(Los Angeles) Kris Angelis is a high energy, hardworking, super talented phenomenon. Her very first album, The Left Atrium, won the 2013 LA Music Critics Best Female Album Award – no mean feat. She also acts in film and TV, raises money to rescue child soldiers, brings music to at-risk teens, and performs in venues on both coasts. She has toured with Songs & Whispers, opened for Tyler Hilton, performed at the prestigious New Orleans House of Blues, made the finals in the Belk Southern Musician competition, played at Sundance, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, SXSW and NAMM 2016. Whew. If that was not enough, she has just released her newest project, the Heartbreak Is Contagious EP. She took a break from her busy schedule to talk with us.
Patrick. So, Kris, do you ever sleep? I don’t see how you can, given all that you do.
Kris. Yes I do, sometimes. I find time.
Patrick. The new EP is a bit of a new path for you. You collaborated with a couple of songwriters. how did that come about.
Kris. I have known Morgan Taylor Reid and Alexander Cardinale (her co-writers and producers on the project) for several years. They are wonderful songwriters and Morgan is an amazing producer – he recently worked on a song with Jason Derullo. So we were talking and said we should do something – it would be fun. We went into the studio and from the ground up we wrote these songs. The process took a couple of weeks with some time off in there because we were busy. And now they are out on SoundCloud. I am very excited about the sound and the direction it is going. I was delving into things that are scary to me which is the only way to make good art.
Patrick. The title song has an urgency and determination about it. There is a razor edge sharpness to the lyrics and to your voice. Is that a personal story?
eartbreak is Contagious, hs an urgency and a determination about it
Kris. Yes. It is. It about some experiences I have had, one in particular. When you are heartbroken, you can’t love other people and that can cause other people’s hearts to be broken and that is why heartbreak can be contagious.
Patrick. That song is different than a song like “Rust” from The Left Atrium or “Chase Me”. You have stripped your music down. Did you bring that to the collaboration or did it develop as you worked together?
Kris. I had this whole experience I had gone through and I want to write about it- sort of like songwriter therapy- and I had the idea of “contagious” and said to Morgan and Alexander, hey guys what about this and they said it sounded cool and we ran with it.
Patrick. The “house” in the song “Built this House” is a stand-in for the space that two people build for their relationship. Although it is not as spare as “Heartbreak” it is more cutting – bitter almost. What is behind it? Did you write it?
Kris. I did write that song. I wouldn’t say bitter. Maybe it comes across bitter, I hope not. It is really about dealing with the sadness of that broken relationship. And like how it can become like you are trapped in it, like a beautiful thing that has now become prison — like I sing in the second verse, and how to keep out of it, how to see yourself clearly through the smoke of this burning relationship.
Patrick. The arrangement – clap beat, the echo. Did that flow out of you and your producer, or did you try different things?
Kris. That was all Morgan. He has a really great knack for feel for the vibe of a thing. He had much of the production done before the lyrics were finished and it definitely influenced how I sang it and the whole feeling.
Patrick. That must have been a very interesting communication between the two of you.
Kris. Yes. That is what I meant about things that were scary to me. I have never written that way, coming from the music first , the vibe, like this is kind of song we want to write. It was a cool little dance we entered into. I really enjoyed it once I got over being terrified. I learned to let go, a huge lesson I will probably be working on my whole life, but it was good..
Patrick. You went to the University of California at Santa Barbara, like I did. Had you started your acting and singing career while you were in college?
Kris. Yes. That was one of the reasons I went there – it was close to LA and could drive back and forth for auditions between classes. I actually worked on films and commercials while I was at UCSB
Patrick. Speaking of acting, you have been in three films, Sister Mary’s Angel in 2011), Liquid and Visible Scars in 2012. You released The Left Atrium in 2013. Was the album going on in your head while you were acting?
Kris. Oh yes. I was writing those songs for years. Some of those were written while I making films. It is sort of constant. I find that it flows out me when I am doing something creative. The more I am doing something creative, the more creative things come out. I am sure that I was writing music while I was waiting to go on the set.
Patrick. Have you moved from acting to music or do you still have the itch to get back in front of the camera?
Kris. I do. I have focused on music for the past couple of years, but I have done some acting. I was with my twin sister in a Bud Light Commercial with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I was in another commercial where I got to play 6 different character. Let me brag about my twin sister here. She is going to be in the Magnificent 7 with Denzel Washington that will be coming out around Christmas
Patrick. Your song “Rust”; I love the concept of rust in love. And I love the lines, I will keep myself intact and you can keep your pride, and then later so I waded in the water hoping you might throw me a line/all I got was soaking wet. Did you write that in a rainstorm, or were you scraping the rust off of a relationship?
Kris. That is really an awesome way to put it. I used to date a musician and it is about that relationship. Most of the lyrics are in direct reference to the lyrics he wrote about me. Then he put out an album that references the lyrics in this song. I won’t say who and throw him under the bus..
Patrick. You are part of a fundraising drive to raise money for child soldiers.
Kris. It is called Project AK-47 by the Live Music Cares organization which goes into countries and rescues child soldiers and victims of sex trafficking and helps them set up schools and safe houses. So they not only rescue trafficked children, they build the foundations to stop the practice. It just stuck out to me – I hear a lot about it and how awful it is and I liked the preventative aspect.
Patrick. You were also part of the Extreme Tour for At-Risk Youth. How did that happen?
Kris. They contacted me and said they liked my music and thought I would fit in with the tour. I toured in California. We would play in state parks and schools and we got to meet these youth who were so amazing. Many were in communities with no arts or music funding that they were hungry for it…it made me realize the benefit that music can have.
Patrick. And we will also see you raising money for a children’s hospital next week in LA?
Kris. Yes, on May 22 I will playing at the Love For Life Foundation benefit for Children’s Hospital of LA. On the day before that I will be doing a fund raiser for the HARA Motion Picture Conservatory to raise money for at-risk youth music and film programs and they will make a feature film produced by children under 18.
Kris. Thank you so much for your time and for all that you do.
Patrick O’Heffernan. Host, Music FridayLive!
Kris Angelis. www.krisangelis.com
The Left Atrium is available http://krisangelis.com/music
Heartbreak Is Contagious EP can be streamed on Soundcloud