Distrkt C Pride
An indoor/outdoor music festival and concert
Saturday, June 10
Official men’s party of Capital Pride
DJs Jared Conner and Joe Gauthreaux
Sunday, June 11
Outside: disco and classics with Billy Carroll
Concert starts at 8:30 p.m.
Inside: T dance at 6 p.m. with Roland Belmares
3701 Benning Rd., N.E.
Many artists who are lucky to chart hits on the Billboard charts at all often see the law of diminishing returns kick in gradually over time, even with consistently good material.
Somehow, though, Kristine W. has managed to maintain a staggeringly impressive record on the U.S. Dance charts. She’s had 14 no. 1 singles over a nearly 20-year period. Of the 19 singles she’s charted there, the lowest she ever peaked at was no. 4. She had another smash last summer with “Out There,” which made it to No. 3.
She’s in D.C. this weekend to headline at the Distrkt C Pride Indoor/Outdoor Festival & Concert. She spoke by phone with the Blade, her first interview with us since 2012, last week, from her home in Las Vegas. Her comments have been slightly edited for length.
WASHINGTON BLADE: How’ve you been?
KRISTINE W.: It’s been a challenging year. It just seems like a lot of people around me are going through some transition. It’s a time of change. It could be life, jobs or relationships. Last year I wrote the song “Out There” which is really strange because now I’m going through a divorce. It’s really strange how I keep writing this music and it ends up being real life. “Land of the Living” was one of those albums. It was like I wrote it then I had to live it.
BLADE: Are the songs more universal than you originally realized or do you have a sixth sense?
KRISTINE W.: I think they’re more universal than I really thought, although my grandfather had this gift of kind of seeing into the future and so did his mother, my grandmother, Elizabeth who I’m named after. I don’t know if I didn’t get some of that too. Sometimes I get certain signs in dreams or I’ll get this really weird epiphany. I fight it all the time but sometimes it just kind of overtakes me.
BLADE: What was your favorite remix of “Out There,” your latest hit?
KRISTINE W: I think the Moto Blanco mix. But I also like the original mix that’s going to be on the album because it takes you on a journey. That album mix as far as watching a crowd having a good time but … at a Pride event, the Moto Blanco mix is so uplifting, you can just see everybody get lifted up from it. It’s a very happy production.
BLADE: Do you collaborate on the remixes at all?
KRISTINE W.: Oh yeah. So many of them have known me enough years that we kind of know each other’s audiences, we play a lot of big events, we know what kind of works, we have personal relationships and it’s very cool. … I try to use the remixes to cover as big of a territory as possible. The Loop Soop version is like a tropical, Miami kind of vibe so that’s kind of like sipping cocktails and chilling at your house. If you pick ‘em right, they can afford you a chance of reaching a wider audience than if you just put out a couple versions.
BLADE: Tell us about your upcoming single “Stars.”
KRISTINE W.: “Stars” is really special. It’s a song I wrote a couple yars ago and kind of sat on but in a strange way, it’s kind of mirroring my life right now and what I’m going through. But not just for me, it’s universal. … Everybody who listens to it it’s like there’s a piece of them in it. You can just see it in their reaction. … We’re working on some really cool remixes of it right now.
BLADE: When will it be out?
KRISTINE W.: We’re shooing for Independence Day but it’s a little crazy right now. We have to get it in the queue. It’s gonna come down to how soon I can get pushed through the line.
BLADE: You were talking about a new album last summer when “Out There” came out. What’s the status on that?
KRISTINE W.: The album is finished. We’re probably going to put out a couple singles, then drop the album or maybe put it on pre-order. We’re looking into that right now. But it’s gonna be amazing.
BLADE: What’s it like? When did you make it and how long did it take?
KRISTINE W.: We started about six months after “New & Number Ones” so like mid-2012 we were working on it. We’ve written a lot of songs. I’m thinking it’s actually going to be like two back-to-back albums and not wait as long to put another one out because we have like 15 or 16 tracks total. Then we’re recording naked versions, you know, stripped-down versions of the songs because people really enjoy those. I’ve worked with a lot of songwriters from all over the place. I just finished a song with Chris Cox and Lee Jagger called “Found a Home.” “Next to You” is being produced right now. I think it’s gonna be a little bit different the way we release this next batch of music.
BLADE: Are you of the opinion that the song has to work acoustically first or not necessarily?
KRISTINE W.: Well obviously like with the Chainsmokers, a lot of their songs are just a big, fat hook and then maybe a lyrical a hook. Maybe half a verse or something. They’re not making very complicated songs. They were just on “Saturday Night Live” and were with a band … and I noticed they’d added more structure. For me, it’s better to just write a song. Then if you want to do a stripped-down version, you can. I’m a songwriter, I’m a fan of songs, but I respect the fact that a lot of people have ADD.
BLADE: You were recently named the No. 8 dance artist of all time by Billboard. How did you feel?
KRISTINE W.: I thought somebody had made a mistake at first. It was so overwhelming. I just sat in my kitchen and cried. It was weird but very cool.
BLADE: Is it easier to chart a dance cut if it was a pop hit first or not necessarily?
KRISTINE W.: Everybody’s going to the dance chart now because the pop charts are so expensive to try to compete in. … To get airplay now is just so expensive. It’s like seven grand a week to get into rotation so the labels are all going to the dance club. So that geets really tough too because you have these independent artists like myself trying to compete with the Chainsmokers on the dance chart and every other pop person who’s crossed over, so it’s really crazy right now, really difficult. That’s why so many people you used to see having records, they’re not putting them out anymore because it’s so hard to get a No. 1 or even a top 5 hit now, it’s crazy.
BLADE: How have you managed to keep it going for so many years?
KRISTINE W.: I just try to keep writing good songs and try to work with the best people possible that I can afford (laughs). Just keeping my eye on the songs, focusing on the messages and hoping they connect with people. And also what I said before about the different styles. You might be able to get on a different Spotify list with a Frank Lords Miami tropical mix then you can doing a Hans Milan EDM mix. Now that everything is streaming, Spotify, Pandora, blah blah blah, that’s gonna be the future, so getting on those playlists is no small feat. So you might get on two playlists with two different mixes but the labels are freaking out because they don’t want to spend the money on a bunch of remixes either necessarily. If you’re not friends with these people, like a remix by Ralphi Rosario or whatever is like 10 grand, you know. It’s very expensive. So the labels are stepping back going, “Oh shit.” Ralphi doesn’t kow any of those guys. They’re just suits to him so he can demand whatever. On the flip side, there are a lot of great young remixers who are the future. I know a lot of them and have given a lot of them their shots, like the Perry Twins for example. They did “Be Alright” for me and then they blew up. I don’t want to call myself a major artist, but they needed a big artist to give them a shot. … I tell them if it’s crap, I won’t put it out but if it’s great, I’ll promote the crap out of you in press and everything and tell everyone to hire them. So then you can go back later and say, “Hey guys, you mind doing me something solid,” and they’re like, “Yeah sister.” It’s like a really crazy family.
BLADE: How are your two kids? What’s it like being a mom to two teens?
KRISTINE W.: They’re super cool. I’ve got two great kids. Everybody goes, “Oh, you just got lucky,” but I don’t think it’s luck. I think it’s just trying to be there, you’re annoying as heck. A very wise lady, my mother-in-law who passed away in 2013, she said you better be there because if you’re not, somebody else will be and you won’t be happy with the outcome. I never forgot that.
BLADE: Have your gay fans reached out to you at all since your divorce?
KRISTINE W.: I haven’t really talked about it much. It’s tough enough going through it, I don’t dwell on it. I have to get up there and make the world a happier place one song at a time so I haven’t talked about it too much.
BLADE: Of course a song is gonna sound great on the huge speakers in a big state-of-the-art dance club but people listen on their phones, with these crap ear buds and so on. How do you make something that’s gonna work across the board? Are you conscious of compression without losing fidelity when you record?
KRISTINE W.: It’s a huge issue and you really have to be conscious of that in mastering so the track doesn’t sound too digital. If everything sounds too teh-teh-teh (makes a thin-sounding percussion effect), you can only stand to listen to it for so long. You just want to turn it off, it’s too much for the ear. All the classic artists, that was all cut on 2-inch tape so it’s all analog which is very warm sounding to the human ear. You could listen all day and love it. But the way we’ve gone digital with everything so you have to really be conscious of that in mastering.
BLADE: What do you have planned for the Distrkt C event? You’re co-headlining with Crystal Waters and Kim English.
KRISTINE W.: Those girls are super cool. I don’t think I’ve ever met Kim English so that will be a thrill. Crystal and I are good buddies so I’m really excited to be spending time with her and getting to meet Kim English because I’ve heard her name for many years now. It’s gonna be great energy, the three of us. It will be fun and celebratory and just making it another great summer. We’re all here and kicking and in the land of the living. We’ll just get out there and make a joyful noise.