Musical Discoveries: Would you please tell us a little bit about your background.
Kristy Thirsk: I was put on a course into the crazy business and bohemian lifestyle of a musician shortly aftter I was born. At my baptism, the preacher told my parents he had a vision that I would be a strong willed child (my mother will vouch for that) and grow up to be a singer. Ever since I was first told that story as a child this little feeling nagged at me. I actually started trying out for bands at the age of 19. My second audition was for The Rose Chronicles. (more)
So what were things like with The Rose Chronicles?
I guess The Rose Chronicles thought I passed the test because they asked me to join after that first audition. Three months later, after only two gigs, we were signed to Nettwerk Records. The Rose Chronicles’ full length debut garnered a Juno award in 1994 for best alternative album. The album had sold about 15,000 copies last time I checked.
And what about your musical and vocal training?
It has been mostly self-taught. As a child I studied piano, but only up until about age nine. I took a few months of vocal training in the early 90s before I went on tour with the Rose Chronicles. I taught myself how to play guitar by ear and used a few chord charts as well.
And after Rose Chronicles, you moved onto Delierium. How did that turn out?
Well, through my connections at Nettwerk, I was asked by Delerium to sing on their first release through the label. I was the only featured vocalist on Semantic Spaces. "Flowers become Screens" and "Incantation" were two of the songs I wrote and sang that became popular MuchMusic and radio singles. The album itself has sold over 130, 000 copies.
Was there a follow-up?
After Semantic Spaces we did Karma, an album where I wrote and sang four songs. Sarah McLachlan and Lisa Gerard (Dead can Dance) also took part. Karma sold over 450,000 copies worldwide and my single "Heavens Earth" reached #2 on the Irish music charts and #4 in Australia. Other songs from Karma that I sang on have been heard in movies like Get Carter starring Sylvester Stallone and other HBO feature productions.
Tell us a little bit about your solo career.
My solo career has marked a return to songwriting, touring, and working towards the perfect album. One of my songs appeared in the soundtrack for the for Genie Award-winning film Kissed and I was nominated for a Genie for "Best Movie Theme." My performance of the song at the Toronto Film festival which was broadcast live on MuchMusic. And I'm working on a new solo album too.
Do you tour much?
With my own band I've toured the West Coast three times, and played numerous shows in LA, New York, Philadelphia, and of course, Vancouver. As you'll see from the photos on my website, I really like playing in front of and connecting with an audience.
How did you get involved with the Balligomingo project?
I hooked up with the Balligomingo project after Garrett contacted me through someone at Nettwerk records. He was a big fan of the first Delerium album--Semantic Spaces--that I sang on and especially liked the song "Incantation." After that he flew me to LA to try out some demos with him.
At that point he was very new to songwriting and programming and eventually he moved to Vancouver where I introduced him to the producer andsongwriter Vic Levak that I was working with. Soon Vic was writing with Garrett and a part of Balligomingo. But after some time it was clear that I could not commit to being involved in writing and sing on very much of the Balligomingo project.
Then some of my uncopywritten material that had come from my work with Garrett was up on my fan website because he had made it available. This was a breach of a verbal agreement between us and also a legal copyright issue.
After that I decided to have no further involvement with the project. I still have copyright issues with Balligomingo that to date have not been resolved. And even after the whole internet issue I was still willing to let "Heat" appear on the album.
How would you characterise the song that you did on the Balligomingo album?
The song I co-wrote and performed--"Heat"--is pretty dark and sexy in my opinion.
Did you share any of the writing duties?
I definitely shared the writing duties on "Heat." I wrote the vocal melody, the lyrics and when I first met Garrett I helped him find a direction for that song.
Please compare the material to any that you have done on your own or with others.
I would say that on "Heat" my vocal stylings are a little Deleriumesque, but I really don't think the music is a derivitive of anything I can think of at the moment. However, the rest of the album is very Deleriumesque and in fact so much so that track Lost" has a recurring melody that sounds hauntingly familiar to the melody I wrote on "Incantation" for Delerium's Semantic Spaces. I would be interested to know if any Delerium fans agree with me. If they do they can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share their views. (Ed. Note: See our review of "Heat" on the Balligomingo Promo EP which concurs with Kristy's thoughts above.)
And how was the project put together?
After I had co-written and recorded "Heat," I am not sure how the rest of the project went because, as I explained earlier, that is where my involvement ended.
Is there anything you want to add about the Balligomingo project before we go on?
There is something that I wanted to mention if that is alright. I want to take this opportunity give credit to people that worked very had on the Balligomingo release and were not given the courtesy for their credit in the album's artwork. I am not sure if anyone is aware that most of the songs on the album were produced and co-written by a Vancouver producer named Vic Levak.
Also, I don't believe any of the singers were given any writing credit for their parts, and I am fairly certain that at least some of them did co-write portions of the songs. Perhaps this was an oversite during the printing of the graphics for the album but I personally feel that credit for what you have contributed to on an album is just a common courtesy in the music business. (Ed. Note: The majority of the women of Balligomingo did share writing duties on their tracks; see their interviews for further information.)
What kind of music do you find yourself listening to all the time?
I have been a fan of the Cocteau Twins for a long time and beyond that my musical tasted are very diverse. My collection includes recordings by Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, The Cure, Diana Ross, The Verve, Jeff Buckley, NWA, Joni Mitchell, No Doubt. I think you catch my drift.
And what else have you been up to more recently?
I have been working as a guest singer and songwriter on various projects. I'm exploring some new musical territory by writing and producing a new album in Los Angeles with producer Eric Rosse (Tori Amos, Lisa Marie Presley, Nash Kato of Urge Overkill).
Please tell us about your new solo album.
I am very excited about my new solo album because it is almost finished. I should be returning to LA this summer to finish up the vocals and just finish the CD period! It has taken a while to put it all together, but I truly feel it will be worth the wait. I am working with a producer named Eric Rosse, who is famous for producing Tori Amos's Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink.
Currently Eric is producing Lisa Marie Presley's debut, and that is part of the rason my CD has been taking a while to complete. He is very busy trying to finish both of our albums at the same time. It will all be completed soon, so no worries. After everything is in the bag with my CD, hopefully by September, my manager will do some shopoping with it, but in the meantime we are thinking about releasing it with or without a label and also plan some tours around the release, because who can wait for a label to make up their mind? Not me.
So what's the recording process like?
It has been a long and twisty road, but I finally got out to Los Angeles to record my debut full length album with producer Eric Rosse and long time guitar player Johnny Savella. In the studio with Eric is always magical and we are very prolific and productive.
Having that effortless and fun creative relationship in the studio is very important, so I am glad that I waited until I found the right producer before commiting to doing my CD. I am not going to tell you what to expect because I don't really know myself yet. We have most of the drums recorded already, which are very groove oriented but beyond that, we will just see where the songs take us. It's going to be very exciting to hear the end result.
So far we have three acoustic tracks in the can and they are sounding oh so groovy. The last song we finished on acoustic is called "In the dream" and it has a very Marvin Gaye rhythm feel to it in the bass and drum parts and then my acoustic part is a cross between poppy and funky--very cool and it makes you want to get up and dance--which I do occasionally during the sessions.
And where do you draw your inspiration for the new material?
Lately I have been revisiting my past and listening to more soulful artists like Aretha Franklin--one of the first tapes I bought, after Abba of course--Diana Ross and the Carpenters. Of course I never stop listening to Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and Heaven or Las Vegas by the Cocteau Twins. Some new stuff that is very funky is No Doubts' new cd Rocksteady and I am pretty impressed with fellow Canadian Remy Shand. He can almost sing as high as me!
What is it like in the studio?We are having such a blast in the studio. Laughing constantly--the vibe is so right. The other day we were recording the bass part for "Second Fiddle" and the new drum part has kind of a Elephant march feel to it. Eric proceeds to tell us about how he loved to do animal imitations as a child. So then he went ahead and did the Elephant imitation which made us all fall over laughing. I insisted that he go in the isolation booth and record the Elephant into the track ("Second Fiddle"). It was so hilarious that he had to pack it in for the night and end on that "note" so to speak.
Also, one of Eric's good friends Matt Chamberlain stopped by the studio. Matt is a very famous drummer who plays on everything from Fiona Apple, The WallFlowers, Tori Amos, Pearl Jam (his initial gig). Basically, if you have heard of the person, he probably played on the album...so that was pretty exciting. I wonder how Jimmy Paxson, the drummer who played on the tracks we are recording now will feel about Mr. Chamberlain having a listen to his performances.
So when can we expect the solo project to be released?
I'm going back to Los Angeles in June to finish it up and we hope to have it out later this summer. The diary section of my website always has the latest news!
Do you think that the internet will bring you any new listeners, expand your audience and improve your connection with the fans?
I am so happy to finally have a website up and running and I definitely think it is the best way to keep the fans updated on what is happening with me. I hope through the release of my CD and my website, that it will bring me new fans. In fact, my website might just be the first place my CD will be available if it is initially released independently. I also plan to eventually expand my site so that I can set up interactive chat sessions online with my fans.
Thank you for choosing to interview me for your publication and I hope we can talk again when my new CD is completed.