Monday, 18 November 2013

#ESPspotlight INTERVIEW: TYRESE Introduces KRISTAL (PART ONE)!


"You cannot Influence others with something that you are not Inspired by."
Tyrese Gibson

The double-edged sword of being a Music Marketing and PR Agent who also blogs, is that I am inundated, almost hourly, with the latest projects from new artists looking for promotion, representation, or both. Unfortunately for most, my standards mean that I'm not your average - in either department. My conscience simply will not allow me to champion anything that I wouldn't be willing to buy myself, so most of what I receive doesn't make it this far - no matter who's behind the helm (sorry guys). The rare times when someone's work affects me enough to illicit a response however; when the music carries a living, breathing pulse of it's own - those are the people that I will rave about until the cows come home.

Roughly a week and a half ago, an e-vite landed in my inbox, from the desk of a gentleman with some prestige. Media press days are ten a penny, no matter who is hosting them, but on this occasion, the invitation was to interview a devastatingly gorgeous young ingenue, that I happened to have noticed was in heavy rotation across the aforementioned gent's social media of late. Familiar in name only, as the first vocalist added to Mr Mogul's Voltron Recordz label, I skimmed the email and pressed play on the track link provided, expecting to be firmly unimpressed. What I heard however, was something that inspired the Universal sign of good music - every hair on my body stood on end - from what I like to call 'The First Listen Goosies'. Now if you're a regular reader, then you will know that whilst I adore every atom of Mariah Carey's being, I didn't even get those when she released 'The Art of Letting Go' last week - the goosies are selective! 'Silhouette' by Kristal Lyndriette Smith however, generated goosebumps so big, they could've been mistaken by unknowing passersby as a rash-like cause for concern...

My RSVP for a seat at one of the global press calls was returned before she reached the third line. Why Yes, thank you Tyrese, I will indeed take you up on the chance to interview the young lady currently blowing the speakers of my mind. Hitting the repeat button, Ms. Kristal sang her way onto three of my playlists before the second verse; here's why...



From that braggadocious intro, the bass deeply aligns itself with your own pulse, until it feels like a part of your own heartbeat. I dare you to tell me that you don't feel that reverb from your roots to your pinky toe - go ahead, I dare you (times infinity)! There's no escaping it. With sultry, Tamia-like vocals, Kristal throws you back until it feels like Thursday on a four-minute and eighteen-second loop. All about the euphoria found in the heights of 'that' moment in a literal 2 become 1 translation, you first have to commend her on the trickery of maintaining excellent vocal control, when singing from the very core of your soul, about losing exactly that. Fitting the bill for a description that very few nowadays earn - Kristal sings in colour. She manages to emote a deeply felt connection that is at once raw and exposed, making you wonder: if she can come up with something of this nature about a string of moments captured in time, what can we expect from her debut album, set for release in the Summer of 2014? She's already set her own huge imprint to follow up in her quality of delivery, that the cynic in me though it would be interesting to see, whether she gave a good impression of being up to the tall task in but a few short days time. On the superficial front however, her Dirty South, Country affectations made a biased sponsor out of me - that's what comes of your hometown (Gaston, North Carolina) being right next door to, and making me nostalgic for, that of my extended Raleigh family!


'Silhouette' by Kristal is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD from the ESP Website...
As far as the song itself goes, regular readers will also be aware of my love (obsession) for '90s-early '00s RnB. Our generation's 'Golden Era', when Music was beautiful. If I say a song is reminiscent of that, then you don't even need to read the rest of this - even though you obviously should for your own entertainment - the weight of my words should communicate that I'm essentially saying this is par excellence. Probably one of my Top 3 sexiest songs by a female artist in 2013 (what can I say - I just haven't cared for much of it); 'Silhouette' could stand alongside a 'Beep Me #911', an 'Are You That Somebody', it could even square up to a 'Brand New' for you true RnB heads, familiar with Missy Elliott's Swing Mob career start (consider the Google search this week's homework for those unfamiliar).

Colour me intrigued, I was quite looking forward to last Wednesday's conference call; the fact that it just happened to fall on ESP's 3rd Birthday, only served as further proof that something monumental was destined, falling inline with what is fast becoming the tradition of someone majorly influential making an appearance on the dates that mean the most in the story of EricaSharlette Promotions Ltd. so far...

Actor, Author, Musician, ENTERTAINER - Tyrese Gibson
Prudence above superstition; I began trying to dial in 25 minutes ahead of time, on the off-chance I faced any difficulties connecting to the Intercontinental meetup, and it was just as well I did! 30 minutes later, on my very last attempt before throwing in the towel in atypical defeat - I was connected in the nick of time. Already running through arrangements, the reality of what I was actually involved in at that precise moment in time didn't really register, until Tyrese Gibson chimed in with a welcoming statement to myself and the other media representatives on the line:


"Thank you all for carving time out of your day to be a part of this very important call; I'm very passionate about Kristal and her project. She's the first artist I have signed officially, in over 15 years of being in Showbusiness. I feel very lucky to have signed her; I feel very lucky and Blessed to have an opportunity to take this musical journey with her.

What I'm excited about the most is, it's an opportunity for you to use your Influence. See I have this thing about Influence; anybody who follows me on social media knows that I'm very big on Influence. A lot us are not aware of the Influence that we have. Some of you write blogs, or have got your websites...really using your stage of Influence, to get people excited about the right things...

The reason why I believe in Kristal as much as I do, is because outside of her obviously being beautiful, outside of obviously having a big voice and being talented, she's been through some horrific sh*t in her lifetime, and through it all, she continues to smile. She continues to believe in God, and is determined to get from where she is, to where she's destined to be.

I want to formally introduce you all to Voltron Recording Artist: Kristal."
(Tyrese)

An introduction like that was, in and of itself, a testament to a belief in, and support of, an artist that is so rare in this day and age. Even had you not heard the song, the strong show of support would automatically pique your interest. Besides the great voice, what was so special? I patiently awaited my turn to find out, amidst the initial confusion over who got to go first - an issue quickly resolved by the Voltron Recordz CEO, who stepped in and managed with a pro's efficiency. With the introduction of my first colleague came the answer to one of my first unlisted questions: Why is a GRAMMY-winning, Hollywood A-List Actor / Author, taking the time to personally sit in on all of the media calls - isn't this supposed to be his perfect description of torture? Instead, a little bit of Roman slipped out. In his hyperactive enthusiasm in greeting the young lady, The Icebreaker Cometh. His infectious energy instantly made all in attendance smile in a way that you could hear over the phone.

With her biography and my too-long list of questions in my lap (each person was allowed 3, with 1 follow up after everyone had their turn), I listened intently to Kristal's responses, and immediately understood. The shy, timid voice that quietly thanked everyone for calling in sounded a far cry from the bold glamazon that I had been listening to on repeat the whole day! This very humble and sweet girl next door, made you want to give her a comforting hug following every syllable she uttered...



How does your situation at Voltron compare, and is it different to, your previous (one)?


Kristal: "It's different because Tyrese has afforded me the opportunity to have freedom as an Artist. If you're an Artist, you know that's very important to us; to be able to explore ourselves and get 'Us' out. To be able to show the world who we are, and experiment with things. He (Tyrese) goes back and forth with me, and helps me with whatever I don't understand. He helps me through those moments. But most of all, just having that freedom...is what's been the greatest part of this whole experience, because I didn't get that when I was signed to a label. They kind of just tell you what to do, and you don't really have a say."


Listening to 'Silhouette' and then going back and listening to your stuff with RichGirl, the sound is totally different, you can tell that the space that you are in right now is totally different and it conveys itself through your music. What do you enjoy about being a Solo artist now - do you miss being in a group?

Kristal: "It's definitely different. I'm used to having other people around me, travelling with me, now it's just me by myself! But it's still been a fun experience. I loved my group...so I definitely miss having my sisters around me, or with me at all times. But this solo journey has really given me the opportunity to take a look at myself, and have those moments alone to figure things out on my own, without other people around me, or other people's influence. It's just me...so that's definitely been the best part about it, because I've learned so much about myself."

Where do you draw that passion and inspiration from in your voice?

An ADORABLE Baby Kristal, starting early...
Kristal: "Well I grew up in the Church, so if you're from the South, and you know anything about Churches in the South, that alone - we learn most of what we know from Church. I learned a lot growing up; my Father is a Musician - a Bass player, and a Singer; so I've been around music all my life. My Mother was a Singer. Most of my family on my Father's side, is involved in music; so I've always been around it, I've always been inspired by music. My Dad and Mum always kept me in talent shows, and anything that I could do to show people my voice, and show my talent - they gave me the opportunity to do that. My family in general, everything that we've been through...I've always said that I wanted my voice to save us from where we were, and that's what I'm still trying to do to this day..."

Already endeared to her off the back of her answers so far, and the humility in her voice, after my introduction and pleasantries, I really wanted to know who (else), more than what, kept that humility in check...

ES: I'd like to go back to something Tyrese said earlier about Influence, and something you mentioned in your last answer. Aside from Tyrese, Brandy, and Whitney - two singers you mentioned on your bio, who else - apart from family - has Influenced you, and why? In what sort of way?

Kristal: "Honestly, every artist that has had the opportunity to come out and be seen - to follow their dreams, has inspired me - period. All the great artists have, because it's the chance for me to see that it is possible. Even if they come out and don't do as well as other artists, everybody's path isn't the same, so it's just seeing that it's possible to reach the goal, to touch it; to come and let the world hear your story, because that's what we do it for. So the world can hear our stories, and understand us, and hopefully we can inspire others. That's what other artists - no matter Man, Woman, or Group - they've inspired me to continue to go on and to get my story out there."

ES: Staying on that topic, I come from an era where Music was a tool for education, but it's not really like that anymore. With your music and what you're planning to bring out, how exactly are you planning to put yourself, and your essence across in your music, so that you're influencing a young generation that's coming up and listening to you now?

Kristal: "Although it's kind of funny to me, recently, I just started doing more sultry, sexy records, because I'm a little bit older now, than I was when I was in my group; but I always definitely want to be tasteful. I don't ever want to be raunchy and nasty, that's definitely not the kind of direction that I want to go in. I definitely want to keep a clean spirit because that's who I am. When it comes to my music, even if I am talking about something sexy, there's always a way to say it so that it's classy, not trashy. I think women should really do that more often, because a lot of young girls do listen to our music. There are a lot of young girls that want to be like us; so I think women should think about that when we create music, because it's the biggest influence in the world. Music influences so many people, so much stuff...it definitely inspires young girls."

ES: I'm from the UK, where we're not quite as familiar with you yet, but if you could sum up your style, and your message in just a couple of words for the British audience, how would you, and what can we expect when we're introduced to you fully?

Kristal at the recent Soul Train Awards in a custom LaureLuxe design
from her Metal Couture boutique
Kristal: "Ah man...I really hate to say it, but I'm kind of a Tomboy! I definitely like to wear tennis shoes, jeans and t-shirts - that's 'Kristal all day, everyday' - I definitely like to be comfortable! I do like to dress up sometimes, but when I do, I want to make sure that I'm making a statement, and that it definitely means something when I do put something on. I have to feel good for me, as a person. I have to be comfortable in it, and I have to feel beautiful - or else I won't put it on! Just me as a person? I feel like I'm a cool person; I love to laugh, I love to have a great time.

When it comes to my music, my whole reason for doing this, is in the hopes that I can touch somebody through my music, influence someone and make somebody's day better. That's what I'm all about, because that's what music has done for me...So I hope that you guys can connect with me, and understand who I am - as a person, and as a Singer - and really develop an incredible relationship, where people can feel like they can walk up to me in the street and we can be best friends, because that's just who I am."

Sign me up now, I'm in! My first 3 questions down, it was the turn of the next in line...

What keeps you going, even through the trials and tribulations?

Kristal: "It's very simple - God. I just keep God first. Even with all the things that I've been through in my life, I just continue to pray for the Spirit of Patience, to wait on what God has for me, because I know that through struggle, most of the time, we're wondering 'What's for me?' Y'know? 'How long is it going to take?' I definitely pray for the Spirit of Comfort, to feel that love...and get comfort from God that I'm going to be ok. Prayer is a big part of my life - I pray all the time. When I'm in the booth, I'm praying, when I'm writing a song, I'm praying, when I'm walking down a red carpet, I'm praying. Constantly...I'm praying that God just keeps me, and moves me in the direction I need to go in. And so that's what got me through, and will continue to get me through everything that I'm going through in my life."

"If you could say something to motivate and inspire the less firm, what would you tell them?"

Kristal: "Just continue on, never let anybody tell you, you can't do it. Believe in yourself more than anything in this world, because that's what's going to take you further. Always have faith that things are going to get better; and most of all, you have to be patient. I'm not saying don't work hard for it, but just be patient enough to wait for what's for you, because that's what's important. Always remain true to who you are, and never let anybody change Who You Are. To get to where you want to be, continue to be yourself."

A lot of times it's hard to stay hungry and motivated...with all that you've been through, you could have stopped - how do you keep that hunger?

Kristal: "Like any other human, I've been through times when I say 'Ok. I don't want to do this anymore'...It's just always been something inside of me, that just burns to continue on, to push on and be the best me that I can be. I was always taught that as a child, that you always push on - don't ever let anything stop you. I had a lot of wonderful people - I have, a lot of wonderful people who keep me motivated to continue on. And it's not really that hard, because it's what I love to do. At the end of the day, if I'm sitting in my room and I don't have a record deal - I'm still going to be singing...So when I get in those moments, I probably make a phone call! Call somebody close to me - my Mother, my Father, my siblings - I'll talk to them, and pray with them, and they'll make sure that I'm ok. Then I can seem to push on through it, knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel."

How did you and Tyrese meet and come to work together?

Tyrese, Kristal, and Tank on the recent Soul Train Awards red carpet
Kristal: "I've known Tyrese since I was about 15 years old, we've known each other for awhile. I actually met him through my Manager at the time - his name was Greg Parks

He actually discovered Tyrese...we've been around each other since then, but we had never actually worked together until now. I probably saw Tyrese about 3 years ago. I was in my group, and we ended up hosting a club together in Miami. He was telling me about his label, and we were just having casual conversations.

When my group disbanded, he was one of very few people who called to make sure I was ok, just checked in with me. A lot of people stopped calling my phone...I was very depressed, there was nobody there for me, I really didn't have anybody to talk to - especially people in the Industry. He was one of very few that reached out, just to make sure I was ok. Just looking out for me and whatever I needed - he was always there for me. He's my freaking Big Brother, I love him to death! That's kind of what swayed me to begin working with him, because he was always very honest with me, very straightforward...It wasn't about how much money he could hand me; it was about how much he believed in me, just as much as I believed in myself, and I hadn't felt that in a long time."

What are you most looking forward to achieving in your career?

Kristal: "There's a lot I want to do, but in the near future, I just look forward to dropping this new album...hopefully having some great album sales, and touring. Speaking to young girls and just touching every soul that I can through my music - that's what's most important. More than making a lot of money, I just look forward to hopefully inspiring people that are on my journey, and on different journeys, to just keep on and be the best them that they can be."

For those wanting to know a bit more about you as a person, how do you like spending your free time, when you're not working on your music?

Kristal: "When I'm not working on my music, I very much, love to be in the house! I'm an 'In The House' kinda girl. I like to spend my time watching movies, anything that involves me cuddling up in the bed, having popcorn - I enjoy it! Watching game shows, scary movies - I'm all into it!"

Just in case you thought he was gone, off learning scripts, or just plain put to asleep by the girlfest happening in-between the official questions - it was an all-female cast of bloggers and journalists after all - Tyrese chimed in to profess his love of the multicultural makeup of those in attendance, and in particular, our accents - even having an Aussie go, bad enough to rouse some laughter from most corners!

Reading your bio, and a little bit about your background, I read that at one point, you had to return home to work in retail. For a lot of people, that would have been their breaking point. You're back on the rise again, and I felt so much inspiration in that. What do you think is the best part about your comeback story?

Kristal: "I think it's important, that from reading the bio, people understand that no matter your setback, as long as you keep your faith, and continue to push forward, what's for you, is for you. I'm a big believer in 'everything happens for a reason', so while I was working in that clothing store, folding those clothes, as much as I hated it, I had to keep a positive state of mind. Knowing that 'Ok; this is only temporary, it's only for a reason, I'm sure I won't be here long'. But while I was there, I made sure I got Employee of the Month! I always did my best, I always tried to be the best me that I could be.

I wasn't singing - I mean, I was always singing, but I didn't have a situation (record deal). I said 'Ok. Let me make the best out of this, learn everything I can from this situation, at this store, and this line of work, so I can be the best, and whatever is going to come, is going to come.' So I think that the best part is just coming out of the fire, being burnt, and being hurt, and still being able to take this journey with someone, and trust someone with my career - and being ok with doing that. Because I just believed. I had so much faith that God is going to lead me in the right direction to do what I need to do."

One of the other callers talked about the state of the RnB genre of the day. There is definitely a lack of good RnB music. How do you think your sound will evolve the RnB Game today?

Kristal: "I'm just hoping that it will! I have faith that it will, but I'm just excited about the singing again! There's not a lot of that on the radio right now. I respect everything that everybody is doing - I like to Turn Up as well, I like to have a good time; but we're definitely missing the love,  I feel like the love has been lost in this music, y'know what I mean? Nobody's loving nobody no more...but I'm just hoping that, the real singing is going to come back, because we all miss that. You're an RnB girl, I'm sure you miss that feeling...I can't describe it, but whatever it is, we need to bring that back. When we did 'Silhouette', when I heard the music - because I heard the music before the song was even written - I felt that, I loved that. Because it kind of reminds me of Michael Jackson, it's very warm, it almost feels kind of 90s? I just knew, that to me, is what's missing right now - I need to do that. I need to bring all these RnB lovers back to turning on the radio and knowing that they're going to hear something that makes them feel good."

What advice would the Kristal today, give the young girl back in RichGirl, about her journey ahead? Should she be worried? Should she be patient?

Kristal and former RichGirl bandmate Sevyn Streeter
on the Soul Train Awards red carpet
Kristal: "She should definitely be patient! I had to learn that. I thought I was patient back then, but I would tell myself - learn to see the bigger picture. Learn to look at it for what it is; accept it for what it is, and figure out how you can assert yourself and make it better.

My situation with my group wasn't a bad situation; we're all still friends, we all still talk to each other. I just talked to all three of them this past week. I saw Sevyn (Streeter) actually at the Soul Train Awards. We never had a bad relationship, we all were just new, and green...We all didn't understand the business; so I would definitely tell myself in RichGirl, make sure you learn your business. Make sure you know about your contracts and what you're looking at. And just have a hope that things are going to be better. We didn't know what to expect, we were all just kind of 'there'. We knew we could sing, we knew we were cute, but that was kind of it, we didn't know anything else. So that's what I would tell myself; have patience, have faith, and just keep moving forward."


You said Whitney was one of your influences. If you could have been in any of her videos, which one would it have been and why?

Kristal: Ooooh, (I Wanna) Dance with Somebody! I love that video - I just want that hair! I can't tell you how many times I've watched, just because of her hair, it's kind of ridiculous! I love the clothes and everything! I love that song -  if I could remake any of her videos, that's the one that I would love to be in!




Congratulations on landing a speaking role in Fast7. What was that moment like for you?

Kristal: "I could never have imagined that moment would even happen! It was very much a surprise to me, I kind of auditioned on the spot...I wanted my spot to be earned. I didn't want (Tyrese) to put me in a movie, just because he can put me in a movie, because I feel like that's not fair; there's other people who have been working (hard), so if I'm going to get a part, I want to audition. So that was very scary for me, honestly; but I went through with it - I was scared as hell! I did it, I got through it, and I'm just so excited to be a small piece of this incredible franchise. That small role means so much to me, and I'm just looking forward to what's coming next, I'm ready to audition for some more stuff!"

Overall, what do you want your previous fans, and new fans to know about you, that they might not know?

Kristal: "Well I guess this time around, people are going to get to know my actual story, what I've been through. In the group, nobody really knew, they just knew 'Lyndriette, a girl from North Carolina, who's been singing all her life'. They didn't really know in-depth. My old fans, as well as new fans will really get a chance to see into my world. I want it to be very intimate with my fans this time around, because I learned that's a part of people loving you, and accepting you - feeling like they have a piece of your world, they can relate in a lot of ways.

A lot of the time, I was afraid to say anything about my story, because I didn't understand that people would relate, and Tyrese actually helped me understand...there's a lot of people going through what you're going through, you need to tell people your story; you have to tell people your story, because it's so important. So that's what will be different this time around."

Circling back for the follow ups, we took it from the top as everyone got just that little bit bolder...

What is your overall goal? How do you foresee moving forward and really giving everybody all that you have?

Kristal: "I really look forward to just inspiring people. I look forward to touching peoplegetting into their world, and kind of showing them that they're not the only one. Because really, I just wanted that. I just learned not too long ago, that I'm not the only one that's been through struggles, I'm not the only one who's been through pain, or who felt a bit of happiness and lost it. So my goal is to touch any, and everybody, that I can, in the most positive way that I can, and hopefully people will invite me in. It's a very scary thing for me, being a solo artist, and putting my heart out there - my soul, and my life, and hoping that everybody just accepts me, and loves me, and takes me in. I do this for the sole reason of just touching people the way that I've been touched through music."

ES: What is the one thing that Tyrese has taught you, that you have taken away from his almost 20-year career, that he may not be aware of teaching you?

Tyrese, Sevyn Streeter and Kristal on the Soul Train Awards 2013 red carpet
Kristal: "I remember something he said to me one day, just out of the blue - I think it was off the top of his head. He told me: 'Consistency, at some point, will establish your individuality.' That spoke volumes to me - I was like, 'Wow, that's incredible - did you just come up with that?!' And he said 'Yeah actually, I did!' But that meant a lot to me, because of course, being a woman in this business, you're always compared to the next woman, and the next one. 'Oh well she looks like, oh well she sounds like, well her hair looks like, well she talks like...' I would always get that in my group, even being by myself, it's just got so frustrating. So when he said that to me, it really just took a load off of me. I was like 'Wow, you're right!' If I continue to do me, they'll have no choice but to see who I am. I think that's important, that's why I always say, remain who you are, because that's what's going to make your mark. People will eventually have to learn who you are, if you continue to be yourself. That's the biggest lesson he taught me, and I carry it with me."

What is a highlight for you - something you'll never forget? One thing that happened in your career that you will never forget, something that's special, from the beginning until now?

Kristal: "Honestly, the biggest and best thing that I feel has happened to me, was when my group actually toured with Beyonce on the North American / Canada leg of her 'I Am...' tour. That was the biggest moment of my life; because we didn't have a #1 single, we didn't have an album, we barely had a song out, and she believed in us as a group enough, to actually have us come and be her opening act. She wasn't supposed to have one, but she saw our video while she was in Europe actually, and said 'I want them on my tour.' So that spoke a lot about our talent; for her to even want us, when she didn't want an opening act was like WOAH! That means a lot, and that was my first real tour experience.

We had toured before, but never on that level - she's one of the greatest Entertainers in the world. So to just be a part of that, be able to touch that, to be able to see her...I love her work ethic, so every night after we opened, I would change my clothes and just go and watch her perform. We did about 50 shows, and I watched every single one of them, because I just wanted to learn, I wanted to know, ok what is she doing to pull these people in...I need to know! I would come out, sit front and centre, and just watch. I wouldn't sing, I wouldn't do anything, I would just watch her, and I pulled a lot from that...She probably doesn't know it, but she was a great teacher for me at that time."

Tyrese: I want to jump in and say, that one of my best friends, since I was 13 years old - we started singing at the same park - is Brandy Norwood. When I finally reconnected with Kristal, and we decided that we're going to take this music journey; she said of all the people that inspired me musically, as a Singer, the one that I listen to, when I have thoughts or questions that pop up in my head like, do I still really want to do Music; the one person that inspired her to never give up, and never turn her back on the Music, was Brandy NorwoodFaith Evans, Leandria Johnson, and Kim Burrell - there are already different female artists that she really looked up to, that have inspired her over the years, and created the makeup of some of her musical DNA


Kristal: Actually, other than what I mentioned before, I would also say meeting Brandy - thank God her and Tyrese are best friends, woohoo! To be around her, in her presence - that was on the same level for me, as the tour. Just being able to be around her energy, to greet her, to laugh with her, and have her compliment me, as a singer - that just blew my mind! You think I'm a great singer? That was just crazy to me, because she's my #1!

As Tyrese says, those times when I was down, I would just put her music on, and that would be it - I would think 'this is just too beautiful not to do'. And it's funny, because as much as I love her, I never, ever, sing with her music, because I just want to hear her!  I just listen, I don't even sing with Brandy - she's just too incredibly dope, and I don't ever want to feel like I'm not s'posed to sing anymore! Meeting her, and being able to be around her energy, has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and I just thank God that Tyrese gave me that opportunity. The first day that I even came out to work with Tyrese, he was like "Hey, I got a surprise for you..." - he didn't even know that I loved Brandy the way that I do - he had no idea. I walked in the kitchen and she's sitting there, and my insides are just going crazy...I'm like ok; I'm not trying to be starstruck, but I love this woman beyond words - she has NO idea! It's definitely on the same level, if not more, to me.

Tyrese: "Y'know what, I have to say this - I did the same thing when I toured. My first official tour ever, for my first album, was with Brian McKnight - my #1. Multi-talented Singer, piano player... Just like Kristal. I came out in the audience and Brian McKnight sang every single night with his live band, and it just messed me up! I did all of my talent shows singing 'One Last Cry' - so to tour with him was just crazy.

Sometimes I think people can read things as 'I want to be them', but what they should understand, is that successful artists represent the possibility of how far you can go. The possibility of what level playing field you can get to. I don't think anybody wakes up everyday thinking "I want to be her, or I want to be him." They just represent the possibility. There is no bigger star than Beyonce. She represents the possibility of how big a female artist can be, and how far you can go. You look at Mariah Carey, you look at R. Kelly - these performers and Entertainers that have won multiple GRAMMYs - they win so many that a lot of times, they won't even show up anymore, because they got so many. They represent the possibility of how far a career can go through hard work and dedication.

I've had the opportunity to be around people like Will Smith, and Denzel Washington, and when you really get around these guys and say 'Man, do I really want to get this big? Do I really want to get to that level?' Because it takes a lot of responsibility to work that hard and get the $20 million dollar movies. So...I'm gonna shut up again, you all can continue!"

As I'm sure you've gathered by now - these anecdotal moments with the Superstar, were absolutely priceless. Not because we ordinary, everyday ladies were sat listening to a global Superstar...Ok, well not just for that reason. But the more we listened to him dispense these nuggets of gold, the more familiar we became with Kristal, and the invaluable wisdom that she is gleaning on a daily basis - just by spending time with him. I genuinely felt that the more he shared these kinds of insights with us, the more we began to understand the everyday classroom of her learning; she must never want to leave - I know we didn't!

As we approach the festive season, we just want to know how you'll be spending your Christmas holidays?

Kristal: "I am going to be spending my Christmas with my family. We've actually been working for 3 months straight, so I haven't seen my family, or had the opportunity to spend any time with them, so I'm definitely going home to enjoy my holiday..." (at this point Tyrese could be heard, woefully screaming "Nooooooo!" in what could only be described as a hilarious audition for 'Scary Movie 295: Watts Revenge' - hey, the man loves a franchise, we all know it's true!). Giggling with the rest of us, Kristal playfully continued: "I'm sorry Tyrese, but I'm going home for the holidays! Even if it's just one day! I'm all for working on the holidays, we've got to get it done, but I'm definitely going to have a meal cooked by my Mum, or my sister! And I'm definitely going to have a good time, sitting around the Christmas tree and the fire, and have some fun. Then I promise Reese, I'll be back to work - I promise!"

The unconscious slip back to the familiar term of endearment, not only proved just how close these obviously genuine friends really are - outside of the music, but also that our initially shy guest of honour had reached a comfortable enough plateau amongst her new worldwide circle of friends, that she was finally relaxing.

Since you're going home for the holidays, what's your all-time favourite meal that your Mum makes?

Kristal: "Ohhh, myyy gosh. Girrrrl, you're going to put me on the spot! I've got to tell the truth: I am addicted to Devilled Eggs - they have to be my Mum's, or my sister's, or I won't eat them! My Mum's potato salad, turkey - got to have that! Dressing, and my Mum's famous fried green beans. Yes - gotta have that! That's my favourite meal of all time - if I could have that everyday during the year, I would, but it's only one time a year that she tries to get me fat!"

Your album is slated to come out next Summer; have you started working on it, and who are you intending to work with?

Kristal: "Oh yes, absolutely! We're basically finished. We're just cleaning up, and filling in little...areas, polishing up so that everything makes sense, and linking everything together, so that the album has a cohesive feel, from the beginning to the end. We have everything basically done! I'm just excited - period, to even have an album! To be doing music that I know everybody is going to hear! That has definitely made a difference this time around, because I know when I'm recording, somebody's going to actually hear this! That's been exciting for me.

I want to work with Kendrick Lamar; I think he's incredibly talented. He attended the BET Awards this past June, and when he accepted the award, he made a speech that touched me, so deeply. He was talking about coming from the Hood, coming from a hard upbringing, and going through a lot of things, and just continuing to push forward. He said 'This is what we work for...these moments right here'. He really seems like he's been through a lot, just like me. I just can't wait to work with him. Really looking forward to working with Brandy - she's My Hero, so I would love to do something with her. Maybe somewhere down the line, me and Reese will do something! He's been kind of staying out the way, he doesn't want anybody to assume that just because he sings, he's going to be on my album. But we'll end up doing something together!"

After thanking us with sincere warmth, and wishing us all a wonderful festive season, our new best friend was gone! Slipping out just as quietly as she entered, the only difference being a room full of supportive ears that I'm quite sure she could call on, should she ever fancy an afternoon of hot cocoa, trash telly and popcorn. Why yes, that was the most unsubtle invitation ever. I want to say 'I'm British - I can get away with it', but really, it's just me and my shameless honesty.

And one more thing - I cannot wait to see the video for 'Silhouette'. Everything that I envisioned before this interview no longer quite rings true, with the essence of the woman I was privileged enough to meet. The song itself is so epic that it's visuals will need to stand just as tall; but more than anything, I'm now genuinely excited for this magnetic young woman to come through with something true to the essence of her. Her creative connection to Tyrese has such a strong bond, that I fully believe like the Music - these two are set to make history together.


Now then - AFTER you've copped her brilliant new single 'Silhouette', Connect with the absolutely lovely Kristal across her Social Media Catalogue (tell her what you think of it too - she really wants to know!):


And if by some freak force of nature, you don't know where to find Tyrese, his Social Media Catalogue is right here:


Need more music? Have a read of the #ESPspotlight Review for '3 Kings' Tyrese's latest release as a part of RnB Supergroup, TGT!

Need more Tyrese? Well then, I suggest you head back this Friday afternoon, for the Part Two of one of my favourite interviews to date!

I don't know about you all, but I am thoroughly exhausted to the point of floating after all that! Share your thoughts on the song and interview so far on your stage, otherwise known as the Comments Box below. As you know, a friendly share is always welcome!

I think some relaxation time has been well and truly earned, don't you? From here on in, talk to my 'Silhouette'...

Nighty-Night...
ES ;)

*All images courtesy of Voltron Recordz, used with permission.