NAME: Crystal Kay
ORIGIN: Yokohama, Japan
OCCUPATION: Performer and musician
Charlene Kaye: Animal Love
Charlene Kaye is not your typical singer songwriter. Her hit song “Animal Love” crosses more genres than a Girl Talk album. With a burgeoning career and growing fandom, Kaye takes her orchestral chamber pop sound on tour this Spring with Alexz Johnson. Here we explore the influences behind her dynamic sound from the folk sound of a banjo to the artistic merit of 80’s pop performance
Your album Animal Love was released last year and Animal Love Remixes has just been released can you take us through the process of how you crafted your sound for the album?
Animal Love was about discovering what I wanted my sound to be and learning my capabilities. When I started writing music it was very folk based, everything was organic, lots of strings, trumps and banjo. As I moved to New York and started seeing late night shows, I became really drawn to front people who were totally fearless and I became more interested in the spectacle and the glam aspect of making music. Before I was hesitant to decorate it visually in any way because I thought that wasn't quite as honest and now with this new stuff, I see how it goes hand in hand. I'm really fascinated with David Bowie and Freddie Mercury and I'm totally obsessed with the spectacle and fashion and gaudiness of the 80's.
There's a great quote by Sufjan Stevens where he said, "I don't believe in too much, I'm a maximalist". I'm gonna hop on that train especially with this new stuff I'm writing. With Animal Love I think I was flirting with it a little bit but I've become really interested in the idea of hysteria in music. Sort of bringing someone to the edge of ecstasy or that elevated state of mind. I think that's one of things that motivate me when I write.
You're about to embark on a big American tour you must be really excited to take that energy and be the maximalist that you want to be on stage.
Absolutely yeah, that's the beauty of performing. You get to be up close and personal in a contained environment where you can share your story and what you've created.
Is touring one of the reasons you became a musician? Making the music is obviously very important to you but does touring hold the same weight?
The three components I consider to be the trifecta are recording, preforming and writing. Neither could really exist without the other, if you tour on something you wrote you want to preserve it and record it, and have it immortalised in that way. I'm in love with the whole process and I can't see myself doing anything else.
You collaborated with Darren Criss on 'Dress and Tie'. How did this collaboration come to be?
We met in freshman year of college (University of Michigan) and it was actually at my very first open mic, we were both playing. He went up and started singing one of his songs. He does this acoustic version of a song from Mulan called 'I'll make a man out of you'. Fortunately Mulan happens to be one of my favourite Disney movies so I was really excited. We kept going to the same concerts and that kinda forged our friendship and taste in music which led to him singing on a couple of songs on my album.
Can you tell me what your upcoming projects are and your plans for the rest of the year after this tour?
I'll be experimenting with weirder sounds and sound structures and the goal is to keep it pop cause I love pop music first and foremost.
Interview by Susan Margaret