When did you first start realizing that you were becoming a gay icon?
New York definitely taught me. We were doing a show, and there were some women there, but as I looked into the crowd there was mostly this naked mass of thousands of shirtless men, and it was one of those light-bulb moments. “Okay, I’m starting to see what’s going on, and I’m loving it, I’m definitely loving it . . .”
What can your loving fans expect from your fresh and groovy participation in Atlanta’s Gay Pride 2012?
We’re doing the Number-One Tour and we’re going to perform some songs from the new album: New & Number Ones, and new arrangements of old classics through my collaboration with Bimbo Jones. It was always a goal of mine to work with him. We’ve tested these songs on audiences and tweaked them, and the result is a really cool album. The fans will definitely love it because it’s been such a labor of love.
Were you surprised when “Land of the Living,” “One More Try,” “Feel What You Want,” and “Lovin’ You” became four of your most well-known chart-topping hits? What is it about these four particular songs that drew in the wide magnitude of recognition that it did?
I’m not surprised that songs from Land of the Living became as successful as they did because that compilation definitely reflected an intense moment in my life as that was when my stepfather had passed away. He had always been my “Ra-Ra” cheerleader and it had felt like all my support disappeared. My parents didn’t originally want me to go into music; they had always expected me to be the next Connie Chung. But when it became evident to them that I wasn’t going to use my degree in TV production to become an anchor woman, my dad was like, “Well okay, I’ll help you however I can.” And he bought me my first basic equipment to get me started. He understood that sometimes you have no control over listening to your heart; it’s like a magnet pulling you in, like the universe calling you. So those songs held very powerful sentiments.
How did a young girl who started performing in Las Vegas shows end up transitioning into becoming an international pop music sensation?
As I said, my parents didn’t want me to go into a musical career. My mom was a singer and sang six nights a week. She didn’t have the luxury of putting as much passion into it because she made sure to do her best so that her kids wouldn’t have to go through the path of a hard life. The music industry is tough; she didn’t want me to go through what she did. She sang six nights a week to support us. During her daily routine of practice, she had tons of catalogs full of music, and I would sing along with her when I was growing up. So I would go from audition to audition and actually received lots of varying offers from jazz to country. I learned so much about music from spending time with my mom, but I had always known I wanted to do house music. I hired a couple of guys and our performances eventually got bigger and bigger. I was getting a nice paycheck, and everything was comfortable, but it was one certain moment when I was performing with these dancers and DJs that I realized I needed to get out there and put my music in the world. It was definitely terrifying to leave that safety net behind but I knew I would never be able to touch people with my music unless I got out there.
How has your process in writing music changed during the linear evolution of your music career?
I think when you first start writing music, you write a lot about your personal feelings. My initial songs were music to keep encouraging me to moving forward. I didn’t know anybody. I worked as a hostess trying to make enough for gas money to drive to LA on weekends and sleep on the floor in my pursuit of a musical career. But later on, I think you start absorbing the energy of those around you, and you go through that mature right of passage in realizing that you’re not the only person on the planet. Then, you begin to write through empathy; the messages you feel that people feed you in your seemingly-random encounters. That’s the beauty of music: that’s why I love it. It connects us in a way that few other things do.
Has there been a moment in your career that made you realize that there is no more room for doubts: I’ve finally done it—I’ve actually made an impact.
Actually yes, there was this time when my mom was visiting me even though she’s terrified of flying. For some reason, we had to stop by the Title Company, and there was this man in the parking lot. We didn’t even think anything of it. He looked like your typical conservative straight man: handsome, well-dressed and groomed. So, as we were pulling out of the parking lot, my mom turns to me and says, “You know that man is chasing after our car right?” So, we stopped and rolled the windows down, and he said, “I just want you to know, you’ve changed my life.” It turned out he was touched by a certain line from “One More Try:” Time’s been my teacher; I don’t want to leave you. He told us that he grew up in an environment where gays were made fun of at the dinner table, and condemned to hell which contributed to his fearful commitment in marrying a woman and having kids, but even with all of that, he still felt more alone than ever. So he divorced his family and it was that temporal space and distance which allowed him to discover who he really is. Now he and his family are closer than ever because of it.
When I was reading up on your schedule, you’re not only supporting the Atlanta LGBT community, you’re doing many other cities as well. How on Earth do you find the time for your animal activism?
I have a blog called Kristine Cares on my website, and it supports many causes that need attention. It’s not exclusively to animals. Just raising awareness to these issues make you question the necessity of this animal abuse like aerial-hunting wolves. It’s like places that say, “Hey, come adopt a horse,” but that’s not what’s actually happening in reality. They’re chasing these animals into pens and training them just for this purpose. I just think we sometimes get so caught up in the convenience of our own lives that we may forget we have a chance here to take care of each other, and our planet. I don’t want that day to come where we just wake up and realize that we’re suffocating in our own trash and it’s too late for us to do anything about it.
Do you have any future projects in the works such as a memoir of your travels and the people you’ve met?
Oh God, I have too many ideas running through my head. The only thing I don’t have enough is time. I am definitely thinking the sky’s the limit, but there’s only so much time in the world and I got a couple of kids, and I have a big family in Washington state and I just don’t want to miss those “moments,” you know? Career opportunities will always come and go, but you can’t ever redeem those “moments” that make up what life is really about. I might think about publishing a book containing all these letters from fans and take out their names. Perhaps it can help out those who might be struggling in similar situations. Who knows what kind of positive impacts can result from it? Fame has never been something I’ve chased; it’s the experience of actually seeing and feeling the impact of this crazy, scary journey that has made it all worth it.
Kristine W. will be performing Saturday, October 13th on the Coca-Cola stage at 6:00pm. For more information on her latest CD, New & Number Ones, visit KristineW.com