As a music fan and journalist, it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open; to be receptive of new artists and willing to give their material a chance.
So when an artist I had never heard of, “kristenforemanmusic” followed me on Instagram, I quickly took to iTunes.
After previewing all of the songs on her debut album, “Feather Tattoo,” I was so pleasantly surprised that I reached out immediately to ask for an interview.
What followed was a very insightful, honest, and open interview with a great, talented, up and coming artist. Check it out below.
Justin Loretangeli: Who were some of your biggest musical influences growing up?
Kristen Foreman: Dixie Chicks, Sara Evans, Michael Jackson, Avril Lavigne, Lee Ann Womack, Miranda Lambert, Alison Krauss
JL: Was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to make music for a living?
KF: I didn’t know that I wanted to make music for a living until I was about 19. Up to that point in my life, I had only sang in church. A friend that I would ride horses with invited me to go sit in on stage at a local bar that her and her husband owned. That was the first time I got to sing country music outside of my bedroom, and it was a huge deal for me. It sparked an even larger love for music that I didn’t know I had. It was also my Freshman year of college, and I had no idea what I wanted to do. After that experience, it was the most sure feeling I had ever had regarding a career.
JL: There are hints of a lot of different sounds on the “Feather Tattoo” album; from an alternative feel to bluegrass to straight forward traditional country. How important is/was it for you to be versatile on your debut album?
KF: It was very important to me while recording my first album and it still is. I have had a lot of people tell me that they don’t even like country music but they love my album. To me, that is one of the greatest compliments because good music is good music. It doesn’t matter to most people what it is classified as. I have always listened to a lot of different genres of music. One of my biggest influences isn’t even a country artist. It’s Michael Jackson. I was so obsessed with his music and his whole persona. I would dress like him and dance around my house to his music on repeat as a kid. With that being said, I will always keep a traditional country sound at the core, because that is where I truly feel at home as a songwriter and as an artist. But I am always going to try and blend other sounds into my songs because that is the only way that I will grow.
JL: As a whole, “Feather Tattoo” is a pretty dark record, dealing a lot with loss, heartbreak, and hurt. Was this intentional when you sat down to write the album, or was that simply a snapshot of what you were going through at the time?
KF: When I first began writing songs, I didn’t have any intention on anyone hearing them. For me, writing is therapeutic. When I am going through something confusing or emotional, I tend to pick up my guitar to deal with it. So it isn’t that I purposely try to write sad songs, I just never need to cling to my guitar when I am happy. But that is what country music is about. It talks about real life and the crappy parts that sometimes come with it. That is something I am being more conscious of while writing for my next album though, because there should definitely be a nice balance. I don’t want to make people cry for ten songs straight (laughs).
JL: The song “Feather Tattoo” is one of the standout tracks on the album, and is one of the brighter songs on the record. Why did you choose this to be the album title, and why do you think this song has connected with people more than any other song on the album?
KF: I chose this as the album title because it was the very first song I have ever written, so it means a lot to me. That was the moment I realized I had potential to be a songwriter as well as an artist. So essentially, that song started the writing process for my album even though I didn’t know it at the time. I’m not sure why this one has connected with people more. The words are quite simple compared to my other songs and that might be why. Sometimes, less is more. *cue the Charmin toilet paper commercial
JL: “Four and a Half Minutes” is my favorite song on the album, and sounds like it could have been featured on an early Lee Ann Womack record. Can you talk about the writing process of that song and the feel you were going for with the recording?
KF: Wow, thank you! She is my all-time favorite artist, so that gave me a big ole smile. Sometimes song ideas pop into my head out of thin air, and that was one of them. It’s a real story about how I had a little liquid courage and asked my crush at the time for a dance. We danced to a Billy Currington song called “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right.” When I sat down to write, I was reminiscing on that night and how I wished I could basically relive that dance. That is what made me look at how long the Billy Currington song was. It is exactly four and a half minutes long. You can look it up if you don’t believe me (laughs). For the recording, I knew that I wanted that one to sound the most traditional. Especially because of the lyrics. I wanted the instruments to sound romantic, just like a slow dance and the musicians captured it flawlessly.
JL: “Pretty Ugly” is a great tongue-in-cheek song, and another standout on the record. The song also has a pretty interesting message. Can you talk about your intended message behind the song?
KF: Some people are shiny and pretty on the outside, but when you really get to know them, they are dull and ugly on the inside. That is the message behind “Pretty Ugly.” I had a roommate in college and we became very close. I always thought she was so beautiful and she intimated me in a way. There was a situation where I ended up standing up for myself instead of letting her tear me down, and we ended up having a falling out because of it. It just proved to me that outer beauty has no merit on inner beauty and I shouldn’t have been intimidated by her in the first place. I would rather surround myself with a true friend any day over a flashy, “pretty” friend.
JL: On the road, you have an all-female band, which is quite rare in the industry. How rewarding is it for you to showcase the talents of all of the women in the band- including yourself- in one setting?
KF: Extremely rewarding. Now is a time more than ever for women to be uplifting other women in this massively male-dominated industry. I know I am only one person, but the goal is that our band inspires others to open their eyes and take more action on this current issue. Plus it’s just badass and gives us a competitive edge in the business because it is rare.
JL: How has your marketing degree from LSU helped you in promoting and marketing your music?
KF: It has helped me tremendously. It gave me a business mindset. A lot of times, creative people have a difficulty seeing their art as a product. My degree taught me that more things evolve around brands and money than you realize. Music is one of the most difficult businesses to be in because it is so saturated. As a society, we are constantly consuming advertising…on our phones, tv’s, radios, stores, billboards, etc. As a business owner, you have to be able to be unique in order to stand out, or else you will get left behind. This knowledge has helped me realize that “Kristen Foreman” is my brand. I am definitely still learning as I go, but I have gained so much insight just by moving to Nashville and being present in the industry.
JL: Can you describe your music in a few words or a sentence for someone who may not have heard you before?
KF: Old soul, Authentic, Big voice in a little body.
JL: Do you have a favorite song you’ve recorded? If so, which song and why is it special to you?
KF: Each song means different things to me, so it is very hard to pick just one that I have recorded. If I had to choose, it would have to be “Four and a Half Minutes” because it resonates the most with people when I sing it live. That’s what writing songs is all about. If you have something that other people can connect to, that is when it is the most meaningful. It is no longer about yourself and your craft is validated when that happens.
JL: What are your thoughts on the current state of country music?
KF: Oh Lord…maybe I should say what are not my thoughts because that would be a shorter response (laughs). To put it simply, I can appreciate how much the genre has grown and appealed to a wider audience, but I think it has strayed too far from its roots. In my opinion, it has been taken advantage of by pop artists labeling themselves as country artists. It is easier to break into the country scene in Nashville compared to the pop scene in L.A. I think it’s giving a lot of artists the mindset that they have to comply and bend with the industry in order to put food on the table. This is how the crossover artists are getting away with it. And I could be totally wrong but that’s just my perspective on what is happening. I do believe though, that people are starting to get bored with the trend and it’s slowly turning back around. I have noticed today’s up and comers with substance in their lyrics more than ever in the past few years and it’s so refreshing.
JL: What is next for you and your career?
KF: More hustle. I have come a long way from where I began, but I still have a long way to go in becoming a successful and established artist. I am releasing a new single in the next couple months. I have stopped booking acoustic gigs and I am now working on only booking full band shows. I am also keeping my eyes and ears open for people interested in joining the “Kristen Foreman Team”. I wear many hats and have done everything independent up until now, so I would love to expand and have my own management, marketing, booking, etc.
JL: Additional comments:
KF: Thank you so much for reaching out to me and taking the time to put this interview together! Any support helps me out more than you know!
*All images courtesy of Kristen Foreman Facebook page*