Krystle Warren

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Krystle Warren


Warren started out playing Kansas City when she was about 16-years-old, playing in a band by the name of Plan B. When she was 22, Warren packed her bags and headed to New York City where she soon began busking on the streets and suburbs of the city. “Busking taught me how kind people can be,” Warren says. “When you’re busking you’re able to connect with a lot of people – you can form a sentimental link.”


Warren soon met other performing artists in New York, as well as playing regularly in a restaurant on the lower-east side of Manhattan. Within a relatively short time, Warren was invited to record her evolving body of songs with her band, the Faculty. “I met Russell Elevado at a party, and he asked us if he could record my band,” Warren says. The recording session – at New York’s famed Electric Lady studios – became Warren’s debut album, Circles.


In 2008 Warren was signed by a Paris-based label, which and flown across the Atlantic to undertake promotional activity. While the journey led to Warren basing herself in Paris, the relationship with the label broke down early when Warren decided that she was in danger of losing her artistic independence. “I did feel that my control over my music was evaporating, so I left the label,” Warren says. “I ended up producing the record on my own, which allowed me to do what I wanted to do.”


Warren’s music is steeped in the folk tradition, with her songs rich in narrative and imagery. Like many folk singers, Warren draws upon personal experience for many of her songs. “With the new album, I was doing a lot knitting together of old memories,” Warren says. “But other times I just let my imagination fly – so I suppose it’s a bit of both of personal experience and just my imagination.”


It was another legendary folk musician, English artist Nick Drake that caused Warren to make her first journey to Australia last year as part of the Way to Blue tribute to Drake. Warren was already familiar with Drake’s musical canon when she happened to meet original Drake producer Joe Boyd at a show in London. “I was opening at the Union Chapel in London, and Joe Boyd was in the audience,” Warren explains. “Later on I was talking to him, and he said he was Joe Boyd, and he was looking for another vocalist to add to the show, and he asked if I’d be involved. It was very surreal to be invited to be part of a Nick Drake tribute show by Joe Boyd!” Warren laughs. “It was great being part of the show, and when we were in Australia we were treated incredibly well – I’m hoping that I can touch on that feeling when I come back.”


Warren confesses to being a “control freak” in deciding what’s right for her music; while her popularity has been steadily increasing in recent years, particularly after appearing on Jools Holland’s UK music show in 2009, Warren is very keen to maintain her own artistic direction. “I’m much too much of a control freak to let someone else tell me what to do,” she says. “I’ve never wanted to be on Top of the Pops, or to be a pop star. Music is what keeps me sane. I want to keep making my music, and I want to keep on enjoying doing that. And I also want to be able to go to Burger King when I want to!” Warren laughs.


Since emerging into the public spotlight, Warren has found herself compared regularly to Nina Simone, and occasionally to Tracey Chapman and even Joan Armatrading. Warren is flattered by some comparisons; other associations seem lazy and off the mark. “It’s not frustrating when I’m compared to an artist that I actually like,” Warren says. “But I’ve never listened to Tracey Chapman. What’s frustrating is because I look the way I do, and because I have a guitar then people use a narrow frame of reference within which to describe my music.”


Warren has described herself as an activist, taking a vocal public stand on various progressive causes, including promoting the political objectives of the queer community within which Warren exists. “There are so many things to focus on with my activism,” Warren laughs. “There’s the insane bunch of right-wing candidates who are fighting it out in the United States at the moment, and there’s the constant struggles in the queer culture that I’m part of.” Warren’s objective is to promote awareness; she stops short of labelling herself a protest singer. “I try to bring awareness of these causes that I’m promoting,” she says. “I’m not a torch singer at all, but I hope that I can raise people’s awareness of what’s going on.”