SOUL REVERB: A Monthly Sharing of Independent Artists and their Music.
Kriss Mincey: An Artist Spotlight
Emerging songstress Kriss Mincey is carving out her own lane on the R&B/Soul/Pop fusion scene. New to the music industry, Mincey has quickly set the tone for what she calls “the realest and most genuine” kind of sound with her debut project Scratch n’ Riff: The Vintage Brand Mixtape. I invite you to meet this unique talent, experience her lyrical precision and bask in her warm spirit…
KF:How did you get you start in music?
KM: It really didn’t start until college [during freshman year] where I really got involved on campus and especially with music all together. Jukejoint was the first open-mic I ever went to. It was the first Thursday of every month at the Unversity of Maryland’s Nyumburu Cultural Center. It was and still is the place where a lot of the black student body gathered on campus. I sang at JukeJoint, and now, three years later as a senior, I still get, “You’re that girl who sings at JukeJoint!!” [laughing] A lot of friends I’ve made in the industry, I met because of JukeJoint.And from there, I branched out and started doing open mic events in DC and elsewhere.
KF:So you didn’t get started in music from young?
KM: No, not at all; I thought I was gonna be a mad scientist!! [laughing] My grandmother always said I was going to be a doctor, and I took an interest in biology. By the time I got to high school, I was still pursuing biology, but got introduced to broadcasting, doing the morning announcements over the intercome and then finally on tv. That sort of served as my segue into music, or just the liberal arts in general. Now, I’m a Public Relations major [laughing]. As a kid, I never knew that music was something I would “do”, but then my mother would always expose me to the performing arts. She made it so that I would inherit her immense love for the arts. She took me to see my first play, “The Magic School Bus;” always had music playing in the house. My mom is a house music, disco kinda person, and she introduced me to other artists like Traci Chapman, Nina Simone and others.
KF:Where did the concept of Kriss Mincey and VintageBrand come from?
KM: My friend, Johnny Graham and I were in one of the practice rooms at UMD’s CSPAC, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center; and he was playing the piano and I started singing a song I wrote called “VintageBrand”. The song talks about real love… as if it were a commodity, like a fragrance or a clothing line… the realest most genuine, most sought after form of love. Vintage. The hottest thing on the market… but something that not everyone can appreciate: “sell out for retail.” The concept to VintageBrand is the genuine love for self and for my art, and what I hope I can bring to my audience. From that song, the mixtape, Scratch n’ Riff: The VintageBrand Mixtape came about. It would have been the EP, but I really wanted to put out the mixtape to prove something to myself, so that when the EP arrived I would be ready. Now the EP is gonna come out in Spring 2012; that’s when I graduate from undergrad.
KF:As a PR major now, what are your next steps after graduation?
KM: The Big Apple!! As cliché as it sounds, New York City iss really a hub for artists and, especially for songwriters. I’m a suburban girl — even in Baltimore, Hampton and Aberdeen, places where I grew up, it was very suburban and I’m ready to step out into something a little different. And I love DC now; there’s so much good art to be had here, and it’s good to know I have this place to come back to. But I’ll be here for a while so you won’t have to miss me just yet.
KF:Who are some of your musical influences?
KM: Well my parents split up when I was very young, and my father remarried. Mama-K is what I call her — her name’s Karen, but I’ve called her that all my life. So just like my mom exposed me to so much regarding the arts, there was just as much going on at the other side of my life. Mama-K’s really big on jazz and R&B, and that’s how I got introduced to artists like Incognito, Phyllis Hyman, and Mint Condition and so many other great jazz and R&B figures like that. So, at my very core, R&B especially will never go away; it’s in me. That’s how I was bred. Interestingly enough, I didn’t become acquainted with Hip Hop and Pop music until college. I consider myself an R&B/Pop artist now, just because I have that foundation of the jazz and R&B influence, but now I’m building up from that and learning what else I like… I don’t really listen to country music like that, but for instance, I like Dixie Chicks and Carrie Underwood — there is nothing like a country love song.
KF:I love your song “Thursday Night”, sung to the melody of Miguel’s “All I Want is You”! What made you want to write to that?
KM: As soon as I heard that, I couldn’t get the base line out of my head. It was like I blacked out, and 10, 20 minutes later I had a song! It’s the first song I wrote for the mixtape and it was the easiest song to write. And the reason why it came so easy is because it was relatable and real: everyone has had those crazy experiences where they have roommates or they’re in college or living at home, and they’re seeing somebody. The space is tight but you just gotta steal some time!!! It’s like, “I know I gotta be up a 6 am and I have finals, but I gotta have it, I gotta see you.
KF:Who have you been listening to lately?
KM: I’ve been listening to a lot of artists from overseas – music they’re calling “Anglo Soul”. I feel some type of way about that just because we all know that it’s the music of Motown… Black American music. But it’s like they took it, and it just fermente - like a time capsule. It’s constantly informed by America’s Black soul scene. As an artist, my iPod is shameful. Pandora has me so spoiled, so I’m listening to all kinds of artists I’ve never heard. There’s this one artist, Linka who’s nice. Also Oh Land, another great artist from overseas. And of course, Corrine Bailey Rae. I am just so in love with her. She has a new EP out, “The Love EP.” And again, because I’m still very new to Hip-Hop, a lot of my friends are older than me, and really came up in the 90’s. They tell me I missed it (I’m thinking, ‘helloo, 90’s baby here’). I mean I was in pre-school on the front porch singing “Biggie Give Me One More Chance.” But I didn’t really get into music until Usher and NSYNC were out, so I’ve had to go back and listen again to a lot of what was out at the time. As for current Hip-Hop, I really like J.Cole, and hate him at the same time. He’s crazy talented, but as a female fan it’s like I flinch at every other line. It’s like sugar-coated acid. He’s a smart business man; he makes music that favors the female R&B ear. His flow, his music are amazing but it’s like he keeps bashing the women he’s writing for. [Laughing] We’ll have to have words about that.
KF:What do you want folks to take away from your musical experience?
KM: Never be afraid to constantly progress and not be afraid of loving… just the idea of loving for what it is, to commit yourself completely to any entity . Just do it!! It’s scary, but it makes us better people. Like Gillateen of Hip Hop duo, the Terrorpens said (BTW they just released their EP “Aaahh My Back Hurts”), “I’m becoming the man I was meant to be.” And I think we all want that for ourselves, to become who we were always meant to be. And the only way you can do that, and love outside of yourself is to love from within first.
Click on the links below to find out more about Kriss Mincey and her music!