CRYSTAL KAY EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

June 13, 2014 2:08 PM

NAME: Crystal Kay
ORIGIN: Yokohama, Japan
OCCUPATION: Performer and musician

Emilia: When did you move here [New York City]?
Crystal: I moved here about a year ago but I go back and forth to Japan whenever I have shows and events.

Emilia: What are the differences between America and Japan’s music industries?
Crystal: In Japan, everything is very pop, like bubble gum pop. It’s cute, young, and accessible, people feel like they can be just like the idols. In the U.S. it’s much more direct and edgy and has a wider range of genres.

Emilia: What do you aim to express through your music? Will that change now that you’re in NY?
Crystal: I think it’s going to evolve a lot. When I make music I imagine people all over the world feeling good and jamming to it regardless of their background. As a half African-American and half Korean artist who grew up in Japan, I want to express that music is universal and it has no borders.
In Japan, I did J-pop and R&B which is more bubblegum pop but I don’t think that sound will crossover to the U.S so this is a chance for me to evolve and create a new Crystal Kay sound. I’ve coined my sound “Yokohama Ratchet Pop”:
Yokohama - my hometown, the cooler Japan, the “Brooklyn of Tokyo”. I want the world to know where I’m from and that Japan is not all about “Harajuku Girls” and that there are badass “Yokohama Girls”.
Ratchet - I use heavy hitting hip-hop influenced beats under my pop melodies and I think that gives it a bit more edge to my sound. I think it’s fun going ratchet sometimes just to let your self free, and live in the moment.
Pop - pop is universal.

Emilia: In terms of your New York debut, was there a difference between your expectations and the reality of it?
Crystal: As a kid, I thought the process was simple; Record companies find talent and they make them into a superstar. But in recent years everyone’s been doing it on their own and it’s all about directly connecting with the audience, the people. Social media is enabling that. So I’m like “what’s the formula or the key to become successful?” Coming here, I’m essentially starting over trying to get noticed. So it’s a lot different from what I expected when I was younger. It’s tough but where’s the fun if everything were easy!

Emilia: The two [Japanese and American] music cultures are quite different, so you’re really starting over.
Crystal: I love it. It’s scary, but I’m evolving and figuring out my new, Crystal Kay sound. It’s exciting – I want people to know where I’m from and that I have something fresh to offer.
 
Emilia: On a more personal level, why come to New York out of all the places in America?
Crystal: There’s so much artistic influence here. Everybody’s hustling, and it’s a city of dreams – I know it’s cliché́, but it’s true. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. I wanted to challenge myself and what better place to figure out who you are as an artist while getting so much stimulation?

Emilia: What’s your favorite thing about being a musician?
Crystal: My favorite thing about being a musician is how much I can influence people. It’s pretty crazy. I never know until people come up to me after my show and say things like, “When I was sick I would listen to your music and I got through it,” “My friend’s in the hospital and he always listens to your music,” or, “This is my boyfriend’s favorite song; we listened to it at our wedding.” I didn’t know how much my music has influenced other people’s lives, and it’s nice to be part of people’s lives in that way. Being a musician is something I love to do, so knowing that other people appreciate it makes it my favorite part. Especially when performing – that’s when I can feel their energy and see them enjoy my music. It’s really cool.

Emilia: When was your first performance?
Crystal: My first performance was when I was 15. I was freaking out, I was so nervous – but I still get nervous and stage fright. However, when I realized all those people bought tickets to see me, I told myself I had to take this seriously and the responsibility kicked in.

Emilia: Do you think your fans have an influence on you, just as you have an influence on them?
Crystal: Definitely! They give me power and the strength to keep going. When I’m feeling down I would go into my stash of fan letters I keep in my drawer, read them, and then remind myself that they are the reason I’m doing this. I mean, I’ve cried a couple of times from the letters, so they definitely influence me in a positive way. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.

Emilia: What are you listening to right now?
Crystal: I’m in love with Chvrches – their EP is really good. It’s nice electro-pop. I saw them live and I love them even more now! I also really like HAIM and Empire of the Sun.

Emilia: Does what you listen to influence what you’re creating?
Crystal: Yes, I do get influenced from time to time if I’m really digging specific sounds. I think that happens to a lot of artists. I think we like to incorporate the sound we like, ultimately influencing our music

Emilia: Who are your influences from Japan and America?
Crystal: I grew up listening to and idolizing Michael and Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, TLC and Mariah Carey. I also really admire Madonna and Beyoncé. From Japan, I really liked music from the 90’s. I love Utada Hikaru, Dreams Come True, and when Amuro was really dance. I love The Komuro Era.

Emilia: How do you feel the music video industry differs from Japan to the United States?
Crystal: It’s very different. The camera work, lighting, and themes are all very different. In Japan it’s very colorful, bright, and cute – there’s always cute, and I think that’s the main difference.

Emilia: You started your career when you were 13, what’s the story behind that?
Crystal: My first job was when I was four, and I sang commercial jingles. My mother’s good friend worked in TV production and advertising, so whenever they needed a kid’s voice they’d use me. I started doing a lot of commercial songs, and at one point people started calling, asking who was singing. Then we turned the 30-second jingle into a full song, and that became my debut single.
 
Emilia: Since moving to New York do you feel as though your lifestyle has changed?
Crystal: I definitely feel a lot freer. I don’t have a set schedule like I do in Japan; if I’m not in the studio, I’ll run in the park, work out, or go see Broadway shows and concerts. I have a lot more time to hone my craft as well as figure myself out as a brand new artist and as a person. I also don’t get noticed here as I would in Japan so that’s pretty cool.

Emilia: That’s good though. Isn’t it?
Crystal: Yeah, but sometimes it worries me because I love being busy. I’m left asking myself, “What am I supposed to do?” and it takes a while to get used to the city. It’s been a year and I finally feel like I know how to get around.

Emilia: For the instances that life did get crazy, what are your go-to methods for relieving stress?
Crystal: Having dinner with close friends ... venting over good food and wine, or going for a run in the park or even upstate hiking to get some fresh air. It’s really beautiful outside the city.

Emilia: How would you classify your style?
Crystal: I guess I’m pretty simple and minimalist. Sometimes I’ll be grungy and street; or chic and fitted; or colorful and summery. In the summer I like to show more skin and play with colors, but in the winter and fall I go really dark. But I would say simple and street with a boyish touch.
 
Emilia: Do you have a favorite designer or style icon?
Crystal: That’s hard to answer just because I like to mix and match a lot of stuff. I really like Gwen Stefani because she has her own inner glow that really stands out. She looks good in whatever she wears – I love people that own their style without trying too hard.

Emilia: How do your performance outfits differ from your just day-to-day outfits?
Crystal: When I perform, I love to have fun with crazy sequins and body suits – things that react to lighting and are just captivating. I like to show legs and shape so I’d wear knee high boots with a body suit, a two-piece, or a nice shoulder-pad piece. I’m more chill in real life though haha.

Emilia: Do you have a favorite fashion trend?
Crystal: I really like the sporty look; it makes you look fresh and active

Emilia: Do you have any life tips to give to our readers as well as your fans?
Crystal: Live with no regrets because you only have this moment once. The last thing you want to say is, “I should’ve done that.” That’s the worst kind of regret. Do your best in whatever it is you’re going for – it’s always better to have tried it than not.

 

WRITTEN BY: EMILIA LIU

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: CHAMA

related posts

BABËL New York Celebrates 1 Year Anniversary With Two Day Event of Excess and Splendor

BABEL NEW YORK acclaimed the NYC party scene in celebration of their First Year Anniversary. As temperatures begin to heat up in NYC, there is no better locale than the much desired rooftop.

May 14, 2014 11:44 PM  |  People
PHOTOGRAPH COPYRIGHT (C) DANIELE DUELLA AND IANGO HENZI

BEHIND THE SCENES #2: LUIGI MURENU

TWELV's Behind the Scenes takes a step back and visits the masterminds behind the camera.

May 13, 2014 9:32 PM  |  People
Photograph by CHAMA

IKEMEN #21: MICHELLE VON MANDEL

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

April 06, 2014 7:58 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #20: GEORGE INAKI

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"  

March 26, 2014 5:45 PM  |  People
Jacket, top, skirt CHRISTIAN DIOR. Shoes GIUSEPPE ZANNOTTI. Tights WOLFORD.

DEBORAH ANN WOLL: ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE

Deborah Ann Woll’s voice glows when she speaks, as warm and full as her golden red hair.

March 17, 2014 5:03 PM  |  People
Dress JILL STUART.  Black diamond ring MICHAEL M. Peacock ring CARRERA Y CARRERA.

NEVE CAMPBELL: LOSE YOURSELF TO DANCE

Carrying over two decades of the industry on her back, there aren’t many women with the grace and stoicism of Neve Campbell.

March 14, 2014 3:20 PM  |  People

GARETH PUGH: ORGANIZED CHAOS

Gareth Pugh is a study in contrasts; balancing the demands of what is created and what is worn; what is in a designer’s control and what is in the hands of the wearer; what must be planned and...

March 10, 2014 2:11 PM  |  People
Bodysuit NORMA KAMALI. Shirt DOLCE & GABBANA @ Albright Fashion Library. Jacket EMANUEL UNGARO. Tights WOLFORD. Shoes JEAN-MICHEL CAZABAT. Rings CARTIER. Rings JOJI KOJIMA.

LAKE BELL: THE GREAT LAKE

Lake Bell has made a name for herself as a charming, beautiful, and witty New Yorker capable of indie and blockbuster success (“It’s Complicated”, “No Strings Attached”, “Children’s Hospital...

March 05, 2014 2:48 PM  |  People
IG @karljohanbogefors

Cheers to the Weekend After Parties

February 09, 2014 2:15 PM  |  People
Siva from The Wanted

FRIDAY'S FW PARTY

With Fashion Week’s second day over, Friday night was primetime for some of the most prominent designer to celebrate their successes over a glass of champagne.

February 08, 2014 1:42 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #19: SAMAR SAJJAD

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

January 28, 2014 1:30 PM  |  People

Happy Birthday, Kate the Great!

Happy birthday to everyone’s favorite super model Kate Moss. The Brit enters her 40th year with grace, and she looks better than ever.

January 16, 2014 3:05 PM  |  People

Lady Gaga's ArtPop Ball

Lady Gaga is back, and this time, it’s not just to perform.

January 08, 2014 1:57 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #18: KEIICHIRO NAKAJIMA

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE" 

December 09, 2013 4:46 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #17: Ian Alexander

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

November 25, 2013 7:50 PM  |  People
Photo by Adam Katz Sinding

IKEMEN #16: KAROLYN PHO

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

November 05, 2013 11:41 AM  |  People

Futura Bold

Futura came up in the grimy, visceral environment of New York City’s early 1970’s street culture of tagging, bombing and writing graffiti – making their art not in the city, but on top of it.

October 10, 2013 6:11 PM  |  People
Dr Marten's "Lex" Shoe

FROM AUSTRALIA WITH LOVE: WHAT I'VE LEARNED SO FAR

Buyer’s Regret: It’s just like buyer’s remorse only in reverse. And it is a fashion crime that I have and will probably continue to commit time and time again.

October 09, 2013 3:08 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #15: EDOARDO IANNUZZI

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

October 02, 2013 1:58 PM  |  People
Gabriella Ferrante's collection

FROM AUSTRALIA WITH LOVE: Designer Profile of Gabriella Ferrante

I find that Australia’s fashion industry can sometime be accused of playing catch-up with other, bigger and more cosmopolitan locations (i.e. Paris, London etc…) This needn’t be the case.

September 06, 2013 3:22 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #14: Joao Veiga de Aguiar

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

August 30, 2013 4:39 PM  |  People
Author Matthew Feddersen

FROM AUSTRALIA WITH LOVE: PRETTY BOYS DON'T BUY THEIR OWN DRINKS

Its no secret if you know me – I like to drink.

August 23, 2013 6:07 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #13: NATALIE O'BRIEN

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

August 21, 2013 1:12 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #12: KRISTIN PRIM

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

July 31, 2013 2:49 PM  |  People
Photograph By Colin Singer, Styled by Bobby Webster, Makeup by Mynxii White

ARTIST, MODEL, AND LIVING PIECE OF ART: ZOMBIE BOY

From Zombie Boy to living icon, Rick Genest isn’t just Nicola Formichetti’s muse anymore. 

July 09, 2013 4:11 PM  |  People
Photo By: Lindsay Maas

IKEMEN #11: JAY PAAVONPERA

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

June 27, 2013 7:49 PM  |  People
Photo By: yeahlano.com

DON'T CALL DELANO BROWN A DESIGNER

TWELV met up with the always-unpredictable artist Delano Brown for lunch in Bryant Park.

June 25, 2013 2:02 PM  |  People
Photo By Charlie Perritt

IKEMEN #10: LOGAN NEITZEL

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

June 19, 2013 4:09 PM  |  People
Rocco Leo Gaglioti; Photo By: Gideon Lewis

Rocco Leo Gaglioti

Who are you?

Rocco Leo Gaglioti Creator/Host of Fashion News Live and Owner/CEO of RLG Productions, Corp.

June 17, 2013 12:13 PM  |  People

NICOLA FORMICHETTI TUMBLR MEETUP HIGHLIGHTS

“My job feels more like a hobby than a job, really; it’s always fun,” says Nicola Formichetti for TWELV’s second issue.

May 06, 2013 12:57 PM  |  People
Photo: Juergen Teller for System

Dismay, Danger and Discovery: Nicolas Ghesquière's Untold Story Revealed

After fifteen years at Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière quietly left his post as creative director last November.

May 01, 2013 2:57 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #9: LISA LARSSON

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

May 01, 2013 1:24 PM  |  People
PHOTO IMAGE BY JAY MARROQUIN

IKEMEN #8: HOGAN MCLAUGHLIN

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

April 24, 2013 4:44 PM  |  People

Donna Karan: Million Hearts for Haiti Project

Designer Donna Karan is sending some love down to Haiti.

April 23, 2013 10:03 AM  |  People

IKEMEN #7: Salvatore Morale

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

 

April 17, 2013 11:33 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #6: LUKE CAMPBELL

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang

"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"

April 10, 2013 4:22 PM  |  People

Pages

SITE BY: monocomplex©Marbles & Marbles International Inc. Drupal Development by: DivDiv, NYC
▲ back to top ▲