Kryst Kruer is a powerful vocalist and also plays the ukulele! Catch her tomorrow at 7p on Women in Music Wednesdays with CincyMusic LIVE!
We had the chance to get to know more about Kryst before her LIVE tomorrow!How did you get into the Cincinnati Music Scene?
I owe it all to open mics! I always had a love for singing and music. I was in choirs growing up, including NKCE. It was definitely "my sport" an at one time I was in five choirs at once with a practice which felt like every weeknight. I was studying music education at NKU in 2009 and I was working as a barista at a coffee shop in Covington. The coffee shop had a poetry/open mic night and the host always encouraged me to join in. I think I sang "After an Afternoon" by Jason Mraz acapella one time and that was the start of me singing and sharing my voice with others outside of a classical choir setting. One night I went to a place I think called "The Cottage". They had a singer-songwriter competition going on. I was just watching some friends try out and they convinced me to try too. So nervously in the bathroom I made up a melody to a poem I had written a few days before. I sang the song acapella and won that night. I started writing songs on my own and playing music with people I met out... I went to open mics every chance I had... at places like Molly Malones, Mahoganies, (The original) Southgate House and Baba Budan's. I sang with a Rolling Stone's Cover Band called the Tumbling Dice for a night with X's on my hands because I was underage. haha I started singing with a guitarist and we would play at the Covington Farmer's market and other places in Covington. I got a ukulele and started teaching myself how to play. When the guitarist and I split up, I picked up the rest of the scheduled gigs on my own. I learned covers to fill time and started writing more of my own music. I had dropped out of NKU in my early twenties to pursue music. One of my first solo shows was at Mahogany's in Latonia opening for Playfully Yours. I got a job at a guitar center and bought better gear. One afternoon, I was just playing my ukulele on a bench outside on main street in Covington in front of an italian restaurant called "Europa". One of the waiters came out and asked if I'd like some gelato and then asked if I'd like to play inside. Then the head chef and owner came out and offered me a pretty steady gig every weekend! (plus a free meal!) Things just kind of grew from there, people would reach out to collaborate or ask if I was available to do shows. I continued to go to open mics throughout the years. I always loved MOTR and Wunderbar's Singer-songwriter's night. The connections made with fellow artists on these nights are honestly priceless. There are so many talented musicians in our area! I was asked to open for a season on WNKU's Studio 89 for the featured acts which was really fun. I opened up for Reverend Payton's Big Damn Band one night! Not that many people really knew it at the time but I was pregnant. I decided I should go back to school and finish my degree in Electronic Media Broadcasting. For one of my classes I was a line and content producer for Studio 89 and it was an incredible experience to work behind the scenes in this way. I still was playing shows when I was two weeks from giving birth (haha) and after she was born I think I took a month off before getting back to it. I was still in school and finished my degree in 2015. My senior year I made a short documentary called "Making it Happen" that featured women artists in the Cincinnati music scene and discussed the challenges we as women face. I'd say things have changed in five years. It's been a wild ride balancing single motherhood life and being a singer-songwriter. I used to feel like I was missing out on opportunity in the music scene. I wouldn't trade my experience for the world and while my daughter continues to grow as a human so do I. I joined a band called Starlight Park in the past year and that has enhanced my connections to the music scene and creating music with other musicians. It's about balance for me and I can't let the fear of missing out get to me. I just need to live my art in my own way though music and motherhood.
What can fans expect from a Live performance?
You can totally expect some new spins on covers because I like doing songs in my own way. Also I don't pretend to be perfect and I mess up and improvise all the time! I really like interacting with crowds and feeding off the room so in a "live" performance I enjoy interacting with the audience through the comments! My original songs typically have a mix of messages and feel. I throw in a little bit of hope and a dash of angst. Sometimes I'm somber and bluesy. Other times I try to radiate positive encouragement. Sometimes my girl Ze might pop up and do something silly cause she's with me and that's life. It's really about the present moment. I will always be authentic.
How have the past 5ish months been musically?
Wow. So the last in person gig I had (pre-shutdown) was the Covington Farmers Market at Braxton Brewery on my birthday March 14th! The world shut down shortly after and I was bummed because so many of my gigs were cancelled or postponed. I was devastated because I couldn't meet with my bandmates in Starlight Park every week anymore. I was pretty depressed for a few weeks to be honest... I had plenty of time to practice and write but I was still lonely and sad - especially when my daughter was with her dad. Then I was added to these live-stream open mic groups on facebook. It was an awesome way to encourage me to play more music during this shutdown time and it was actually really fun! I was scheduled to play as a feature at MOTR open mic in March and I proposed the idea of starting a virtual open mic for them which I think has been beneficial for a lot of musicians in particular to keep up with playing "live". We also would try to raise money for various causes to help people out during these times. Covington Farmer's Market continued to support their booked musicians by paying us for our two-hour live streams. That was a huge blessing and I cannot thank them enough. I love that farmer's market and everyone involved. The live streams honestly have made the quarantine so much easier for me. Though they can be kind of awkward and weird at first, I felt connected during times when I couldn't physically be with other people. I gained some sweet new fans of my music too! When different restaurants started opening up I tried to reach out to places to play solo. I've actually been busier playing out than I have in a long time! I played a gig last month in Augusta at The Beehive and a group of people came to see me specifically because they felt safer in a small town and wanted to see live music. I am so fortunate to be able to share my music virtually and in person.
What is next for Kryst Kruer?
The next show I have coming up is at The Beehive in Augusta, Kentucky on September 26th. I'm playing at Ghost Baby October 8th and The Fairfield Cafe+Bar on October 9th. You can follow me on facebook at Kryst Kruer and on instagram at krystkru for more information and updates on shows. I am hoping to kick things into gear and start writing more music with Starlight Park and playing shows with them again soon. I've been recording my brother Jake in the studio and hopefully will release a solo EP this fall or winter. I also auditioned for this singing-songwriting competition called Shine! The first episodes are going to be released this October on https://www.youtube.com/itsbrandontv. I've never done anything like this before so it would be really sweet if you can tune in and vote for me!!