Leggy Las Vegas showgirl turned fierce dance diva Kristine W has returned with a vengeance. A serious health crisis curtailed the singer/songwriter after the release of her 2000 CD Stronger. The woman, whose first full-length major-label album was titled Land Of The Living, has undoubtedly made a return to that place with her new disc Fly Again (Tommy Boy). Wide-eyed with wonder one minute ("The Wonder Of It All") and glowing as luminously as the sun the next ("I'll Be Your Light"), Kristine W's voice, a source of power and persuasion, is what makes these songs take flight. A second bonus disc, continuously mixed by Thunderpuss's Chris Cox, features remixes and extended mixes The Scumfrog, Orange Factory and others.
Gregg Shapiro: On October 15th you performed live at a record release event and fundraiser for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society at The Derby in Hollywood. How did that go?
Kristine W: It was fun. We had a blast.
GS: How was the audience's response?
KW: They loved it. They really did. It was good.
GS: One of the consistent things about dance music is that many of the songs have uplifting and empowering lyrics. Do you feel like after what you have been through with your health crisis that you are more invested in singing those kinds of lyrics with positive messages?
KW: Yeah, but it's okay to sing about how you feel, too. It's all right to vent, too.
GS: "Fly Again" and "I'll Be Your Light" are two such songs with positive messages. What was the inspiration for them?
KW: "I'll Be Your Light" would have been a letter to my kids if I hadn't made it through my illness. It would have been something I wanted them to listen to when they were
feeling bummed out and go, "Hey, I'm here. Keep going." When I first recorded it, that's what I was feeling. "Fly Again' is not really an uplifting tune. (Quoting the lyrics) "Go ahead and fly again/No one's gonna hold you back/Driven by a
lonely heart/Tell me can you love like that" - that's about how people always think they're going to find something better somewhere else. We also wanted to do a tune called "Fly Again," because we kept obsessing about how difficult it was to get on an airplane and fly any place. There's a three part reason why we went with that title, and the third part is because I kept waiting for my doctor to tell me when I was starting to get better from my leukemia, that it would be okay for me to fly again; that my immune system was strong enough that I could fly again.
GS: Are you someone who feels especially vibrant and vital in a club
KW: Yeah, I do. I feel alive when I'm in the clubs. I don't know what it is. But I always have. When I'm surrounded by music I feel like I'm really there, really alive. I always have, since I was a little kid. Especially when I've got the microphone and I'm singing. I'm in seventh heaven. That was always a dream. It's nice to be able to perform my own songs.
GS: The tune "Song Lives On" has a very autobiographical feel to it. Can you tell me what inspired you to write that?
KW: My mother and my grandmother. It's a story of three generations and how the music is passed on. From my grandmother teaching it to my mother and myself and my mother passing it on to me. Whether or not I pass it on to my kids, it's nice for them to hear the song and know that it's about their great-grandma and their grandma.
GS: Sort of an heirloom. Most of the songs on Fly Again are deeply rooted in the dance genre. Is that where you continue to feel most at home as a performer?
KW: Not really. A lot of times it's easier to reach an audience when you put a nice beat behind it. Sometimes the music comes off kind of heavy when it doesn't have a beat behind it. Dance music is kind of a cool way to say something, but still have a happy beat behind it.
GS: The theme of "radio" comes up in a couple of songs, and I will never forget the time that you came into the studio during a show on LesBiGay Radio and you sang live on the air. How important is it to you to make those kinds of appearances?
KW: It's really important. But radio is so controlled now, that it's very hard to get played on it. With the big stations, you have to pay them to play your music now. (Laughs) It's kind of a sad situation. Maybe that's why I bring it up (on the CD). It's always on my mind. Back in the day they used to play music because it was good, but not anymore.
GS: But there are still radio stations dedicated to dance music in major markets.
KW: I hope so. I've dedicated my life to it, so I hope they're dedicated to the artists. You just hope that there's some love out there for what you do.