Six months in, and Los Angeles songwriter Kris Angelis has already had an eventful 2020. With a brand new EP debuting at #1 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart and #79 on the Billboard Top Current Albums chart, she has continued to blaze a path of her own. After a 2019 that included a U.S. tour to all 50 states and being selected for the Grammy NEXT program, Angelis has only continued to flourish with success.
With lyrics laced with honest simplicity and a voice so sweetly captivating, it’s hard to stop listening to Angelis once you’ve started– you feel like you’re right there with her. In the EP’s lead single, “Ghost,” you just want to scream out the hook with her: “I’m alive and breathing/My heart’s still beating/I don’t wanna be dreaming/Cuz I’m alive and breathing.”
Throughout listening to Angelis’ new EP, That Siren, Hope, you feel like you’re reading a diary entry or a love letter to someone close to her heart. In the opening track, “I Hope I Never Fall in Love Again,” you are sent head-first into a heartbroken confessional– it is the introduction to the story That Siren, Hope tells. Through ups and downs everywhere between hopefulness and hopelessness, Angelis explores the full range and beauty of heartbreak and longing.
We had the chance to ask Angelis some questions about her inspirations, creative processes, future plans, and much more.
So who or what got you into playing and writing music?
I was into singing and writing little songs with my sister from a very young age, and was in church choir growing up. But what really got me started with learning guitar, writing, and performing songs, was when I met Brandi Carlile’s band. I was fortunate enough to become friends with them and learned so much from them about writing, authenticity, and performing.
Who are some of your idols and inspirations that you may try to emulate in your music?
Based on my previous answer, Brandi Carlile and her band (Tim and Phil Hanseroth) go without saying. I was also very inspired to become a musician by Hanson and continue to be inspired by their activism and the way they engage with their fans and communities. Also, Gregory Alan Isakov, Regina Spektor, Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michealson, Delta Rae, Ray Lamontagne, Phoebe Bridgers, The Lumineers, Elton John, Damien Rice, Jeff Hahn, and so many more.
What is your songwriting process like? Is it more regimented and structured, or more loose and sporadic?
It’s pretty loose and sporadic. I’ll write down little lyric ideas or record little snippets of melodies throughout the day, and then at some point I have to sit down and sculpt those things into a song which sometimes feels like a fight. Sometimes there’s a magical moment where it all kinda comes together at once (after weeks or months of exploring a feeling) and it’s easy – those are wonderful! Those usually come from a solid lyrical hook that I or my co-writer and I just build off of because it’s clear what the song is about. Sometimes the feeling or message of the song changes in the writing process too though.
Do you mostly write alone, or do you take part in co-writes?
I do both, and I like them both for different reasons. Co-writes with the right person usually go faster and feel fresh and that’s gratifying, but solo-writes are very personal which feels good too. I’ll admit that co-writes can sometimes make me anxious because I feel like I’m giving up control, but that’s probably a really good thing for me to do!
So it was your song, “Ghost (I’m Alive and Breathing)” that caught our ear. Can you talk about the influence and inspiration behind this track?
I wrote “Ghost” with Garrison Starr who I love writing with! We’ve written 4 great songs together, and this one flowed and felt exciting and refreshing. It definitely has some country influence. I was listening to a lot of folk/Americana music while I was on tour, and wanted to make a song in the vein of “Ring the Bells” by Johnnyswim and “A Long and Happy Life” by Delta Rae. I was dealing with a lot of loneliness, loss, and disappointment, but wanted to write a song for myself and anyone else going through something that would be uplifting and remind us that no matter how much it hurts, we’re still alive and that means we can move forward and be joyful again.
And this track is on your latest EP correct?
Yes! It’s on my That Siren, Hope record which came out on Jan 24th of this year. The album version is the upbeat version which is also what is getting some radio play right now, which I’m thrilled about. I also released a slow acoustic and more melancholy version on June 12th that I recorded myself in quarantine. That is usually my move when I play covers. I take an upbeat, happy sounding popular tune and make it all folky and sad. So this time I just did that with one of my own songs.
What are you working on currently?
I’ve been recording a couple of songs – one original that I wrote with Angie K and a cover of a song written by a friend of mine that he suggested I cover. It’s on Tanya Tucker’s latest album that won Best Country Album at the Grammys this year. It’s been really fun to make it my own with Billy Lefler producing. I also just put out a live album of my whole Jan 16th full-band album-release show at The Hotel Cafe. I decided to include the between song banter because that’s one of the things that makes live shows so fun and I think most of us are really missing that feeling of connection right now.
Have you found other creative ways to maintain momentum for your music perhaps other than livestreaming during these times?
Putting out the live album was one thing. I’ve also been doing a bunch of fun stuff through Patreon with behind the scenes videos that I edit together from my tours, in the studio, and the making of music videos. I put out a vinyl which is so pretty with its sea glass transparent color. As I mentioned, I’m doing an Americana radio campaign and “Ghost” has been featured on SiriusXM’s The Pulse “Train Tracks” show and will be on it again this weekend.
Do you feel the pandemic has helped or hurt your creative process? (or perhaps neither)
It’s given me more time to take care of myself which is good for the creative process. I wish I could say that I’ve been writing up a storm but unfortunately, that’s not the case. I have a lot of ideas and things marinating but nothing fully formed yet but I’ll get there.
What’s one of your proudest/accomplished moments as a musical artist in your career thus far?
Selling out the Hotel Cafe which was one of those venues that I dreamed of performing in when I first came to LA. Getting to #1 on the iTunes singer-songwriter chart and on a Billboard chart as the top independent release on that chart were very exciting as well. It felt good to have months of hard work payoff and to see that my music is touching so many people in a positive way.
What can fans expect from Kris Angelis in the latter half of the year?
I’ll probably be putting out the two songs I’ve been working on recording. I’m also considering putting out a covers EP and a holiday EP. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do much touring, but I will continue to live-stream and put out fun content on my Patreon.
What advice might you give to young female songwriters looking to carve a musical path similar to yours and wondering where to start?
Everything happens so differently for everyone, but I would say do what makes you feel inspired and enlivened! When you really believe in what you’re doing and are excited about it, that comes across and gets other people excited too. Be authentic and kind. And keep going. The path may be bumpier or curvier or longer than you hoped but someone said to me once “The ones who make it in this business are the ones who are left.” Make friends, go to lots of shows, get involved in the community and you’ll be doing it.