MC: Where do you get the inspiration for your song lyrics? Does it come from personal experiences or friends’ experiences, or are you just venting?
KL: All of the above, I’d say... A lot of times it will just comes out of the blue. Sometimes it’ll be things going on around me that I see my friends or family going through, and it’ll just come out. I don’t sit down necessarily and say that I want to write a song about this - it just happens.
MC: You were 18 when you landed your first album deal for Lifescapes - what was that like?
KL: It was very exciting of course, y’know, for me just getting started... It was a one-album deal that ran with Target for eight months. I didn’t really have fans yet, so the album helped me grow a fan base. That album sold by word of mouth for eight months, and sold just about 40,000 copies, so that was pretty cool. It was a confidence builder for me; it gave me a fan base with different states I could travel to... For the first handful of years, though, I still had to work another job, but for the past nine years I’ve done solely music for a living - thank God! It took me a while but I finally hit it off... I’ve worked every job you could possibly think of - I’ve lived off ramen noodles, that’s for sure.
MC: Definitely - I did the whole ramen thing too. What was your most interesting or weird job?
KL: I worked in air conditioning when I lived in Tampa, which was brutal because I was in attics all day in Florida. I was learning how to install air conditioners - needless to say, I didn’t make it that far. I ended up moving back home after a year, but I was able to do music there so it wasn’t that bad. I will say that I did enjoy learning it, though. [I did] everything from air conditioning to delivering pizza... I was a manager at Wal-Mart! I was doing that at 18, then I quit to do that album. They told me, “you can come back anytime,” and I will say I thought about it a couple years later...
MC: Lifescapes came out in 2000. What have you been up to since then?
KL: I’ve pretty much been pounding the pavement, just going to as many places as possible that’ll have me... Making my way around the market as much as possible, trying to stay on top of things... Luckily I have a girlfriend who’s helped me stay on track and organized... But yeah, basically I’ve just been staying as busy as possible, trying to keep the fans from the first album and build more.
MC: What do you think sets you apart from other blues artists who are your age or from your region of the country?
KL: Well, I guess [it's] the simple fact that I don’t consider myself a blues artist or [an artist of] any certain category. I call [my music] folk soul, but like I said, I think what sets me apart is I never try to write in any certain frame... I write whatever mood I’m in and the song comes out and I don’t try to change it. If it sounds country, that’s fine with me. If it sounds R&B, that’s fine with me. I appreciate all walks of music - I’m a fan of good music and that’s how I look at it.
MC: What has been your favorite moment since becoming a bonafide music artist? Any specific concerts or accomplishments?
KL: Hmm... I don't know. I’d say last year I got to do a show in Mobile with Ani DiFranco, which was something I’d always wanted to do, so that was really cool.
MC: What new/emerging artists are you into?
KL: I’ve got an awesome radio station here, [92 Zew,] and they support a lot of independent music. That’s a place I’m able to hear a lot of good, new music - more than anywhere else, I’d say. I just became a fan of Mumford and Sons... I heard their music on 92 Zew. Their song is “Little Lion Man”... It’s bluegrass, actually. Outside of that, I wouldn’t call it new music, but Michelle Malone... I’m actually doing a little work with her drummer right now. I just sang on [up-and-coming artist] Sonia Lee’s album on her track “I just Might,” which is coming out this spring.
MC: Where do you go to find new music?
KL: My fans! They normally tell me what they’re listening to, so I’ll find good, new music from them. Also, traveling - when we travel we try to go see people we’ve never seen before and check out the local music scene, so that’s another good way.
MC: What’s coming up next for you?
KL: I’ve got a pretty big show on the 11th, which is gonna be showcase for Atlantic Records, which is pretty doggone exciting. I got a phone call out of the blue recently, and so basically they’ll be flying me in on the 11th... We’ll see if I can’t swoon ‘em. *laughs* I’m gonna be recording an album with John Hopkins from the Zac Brown Band... I’ve been listening a lot of Zac Brown lately. I’m gonna start recording a new album in December, too.
Lifescapes and Kristy Lee Live at Soul Kitchen are available on iTunes. Kristy Lee performs tomorrow night at Bacchus in Mobile, AL.