Local star on the rise
jason kruppa PHOTOGRAPH
Kristin Diable, a Baton Rouge native who did some time in New York before returning to New Orleans, released her latest album, Create Your Own Mythology, at the end of February – a fitting title for an album that feels like the first chapter in a new story. Diable’s last album was 2012’s Americana-influenced Kristin Diable in the City. With the help of Nashville producer Dave Cobb, her newest effort has sleek production, like the subtle orchestrations of “Hold Steady,” and showcases the grit and cool ’tude in her voice in songs like the rollicking album opener “I’ll Make Time For You.” From there the album journeys through a variety of genres, from the thunderous gospel chorus of “Time Will Wait,” to the spare, piano driven torch song “Bird on a Wire.” The album has already gotten coverage from outlets such as NPR, making it seem Diable is poised for a national breakout this year. You can catch her home in New Orleans during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Sun., April 26.
Q: What was going on in your life before the album that influenced the songwriting and theme? I took this kind of wild adventure all around Europe and to Africa and to Morocco. I’ve never really been on a trip like that before, so far away from home, kind of left to my own devices and relying on the kindness of strangers and moving with the wind to make everything work. I think that trip, particularly, was a really great moving exercise. The idea of “create your own mythology” is everything in life is kind of a myth, from what we consider people in power to be or the fact that doctors have all the answers to how to be healthy, or some guy in some office holds the key to your potential success or career or whatever. So if everyone else is making up these myths, why not make up your own? You make up your own or you’re buying somebody else’s.
Q: What’s it like as an artist living in New Orleans, where you have to make things happen for yourself? I think it’s important to be in a place where creatively and spiritually you feel inspired. You feel at your best capacity. I think that’s imperative to make good art. New Orleans is that place for me and always has been. In New Orleans, I think people are much more receptive and supportive. There’s such a great community of musicians here who are so connected to each other – and everyone in New Orleans wants to see everyone rise, and be successful and be happy and to get to fulfill whatever it is they’re working toward fulfilling. Not that that isn’t the case in New York, but people there are so busy and preoccupied with their own individual microcosm in New York it’s a lot harder to find that community there. I think New Orleans is a much more fertile place to make good art, find your voice, find your sense of integrity and vision with what you’re trying to do. There’s more music business in New York, but you don’t need to live in New York to find those people.
Q: I heard you auditioned for “The Voice”? I didn’t wanna audition for it because I didn’t think it was my cup of tea. Literally for a week straight, every single day somebody I knew – a manager, venue owner, another band, was saying, “you should audition” and I kept saying no thanks. It’s not really my thing. And it just happening so many times that I thought, maybe I should just fucking do it so people stop asking me about it. So I thought, I’m going to post about it on Facebook because I’m curious to see what friends and fans think of this. That post got more responses than any song, any video, any lyric, anything of my art that I’ve ever posted on Facebook. And that was the answer. Shit. TV is that powerful.
I went and auditioned, and I think I saw everyone who plays music in town that day. It was like a festival. I don’t even think it went that great, those things are horribly awkward. That was that; didn’t think much of it. They called me and up and said “We want you on the show. We’re going to send you the contract and fly you out to L.A.”… ultimately the contract was just shit … They want to own all your rights, publishing – basically they make you their slave for lack of a better term. And that’s just not good business. I’m not going to sell my whole life’s work for a chance to be on TV for 15 seconds. It’s not worth it. I’ll have my time to be on TV when it’s time.
Age: “Infinite” Occupation: Singer/songwriter Born/Raised: Baton Rouge Currently resides: “Between Bywater and Mid-City” Favorite movie: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Favorite TV show: “House of Cards” Favorite hobby: “Sleeping. Don’t get to do it much these days. It’s a luxury.” Favorite restaurant: Bacchanal Favorite book: Confederacy of Dunces Favorite vacation spot: Thailand. “Beautiful country, beautiful people and the food.”
If I wasn’t an artist I’d want to be a music anthropologist like Alan Lomax. Spend my days on lost highways finding music untouched by commerce.