Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How To: K. Raydio

If Shirani cried “wolf”, I’d get a shotgun. If Shirani said the sky was falling, I’d shoplift an umbrella. If Shirani said there were WMD’s in Iraq, I’d move to Canada. Her word is bond, and when she posts on my facebook wall to check out her friend from high school gone singer/songwriter… then yeah, I’m gonna check it out.

The evening I clicked a music reference from my long-time theatre accomplice, Shirani, I got jealous. The link lead me to a bandcamp site for a gal by the name of K. Raydio. The cover picture looked professional, happy, carefree, as if to say “I know what I’m doing, and if you happen to think differently… I’ll still be smiling.”

Sunlight bouncing from the arches of her curly hair, freckle-dotted cheeks, and again with that smile… Who is this woman? Her font’s cooler than mine, her picture looks edited, placed, and shot to perfection, and here I am already jealous without having heard a single decibel from the woman. So I listen… the feeling sinks deeper, gets worse, turns anxious. Who made her beats? I must have them. I need to call Jake, have him listen to this, and vow to make better. We need to up our game. Who is this K. Raydio, where the f did she come from, and why is everything on this page infinitely cooler than anything I’ve conducted in the past several years? I’m beat.

I listen more. Erykah Badu? Na, Erykah’s voice isn't as full as this. What about that one chick that sang with the all-star Moulin Rouge song… Pink, Christina, Lil Kim, and – damn, what was her name? Na, her voice is more innocent than this. It sounds like something I’ve heard before, and then again nothing I’ve heard before. Sounds like she’s just coming into her own, and yet been here long enough to emphasize a story within a simple phrase.

Say, would ya say, would ya say, would  ya say… Say, would ya say, would ya say, would ya say I’m the other… The significant other.

A break-up. Something happened (Duh, Toussaint). Something about a frayed relationship. Perhaps a relationship that never had a chance, paced in the gray for too long, never grew to it’s full potential and only ever had a chance in the hands of a songstress to write it out. Maybe the poor chap broke K’s heart- left her at the dance, at the dorm, at the bar, left her somewhere between a promise and first sight (Mind you, I’m listening to the first  20 seconds of her bandcamp, a track titled “Intro”).

My jealousy subsided. Pride back in check, per usual these days, and I listen again… and again… and again... and again…

Hmm, the recordings are great, kick ass, magnifique, but how would she hold up at a live performance. The thing with these songstresses are they make a killing in the studio (vocode, pitch shifted, 2nd 4th 8th take), but in concert they flake. Open mics, live exhibitions, SXSW even… I’ve watched more female vocalists choke in my lifetime than I’d ever want to go through in 10 lifetimes. It’s part of the job to watch acts go live and crash, or go live and fly, either way I always get nervous to watch.  I cringe, my eyes wince, like biting into lima beans for the first time or taking a pull of hard liquor for the 5th time… or both at the same time… in the end, I walk out on a perfectly shitty act clashing sharps and flats in a multitude of head-on collisions, or stick around for a talented artist that can wail on that SM58 microphone ‘til the cows come home.

The night came. Twas inevitable. I booked K. Raydio for a slot at the Prof show. This would serve as a potential night at the Apollo for her. The crowd of Prof devotees, hip-hop stressed heads, and music- aficionados would deem her unworthy of their attention and turn for the bar, or take the classic Minnesotan-audience action to any hot beat or danceable tune… and stand there. I’ve toured the country several times and back, and as much as I love my hometown, there’s no other state that gets down less than here… sadly. In Chicago, they move hips at the sigh t and sound of anything with a bass to it, in the south we don’t even need to make a sound for people to start shakin’ ass, and in the east coast, folks bob heads, raise hands, and top rock like they were given official orders to do so. K had a daunting task, and quite possibly I had put her between a rock and a shitty audience.

Upon introducing her to the sold-out Varsity crowd of 600+, twenty-something aged women pushed to the front of the mob, screaming at her stage entrance. Hmm, must be friends. None of’em look anything like K, then again K seemed to have the same genetic make-up as myself where folks can ethnicity guess ‘til they’re blue in the face and still not be near the dart board.

No lie, the beat dropped, and I thought of darting for the green room. What if she sounds horrible? The mob could turn towards me and demand their money back, crucify me on the stage-lights… or just give me a pissy look and discredit me from their list of cool-things-to-do. Na, I gotta see this.  

Say, would ya say, would ya say, would  ya say… Say, would ya say, would ya say, would ya say I’m the other… The significant other.

The intro dissolved, she nailed it, the beat fades… those talented chaps manning the light board at The Varsity, dimmed a cool blue upon the stage… I held my breath- BAM, “Make It Happen” the next track dropped like a bag of bricks- bricks that when dropped, spring to life and immediately start breakin’ it down like a James Brown b-side track his label wouldn’t let’em release, for if he did, it just might rupture the fabric of music and curse every artist to come in 2nd for the longevity of their career. The Varsity jumped, and as unpredicted, heads began to bob, hands began to rise, and the people moved to the sounds of K. Raydio.

The night after the show... directors, DJs, hipsters, musicians sent texts my way in interests of working with her again, and the frequent “who the hell was the gal that killed it at The Varsity???”.

To make a formal answer, for any questions I received about her after that capacity night at The Varsity, her name’s Krysta, but goes by K. Raydio, and she does it again this Friday, Jan. 21st at The Cabooze, 9:20pm Sharp. Don't miss it.

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