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Interview with Christina Chriss of Kaleido

Hi, Christina! Welcome to Shut Up And Play! So, being from Detroit, you know that most of the outside world thinks that either Detroit is falling apart, or that Eminem is our king- which wouldn’t be the worst choice *coughKidRockcough*. What I’m trying to do is showcase the idea that Detroit Rock City is, and has always been thriving, and gathering the memories and stories of our music scene as proof.

Can you candidly discuss your musical journey here and if the city influenced you at all? Was your childhood as musical as it is now?

Yes, Of course the city influenced me. I was born and raised in Metro Detroit- it’s home, it’s comfortable to me. We have everything here from rock and roll to Motown, hip hop and even the electronic music festival. It’s all an influence when you’re around it growing up. But I always grew up singing and playing music. I was involved with music as a young age, and in high school I started playing in the local music scene. The environment here definitely shaped me into who I am now and my tastes.

Being a popular touring band, you’ve seen a lot of places around the world. Do other areas rock as hard as Detroit?

Not really, honestly. Detroit is always so busy. Any given night there are bands playing in different places, there’s always something to do. Everything is going on all the time. Because of my work with the band, we’re always at a show or working on stuff, so I don’t really get a lot of time to go check out other bands, which stinks. I don’t get to go to a lot of shows that we aren’t a part of. But overseas, the UK is so different. It’s not as busy of a place, except in London and major cities like that. You can play a show and then have the next day off to just see everything. It’s really beautiful over there. It’s more open. There’s great fans, great people, but it’s not as jam packed as it is here. Just about every day we get an email from someone in the UK asking us if we’re coming back there and I don’t know what to tell them! I hope to get back to England some day soon, but we have no plans to yet.

Maybe now that your record is on sale in English record shops they will call you back over for a tour spot!

I hope so! It’d be really great to go back, there’s nothing like being able to play overseas and meeting a whole world of new people.

What was it like to discover music for you?

I remember at my grandmas when she’d babysit me there was always some sort of music, from Motown, church music; we were always singing our broad array of musical influences. My very first memory that I can recall is singing at my grandma’s house. I very clearly remember her telling me “Christina, you have a great voice. Never stop singing” and I never let that go. I feel like she and I are still connected in that way, me singing keeps her close. We’re like kindred spirits. My grandma really kick started it all for me. Shortly after that she passed, but I still feel like I’m holding on to her words, to keep singing. Because I haven’t stopped. She was a really big influence to me. There was always something playing. My mom even have an essay I wrote when I was six that she kept that asked what we wanted to be when we grew up and I said a singer. At six! So I think something in me even then knew what I wanted back then, I was so sure of it my whole life. I was in choir, I played a few instruments- I caught the fever and fell in love with music.

Tell me a little bit about yourself as a musician and as a person? Do you get much downtime?

I’m pretty chill, actually. I dedicated my life to music at such a young age; I just knew it was where I wanted to be. It lights me up, and to think I could touch others through my music is something special. Other than music I’m a pretty big science nerd. I love theoretical physics- anything theoretical, really. I read a lot of books about science when I can and call that a passion as well.

You’re not going to quit the band to become an engineer or anything, are you?

Haha no, it’s just something I have always been interested in. I love science and reading a lot.

Me, too! I’ve noticed that all of the great bands you’re listed with- Flyleaf, No Doubt, Killing Heidi- they’re all male dominated bands with female singers. What’s your take on why that is?

I think it’s just how it naturally happens sometimes. With our band, it was me and Joey from another band, we were always together. And Cody, Ronnie and Zach were friends with other projects. We came together naturally and got along right away and were interested in a lot of the same styles. I write, and we write, from our lives, from things that we’ve gone through or heard about. To be classified as a band similar to those we look up to, it’s an honor. If someone can place us next to various bands and different sounds, it’s cool. Everyone wants to compare something with what they’re familiar with, it’s kind of the natural reaction.

What were the differences between writing your self-titled EP versus Unbreakable, and then Unbreakable until your latest LP release of Experiences?

Out self titled record was done our own way. We did it ourselves and took time to make it exactly what we wanted. We didn’t have a lot of outside influences trying to get it to move one way or another. It was really just about what we could do, and what we were ready for, so we did it for ourselves. We were more free to write how we saw was true to the band and to ourselves. With Unbreakable we started having some success as a band and with that comes new people’s opinions. We started having outside help of people suggesting routes we should go on this or that, people generally trying to help us along but it put more pressure on. We allowed some outside opinions and ideas into our considerations but ultimately throughout the process for Unbreakable we were true to ourselves first. Working on experiences took us two years. We did everything super slowly to be sure it was exactly what we wanted. You see a growth as people, as writers and your influences, and it’s a lot to take in. We spent so much time being sure that what we were putting out was authentic to us, it’s really who we are.

What was it like working with pop-punk icon Dryden Mitchell of Alien Ant Farm both on tour and in the recording process?

Working with Dryden was unique. Haha Dryden is great, he really is. We forged such a friendship with him and his band, I feel really lucky to be able to call him a friend. Alien Ant Farm took us under their wing and really helped us grow. We toured around with them for 6 weeks and really got to know everybody and experience new places. What’s more, when recording Love & War, he really became a part of what we needed for that. He’s such a good guy- he’s an asshole and he’ll be the first to tell you that, but it comes from a really good place. We still talk all the time and he’s become one of the band’s best friends.

Speaking of your LP, you song Goodbye was the one that touched me most. The harmonies that come though at the end are so satisfying but also a little haunting. Was it written about or to a specific somebody or more of a general good bye anthem?

Oh it was written for a very specific friend. We had a friend, Freddy, who owned a bar and we always got along really well. He would let us play there a lot and we loved him. He was so kind. He died suddenly and we were all shocked. We wrote goodbye the day after he passed because we felt so surprised by his death that turning to music was our way to sort of honor him but also let ourselves deal. The song was written by myself, Ty Stone and Joey Fava. Having Ty there helped us, and it was nice having an outside perspective on the song since we were grieving for our friend.

Much love to Freddy!

What makes Kaleido a modern take of rock and roll like your bio states instead of just going out as rock and roll?

What makes us more modern are our differing influences. We have taken all attributes of rock and roll and put them through our own personal filters and what each genre means to us. We are first a rock and roll band but we touch on so many other genres and put them in everything we do- like classic rock, new metal, grunge from the 90s. We call it modern rock because it’s all encompassing. We are a rock base with beats and ideas from everything else around us.

I noticed that not only does the band promote a positive image for Detroit, but you yourself have been seen modeling for a local company, PeaceLoveSpandex. What’s that like?

Oh, peace love and spandex is great. Angela makes all of my garments for the stage. Most of what I wear on stage of her company- stuff she’s made for me. She’s so great at putting styles together that you wouldn’t normally see, and she’s such a nice person. I love working with her! It’s great to be a part of her line and having her be a part of what I do. She’s really great.

She very much is! (Fun Fact I went to HS with her- she was always very charming and delightful. Fire em up, Huskies!?)

Touring. The good the bad and the ugly.

Touring is amazing. We do everything ourselves. We love playing live and seeing as many places, and meeting as many people as we can. The good and the bad, at the same time is that we’re all together all the time in the tour van, it’s kind of close quarters, you know? Every day is different depending on someone’s mood, how we’re feeling, where we are. So sometimes tempers are showing more days than others, but it’s all a part of it. But we really love it. You get to see so many parts of the world you never thought you would. I loved being in Europe. It’s so different touring there, too. Everything is so beautiful. The world is so difference to us since we’re seeing it through the eyes of the band. It’s not just work, it’s more like being lucky enough to mix business with pleasure. I wouldn’t really call much of it ugly since this is the job for us, and we don’t have a lot to miss back home like most. We are ready to go for anything because the band is out full time jobs.

Any wild fan stories like someone breaking into your vehicle and stealing your stuff to sell on eBay?

No, wow, thankfully nothing like that! All the fans we meet are pretty cool. Some are excited to meet us before or after a show, and mostly it’s respectful. I don’t think I’ve had anything stolen or anyone be too horrible. Nothing too wild, knock on wood!

What are some of your favorite Detroit memories?

Definitely playing some great shows. I loved getting to play DTE with Evanescence and Chavelle when they toured here years ago. It was always a dream of mine to play there, and I finally got to do it. I loved playing at the Fillmore with Pop Evil, as well. The Royal Oak music hall was great, too. Places you go to as a kid and dream about, we actually got to play out those dreams! And Saint Andrews downtown. I really love the nostalgic places we’ve gotten to be a part of.

I’ve always dreamed of playing the magic stick. Some of the greatest punk rock bands have played there!

I love it there, too. That whole block is really amazing- the Stick, the Majestic. Classic venues. That’s real Detroit.

That’s how I see it, too! Christina, thank you so much for taking some time with me. I know that I will see great things from you, and that we will meet again soon. I wish you the best, and I know your hard work, kindness and friendship with your band and the community will take you to many, many great places.

You can check out Kaleido live this weekend at Arts, Beats and Eats on Saturday headlining the Ford Alternative Rock stage at 9:45pm.

Arts, Beats and Eats’ music schedule:

Angela McBride, wardrobe stylist and owner of peacelovespandex (custom orders only)



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