Lush operatic indie songstress Kristeen Young is back with a wonderful new album, The Subset, and a residency at the Satellite through October. They will no doubt be wonderful shows — Young continually pushes herself artistically and we the listeners are the recipients of that hard work. We chatted about all of that and more…
L.A. WEEKLY: Regarding The Subset, you told us at the start of the year that it was different to anything you’d done before — what did you mean by that?
KRISTEEN YOUNG: At every point, I was trying to do things differently. I was trying to make every decision in a different way. I felt it was different because it was truly all mine. I recorded it myself. “The Bold One” I wrote on guitar — I don’t play guitar. I just picked one up one day and wrote a little tune on it. I’d never done that before. I’d never recorded on 8-track cassette before. Also, I wrote it on a brand new keyboard so I was learning a new keyboard. One of the songs, “Marine Dadd,” I heard this performance on Youtube of this street music show in St. Louis and it immediately struck me — I wrote a little tune on top of it. I don’t generally collaborate with anyone with writing, so that was a new way of approaching it. There are samples on this record — I’ve never sampled before really. Just a lot of stuff like that.
You’re expected to do things differently though…
It’s not a rock album. Maybe there are moments of rock, but overall I wouldn’t describe it as rock at all.
You did nearly everything yourself — did you feel you needed that complete control this time?
Yes, I did feel that way. I’ve always done most of everything myself, but there were other players involved and also, I wanted to break away from my past as much as possible. I feel very tied in to the people I’ve worked with. Because I have had some names play on my albums, famous male artists, I sometimes get eclipsed. I feel I have to shed everyone from me because I need the space.
Between albums, the world has gone to shit — did that affect the themes?
I’m always affected by what’s going on. The world has gone to shit in some ways and then in other ways, maybe some things have gotten better. I can just write from my own perspective and the stuff that’s happened in my life too.
Is this the first time you produced?
I’ve co-produced before. When I first started out, I did everything on my recordings. This reminds me a little bit of when I was in high school, recording things. I co-produced the last two records with Tony [Visconti] but particularly the last one, he wasn’t around a lot. He was the one that encouraged me to take the title of co-producer because there aren’t many women producers and I need to start owning that title.
What can we expect from the L.A. residency shows?
This show is really different than any other show I’ve done. It’s more of a planned out show, that has visual stuff in it. Little moments I’ve created. It’s not a loose band show. It’s more structured. Some of the opening acts I’ve asked personally, some I didn’t. But I’m pleased with it.
How do you feel about L.A.?
I love it. I love that the audiences are enthusiastic. Living in New York, you hear all the cliches about LA, that it’s not an art town. But it’s extremely creative and there’s a lot of great art there. Almost more, in my experience, than New York in some ways.
I have a residency in London after that, in November. Before that, San Francisco. I’ll be driving back and forth, trying really hard for an early death.
Kristeen Young plays every Monday in October at the Satellite. The Subset is out now.