Back in April, 2013 as Krystal Keith was preparing the release of her self-titled EP, I had the honor of interviewing her. Unfortunately and completely unexpectedly days later I parted ways with the publication I was with and Krystal’s interview never saw publication.
Well, I just came upon my interview notes and “unpublished” doesn’t sit well with me. It was an honor to be included in Krystal’s interview lineup and a pleasure chatting with her.
Pardon the delay – and as Krystal Keith releases the first official single “Get Your Redneck On” off her upcoming “Whiskey & Lace” album, please enjoy my interview with Krystal . . .
(originally published September 30, 2013 at My Little Shangri-La Blog under ‘Country Music’)
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Show Dog-Universal recording artist, Krystal Keith, released an unplanned but outstanding self-titled EP on April 16 due to the overwhelming reaction to a song Krystal penned to dance to with her dad (Toby Keith) at her wedding. The song triggered an interest that lead the record label to release “Daddy Dance With Me” on a four-track EP in order for the song to be available for Father’s Day and weddings.
Now, the daughter of the Big Dog Daddy might be on the ol’ man’s record label but don’t for one minute think it was an easy task for this dynamic vocalist to land a spot on the Show Dog roster. Krystal cut a good chunk of time out of her day to chat with me and from the sounds of what she shares, Krystal may have a deep well to draw from but she first had a deep well to fill.
Christine: I just want to take you back a second to 2004 when you made your national debut on the CMA stage with your dad singing “Mockingbird”. And now, even though back then you chose to heed your parents’ advice and go to college, did you find concentrating on college after getting that taste of the CMA stage – you know, knowing that you wanted to do music, did you find college hard to concentrate on?
Krystal: Oh, absolutely. I fought tooth and nail to not have to skip out on my career to go to college. I promised that I would get my degree and I would stick with college if I could keep doing music. And he (Toby/label owner/dad) was holding strong to his vow to make me get a degree. So I did – you know, I went and I just – I finally had to give in to him and just barrel through it. I fought for the first year and a half and took classes but didn’t really give it my all. And then when he really said like FOR REAL ‘you have to get a degree before I’ll help you’, I finally went like, ‘I better just get this over with’. And I took every class I could, 21 hours a semester. I took every intersession, every summer program, every class I could for about two and a half years. I really just dove in and finished school and got it completed so I could move on.
Christine: Wow! Well, good for you. That’s hard, you know, knowing that there was something else you wanted to do. And I can imagine your dad’s probably a tough cookie to try to negotiate with.
Krystal: Ya, he’s definitely not easy to get over on.
(Well, Krystal finally lands a spot on the record label and goes nose to the grindstone putting her album together when a musical line drive sends the entire team back to the digital dugout)
Christine: So, let’s fast forward. You’re working on Whiskey & Lace, and “Daddy Dance With Me” sneaks in and changes the entire course of that. How much time did that give you to put the EP together? You know, like did you feel rushed?
Krystal: We really weren’t planning on doing an EP. We just were still working on finalizing the album and working on getting that out this summer. And you know, it was at my wedding, so my friends and family knew about it. And then Mark Wright, my producer, his daughter got married, I think within the last year, and she wanted to use it at her wedding. And there were a lot of industry people there so people started hearing it and asking about it. And we started just getting a lot of reaction of people saying, ‘surely you’re going to get this out for father’s day and surely it’s going to be out for wedding season’. And we didn’t have any plans to have it out at that point. We really never had any plans of releasing it as a single. We just – you know, it was going to be on the album and it was just going to be kind of a special song put on there and brides that found out about it could use it and we would, you know, definitely use that avenue to promote it. But we weren’t planning on releasing it necessarily as like a solo thing at all.
And then we just got such a big reaction that we went ahead and said, ‘you know, well, maybe we should get it out for wedding season and you know, if it’s got this big a reaction maybe we should’. So we decided to. And then on top of that we said, you know, if we’re going to release that, let’s just go ahead and release a sampler of what’s going to be on the album and give people a taste of what’s to come. So that’s kind of how that fell into place.
Christine: So is that going to be the first single to radio?
Krystal: “Daddy Dance With Me”?
Krystal: We have not decided yet. We are still – we’re just kinda going to see how this goes and get through the EP and then we’ll start working on what single we’re going to use.
Christine: Okay. And so now you’re working on the album. So how did you decide which songs to put out there on the EP and which songs to hold back for the album?
Krystal: We really – I wanted kind of a good sampling. So I wanted a couple different types of songs. Like “Doin’ It” is real up-tempo and really quick paced. So that was a fun, really fun, catchy song that I knew I wanted on there. And then, you know, we’ve got “Can’t Buy You Money” which is a little bit more laid back but still kind of has a cool vibe. And then “What Did You Think I’d Do” is a feisty little song. But they’re three totally different songs. They’re not really alike. So we thought it was a good sampling so we picked those.
And there’s still songs on the album that are unlike what’s on the EP. I mean, I have a song on the album that’s kind of a bluesy rock song so you know, there’s still going to be surprises on the Whiskey & Lace album. So this isn’t, you know, all we have to offer. It’s just kind of a sampling of it. And there’s still some surprises and some different types of songs that will be found on Whiskey & Lace as well.
Christine: Oh, that’s interesting you say that because you do – the bluesy rock thing – you do have a very diverse range in your vocals.
Krystal: Thank you.
Christine: Really. You have a country twang there but you have a very deep, bluesy sound and a very soulful sound. And obviously you have a nice rock sound there, too. So I really look forward to the whole thing (album). I mean, the EP is dynamite. What a great start.
Krystal: Thank you. I’m proud of it.
Christine: Oh, you should be. You should be.
(Make no mistake about this surprise EP. Krystal Keith has quite a diverse vocal range; perhaps multi-dimensional is a more accurately inclusive adjective. Not only does Krystal’s vocals carry unwavering strength, her pitch, her tone and her conviction highlight this artist’s ability to sing traditional country, rock, blues and soul. You’re gonna hear it, you’re gonna feel it and you’re gonna love it. Krystal’s one to watch and one to watch out for. Her talent is going to blow the amps off the stage)
(But it all starts with a song, as they say. So where exactly did this organic crop of cuts culminate from?)
Christine: But you know, choosing songs, between your own catalog, I’m sure what your dad has and you’ve probably grown up with songwriters sitting in your living room, how did you – with all of that in front of you, how did you choose (songs)?
Krystal: It wasn’t that hard, really. I mean, my dad kind of helped filter through a lot of the songs that we got. I did some publishing meetings that – you know, I had to have songs that really spoke to me and that I can relate to. I would never put a CD or a song on an album that didn’t have a personal meaning to me in some way or another. So, you know, I did some publishing meetings and there’s a song on the album that as soon as they played I was like ‘oh my God, I had that spring break experience; I have to have that song.’ And so that’s on the album.
And we were – you know, I was going to write, my dad was going to write, you know, planned on doing a couple of, you know, my dad’s buddies or whatever that I’ve grown up with and then you know, I ended up just taking a couple of publishing meetings and finding some songs that I loved. And Mark Wright had found some songs that he loved and that I fell in love with as soon as he played them.
My dad, though, we didn’t really dive too far into his catalog. He knew that he wanted “Can’t Buy You Money” and I’ve always loved that song so we revamped it, put it to a girl’s perspective. And then he wrote “What Did You Think I’d Do” with me in mind. So that wasn’t in his catalog. That was his first stab at writing from a girl’s perspective. He’s always written from a male perspective. So that was really challenging for him to – and when I say ‘challenging’ I mean writing a song isn’t as challenging to him as it is to some. But you know, it was a good challenge for him to have to think about the, you know, the perspective of a girl, not just write it in you know a girl’s words but think about how a girl would view the situation. So that was kind of cool to see him get excited about writing from – you know, something he’s never done before, which is writing from a girl’s view.
So that song he wrote specifically for me. And then “Doin’ It” was written by he and Bobby Pinson and they, you know, also wrote that song and as soon as they got it done, you know, that was a song that he wanted me to record and I fell in love with it. It’s hard not to. It’s pretty catchy.
Christine: Oh, my gosh. That’s been playing in my head for one week.
Krystal: Yeah. Then, you know, the songs that I wrote, “Whiskey & Lace” is the title track, obviously, for the album, I wrote that with, you know, I took some co-write sessions and just wrote some cool songs that, you know, I just wanted on the album. So it wasn’t a huge process trying to find songs. You know, we were really slow and picky and just kind of made sure everything was perfect.
Christine: Oh, okay. Well, you’ve got a nice selection there. Really, so far, I mean, you know, it’s only four songs but it’s really – it’s a nice selection of you know, both lyric and like I said both vocally you have such a nice range. It will be very interesting to see the totality of that, you know, when your album comes out.
(Krystal might not have been able to pull one on Toby (label owner/dad) to get a record deal before a college degree, but she sure went to work on a secret play that threw this quarterback off his game.)
Christine: Now, “Daddy Dance With Me”, the song that sparked the emotion that sparked the EP, was that a total surprise? You said it was a surprise, that you wanted to do it for him. Was he totally surprised, had no idea?
Krystal: Oh, a hundred percent. What’s funny is I did not even discuss a father-daughter song with him. I just kind of acted like I was working on it. I never said I was looking. I never said I was writing. I never said a word about a father-daughter dance. He probably went in their thinking like, okay, here we go, “Butterfly Kisses”. But you know, I really – I wrote the song and recorded it all behind his back. I called my manager and asked him to set up a studio and an engineer. And the engineer found a piano player. And so we just did a track that was just my track and a piano. So it was a really intimate rough track. And so it was just – I literally recorded it a week and a half before the wedding. And so I didn’t have a lot of time that I had to keep it under wraps or anything. There were very few people who knew about it. I didn’t tell anybody until we got down to Cabo for my wedding that I even had written a song, you know, except for my mom and the people that were involved in getting it recorded. But he walked out there and they played the song and he was completely shocked.
Now, my preacher who was also my youth leader when I was a kid was the one that married us and I had him announce that you know this is the father-daughter dance, this is a special song that Krystal wrote for her dad. And so he knew going out on the dance floor that it was going to be a song I wrote. But he had not heard it and was kind of shocked at that. And as he listened to it he talked through the whole entire thing and didn’t really listen to it very well.
Christine: Was that a nervous reaction?
Krystal: Well, he could have been choking back tears, I don’t know. He just – you know, I think he was more shocked that I pulled one over on him, to ever get anything over on him. And the fact that I pulled it off and it’s something that he is so involved in, and it’s his industry and I used all of his people, I think that was like pretty shocking to him. He just had so many questions about where I recorded it and who I wrote it with and when I wrote, when I recorded it. So I think it was more like shock that, you know, that somebody pulled something over on him.
Christine: Oh, that’s funny. That is funny.
(Well, any artist who can deliver a song that can throw a man of Toby’s stature off his game certainly deserves to set the sentiment in visual form. Krystal quickly takes out her acting gear and shines in the spotlight from growing up backstage to being part of the process.)
Christine: Now, the video (“Daddy Dance With Me”) is very tender, very heartwarming. And the part where you’re sitting in the pew singing sort of self-reflectively is very moving. And you seem very natural in front of the camera. How was your experience doing your first professional video?
Krystal: Oh, it was – you know, I’m kind of a little bit of a ham sometimes so I wasn’t nervous at all. I just had never done it before. I’ve seen – you know, I’ve been behind the scenes of several of my dad’s videos. And so I kind of knew how it went. It was just a lot different, you know, being in front of the camera. But Michael Solomon directed it. And it was just – you know, he’s amazing. And he knows exactly how to get what he wants out of you. So I was sort of (inaudible) really quickly. And you know, by the end of it I was just, you know, not nervous at all. And I mean, you know, it worked out really well and he did an amazing job and just brought out everything that I wanted him to bring out of me.
Christine: Yes, he did. He’s a great videographer and director and you know, you’re very natural in front of it. And I mean, you’re no stranger probably to Solomon or the rest of the industry. And did you find it hard working with all of those professionals that, you know, you’ve probably known and grown up with in the sense of were you concerned that they wouldn’t take you seriously?
Krystal: Oh, no; not at all. You know, I mean, they’ve all known for years that this is what I was pursuing. And most of them have always said, you know, ‘I can’t wait until this is you. I can’t wait until I’m working on your album or your video or whatever’. So you know, it’s always been something that’s coming up. They’re all professionals and you know, I didn’t feel like they had any reservations at all working with me and I certainly had no reservations working with them.
Christine: Oh, that’s good.
(Krystal’s got a track on her self-titled EP that after hearing it you might wonder if the songwriter forgot who he was penning it for. It definitely speaks to this young lady’s personality and professional capabilities, but hmmm, check this out…
Christine: Now, going back to the song your dad wrote, “What Did You Think I’d Do”, you know, you talked about him writing it from a female perspective – (tape break) – not only that, I mean, ya, he’s a phenomenal songwriter. But knowing that he was writing it for you, were you surprised with the lyric that he came up with?
Krystal: A couple of lines I might have been surprised. But not necessarily surprised because nothing with him surprises me. But you know, he’s definitely got personality.
Christine: Oh, God, ya.
Krystal: But it was just kind of like a giggle moment. Like when I finally heard the finished product. I heard it in steps and stages. So I’d hear like a verse and a chorus and then he’d be working on the second verse. And when I finally heard the finished product, there were times that I’d giggle and be like, you know people are gonna be like, her dad wrote this for her.
Christine: Like you say, he’s got a really fun side. And to be honest with you, Krystal, you’ve got it too. I’m sure you’ve probably heard that growing up. I mean, you can hear it, you know – I mean, I shouldn’t say that. I don’t know your mom so I’m just going to assume –
Krystal: She’s fun, too. I grew up in a fun family.
Christine: Ya, you do, you sound like you come from a fun family. And your father’s humor is one of my favorites. He just has a way of just, you know, he doesn’t hold his personality back at all –
Krystal: He’s just ornery.
Christine: Ya, that’s a good word.
Christine: Any songwriting between you and him (Toby) on the upcoming album?
Krystal: There’s not. I got asked that yesterday. We haven’t really even thought about it or talked about it. I would love to write with him. I think we probably will at some point. When we’re at home it’s kind of more like father-daughter than artist to artist. And he writes by himself at home and I write by myself. And you know when we come together it’s just kind of dinner and family. But you know, if we ever find each of us just sitting on a bus and we’re just bored with nothing to do then I’m sure that there’s going to be a guitar laying around and we’ll probably write a song together. But we just haven’t yet.
Christine: Okay, well, you’ve got plenty of time; that’s for sure.
(Well, you might be wondering at this point where you can catch Krystal on tour. So was I. Not only that, I had to know if she was coming back to Boston)
Christine: Okay, so I’m sure you’re eager to get this on the road and on stage live. So where can fans catch you on the road?
Krystal: You know, we have been so incredibly busy with this EP that we’ve not even looked ahead any further. I mean, once we kind of catch our breath from the EP, we will start looking at like finalizing decisions on the album and getting it packaged and ready to go. And then I think once we kind of get to that point, then I’ll be able to look up and ahead and just start figuring out when I can get some dates in.
Christine: Okay. Are you coming back to Boston?
Krystal: Coming where?
Christine: Boston. Are you coming back to Boston this year?
Krystal: I love Boston! It’s one of my favorite places in the world. I hope, I really hope that I get to come back.
Christine: Me, too, because I know you were at “I Love This Bar & Grill” last September because your father was announcing he was having an after party after his concert and that you were singing.
Christine: And I couldn’t make it. I was at his concert but I had an early commitment the next morning so I was really bummed I didn’t get a chance to see you. So I hope you come back this year. That will be great.
(Krystal Keith’s self-titled EP is seriously a roll down the windows, crank up the volume, get your happy on and sing along teaser of tracks no doubt. You’re going to fall in love with her unique blend. But you’re going to want the whole bottle, not just a shot. So I had to ask her, when “Whiskey & Lace” will be on the shelves for consumption)
Christine: Any date so far on the release of the full album?
Krystal: No. We haven’t talked about that. I think we’ll probably start a radio tour towards the end of the summer and work toward getting it out sometime after that.
Christine: All right. Well, you have a great start with the EP. And like I said, a powerful vocal range, you really do. You have strong, strong pipes.
Krystal: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.
Christine: So have fun with it. And thank you so much for being with us today. We really appreciate it.
Krystal: Thanks for your time.
Christine: You’re welcome. You have a safe trip wherever you’re going and I hope to see you on the road.
Krystal: Okay. Thank you very much. Have a great day.
Christine: Bye bye, Krystal.
What an absolute pleasure it was to chat (at length like this) with Krystal. This firecracker is a class act in every sense of the word. Before my recorder hit ‘save’ she had already tweeted:
Started my day off chatting with Christine from @CountryMusicPri #LoveMyJob Thanks Christine!
Be sure to get your copy of Krystal Keith’s self-titled EP available at iTunes – and take a minute to watch the tender video to the heartwarming song that spurred the reaction that spurred the release of Krystal’s EP a bit before the upcoming release of her full debut album “Whiskey & Lace”.
(Since the date of this interview Krystal’s “Daddy Dance With Me” Video has moved many a heart and hosted well over a million viewers at Krystal’s YouTube Channel. But KRYSTAL has just RELEASED the FIRST OFFICIAL SINGLE off her upcoming WHISKEY & LACE ALBUM – “Get Your Redneck On” – is NOW AVAILABLE – be sure to get your copy at iTunes and keep your eye out for the release of Krystal’s full album)
Be sure to take a moment to enjoy
Krystal Keith’s “Daddy Dance With Me” Official Video