Kristen Ford - 'Rend & Render'
In Boston today the news on the radar is all about the upcoming polls and election in MA: the Presidential election, the legalization of weed, the charter school debate and animal welfare. I think we will all exhale when the election is over. I'm feeling grateful for the distraction of music and even more grateful that I get to interview Kristen Ford today.
Based out of Nashville, TN, Kristen Ford describes herself as a "one woman looper band."
As a looper, Kristen programs layers of instrumentation; she plays drums and guitar, and she layers vocal harmonies and melodic parts on top of each other in real time, using effects pedals. How cool is that? I had the pleasure of listening to 'Rend & Render' which is an eight song apocalyptic concept album laced with great acoustic guitar work, stellar vocals from Kristen, catchy melodic phrasing and lyrics that are poetic and meaningful.
. So, you describe yourself as a one-woman loop act. How would you describe your genre and can you list some of your major influences are?
Some of my influneces are Ani Difranco, Audrey Ryan and Radiohead. I love a good song, I love melodies that stick with you. I play indie rock- but that could be almost anything these days.
I hear a lot of talent in your guitar playing and confidence in your singing. I'd like to know how did you get started in writing music?
As soon as I learned a few chords I began writing. Expressing myself with original songs has always been my drive and focus as a musician. Covers and learning techniques have just come in along the way. Can you choose one song of this album and tell us the inspiration behind it?
"Flames" is describing a scene in which the narrator wakes up to a nation is chaos. Imagine a complete governmental or environmental collapse. So many things we take for granted; it's a struggle for the protagonist to stay true to themselves in a situation they are completely unprepared for. I love that idea for a song. I am a Sci-fi fan myself so I often watch movies or read books about government or environmental collapses and the most interesting part is how it changes people and of course, these issues are very real not just sci-fi! Speaking of governments, the political climate is crazy! Has the current political presidential campaigns in the U.S. influence or changed your music in any way!? It seems hard to compartmentalize these days for many artists.
Rend & Render is a dystopian concept album, and I think politics shaped much of that. Regardless of who wins in November, we are a deeply divided country, there is so much anger. Things aren't equal for women, people of color or anyone who isn't a white, christian male. The lack of police accountability, decades of war in the middle east and a backlash against the LGBTQ community after marriage equality are all disturbing to me. I think as millennials it's important we look up from our smartphones long enough to take a little responsibility for our culture, our country and our direction moving forward. The last line in the EP is "Take what's yours, make it better." That's sort of my take on the world today.
I have to say you are the first artist that I've asked that question to who has really given an answer that puts it on the line. Thank you for that. Moving on, your songs have so much depth to them. When you write your music, how does that process work for you? Do you start with an idea, with lyrics, with the track?
Often I'll have a riff, a melodic line of guitar and vocals that comes together. The rest of the song is sort of shaped around that. For "Rend & Render" once I knew I was making the concept album, I threw out lots of lyrics and half written songs to revise them to fit the theme. It was lots of fun. I'm not too precious about song ideas. Creativity is limitless.
I'd like to take a short break here and share one of Kristen's videos. This video is so powerful and it truly shows Kristen's passion for what she does. Enjoy El Camino:
Everyone's process is so different. I admire your creativity. Moving from writing to performing your music, can you tell me what has been your best experience as a performing artist?
That is a very difficult question- I love my job and I couldn't possibly choose just one experience. I think whenever the crowd is really with me and I can tell we are all in the moment together getting stoked, that's the best it gets for me. That could be people singing along, dancing, or just having a great fucking time. Great answer. In the end, it's all about communication and connection. Is there anything on you music bucket list?
I would like to pull up to a red light with my windows down and hear my song blasting from the car next to me. I can see that happening for you Kristen. What is coming up on your music career radar?
I'm working on the debut EP from my hip hop side project "The Blu Janes." Coming from a folk instrument, singer-songwriter background, it's been really freeing to focus on just writing the catchiest hooks possible, and using loops and electronic elements. Plus Genesis Blu is such a talented rapper- I just try to stay out of her way and let the magic happen. I look forward to hearing your next EP and a hip hop infused project sounds amazing. To close out our chat, where can fans purchase Rend & Render?
My website www.kristenfordmusic.com or you can stream it any and everywhere. Is there anything experience that I missed that you would like to tell my readers before we sign out?
Last night I performed as Cyndi Lauper, with a full band, fully dressed up for halloween. It's pretty fun learning covers, digging into old tunes. There is so much to discover in music. It's a never-ending journey, I'm so blessed to be along for the ride. I'm also launching a Patreon November 1- every two weeks I'll be posting new music and videos. Folks can check it out at www.patreon.com/kristenford