30 Apr DETROIT’S DARK INDIE-POP SIREN KRISSY BOOTH DISSECTS “SELFISH” + DROPS SURPRISE DOUBLE RELEASE OF “OBSESSED” + “FNTSYGRL”
Detroit’s dark indie-pop siren Krissy Booth knows how to catch a magnetic feeling and keep it alive in her songs. The charming singer-songwriter and producer’s recent release “Selfish” and today’s *surprise* double release of “Obsessed” and “Fntsygrl” together represent three sides of a single, fiery affair, which—for a time—she couldn’t walk away from. (What is it about the ones we can’t have or the ones we’ve only had for a short spell that stays with us? It’s vexing in the most irresistible ways…) In these sultry tracks, Krissy’s youthful voice oozes confidence while she fans the flames of desire with glitter and futuristic dance elements. Only in brief moments do we sense the shadow of vulnerability. The notion that, despite this welcoming flood of intoxicating feelings, something remains at risk. (You know, that whole dangerously in love—or, is it lust?—thing.) What I treasure most about this high-energy trifecta that brims with palpable emotion is its glowing reminder to live in the moment. (Listen to “Obsessed” and “Fntsygrl” while you read.)
In this full-length interview you’ll learn: the secretive nature of “Selfish”; how Krissy prepares herself to perform in-studio and onstage; a little bit about the balmy, hush-hush, hypnotic single “All The Way”; all about today’s SURPRISE double release of “Obsessed” and “Fntsygrl”; why Krissy compares her music-making to keeping a diary; what advice she has for developing a bespoke aesthetic onstage or on social media; why the current pressure for artists to go live on social media (amidst the pandemic!) can feel burdensome; what moves Krissy to pen and record her glam, high-voltage brand of music that inspires movement; and which artists have been Krissy’s go-to lately—including eight Michigan indies your ears will adore. (MMM has already interviewed two of them!)
BONUS: Once you’ve conquered the Q+A, vibe our exclusive Spotify playlist, MMM: Krissy Booth , which includes ALL Krissy’s tracks plus her current faves. With over three hours of come-hither, danceable tracks, it’s the playful pick-me-up we could ALL use right now.
The conversation from our interview is chronicled below in a pure Q + A format.
Q + A:
Your latest single, “Selfish”, depicts the intoxicating magnetism of an affair. Can you reveal anything about your personal experience that led you to write this dark pop track?
Krissy: “Selfish” is about a very sweet and pure thing—even though it was secretive and not healthy. It was on and off every time we saw each other—not functional at all but we were best friends, too. We laughed about being selfish because it was the worst match possible. I’ve written happier songs about it, but “Selfish” was meant to be about leaning into doing the wrong thing because it felt right.
I think back to it positively, but at the time I was frustrated. This person was always holding back and so many people do—and I think that takes away from your life and your happiness. If you’re going to do it anyway, why beat yourself up about it? Just do what you want, live your life, and stop pretending to like things that don’t make you happy. I think it’s fun to be very impulsive, celebrate everything, and I believe everyone should give themselves the chance to be happy. Drink the wine, wear the crazy shoes, etc.
How would you describe the track’s sound + feel?
Krissy: It’s a darker and sexier jam—the femme fatale version of me. It originally started with a more hip-hop beat, but we wanted to give it a smoother feel. I’d been listening to a lot of future bass while traveling and driving, so we used some synth influences from that genre. With this song, I wanted to lean into being selfish doing what we wanted to without thinking about consequences.
What was your writing process like? How + where did the lyrics come to you, and did anything unusual happen while writing this track vs. the others you’ve written in the past?
Krissy: I wrote the song mostly altogether, but the second verse was changed. When I say ‘I am nobody’s baby or secret’ I was talking about how I’m not anything to be used or some toy—I’m proud of myself. But I was also really deep in something unhealthy. The second verse was originally addressing my own insecurities, but I wanted the song to focus on a sexier, confident feeling. ‘I don’t want you forever but I need this right now—is that bad? is that bad?’ was also not my finest writing, haha. It felt insecure because, at that time, I was in over my head to the point of writing songs obsessively about it—but I knew he wasn’t.
We went through three versions of this song. I produced a demo, John and I made a first version that was more Amy Winehouse with a string-pluck sound. Next, we did a sweeter-sounding chord progression. Then we found a sample that we processed that made the intro synth line and feeling for the rest of the song. John’s work on the chorus synth and bass production is some of my favorite in all we did together.
“Selfish” is dramatic and your vocal delivery is more than on point. How did you get yourself in that particular head space to record the track? How do you recreate that feeling onstage?
Krissy: I’d be lying if I said I didn’t drink a little when recording. You have to let go and let yourself live in a feeling and give in to it, to sing it and deliver it how it deserves. I have a lot of anxiety and it’s hard for me to relax, so writing with people is challenging for me. “Lose Sleep With You” is the first and only song I wrote at John’s—the others I wrote alone and then took to him to ask for his expertise.
Before I go on stage, I’d have a drink or a shot (just one), take a minute for myself, and try to forget anything outside of that room. Performing, to me, is about letting go of the world and being present, and losing your mind with people for a moment. For performing “Selfish”, I perform cheekier. I think about wanting what I can’t have, and getting that.
Where did you record “Selfish” and what were the vibes like in studio working with John Epsy?
Krissy: We recorded this song in his home studio, a spare room in his apartment he had while in East Lansing. We’d hang out, catch up, and get to work. There’s some kind of joke about a producer being a friend and therapist somewhere. John helped me recreate that mood, a magnetic letdown, in ‘Selfish”.
Your previous release, “All the Way”, is a balmy, hush-hush, hypnotic groove. Can you touch a little on that track? How has your music evolved since your first release a few years ago?
Krissy: “All The Way” is a simple sweet love song. My friend Alexander Lynch and I wanted to write something, so he produced it, we played around with a melody, and then I went home. I wrote the lyrics and sent back what I made, and he sent back a mix. Some of the words were about a really sweet affair, and some of it related to a Tinder person I had wanted more from.
My music has become more intentional. A few years ago I’d start with an idea and say, “where will this go?” and just let the song kind of write or decide itself. Now I let that happen but I also shape it into what I want more. If I work on a song, I don’t like stopping until I have something feeling complete. Now, I want my art to capture the drunk-in-love, overwhelmed, dazed feelings you’re afraid to say. I’m very inspired by how insane love is.
Given all the current social distancing guidelines, how are you staying in touch with fans and listeners?
Krissy: I’ve been in my head a lot about this—any artist is still a person right now, worried about the people around them. I saw a post recently about how boring people’s Instagram Lives were and how they wanted people to step it up. It made it seem as though it was no longer about the music, but I think it should be. Should we be circus performers in our own homes? I haven’t even done any because I’ve been sad, anxious, and depressed. There are people dying, and people are writing that musicians are not doing enough for free on the internet. These artists are trying to give back while they have no income. It sucks to read that kind of feedback. I’m releasing songs I haven’t before because it’s all I can do right now. I might do Instagram Live sessions soon, but right now releasing things I’m proud of is what I’m capable of.
What do you do to keep your art flowing?
Krissy: It’s not a particular thing I do to keep inspired. My music is something that happens like a diary. When I feel something in a huge emotional way, I hear part of it in my head, and it gets stuck like a song before it exists. I take voice memos when I feel inspired, and then when I’m home I’ll play with it on my guitar, keyboard, or produce it out on my computer to see what it could become. If it felt like a huge moment and makes me feel alive and like dancing, it stays.
Your artist image—it’s moody, fierce, full of glitter, and polished! Can you divulge any of your styling secrets? Do you have any advice for others looking to establish their own individual artist aesthetic onstage and/or on social media?
Krissy: Thank you! To be fair, I am moody and full of glitter. My hairdresser knows all of my secrets. Doing things excessively brings me joy. I used to be afraid of doing the art I wanted to do, and then finding a friend or creative partner who had the same ideals and wanted to be there too, and their support pushed me further. Any art thing doesn’t have to be a solo thing, even if you grow up thinking it has to be. You don’t have to be alone. Be yourself to the fullest and let that be your aesthetic. If you have a feeling about something then go with it.
Which artists have been your go-to lately? Please highlight any local indie artists/bands we should know about.
Krissy: My favorites lately are Lana Del Ray, The Weeknd, Arctic Monkeys, Fiona Apple, FKA Twigs, and Father John Misty. Locally, I’d say Tunde Olaniran is one of the best. Bevlove, Young Ritual, Sarah Marie Barron, Dawning, Supercoolwicked, Primer, and V. Soul are all really talented. There are honestly too many to name.
Are you currently working on any new releases? If so, what secrets can you tell us?
Krissy: I am! I’m doing a surprise double release of my songs “Obsessed” and “Fntsygrl” today. Beyond that, I‘m excited to release more recent music.
I’m so stoked about the *SURPRISE* double release of “Obsessed” and “Fntsygrl”! Have you matched these two high-energy dance tracks for a reason? (I mean, they kind of feel like a pair of sparkly, plush platforms.)
Krissy: I wrote these around the same time, and have wanted to release them for a while. There isn’t always an exact perfect time. I’m not someone who’s doing a lot of Instagram Lives or helping people through the pandemic in any sort of way, but maybe I can give people some of my favorite music I’ve made thus far. These two make me feel happier, and make they’ll do that for other people too.
Can you tell us how each of these steamy singles came to you? I’d love to hear any and everything regarding the conception, recording, and production of “Obsessed” and “Fntsygrl”.
Krissy: “Obsessed” was my favorite song I’d written for a long time! I had the hook stuck in my head for a few days and kept thinking, this feels like a weird idea for me but it’s stuck in my head and it doesn’t exist yet—I have to make this tonight. So…I did, and took it to John, and he helped me clean it up. It’s been some time and I perform the bridge differently, so I asked my friend and musician/engineer Austin from Eureka Records in Wyandotte to help me record a new vocal take for the last bridge on it. I needed it to sound like I was losing my mind, and I feel confident it sounds like that.
“Fntsygrl” was probably the best song I’ve ever made. I produced this and I feel like it’s the best I had written and was capable of (at that point!). I wanted this song to feel like the absolute honeymooning joy I had at that time—it’s about the same person from “Selfish” and “Obsessed”. They’re all different sides of the same thing.
Originally, the “Fntsygrl” chorus was, ‘I’ll be your soft sweet baby or your Venus in furs, whatever you need, the love you deserve.’ John worried people wouldn’t get the reference to the Velvet Underground, and I realized it wouldn’t be bad to have a love song without alternate meanings.
Have you always resonated with dance and performance? What moves you to pen and record your glam, high-voltage brand of music that inspires movement?
Krissy: Not always! I am absolutely not a dancer but I have fun pretending—I hope everyone does. For my entire life, I have always wanted to be a singer.
My first releases are very different to what I write now. I was very inspired by female producers such as Grimes and Banks—and I was writing a lot of sad music. I remember going through a breakup and thinking about how I used to be a generally happy person, what had happened to that? Why did I only write sad songs? I also had performed with a keyboard, video projecting behind me, and a looping setup. Having this setup was cool but sometimes took me away from being present—I was managing three kinds of gear running different systems unsynced, instead of being in that moment.
That Halloween, I did a full set as Kesha. Doing a set that involved dancing, running around, and stage antics was so much more fun for me and put me more in the moment than I had previously let myself be in. I think it’s really important to feel alive when you’re onstage and not just regurgitating a practiced feeling over and over again.
After that, I decided I was going to only do things that made me feel alive, authentic, and more uplifted. If I’m going to be alive, I want my music to feel like that too. I want it to be as eccentric, romantic, past-the-limit bullshit as I am. For every show, I change things up a little, do a new demo or two, and sometimes wear a handmade thing. When I was younger, I was really into the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ singer Karen O’s delivery and her unique stage costumes.
Listen to Krissy Booth:
Apple Music + iTunes: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/krissy-booth/1182270617
Listen to what Krissy Booth Listens to (our exclusive Spotify playlist):
MMM: Krissy Booth
Photo by Emily Nagle