the legendary music executive, Clive Davis, who would ultimately sign her, recognizing that he had a unique talent. Krista remembers her audition for Mr. Davis: "I was in this room with like 30 executives and (Clive) wasn’t there yet. I hear this voice from around the corner yelling, Did somebody say they were from Brooklyn?!?’ He was really amazing and I was encouraged by how much he loved it."
As an artist, Krista draws mainly from her own hard-knock life. Her parents divorced when she was 4 years old and she was raised by her grandmother and father, in a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn. Says Krista, "I love my father and grandmother. They both escaped an abusive household with my grandfather, so I admire their strength. But it was a hard childhood for me. My father worked all the time, so my brother and I were mainly raised by my grandmother, who was very old school, very conservative."
Because of that conservatism, Krista didn’t have a realistic role model to shepherd her into adolescence, and she stood out as an awkward girl who found it hard to make friends. "I remember my body starting to change around 11 or 12, and it really made me reflect on not having a mom. I didn’t really know how to dress, how to act like a girl. My dad, whom I love, would buy me stretch pants and put my hair in a big braid."
When Krista finally did find a group of friends, she would act out. "I got into a lot of trouble," she admits. "Just Brooklyn kid stuff graffiti, running away from home, getting into fights. I guess I was kind of an angry kid." She would find salvation in her diaries and poetry books, where she would confess all her deepest thoughts, including reflections on love and alienation, trust and fitting in. "I would lock myself in my bathroom and climb in the tub and just write," she says. "It was the only place where I felt truly safe."
Krista would finally realize that art and expression was her only way out. She dropped out of high school at 16 to pursue her dream as an artist. "I think people recognized that I was different, people from my hood. They would come up to me and tell me that I didn’t belong with them not in a bad way but in the sense that they knew I could do something good with my life instead of being caught up in the streets. That’s when I started to reconsider where I was going in my life."
Where Krista is now will be reflected on her debut album, tentatively titled ‘Taking Back Brooklyn,’ due in the spring of 2008. "It’s about taking it back to where I’m from the whole collage of living in Brooklyn," she explains. "But it’s also about what art and writing and music means to me. How I want to take back from my life what has been taken from me. Music was emotional therapy for me, it IS emotional therapy for me." That will never change for Krista, and it will always be done with absolute freedom.
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