Gary James' Interview With
Kristine W

She has scored sixteen number one Dance hits and a record setting string of nine consecutive number ones on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart over the past fifteen years, earning her third place on Billboard's Best of 2000s Dance Club Play Artists rankings. With nine consecutive number ones, she holds the world's record for most consecutive number one Billboard Dance Club hits, surpassing Madonna and Janet Jackson's previously shared record of seven. She found success headlining her own show at the Las Vegas Hilton, winning several Las Vegas Entertainer Of The Year awards and being officially sanctioned as the entertainer who performed more 'live' shows at the Las Vegas Hilton than any other performer in it's history, including Elvis. The award led to June 28th being officially proclaimed "Kristine W Day" in Nevada. And so we talked to the Dance Hit phenomenon, Kristine W.

Q - To be so successful as a Dance Club artist, does that mean you specifically target your music to that audience or was this something that just happened? Was it accidental?

A - It was accidental. It just happened. I was performing in Vegas with my band, performing my songs and you know, kind of making Pop songs into more Dance, elevating the BPM (Beats Per Minute), so it had more energy for Vegas. In Vegas you gotta keep it pumping 'cause you're competing against all the slot machines, so I have my dancers going on. I did my own re-mixes on whatever Pop song was happening. I put the BPM to around 120. No less than 118, just to keep the energy super high energy 'cause that's how Vegas rolls at night; especially with dancers, they can do cooler choreography when the BPMs are higher. Everything just moves faster. So, it just creates energy. So that's kind of how it happened. I was kind of doing my own re-mixes on top songs and writing my own songs that were more house oriented and more dance oriented, and then some people saw me from Europe and heard me sing and freaked out. They're like, "You gotta come. We gotta record you. I can't believe you're not lip-synching, that you're singing it 'live'. You're a great performer. You're a great singer. You're gonna be a star. Blah, blah, blah." Then we recorded "Land Of The Living", which ended up being kind of a global phenomenon. That album was really, really huge. It was basically me putting my Gospel background, my Jazz background, my R&B background, into the different flavors into Dance music, which I was doing anyway in Vegas. So, we took it across The Pond. Here, because I was White, they always wanted me to be like a Pop artist, but I liked more of the jazzy, funky side of music. I loved the urgency of Rock 'n' Roll, so I put of splash of that in too. I just kind of did my own thing and it blew up overseas and it came back across The Pond.

Q - Tell me more about this show you had in Las Vegas.

A - I put the show together. It was Kristine W. Come See The Music. So I had a six piece band. I had three singers. I had five dancers on stage. So it was a big crew. We did two hour-and-a-half shows a night. We packed the Las Vegas Hilton so much that they had to build a new room for us. So we went from doing 250 seats to 500 (seats) twice a night. It just got bigger. I needed to travel with my records 'cause they were getting big, so I had to stop doing that. Vegas is six nights a week. You get Monday off. I was running around playing clubs on Sunday night and getting a sub to sub for me and it just got too taxing on my health. So, I had to stop and just focus on the music.

Q - How important are words in a Dance Club hit song?

A - Well you know, you think they aren't that important but when you listen to the lyrics, I always liked to write songs that made people think. My mother, who was also an entertainer, said "When you write songs 'cause you're a great song writer, make sure you write songs that you're proud of and when you listen to 'em when you're an old lady that you don't want to shut the player off, that you're proud of." She performed with a lot of people that wrote songs and "one hit wonders." They couldn't even stand to sing. She kind of taught me that.

Q - Your mother was a singer and actress?

A She was a singer. My Dad died when he was 32. The were a duo called The Humdingers. They played Country music and standards and my Dad sounded just like Hank Williams, a great voice like that. My Mom did more of the standards and my Aunt joined 'em for awhile and there was three of 'em and then when my Dad passed away suddenly a 32, my Aunt and my Mom toured as The Humdingers to keep food on the table for us kids. My Mom had four kids, my Mom and Dad had four kids. We were like 1, 2, 3 and 5. So, it was pretty bad. To me they were kind of like a cross between the Indigo Girls and The Smothers Brothers 'cause they did comedy bits too. Just hilarious stuff. My Mom was the straight gal and my Aunt, she's my god mother, she kept things flying all night between the songs. I learned a lot about showmanship from them, rehearsing, dedication, work ethic. All that kind of stuff. My Mom didn't really love it. She did it because we needed to eat. She never really had the passion for music. That always perplexed me. She was like, "It wasn't my passion. I wanted to be a psychologist or this, this and that. But when your Dad died, this is what I had to do to keep food on the table." I feel really blessed that it was my passion and I get to do something I love to do.

Q - Is Fly Again Music your record label?

A - That's my label. I was with major labels for seven years and then I just decided I've been wading through the quagmire of bureaucracy. It seemed like by the time you got something really cool together, it took four, five, six months to get it out. It turns into this big episode where it seemed like you couldn't get through the pipeline. You couldn't get your music through the pipeline. You were fighting through so many politics and whoever was in charge, if they had a favorite band, they were hanging out with the manager of so and so. To me, it got so ugly and political. I had to do it. I started my own label.

Q - And you're the only artist on the label, correct?

A - Yup. (laughs)

Q - How do you balance the singing and the business?

A - It's really, really hard. I wouldn't really advise anybody else to do it to be honest, unless they had a huge team. I do have a team and they're an amazing amount of people. I couldn't do it without the people I align myself with. It takes you a while to find people who are really great. I guess because I had my own show and they were my employees, I was used to employing people, going through singers, dancers and musicians. It was an easier fit for me than it would be for anybody else. I've been the boss where the buck stops here. It is interesting. You have to re really careful. You have to budget what you're doing. You can't make mistakes. You just can't afford to make mistakes 'cause you really have no support system besides yourself. (laughs)

Q - So, having a Bachelor Of Arts degree in Communications And TV Production has served you well?

A - It has. It really has because I used to sit in class and think, "What am I going to do with this? Why am I doing this? I'm wasting my time." I think that's what everyone thinks, but then when you get out into the world and you're challenged like when we were overseas and we were trying to do a video, I showed up at the set and all we had was one camera guy, two stylists, a black room. I mean it was crazy. We had to get so creative 'cause we had no money. That video is brilliant. I was Elvis. I was a casino guy. When you look at what we created in the video in a thirty-six hour period was quite amazing with just basically four people and a big, square black, it looked like a garage in some dank part of Liverpool I think we were.

Q - And a good part of your success is overseas?

A - I do spend time over there. Then I do a lot of U.S. music festivals and the Pride festivals during the Summer time. I think my last show is October 18th, 2014, but I think we started in April (2014).

Q - And what happens after the last show? You go right back into the studio?

A - Exactly. I've already got some songs penned and you kind of give your voice a bit of a rest. We've got the new "Love Come Home" music video that landed on YouTube and who knows where else. It's everywhere. The single came out and that's on iTunes. "Love Come Home" is the new single and I'm really proud of it.

Q - It's reported that four casinos have closed in Atlantic City this year (2014) because of the economy. How has the economy impacted Las Vegas?

A - Well, I think Vegas, because of California, we do pretty well. We kind of sit in-between Arizona and California and we get so many tourists in from those areas and Utah. I just think, I've been to Atlantic City. I've performed in Atlantic City and when I was there last it just felt like it's getting kind of run down and seedy. To me, it just felt like they're not coming together as a community to elevate. It's too fractured. It's every man for themselves. Vegas of course, it's every man for themselves, but these guys come together to make sure that everybody's boat is floating somewhat. They know that each other's success is important to get their tourists to come. Atlantic City is so fragmented, it doesn't seem like they're pooling their energies to create something fabulous. It is a beautiful spot. They're right there on the ocean. So much can be done. I don't know. It just seems very fragmented.

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