by Tracy Darlington
Krystal Meyers Interview
of us can be world changers. All of us can make a difference in some
form or fashion."
A lot has happened to Krystal Meyers since the release of her self-titled debut album in 2005. The talented teen has graduated from high school, received a Dove nomination for Best New Artist, scored a hit album and has not only become one of the most successful newcomers in the U.S., but has become a sensation in Japan. She's been on the cover of Nylon and Bounce magazines and knocked the Red Hot Chili Peppers from the top slot to achieve her first No. 1 single in Japan. All that can add up to a swirling vortex of changes, commitments and challenges, but at the center, everything remains the same - Krystal's God-given talent, her unwavering faith and her intense passion to spread the gospel.
Listen in as I talk to Krystal about her album Make Some Noise, her trips to Japan, her most memorable on-the-road story, and much more!
Tracy: What artists or bands have had the most impact on you and your development as a musician?
Krystal: It’s ever changing. I’m writing the 3rd record right now, and the influences are completely different than the two previous records. Before I was influenced a lot by Dashboard Confessional, Mae , harder bands like Blindside. There was more of an overall rock feel. Now I’m in the process of a new sound, influenced by bands like Shiny Toy Guns--- more dance/rock type stuff.
How does Make Some Noise differ from the first two albums?
It’s really different. It’s more dance/rock, and it’s got 80's new wave stuff in it, lots of cool bizarre programming and lots of great dance beats. I mean, we still have songs that are more scaled down, not necessarily serious, but piano driven. But mostly it’s a really fun record. We’re in the process of finishing up writing for it, and then we’re gonna start recording it. We’ll hopefully have a spring release date, which will be nice.
I wanted to branch out from what I was doing, and my influences are so much different than what they were before. I am personally different. I wanted to grow out of the punk/pop thing. Ian Eskelin isn’t going to produce it for more than a few tracks, but I’ve written two songs with him so far, and it’s going well. We’ve branched out with a bunch of different writers. I’m writing with this production team called Track & Field, one of the guys there did the first two Nellie Frittata records. He’s done a lot of stuff in the mainstream world as well. I think at this point we’ve got 5 or 6 different writers/producers.. (Laughs.)
Has it been a struggle to be an artist and a teenager? What steps have you and your family taken to help you with that?
I have a really supportive family. It probably all boils down to having them, and being able to rely on God to take it into His hands and trust that everything’s gonna be okay. Especially since I was signed at 16, and I started touring at that age. If my mom wasn’t able to do that with me, I wouldn’t have been able to tour or make a record at all. She knew I wanted to do this, and it’s what I was cut out for, but I don’t think any of us realized it was gonna happen at such a young age.
It was hard at first, but she didn’t say a word to me because she didn’t want to discourage me; she didn’t want me to worry and be like, “Oh, my mom’s not comfortable.” She didn’t want me to feel that. She trusted God and put everything in His hands. It boils down to that when you’re a teenager. The crazy thing is that I’ve moved out of the house now, and all of us are used to the fact that I’ve been doing this for the last 3 years. My next record is gonna come out when I’m 20. I know it was so hard for my mom. We had started getting extremely close before I went on tour, and then I left and I was never at home. It was hard for me, too.
If you could say one thing to this generation, what would you say?
Since I am part of this generation I can say it’s so about finding your voice and being able to stand up for who you are. All of that comes down to searching your heart, asking God to search your heart and show you what He wants you to do. Find that relationship with Him and cling to it so you can find the strength to stand up in the hard times, be able to stand out in a crowd and speak your mind clearly and effectively, and trust that everything’s gonna be okay.
All of us can be world changers. All of us can make a difference in some form or fashion. Being able to stand up in school and be that voice, or touring around the globe and speaking to the masses like I do . . . all of us have a place. All of us have an opportunity to do that. A lot of us are still in school or about to go off to college, or in college studying for a career, and that just ups it even more. We have to be able to speak our minds.
On your second album you had the change to collaborate with Tiffany Arbuckle Lee (aka Plumb) and Matt Bronleewe on the song “Stand and Scream”. What was it like working with them?
It was cool. I’ve actually known Tiffany for many years, ‘cause her husband used to be my manager. I had written with her before I even got signed. And I had written with Matt many times too, even before I got signed. I love both of them. I grew up listening to Plumb. Tiffany was my favorite artist. She is so cool! She’s fun to work it, and she’s got such a vision. She is just a complete artist package. She knows how to get a song in the right place.
I can’t remember exactly how the idea came about, but we were probably just sitting around listening to Matt play guitar, and we’re like, “Oh, I’ve got it.” Normally that’s how it happens. That was one song that got finished really quickly. Matt wrote up a track while we were sitting there in the room, and then Tiffany and I went off and wrote lyrics. That is my favorite song to do live. I absolutely love doing it and getting the crowd into it.
Describe a day in the life of Krystal Meyers when she’s not on tour.
I try to get as much sleep as possible because I normally stay up until 12 or 12:30 the night before. I wake up, eat, and go hang out with my boyfriend and other friends. When we’re writing I don’t always get to sleep in though. It’s the most relaxed, nothing exciting life. I get an opportunity to do nothing. It’s nice; it feels good. It’s fun to be on tour, but there’s something about being home and waking up in your own bed.
Let’s say you’re sitting across from a teen who’s not at all sure about this Christianity thing. What would you say to them?
I would tell them my testimony and how real God is to me. I’d share what God’s done to make my dream of becoming a singer happen and how He’s put me with the right people. When talking to anyone who’s not a believer, it’s important to be real and talk about your own life and others that you know. Talk about how real God has made Himself to you. I don’t want to get all long and drawn out, but that’s the root of it. Then you can open up about more Biblical stuff. But in the beginning you can’t just hit everyone over the head with it. There are a lot of people who take that approach, but that doesn’t really get you very far. Having a relationship first, you can talk about God personally. That means a lot to the people I talk to.
What are some of the culture differences in the music scene in Japan?
Everything is mainstream over there. Out of a hundred million people there are only 1% who are Christian. So I’m a mainstream artist over there. I’m on the same label with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. I have the same handlers and the same team working with me that works with them. So that’s different. People in Japan listen to all the stuff that’s playing on the mainstream radio here. They have some Japanese artists who are really big over there, but mostly they listen to everything that’s played here. They seem to be more music lovers than we are, and I’m a music fanatic. They love music just because it’s music, whether country, hip-hop, pop, electro-dance stuff.
One of the cutest things is that they printed the lyrics to my songs in Japanese inside the cover, but when they come to shows they are trying to sing in English. “Anticonformity” was the number one single over there, and everybody knows it. But anticonformity isn’t really a word.. (Laughs.) It’s not even a normal English word, but they try to sing it.
Marketing is a little different, too. The first record had the same cover over there, but they wanted to make it stand out even more. The Japanese version has brighter colors. And the photo shoot is different, not the same press photos. It’s a great country. I love going over there. I am a sushi fan now. I eat sushi at least once a day when I’m over there.
Could you share with us why you named your second album “Dying for a Heart”?
Dying for a heart is a line in the chorus of “Love is on the Run”. We were talking back and forth about a bunch of different tiles. We had thought of naming the record “Stand and Scream”. One of the girls I work with came up and said, “If I just said ‘Dying for a Heart’ to you as a title, what would you think?” I started thinking about it, and ultimately, that’s what Christ did for us. He died for a heart so we could have communion with Him. Also on a more universal level, all of us, whether we’re Christians or not, all of our hearts are constantly looking for a place to find resolve. I wanted this record to point to all of that.
Two things people might be surprised to know about you?
I have ADHD really, really, really bad. I used to be on medication for it. (Laughs.) It was really hard to do school work in high school and be focused. I ended up being homeschooled after 9th grade, and that definitely helped.
I really want a Great Dane one day. I want to name him Dallas. He can go on tour with me and have his own bunk. He’ll have to have a bunk, or the whole back room.
You’re in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
I’m either getting tea or I’m getting one of those Izzy drinks. Ya know, in the little fridge thing by the cash register. I love the pink sparkling grapefruit one.
Three things always found in your refrigerator?
There is always french onion dip because I love french onion dip with celery. Normally there is a ton of Vitamin Water in there, ‘cause I’m addicted to that stuff. And normally there are Lunchables, strangely enough. I’m telling you, I don’t eat them as much as I used to, but there are always some in there. That used to be what I would buy on tour. I’d eat like two of them per meal if we weren’t gonna stop. Either the deep dish pizza ones or the nacho ones. I’m afraid of the hamburger and hot dog ones. Those scare me. I’m not heating them up; it freaks me out.
What has been your most memorable on the road story so far?
I should jot this stuff down in a journal. There are so many of them, but I do remember a lot of overseas stuff. My trips to Japan are extremely exciting. I could go on for days about them. But I remember one story in particular that shook me up like crazy. We were playing a show in Minneapolis about a year and a half ago. We had just gotten done playing the show, and we’re at the signing table. There is a really long line. Finally this big guy came up and he got in front of me, looked me in the eyes and started bawling. I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, what’s wrong?” He dried his face and regained his composure. He explained that he’d had a really, really troubled life, and he was getting ready to end it. The radio had been on in the background. He had even cocked the gun and put it to his head. Right as he was about to pull the trigger my song “My Savior” came on the radio. It caught his ear, and he dropped the gun and dropped to his knees crying, “God, what am I doing?” Right then and there he gave his heart to the Lord. He turned his life around. I know it was hard for him to tell me this, but you could tell he was now so full of life. That really shook me up. It’s cool that God was able to use my song in that moment to help a kid who was getting ready to end it all. I gave him a hug, and I was so happy.
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.