Saturday afternoon after a heavy downpour, the damp air hung heavy. Kristen, the champion she is, led us through a mishmash of colonial remnants and foliage at Fort Canning.
We then found ourselves at a refurbished gazebo and lost ourselves within Kristen’s dulcet tunes. Using a fingerstyle technique that combines both the melody and percussion, her musical renderings of iconic songs puts our jaded souls at ease.
Watch the video above to listen to Kristen’s rendition of More Than Words by Extreme.
After which, we sat down for a little one to one.
So, who is Kristen?
Kristen is an NUS student who believes that music heals the soul. She took a personality test once, and it said that she is a spiritual humanist, whatever that means!
Spiritual humanist, huh? Then what got you started playing the guitar?
So basically, I started with a cheap classical guitar, but didn’t play classical songs at all. I played it as an accompaniment, and would usually play for family or friends. Nothing big. Then one day, I realised that I could play the melody using the guitar! I used to play monophonic instruments like the saxophone and flute, so it wasn’t hard to just come up with single lines of melodies. And then one day I thought, why not combine the two? Eureka moment. Started with a simple Christmas song ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ if you guys know it. So yeah, it went uphill from there I guess.
Interesting! So, what goes into choosing the kinds of songs you play?
There are no factors, really. If I like the song. I’ll try to play it. I just basically try to come up with something that sounds good.
Are there any reasons behind your fingerpicking style?
Why finger picking? That intangible feeling I get when combining chords rhythm, the melody and the percussive aspect all at once – it really can’t be explained in words.
Describe the process of learning a song.
First thing I do, is to pick a song. Usually, I do not pre-plan a song to play? When I’m just, y’know, fiddling around with my guitar and the song pops up in my head, I’ll just try to play it. I start with the chords and then slowly factor the melody in. I have to make sure that there is at least one note in the chord that has the corresponding note of the melody in it and then add my tapping in… (laughs) Sounds complicated but it’s really hard to put it into words!
Do you hope to explore different methods of covering songs?
Well.. Fingerstyle has kinda become my identity. But, sure! I am open to playing the guitar in a band or singing covers as well.
I noticed your lip kept, err, ‘quivering’ when you play. Are you aware of it?
(laughs) Honestly I don’t even feel it moving! It doesn’t even move according to rhythm… (trails off) My friends always laugh at me about it, but I say, hey professionals also move their lips when they’re in their zone!
Currently, you have been posting videos on Facebook only. What are your future plans?
Facebook to me is a more personal platform, mainly to share my covers with people who already know me. Well I mean if I get much better, I would like to share it with the world, like on Youtube. But as of now, I really like the expression on my friends’ faces when they see me play for the first time? Like they just witnessed a magic trick or something and go like “how do you do that?!” (laughs)
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