Kjersti Long: My dad and his side of the family. My dad’s side of the family is very involved in musical theater. When I was younger I was doing a lot of theater. My grandmother and my dad were the ones that introduced me to rock though. My grandmother wanted me to sing her a song from her favorite band, Heart. I was totally up for it. My dad got his guitar out and that’s when I really fell in love with rock music.
YEM: Your new single “Not Your Princess” is out in three different versions; Rock-Pop, Pop, Club Radio Mix, and an Extended Club Mix, what gave you this idea and why did you do it?
Kjersti: My marketing team actually were the ones to come up with it. I thought it was cool. The song, Not Your Princess, which sort of leans Pop was a good song to experiment with that way. My first recording of it was definitely Pop. Then we added a new drum track and an updated vocal down in Nashville. Since I was two years older, the vocal was definitely stronger and more teenage angsty. So the rock version was born which is my favorite. Playing around with Club mixes made sense for this song. And to offer fans 4 different versions on a short play EP was fun, too. The more the merrier.
YEM: What led you to create “Not your princess”?
Kjersti: My dad has a knack for telling me to turn stuff into songs. I’ll tell him I’m hungry or I lost my page in my book and he’ll tell me to write a song about it. It gets annoying sometimes. My dad also loves calling me ‘princess’ (which I also find annoying) so when I told him that I’d prefer if he stopped he said, and I bet you can guess it, “go write a song about it.” So I took his advice and did.
YEM: What is one thing that you want everyone who listens to your music to take away after hearing it for the first time?
Kjersti: I really hope they can feel the emotion. I love performing live; it is my most favorite thing about being a singer-songwriter. I also love making music for people so they can relate and connect to it. I think shared experiences help us all connect and my writing definitely reflects my personal experiences. Many listeners have connected personally and emotionally to my songs. If my music can make them relive a moment in their own lives or relate to a human experience in general, it brings us all together. That’s what I love about performing and what I would want people to take away.
YEM: Describe your creative process when you write new music.
Kjersti: My dad usually helps me with my songs and it goes something like this;
- We find a cool guitar or piano chord progression.
- We scat out/make up a cool melody that we like
- Then we choose a reason for writing the song, usually things that happened that day or something I read about in a book or sometimes just a cool catch phrase or a metaphor.
- Then we come up with a rhyming pattern and we sort of just sing out random lyrics till we find one we like.
- Then we build from there.
Sometimes we get help from my mom. For my birthday a couple years ago my mom got me a songwriter’s essential rhyming guide, it’s like an encyclopedia of words and what they rhyme with.
YEM: Who or what are some of your inspirations when you are creating music?
Kjersti: A lot of times the inspiration comes from strong feelings or things that happen in my day-to-day life. I also write a lot of songs about characters or things that happen in the books I read. I’m a really big book nerd. If I’m not on stage, I’m reading. I do get a lot of inspiration from my books.
YEM: You also made a special remake of the 1966 Beatles hit, Eleanor Rigby, what is it about this song that made you want to remake it?
Kjersti: It was the lyrics. The words and metaphors and meanings that are used in the song really touched me. I felt connected to them.
YEM: What is your favorite thing about performing onstage?
Kjersti: The electricity and the adrenaline. Performing live is by far my absolute favorite thing to do. I feel like I’m a power outlet and I can give my energy to the crowd. It’s really amazing. I’ve been compared to some of the classic, iconic rock artists by some big producers, a record label owner, news outlet reporters, a bunch of other musicians and most of the club owners at the clubs I’ve had the good fortune to perform in. Which is cool.
YEM: Do you have a favorite venue that you have performed at?
Kjersti: The Velour in Provo, Utah had such a cool vibe to it. It has a very eclectic feel to the decor. A lot of historic ‘rock and roll’ and music memorabilia are displayed there. The lighting effects and haze was cool, too. That was definitely a fun place to perform. Same with a lot of other venues. They have been really fun, too. It’s a close call, but I think The Velourtakes the cake.
YEM: Has growing up around New York City and performing there quite a bit influenced your music at all?
Kjersti: I don’t think so. I think being near NYC has been a huge advantage to my music career so far. It’s such a cool city. I think it influenced the success. It has a lot of rock venues and venues in general; there’s always a place to play. It is also easy for people from all walks of the music industry to come see me perform. I think it has influenced the mood of my concerts and the live aspect of my performances. But the flavor of my music remains my own.
YEM: What’s the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?
Kjersti: That’s a good question; I’m trying to think. I’m not sure who gave me this advice but a fellow performer told me that making the audience cry is a good thing. It means we’re doing our job right. Music is supposed to make you feel. I think that piece of advice, though it’s simple, definitely helped me.
YEM: What is it about music that makes you feel passionate?