In a reflective and revealing interview, the blues-rock/pop singer-songwriter gets personal about her musical journey and striking upcoming EP.

Hello Chrystyna!  This is an exciting time period for you now, before the release of your Loaded Gun EP on February 29th.  How are you doing and how are preparations for its release shaping up?

I have a lyric video coming out for “Loaded Gun” soon, and at the end of this month I will be releasing the second single “Down The Road.”  I am working on the plans for a CD release party and a small spring/summer tour.  Crossing my fingers and saying my prayers.

I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure to listen to and review your EP before it bows and it’s a striking blend of indie blues-rock and pop balladry that showcases your powerfully emotive vocals and perceptive lyrics to best effect.  What was the creative spark that ignited this EP?

Thank you very much.  I am glad you like it.  I always wanted to have 100% creative control.  My problem was I was afraid.  I have been in and out of independent labels for the longest time.  But I knew I had to go it alone if I wanted to do what I wanted and say what I wanted to say.  Taking that step was the hard part.  My boyfriend actually gave the courage to go it alone.  One day he gave me a little push and it felt right.  I was done talking and dreaming about it.  I knew what I wanted to say.  I had ideas.

Loaded Gun is not exactly your musical debut, but, like you said, it is the first record you’re releasing as a solo artist in 100% control of the process and its delivery to the public.  What has this experience been like compared to working with a record label?

I can say it’s a lot of work, emotionally taxing, and stressful.  With a label, people were writing for me. I had no true emotional attachment to any of the material, I just sang it.  I showed up and opened my mouth and sounds came out.   I wanted to write my own songs and have people experience and learn and grow with me.  It was emotional going back into the archives to dig up things I wanted to talk about.  I wasn’t expecting it to hit me on the level it did. I was reliving everything all over again.  You think you’ve gotten past it, but when you revisit it… Let’s just say I almost gave up on the entire thing at one point.

I also had no idea how much went into the production process.  I had a say in every sound/note on the EP.  I loved it.  When it’s your own money on the line, the stress level is over the roof because you want things to be the best they can be and there’s not much room for error as a result.  I also got to choose who I worked with and how the finished project would sound. I wouldn’t change the experience or process for the world.  It truly is my baby.

Do you play all of the instruments on the EP, from the guitars to the drums to the piano and more?

I actually play none of the instruments on the EP. Every sound except keys, bass, and drums were made with a guitar, all played by my amazing producer, Bill Bell.  The piano parts were played by Chris Joyner and the bass parts were played by Jesse Stern, both out of Los Angeles.

The EP was not only produced, but engineered and mixed by Bill Bell and mastered by Phil Demetro of Lacquer Channel Mastering.  What did they bring to the table?

Everything!!  Bill and I have a great connection.  I can say “I want this to sound like a muddy puddle after a rain storm.” and he knows exactly what I want and creates that sound.  Phil is also amazing.  He took the songs and brought out and highlighted the perfect spots in the perfect ways and made them sound complete and solid.

What is your history with the L.A.-based pop band Greencat?  I’m assuming the band is broken up now, but what was your role in the band?

GreenCat was my last independent label project and last music project before I seriously started thinking of going it on my own.  We had a Black Eyed Peas set-up.  There were four of us: a sultry smooth male vocal, a male reggae vocal, a male rapper, and then myself, the female lead.  We sang pop with a reggae/dance feel to it.  It was very interesting and very different. We are broken up now.  We fell apart just before the album release.  Two of the members’ hearts weren’t in it and they just left. When the two left it was just myself and the rapper.  It was decided GreenCat would just be me in the end and I went from female lead to solo act. It didn’t really work as a solo act.  It was a completely different project altogether.  Nothing really ever came from that and it was shelved.

You are originally from Toronto, Canada and are a classically-trained singer.  Why did you transition from the classical genre to the pop style, and currently blues-rock fused with pop elements? 

I love performing classical music.  I dabble here and there with friends’ weddings and events.  I would love to guest perform in an opera/concert series one day - That would be amazing.  Blues is just home to me.  I connect with it.  If it’s called blues/pop/rock, then it’s called blues/pop/rock.

From what I’ve read, you’ve had small roles in various music videos and television shows and have also performed on stage.  Are you still interested in acting in that type of media?  Or do you consider being a singer-songwriter the ‘full package’, so to speak?

My main focus and passion is the music as a singer/songwriter.  The acting and musicals are secondary.  I would love to branch into it more seriously in the future, but for now the music is my focus.

Are your relationship and individual-centered lyrics based on your own personal experiences?  If so, it sounds like you’ve been through a hell of a lot of stormy turmoil (“No More” is particularly bleak in parts), but that you’ve also broken through to a better mindset overall.

All my songs, which tell a story in abridged form from start to finish, actually happened. My message is that no matter what you go through, it could be the most horrific experience to just an unpleasant experience, you will always come out stronger.  You may be broken down, but you learn from it and those experiences make you who you are.  Only you have the power to decide what happens in your life. Make the jump, stick up for yourself, you will be OK. “No More” is about my first ex.  The song speaks for itself really.

Who drew the beautiful sketch of you for the EP artwork?

Steven Russell Black.  He is amazing.  I found him at Comic Con this summer. I saw his art and it was so dark, yet beautiful it just called to me.  He has this flower girl series he draws and I knew I had to contact him. He truly is amazing and I am so blessed that he wanted to be a part of this project. I can’t say enough how much I love his art and he’s a great person too.

Are you currently working on a full-length or another EP?  I hope so!

I am currently working on building on existing song concepts for the full album. I will be in the studio in a few weeks. I hope to have it ready for late 2016.

Lastly, can you please list your official site(s) where we can find out more about you and your music?

Official Site  (with links to my iTunes, CDBaby, and Amazon music pages)
Youtube:  Chrystyna Marie