Interviews > KIRSTEN DEHAAN
KIRSTEN DEHAAN
Interview by Jett Black

Photos Courtesy of: kirstendehaan.com

Woodstock, New York welcomes Alternative music singer/songwriter, guitarist and independent owner of SirLady Records, Kirsten DeHaan, a new music recording artist relocating recently from Brooklyn, New York. Complimented by a full band line-up for music appearing on her latest release, Thorns on a Crown (EP), Dehaan shares rambling experiences of burning passions contemporary to the young and wreckless at heart. Recently, WomensRadio Music Review provides a full audio interview and detailed online exhibition of Dehaan as a leading "Up and Comer" for 2010, selecting every track on the five-track EP for special focus on the WomensRadio Network. Presently (at the time of this interview), DeHaan is on a heavy touring circuit of Northeast live music venues, pushing through severe weather conditions, and meandering south by southwest ultimately toward the SXSW music festival held this year March 17-21 in Austin, Texas. MusicArtery.com catches up with DeHaan in-between live performances to gain insights about new songs appearing on the album, and also about the indie music production and promotion process during these challenging economic times. Let's begin with a focus upon the new album.

RE: Thorns on a Crown (EP)

"1984" - soulfully introspective, and yet I can't escape the potential for some alignment with the classic macrocosmic piece of literature bearing that same title. Why choose to reflect now upon that year? What significance does the year 1984 hold within the context of this track?

KD: The title track, "1984", absolutely refers to George Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984. I was re-reading the book during the time I was writing this piece and found so many similarities of where we are today within the context of the book. Technology permits us to become more willing to give up some of our privacies than ever before. And we are teetering on the notion of accepting to give up our privacy for convenience since we’re so bombarded with work and entertainment. The more distracted we are with entertainment, work, etc. means that we become more robotic and burned out. Who then wants to go home after a 12-hour day at work, make a really healthy dinner, clean the house take care of the family, then re- read the ‘Bill of Rights’… It’s not going to happen. So the idea and precision of the Chinese model is fascinating to me, because they have that concept pinned. Not totally ironic that [China] is our greatest financial holder.

"Double or Nothing" - delicious pacing, reflective of intensely sexual flirtations; ever and always the interactive gamble. A diversion, perhaps, from other tracks on this album which appear more introspective and dramatic. Easily an eager crowd pleaser. How about the vibe on stage?

KD: Well, firstly, thank you for that interpretation and review. Very flattering. It certainly is a fun song to perform – it has to me at least the Dire Straits vibe; a band that I admire greatly. I like the idea of combining genres – so this def. has a country vibe, but with a spanish context. Again written in a minor key – but its tempo is moderate/fast, so it can make ya want to shuffle your feet. The lyrics are also very visual; so a unique song that gives you a story, but at the same time something to sing/dance along to. If you think about other dance/pop songs, the lyrics are usually simple in context so you can sing and dance along easily without much thought. "Double or Nothing" adds another element, and you have to think a bit; kind of the monkey rubbing the belly and head at the same time analogy.

"Ms. Daisy" - organic, toe-tapping rhythm mixed with mesmerizing guitar-action. What is the story behind the lyrics?

KD: "Ms. Daisy" is a very personal song. Taking the context from the album’s name, Thorns on a Crown, it describes the relationship between a girl and her god and/or spirituality, the ups and downs of that relationship and of life’s discipline.

"I'm Coming Home" - nostalgic longing; a departure from urban-decay. Interaction between harmonica, guitar, and wistfully reflective vocal crooning. Many audio-libraries may already covet this one as a new folk-rock favorite. Where might fans find more similarly composed tracks like this one within your collected works?

KD: This is unique in my existing catalogue, but I’ve written another song with similar elements that will be released on my fourth coming album – I’m still debating whether it will be a new album or a Thorns II release. More to come.

Life & Industry:

Kirstendehaan.com cites previous philanthropic activities focused upon U.S. soldiers in the Middle East, and, more locally, artistic support within the NY indie music scene. Given recent news of Haitians and visitors to Haiti suffering amid the aftermath of natural devastation, what responsive actions have crossed your mind? How might you choose to support the relief effort?

KD: My efforts have focused on two organizations who are already on the ground; i.e. Doctors without Borders, and Partners in Health. For instance, PIH have been working on the ground in Haiti for over 20 years. The model is working with the poor to combat disease and poverty. So in other words not just temporarily lending a hand, but working long term in that area to break cycles and to give great relief. Teaching one to fish, so to speak.

Which Texas college did you choose to attend, and what do you remember most fondly about campus-life?

KD: I graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2000. Besides partying a lot, that was an in-between time for me – because I wasn’t on my instrument a lot, and instead was thrust into this box. I received a B.A. in Mass Communications from SMU, and the subject that impacted me the most during my studies was my senior year thesis on the conglomeration of media. It’s really fascinating to study media/ radio stations in this country, and the strict guidelines that once existed for music to hit the airwaves. That ended with the FCC Telecommunications Act of 1996 [adopted in 1997], and thereafter a whole new arrival of artists and entertainment came on board. A big departure from the classic rock 'n' roll engine we all grew up listening to. If you think about it, a couple years prior was Nirvana; Pearl Jam; Dave Matthews; Stone Temple Pilots; Hip Hop; Snoop; Dr. Dre; etc. Then, in 1997/98 Spice Girls, boy bands, and Britney [Spears]. It continues today, as you know, but we at least have a wonderful indie market due to the Internet. But, with that comes the idea that being "okay" is good enough. It used to be that only the best dared to enter the game; Now, anybody feels that they can, and it floods the market and taste buds.

How difficult have your own music marketing efforts become, and where would you focus credit for either success or setback?

KD: When I first started SirLady Records (my label back in 2004) it was a completely solo effort. I had to wear the hat as President, mail girl, sales girl, artist, radio girl etc.. knocking on doors with CD in hand. My assumption was that if the product was good, people would gravitate towards it. I now realize it takes a good, but small team to believe in what you do, and come up with strategies that work for you as the artist to have audiences find you. You have to do what makes sense for you as the artist, and not just follow a music promo book or another band – although you need to read and know as much as possible about the business end. Most importantly be realistic. It takes years to hone a craft. Being an artist is about being an artist. I’m not here for the ‘American Idol’ life or contract. I know exactly what I want, a dedicated fan base that can help spread my music because it helped them out in some small way, and maybe makes them a better person from it. I like my life – and I don’t want a lot of extras – esp. bullshit and cuckoo birds flying around. Bringing back the idea of hard work and standing up straight while having a little bit of bohemian fun/laughs/soul and food/wine does it for me…

When might the band be back in the studio to work on another full-length release? Or, has progress to that effect already begun?

KD: Funny you ask; I’ve been thinking about doing a Thorns II – there are many songs that I didn’t include on this EP with that intention, so most likely we’ll be in the studio again this spring. My intention is to start releasing an album every 6 to 8 months depending on how the process and life goes.

Live Vibe:

Apparently well into a lengthy tour schedule, I wonder now how audience response to the new EP has been building along the winding route of music venues, and which songs from previous releases find remain crowd pleasers?

KD: Crowd pleasers are always "Russian Roulette" and "Decisions" from Under The Richter Scale. "Russian" – is more of an anthem type song, and "Decisions" takes you on this steamy minor ride – very dance worthy, and one of my most favorite songs to perform. I would say without question, though, "1984" and "I’m Coming Home" both do it for the audience. With "I’m Coming Home", I get to perform solo – which is a complete diversion from the band – just guitar, my harmonica and vox. It's what it sounds like when I’m writing, or playing in my living room. So, it’s the ultimate KD experience.

What would you like to do next to bring your music live to more people?

KD: My label is working on an exciting new music series based in our hometown Woodstock, New York launching this Summer. So, we’ll keep you posted on all the goodies of that – I’m very, very excited about this series and its potential.

For an up-to-the-minute Sir Lady Experience, follow Kirsten DeHaan on Reverb Nation; Facebook; Twitter; Myspace; Live365; and Last.fm. First, go to: kirstendehaan.com, and then click through to your destination.

"1984" - LIVE MUSIC VIDEO