Singer/songwriter Kris Angelis welcomes the unknown, reminding us we have the strength to do the same in a conversation about her new single “Run,” growing up on a farm, and more.
Stream: “Run” – Kris Angelis
I remember my grandmother used to take us into a darker room at night or we would stand outside and just be with the darkness. She taught us that the darkness is our friend.
When you think of the darkness what comes to mind? What kind of feelings does it evoke? When we are kids, most of us tend to be afraid of the dark. We ask our parents to tuck us in and turn on a nightlight. The fear might even follow you into adulthood. When it is night out and there are no lights around, it can be scary to not know what lies within the blackness.
Independently released February 18, Kris Angelis’ latest single “Run” shows us that we can embrace those things that feel mysterious. The darkness does not have to be menacing, it can be serene and peaceful. With textured vocals soaring over light, gentle instrumentation listeners can feel that sense of calm. The song builds into a bigger chorus and that climb sparks imagery of sprinting.
Run, run, run, run
Deep into the night
Embrace the dark
And count the stars
Growing up on a farm in Florida, Angelis spent much of her time outdoors. Through this she became one with her surroundings. Getting closer to nature teaches you to accept things you don’t always understand, and this is a great skill to have in life. There is a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” “Run” speaks to the concept of adapting to the unknown even if it scares you. With the pandemic that is something we have all had to learn, making this piece so meaningful.
There’s no compass and no map
In this masquerade
Don’t know what I’ll become
Based in Los Angeles, Kris Angelis makes tender, soul-searching folk and Americana music. Every note she sings invokes a deep sense of vulnerability; this intimacy is especially evident throughout “Run,” as well as songs like “My Quiet” and “Meet You in Our Dreams.” Atwood Magazine spoke with the singer/songwriter about her new song, life on the farm, and more.
You don’t know what’s in it, but it doesn’t have to be scary. That metaphor is so good for the dark times that people go through.
A CONVERSATION WITH KRIS ANGELIS
Atwood Magazine: Your single “Run” starts off soft then ascends into a strong chorus erupting with rich, vocal layers. How was the track crafted sonically?
Kris Angelis: Growing up in the south northern Florida area is a bit like the south. I had some of that influence just from the music around here. Tom Petty is from this area and so I was always drawn to that. When I came to California and started getting into my own music tastes, it was very pop what I was hearing on the radio. Then one day I thought, no, this is what I want to do and this is what I could do. It was when I heard Brandi Carlile for the first time in 2004. Before she was huge I thought, yes, this is a female artist. She is not like Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera. It has harmonies and this is what I want to do. In the studio, we started off with just acoustic guitar. Next I did a scratch track vocal then we just started building onto it.
For whatever reason as I was writing I had the idea of horns in my head. My producer, Billy Lafleur, who I’ve been working with for a long time, was a little hesitant. He thought, I’m not sure about this. I told him, it’s going to be amazing. We started off with some plugins for horns. It wasn’t sounding as good as real people. So he found a guy that he knows that was able to record some horns for us remotely. We added that in and we just layered on the harmonies. I wanted it to feel like you’re about to go on an adventure. I wanted it to be uplifting because I do a lot of songs about heartbreak and struggle. I really wanted to have this be more about understanding, yes, there are struggles, but we can embrace the unknown. We can just jump into it. Which is why it starts out with a soft, pensive vibe and then it is like okay, let’s go, let’s leap.
The release is titled “Run” as it is all about running to the unknown in order to see things more clearly. Can you explain the idea behind the song in more detail?
Kris Angelis: I was thinking of the concept because I’ve been struggling a lot with these transitions such as the pandemic and going through a breakup. I was feeling upset and wanting things to be different than they are. I was not able to stop and think, it’s going to be okay. It is not easy, but it is important to look forward with hope and curiosity rather than looking backward. I was asking myself, what should I have done, what could I have done. That’s something I struggle with. When I was thinking about the idea of trying to embrace the unknown in a joyful way, it reminded me of things that I like about growing up on a farm. I used to run through the forest on the property.
I remember my grandmother used to take us into a darker room at night or we would stand outside and just be with the darkness. She taught us that the darkness is our friend. That’s what that line in Islam comes from. It’s also a cool reference to the Simon and Garfunkel song.
You grew up on a farm where the nights were pitch black, but you could still see because of the stars’ vibrancy. What is it about the darkness that intrigues you?
Kris Angelis: I’m sure part of it is my grandmother’s magical view of it. You don’t know what’s in it, but it doesn’t have to be scary. You can actually see things that you can’t see during the day when it’s dark like the stars, the moon and fireflies. That metaphor is so good for the dark times that people go through.
What was it like growing up in that type of environment?
Kris Angelis: I loved it. I got to be around animals and had a lot of freedom. I have an identical twin sister. We were always together. That was nice to be able to have a buddy to go play with all the time and keep an eye on each other. Being raised on a farm there’s a lot of exploring. Growing up I didn’t watch a ton of TV. I played outside mostly. I think that was good for me. It creates a thriving imagination. Being around animals was beneficial for understanding and creating empathy. I also learned a lot about the earth and how things grow.
What first sparked your love for creating music?
Kris Angelis: My mother literally says that my sister and I were singing before we could really speak. My grandparents had classical music playing all the time and they would watch Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals and Lawrence Welk stuff. Our family isn’t really musical but there was music in the house. For a while I thought that musicians that were on recordings were these otherworldly, magical people. It just didn’t occur to me that I could do that. Then we were in church choir and I discovered how much I really like performing. I heard of the band Hanson and thought, maybe I could do that. That’s when my sister and I started learning and teaching ourselves how to harmonize together. We would make little songs and it sort of went from there.
Your songwriting is so detailed and reflective. How have you honed in on that skill?
Kris Angelis: It comes from reading a lot of books and poetry, but mostly from listening to other amazing songwriters. Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Brandi Carlile and Gregory Alan Isakov are huge influences. Taylor Swift is also an incredible songwriter. I hone in by listening to that kind of music and figuring out what it is that strikes me about the lyrics. I think a lot of it has to do with the senses. Someone told me one time, if you put all the senses into your lyrics it makes it really visceral for people. Taste, smell, sight, touch and sound. It makes it really touch on people’s human experience, rather than it just being about something people are actually feeling. That’s what I try to do.
What’s next for you?
Kris Angelis: I am working on writing songs for a new album, which will hopefully come out this year. We’re going to try to do the Grammy thing again. I’ve been on the ballot the last couple of years. I haven’t gotten nominated yet, but we’ll see. I’m hoping to do some more traveling. In 2019, I played in all 50 states in six months. I’m also working with music beats cancer, to raise funds for cancer victims and survivors.
For a while I thought that musicians that were on recordings were these otherworldly, magical people. It just didn’t occur to me that I could do that.
Who are some of your musical inspirations that have shaped you as an artist?
Kris Angelis: Hanson, as I mentioned before, is definitely one of them. Brandi Carlile is probably the biggest one. Ingrid Michaelson, David Gray and Ray LaMontagne as well.
Who are some artists on your current playlist you can recommend to our readers?
Kris Angelis: I listen to Jeff Hahn’s album Black Rose Tattoo on repeat. Matt Hires has a song called A to B that I’m obsessed with right now. Another one is the song “Kiss Me Darling” by Twin Forks. Also Joy Oladokun: She has a song with Maren Morris called “Bigger Man.”
Stream: “Run” – Kris Angelis
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