Must-Hear Indie Artist of the Month: Kristiane

·5 min read

The Project

Kristiane’s new EP, State Lines, is out now via Fader Label.

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The Origin

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kristiane says that her earliest inspiration was watching her grandmother perform as a cabaret singer when she was young. “I loved how she didn’t care what anyone thought,” she tells Billboard, “she was amazing and just doing it because it gave her pure, internal joy.” When she first started writing her own music, Kristiane adopted her grandmother’s carefree ethos: “I liked that music didn’t have to be for anyone else. It could just be for yourself.”

As she got older and more comfortable with her songwriting, Kristiane began to see music as more of a life path than a personal hobby. “Since age fifteen, I’ve made all my big life decisions around music,” she says. That eventually included giving up a scholarship offer to a far-flung university to stay local, and over the next four years, she grinded at a recording studio while taking college classes in creative writing, which Kristiane says was a turning point in her music making. “I think a lot of musicians don’t focus enough on how expanding your vocabulary can really elevate your songs and create a clear narrative,” she explains.

After releasing her debut single, “Wish I Could Be Your Girl,” in 2021, Kristiane attracted interest from a number of labels and ultimately inked a deal with Fader later that year. Her debut album I Miss Myself Sometimes acted as an introduction to her narrative-driven songwriting and proved that in a crowd of many talents in indie pop-rock today, Kristiane’s style is singular. She writes herself as a hopeful but self-destructive protagonist whose sensitivity is both her greatest strength and her Achilles’ heel. With Kristiane’s latest EP State Lines, her earnest writing is still present, but with clearer conviction, as she grapples with self-esteem, long-term love and her unshakeable desire to leave home.

 

The Sound

“I wanted this EP to feel under-polished and gritty,” says Kristiane, “like something you’d make with your best friend in the basement.” Its DIY aesthetics give State Lines an intimacy that couples well with its lyrics. Produced by Cooper Holzman, the sound has an affinity for ’90s grunge and Liz Phair, a nostalgic call back to Kristiane’s childhood… well, kind of. “I think I’m just bitter that I’m not a true ’90s kid,” she laughs. Born in 1998, she says she has “an infatuation” with the era just before her birth: “I love that it’s the opposite of my actual childhood, the 2000s, when aesthetics were very perfected in comparison.”

The Breakthrough

For Kristiane, writing “April Showers,” the first song penned for State Lines, was a personal reckoning. “In the past, I have written really self deprecating songs, and I talk about blaming myself for all my pain,” she explains, but as she finished “April Showers,” Kristiane realized that “I don’t always do everything wrong. It’s not all my fault. It can go both ways.”

This newfound clarity set the tone for the rest of the record, especially its title track. “You’d follow me across state lines if it took that,” she taunts, but while she appears self-assured in its chorus, “State Lines” shows her persistent sense of personal accountability in its verses, admitting, “it’s my fault I’m here another fall waiting on you.” Each track sounds like Kristiane working through her conflicts in real time, weighing what she should hold herself responsible for and what might be just unfortunate circumstances.

The Future

Though she is already at work on her next project and is hoping to tour in the fall, for now, Kristiane is trying to focus on the thrill of releasing State Lines. “What’s strange about a career in music is whenever you hit a milestone, you’re always looking towards the next one,” she says. This mind set, Kristiane says, can make every major achievement feel less momentous, like sitting in a metaphorical “waiting room” for whatever bigger milestone is next. “I’m trying to enjoy the waiting rooms,” she says.

Kristiane on… The Piece of Advice Every New Indie Artist Needs to Hear

“Don’t get trapped in the comparison game. Everyone is going on their own journey and has their own pace. One person’s success is not your failure. Another piece of advice is that you should write every day if you can. It doesn’t have to be a fully formed thought or polished idea, but you should connect with yourself daily.”

Kristiane on… The Most Surprising Thing She’s Learned about the Music Industry So Far

“To put a positive spin on this, I would say that there are kind and good people in this industry, but you look for it to find it. You have to actively center your community and team around your own moral compass. Good people exist.”

Kristiane on… The Artist She Believes Deserves More Attention

“Ethel Cain. I know she’s already blowing up right now, but I believe she can be really big, like a f–king star. Lana Del Rey-level big.”

Kristiane on… The Takeaway She Hopes Listeners Have

“Two things: One, you’re not alone. Two, Growth is not linear. It’s not black and white. You can have fluctuating growth and still feel like you’re evolving as a person. There’s something beautiful in that struggle for progress.”

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