Folk singer-songwriter Kris Angelis has been involved with music in some way or another for most of her life, including early influences by her grandparents’ Rodgers and Hammerstein videos, her parents’ records and the “Lawrence Welk” show. Angelis often played her parents vinyl records consisting of such classic rock acts as The Beatles, The Eagles, The Archies, among others. Like many musicians, she grew up singing in the church choir, and when her family moved to California, she began singing in her summer camp’s musical productions. Soon after discovering sibling band Hanson, known for their massive hit, “MMMBop,” she began harmonizing with her twin sister, actress Alix, and blending their beautiful voices together.
Shortly after, she learned guitar from a musician friend, continuing to hone her craft singing, harmonizing, playing and performing. Her first full-length album, The Left Atrium, fans and critics alike showed their adoration, heralding her as Best Female Album of 2013 by the LA Music Critics Awards and her single “Not Your Fault,” exclusively premiered on RyanSeacrest.com, and she opened for Tyler Hilton on a month long tour in Europe with Songs & Whispers in 2014. She’s joined with Live Music Cares with Project AK-47, rescuing child soldiers, and has performed at many music festivals, including Sundance, SXSW, NAMM and more. She has continuously been awarded several “Best Female” awards, along with her music playing in rotation on SiriuxXM’s The Pulse. Angelis also toured all fifty of the United States this year, along with writing and recording her upcoming album, That Siren, Hope, releasing January 2020.
Find out what all she has to say about her upcoming EP, That Siren, Hope, earliest memories of her love of music that shaped her writing and performing, the experience of touring all fifty United States, and much more.
You’re gearing up for your latest EP release, out on January 24. Can you share with us what the writing and recording process was like for you?
Kris Angelis: I wrote half of the songs (“If I Can’t Have What I Want,” “Brighter Blue,” and “Ghost”) with Garrison Starr, a very talented writer and singer who I love working with! We get together and talk about what’s going on in life and she’s great about taking what I say and putting it to music so that there is a quality of conversation and rawness to some of the lyrics which I think makes songs so relatable. I wrote the other three songs by myself while I was touring to every state in the US this year. Each song with Garrison took a few hours to complete (I usually come in with some lyric ideas that have been knocking around in my head) and the others were a similar process of me finally sitting down by myself to build something out of the pieces I had been collecting for months in moments while driving, watching other performers, waiting for the subway, etc. I had been thinking a lot about hope and its seeming dangers, and it was a definite theme through everything I was writing so I went with that as the theme of the record. I had that concept of Hope being like a Siren of Greek mythology and I have had the idea to tour to a bunch of lighthouses for a few years so I added that lyric into the song “That Siren, Hope” about a lighthouse so that it would make thematic sense when I do that tour!
Your earliest memories of music were shaped by your parents records, and grandparents’ Rodgers and Hammerstein videos, among others. Do you have a specific memory of music that really shaped the music you write and perform now?
Kris: I saw Brandi Carlile open for Hanson who were already a huge influence in my wanting to learn to play an instrument and harmonize and make music. When I heard Brandi’s voice and the lyrics of her songs, I felt like they were songs I would write. I related so much to the real, raw emotions of them and that’s when I went home and started writing my feelings and really learning guitar.
While you sing and play guitar, is there any other instruments you play, or that you want to play?
Kris: I really want to play more piano. I used to play violin and that would be cool to get back into as well.
You’ve had several collaborations with other musicians/songwriters. What do you enjoy the most about these collaborations?
Kris: I enjoy co-writing because it gives me another person to bounce ideas off of and a different perspective. Sometimes the ideas that I have seem mundane because they came from my head but someone else doesn’t think the same way I do so it seems interesting to them and vice verse. It makes the process of songwriting faster and more creative.
Listen to Kris’ latest single, “That Siren, Hope:”
You recently toured all fifty states in the US. What was that experience like?
Kris: It was exciting and boring, inspiring and exhausting, depressing and delightful! I enjoyed all the alone time because I was free to listen to the same song ten times in a row and no one was bothered, I could listen to books and podcasts and talk to myself, but then there were times when I really wanted someone to talk to and explore the new places with and help me drive! A good microcosm of what it was like was this moment when I was pumping gas into my Prius C and…weeping…like you do…and a woman came up to me, looked me in the eye, and gave me a big hug and then walked away without saying anything or asking me what was wrong. I felt so seen and comforted and overcome by how kind people are! That was the whole trip! I had down moments that were always outbalanced by the wonderful kindness of people I had never met and of course, I got to see friends and people I love all over the country too, which was so fun! I discovered that so much of this country is beautiful.
You’re also an actress. How do performing, singing and acting give you creative satisfaction?
Kris: I guess I love telling stories and seeing people’s reactions and performing of all kinds allows me to do that. Getting to express emotions and relate to people and make a positive difference in the world is what I hope and strive for.
Who was your first concert, and who has been your favorite thus far?
Kris: My first concert was Hanson and some of my favorite concerts have been Damien Rice at the Greek Theater in LA, Garth Brooks solo show in Vegas with my Dad and sister, Brandi Carlile, Elton John and Billy Joel, Tchaikovsky night with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and Ingrid Michaelson.
What was your first album on cassette, CD and/or vinyl?
Kris: I had Hanson’s Middle of Nowhere album that someone copied for me on cassette before I was able to buy it and I wore that thing out listening to it on a little tape player in the basket of my bicycle as I rode around my neighborhood with friends.
Which five artists and/or albums would you not want to live without?
Kris: This question reminds me of the song “All Your Favorite Bands” by Dawes. It’s written like an Irish blessing and the last line of the chorus is “May all your favorite bands stay together.” I related to it a lot while I was on tour. For some reason, on this tour, I was addicted to McDonald’s French fries. I don’t go to McDonald’s ever in my normal life! And being a pescatarian (I don’t eat meat except fish) in big parts of the US is difficult so I would end up eating a lot of fries when I was hungry at the venues. The first line of that song is “Late night drives, and hot French fries, and friends around the country” and I felt that! To answer your question, you know it’s a hard one to pick just five but (in no particular order) right in this moment…
Simon & Garfunkel
Nat King Cole
Brandi Carlile Band
…there are so many more!
Do you have a guilty music and/or entertainment pleasure?
Kris: I don’t really like to say it’s guilty because why be guilty of something that brings you pleasure? (as long as it’s not hurting anyone, of course!)
But I guess I would say some 90’s-present pop/country (there is a lot of folk/country music I don’t feel any “guilt” about). (smiles) Oh and I used to watch “Hannah Montana” – I’m a sucker for fun shows that involve secret identities so also “Lois & Clark,” “Buffy”…
Pre-order That Siren, Hope for just $6 HERE.