Interview by Jocelle Koh with Krysta Joy
Transcript by Grant Zeng

Armed with warm, velvety tones, singer-songwriter Krysta Joy gives us all the warm and fuzzies. Collaborating on the March episode of our Everywhere and Nowhere show titled ‘Can you be gentle with me?’, we spoke at length about the importance of being gentle with ourselves, and -in line with the name of Joy’s last album- ’embracing the progress’. Digging deep into her personal experiences and her most sacred anxieties, Joy is well on her way to becoming one of the most genuine Soul artists the Singaporean music scene has to offer.

Putting together a mix of songs in line with the theme ‘can you be gentle with me?’, the 24 year old creative has dug up some of her most treasured, well-worn tracks that have weathered the worst of storms with her, including some sweet picks from Singaporean acts Charlie Lim, lewloh, Vivien Yap, nkei and Krysta herself.

Listen to our interview with the self titled ‘gentle giant’!

-start of transcript-

Jocelle:
I’m so glad to have you here on our show. Basically, the topic of like this show is “Can you be gentle with me?” And I feel like it’s a collection of songs that I listened to when I’m like, oh, feeling a little bit down or I want to feel supported. And I feel like your songs definitely make me feel that way. I’m so glad. So I was like, oh, Krys, that’s like the perfect person to chat to about this and include you as like a little interview segment.

Krysta:
And it’s very funny, because when I was younger, one of my nicknames was actually gentle giant. Perfect, right? Now I kind of looks like one I’m not gonna lie. But I love elephants. So yes, I can be gentle with you.

Jocelle:
Anyway, do you want to quickly introduce yourself?

Krysta:
So my name is Krysta Joy, I’m a singer songwriter, and also a producer here in Singapore. And I love writing songs about real life, just being open, honest and vulnerable. And sort of infusing a hopeful twist to it because I feel like melancholy is good. It’s cathartic. But I feel like there has to be hope at the end of the tunnel as well.

Jocelle:
Of course, and I feel that, as you mentioned, warmth, and hope and love, it comes up a lot in your lyrics, but not necessarily just about like romantic love and things like that, which I love because I think it’s a really fresh perspective. But in your, latest album, you talk a lot, especially about like, self love. So why is that such an important aspect of your creative process? Or like, why does it inspire you so much?

Krysta:
I feel like, it’s such a huge thing, because I suck at it.

Jocelle:
Same!

Krysta:
I feel like you know, practising what you preach is one thing. But I also do believe in sort of speaking things into existence. And I feel like declaring things is also a very powerful way to actually get those things going. So self love, to me is something that I feel like I struggle with a lot. But I am constantly growing and developing in the area. And so my latest album was, and that’s one of the major themes. And I feel like self love is something that… so you can go both ways. It’s a spectrum, and there’s one end that is taking care of yourself, putting yourself first prioritising yourself so you don’t burn out, you don’t struggle with things that you don’t need to. Then there’s the other end where it’s like, you make yourself like, the most important thing, and you fly all the way to the other end, and then you become very self absorbed, then you start to become very entitled. And yeah, so it’s about exploring that spectrum. And comparing that to the experiences that I go through. And what does it mean to love myself, without only loving myself?

Jocelle:
Yes, I think that’s very deep. And also very true, because I think sometimes self love can be misconstrued as, like being overly indulgent with yourself, but that’s not what it’s about. And I guess, for me, it’s like, you know, like, when you’re on a plane, they’re like, put seatbelt on for yourself before you take care of others, and really, for me, that’s what it’s about. Because self love is important, because when you take care of yourself, that’s when you have the ability to really contribute to society around you and take care of other people. So that’s awesome. For this like album, do you have any specific songs that you would like to share? Like your story with me?

Krysta:
I mean, yeah, so this Embrace the Progress is very personal. And I was honestly really afraid to put it out because I felt naked. I really did feel naked, putting it out there. And I was afraid people would judge how I felt and everything. And I think some of the songs on the, wah, I’m a huge fan of all the songs. So I think maybe one song that I can share about is I think Hold Me. I love Hold Me and I think it’s very, I mean, a lot of people feel like that was something that they can relate to. And that song is it’s about self love, but in a way that you actually acknowledge and appreciate the people who help you to love yourself as well. Yeah, so I felt like that was a different perspective and what inspired that was basically someone in my life who I felt is there for me through all my downs and even at my worst, and yeah. It’s just sort of like an ode to people like that in your life and being open and vulnerable enough to let them love you. Yeah, sometimes self love looks like letting people love you.

Jocelle:
Oh, that’s so nice. Is this the song with the doughnut sentence?

Krysta:
Yes! You wanna hear about the doughnut?

Jocelle:
I do! I’m like, every time I listen to it, and then like, there’s these like strange but like cute metaphors in there that make it seem like not so heavy. So one of them was the one about the donuts. And then the other word that stuck out to me when you were talking about being salty. And I’m like, that’s a weird word to use in a song about self love. But yeah, let’s hear about the donut.

Krysta:
So I went on a keto diet, about 4 years ago. So I cut out sugar, and one way to cope with cutting out sugar almost entirely was that I would watch these videos of YouTubers would binge and have like 10,000 calories a day sort of thing. And one of these YouTubers used to eat doughnuts. That was like a signature thing. She did like a whole box of doughnuts. Alright, so I would watch this, and I would crave a doughnut. And I had a craving list. So I would add that and one of the things that I was craving was doughnuts.

So I was like, hey, I want to get doughnuts on my cheat day. So I hosted a barbecue because my band members were enlisting into NS so I thought be nice, just gather a couple of friends. And I bought doughnuts. And I was very excited about it. We had the barbecue, and I tasted like a little bit of the doughnuts because I wanted you know, each flavour. And I kept one. Okay, there was one flavour that I was insistent that I just want that doughnut, but I want to enjoy it the next day in moderation. So I brought it upstairs, I put it in the fridge and I specifically told my eldest brother, you can eat any doughnut, and this was kind of like Jesus talking to Adam and Eve, but out of any doughnuts in this box do not touch this one. Okay, and everyone agreed. There were witnesses even. All right, I go to sleep. I wake up the next day.

Lo and behold, the doughnut is gone. Alright? And it may seem like a small thing, but you know how things snowball? And you have all these suppress feelings, and sometimes you don’t even realize that you’re feeling them, and I’m the kind of person I tend to run away from my emotions instead of dealing with them. So that doughnut was my last straw. It was my last straw. It was. I saw it and I broke down. I broke down. I ran into my room, and I cried and I cried and I cried, “my doughnut, I didn’t even eat the doughnut”.

Of course, then it trailed off into a whole lot of other things, this happened, and this happened. And yeah, so so the person I wrote the song about happened to be at my house when this happened. All right. So she witnessed the whole the whole spectacle. And even though I was crying over what seemed like a doughnut, just a doughnut, it was so much deeper than that. And she knew that she was very patient with me because I feel like it’s very easy to just like, bro, it’s just a doughnut, you know? Calm down, what are you doing? There’s so many other doughnuts in the world. Yeah, but that was that was the doughnut.

Jocelle:
Hmm. So it’s really like, it’s actually real life.

Krysta:
Yeah it’s real life, it’s not a metaphor!

Jocelle:
I thought it was like, or maybe like you were taking different bits from different times. And then like, piecing it together into a narrative. But turns out, it’s all about, it’s all interconnected, oh, my gosh, I love it.

Krysta:
And the salty was like, I just, you know, how they saw, you know, if you’re salty person, you’re bitter, you can’t feel happy for other people. And I feel like, that was something that I’ve always struggled with, I feel like I still do struggle with it to a certain degree, but I struggle with it a lot when I would compare myself to other musicians in particular. So you know, when somebody’s successful, I’ll be like, actually, they’re not even that good. Like, you know, I’m a music student, I know, and I put in so much more work. Why did they get this gig and like, yeah, so that was just me being honest with like, just…

Jocelle:
But I do feel that you like… I know, it’s scary, to be honest, you know, music, but when you’re really like really honest, and really vulnerable, I think it takes you to a place where it’s like, even the people listening they can’t, they can’t criticize because they know that it’s really coming from like such an authentic place. And I think, especially those specific specific sections, like I think it makes it even more real. And I really liked that about that song.

Krysta:
I realized that if they criticize it, it’s probably because they’re like that as well and they’re just projecting so yeah.

Jocelle:
Because they feel like uncomfortable that you just pointed it out. I actually have a similar story to doughnuts, but I don’t know if it was linked to a downward spiral. So my friend brought me back, I love avocados, by the way, she brought me back a giant avocado from Taiwan, it’s like this big. Yeah, it’s like legit, like the size of a mango or more. And then so I was like, oh my goodness, I’m like the avocado expert so I know people asked me to look at avocados.

Krysta:
You just know when it’s ripe.

Jocelle:
Yeah, I know whether it’s ripe or not, or like whether it’s good or not so I was really like nurturing it like a baby. I was like, every day I would check it and be like, Is it ready? Is it ready? And I put it in the fridge so that it wouldn’t get ripe so fast, but then I realized oh my gosh, like it’s not ripening fast enough because she gave me another friend one as well, and that friend, she had already opened it and I’m like, oh my God, I’m doing something wrong. Is it gonna just like..

Krysta:
It’s like a mom feeling, you start blaming yourself.

Jocelle:
So I took it out again and I left it there. And then one day before I was touching it, I was like, okay, like, it’s almost ready. It’s like, the next day is going to be ready. And I look, I look forward to that feeling of like, cutting it open, and then seeing that it’s like, all perfect inside and not like brown and shitty .

Krysta:
Spoiler it was brown and shitty!

Jocelle:
Not exactly. But then I was talking to my godma, and I was telling her “Okay, I think we can open tomorrow.” And then the next day I woke up and I was like, all happy and like I literally almost skipped out my room that yeah, I’m gonna have like my avocado for breakfast. And then she said to me, oh, that avocado was lovely. I’m like, “What the-?”

Krysta:
No!!! She ate the whole thing?

Jocelle:
No, she didn’t eat the whole thing. But she opened it and I nearly cried.

Krysta:
Nearly cried? I would have jumped.

Jocelle:
I was like, Oh my god. I’m so upset right now. Like, it’s the reveal, you know? Like you took care of this thing. I literally watched it, and I touched it for like a week everyday.

Krysta:
Are you okay? Do you feel like you’ve recovered from that traumatic memory?

Jocelle:
I do, because I was like, it’s fine. I still got to eat most of it and it was really, really good. Like, I’ve never tasted better avocado.

Krysta:
And it’s like you would have shared it.

Jocelle:
I would have shared it, I just wanted to be the one to open it.

Krysta:
I wouldn’t have shared mine.

Jocelle:
I know. I know. But when you said your whole doughnut story that’s why I thought of. So we all have like wrenching food stories, emotional food stories. But anyway, going back to the vulnerability that you talked about in your album, you said it was scary, like putting it out there. But once you got over that, and you put it out there, how did that feel for you?

Photo provided by Krysta Joy

Krysta:
Well it did feel like a weight off my chest. It felt like I think you know, as an artist, a lot of the time, you feel very conscious, and you feel very pressured, because now you actually have the opportunity to recreate yourself. You know, you can have this persona that is not your actual, sort of like a Hannah Montana situation. And I was a huge fan of, I still am a huge fan, of Hannah Montana. So yeah, you know, you you can create this image of yourself and because of that, having that option, it’s very tempting to think like, hmm, should I be more like this and like this as an artist? So to put something out there, which is so bare, which is so me, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Because I don’t have to feel stressed to conform to anything that I’ve tried to create because this is just me. So it was it was very, it was very different I feel from from anything I’ve put out. Because this was, it was literally, it felt like me just releasing maybe voice notes. Oh, it’s just like, it’s completely unfiltered, and I didn’t have to worry about keeping up in appearance. Yeah, it was just me.

Jocelle:
Yeah. And like, what was it that helped you to get to a place where you were like, okay, like, I have to release this?

Krysta:
Well, what was it? You know, I mean, the whole process of writing and recording this album, was constantly learning how to let go of any sort of feelings that were holding me back. So I feel like the whole over the course of all that time, I was already being prepared to that point. And I think I finally reached the point where I was like, okay, I’m ready to go. And yeah, that was just that. I don’t think I actually decided a date based on how ready I was. Honestly, once I got the master, you know what I mean? Yeah, so I feel like it was the whole journey that prepared me, it wasn’t like a particular one event and I was like, okay, I’m ready let’s go.

Jocelle:
I think every step you take, in itself, takes a little bit of effort and a little bit of preparation. So that’s why it’s called Embrace the Progress because you were like progressing and then at the end, you embraced it.

Krysta:
I wanna say something, and I know this is inappropriate. It was like, I felt like I was like naked. So every step of the way. It was kind of like just me taking off like a piece of clothing. Metaphorically. But that makes sense right? I just want to put that image in people’s heads. Like that’s that’s kind it.

Jocelle:
Oh, I see, I see. Interesting. Cool cool cool.

Krysta:
Sorry. Is the image in your head?

Jocelle:
No, I’m just like, oh my gosh, oh my gosh wait. The metaphor is like taking off one piece at a time, and then getting to the end. Yeah, it just made me think of strip poker. Which I’m like, that is not the right metaphor, but okay I get what you mean with this. But so, obviously, because this episode is called, “Can you can you be gentle with me?” I wanted to ask you, how, what are some ways that you are gentle with yourself? I know, you’re still on this journey, and so am I, but yeah, what are some ways?

Krysta:
Wow, I feel like… okay, I feel like I give myself a lot more space to feel. Yeah, I think I would be a lot more hard on myself in the past. I think, I mean, I still am, but I feel like I’m more conscious now. I know, when I’m beating myself up, I know, when I’m running from reality. I know when everything, I know, when a doughnut thing is gonna happen again, you know what I mean? I know now, when that buildup is happening. And previously, it was a lot like, I was so unaware, because I just don’t want to deal with it. So I feel like I’ve become more forgiving with myself, in certain ways in certain areas. And I’ve come to a point that I have to be the message that I’ve been, you know, sharing, which is to embrace my progress. And I think every time now that I go through something, I’ll just be reminded, like, “Hey, this is this is exactly what I wrote about”. You know, why am I beating myself up? Why am I getting angry that I’m not in the place that I want to be at yet. And I wrote an entire album, about the solution to this problem, which is just embrace the fact that my journey is going to take some time, I’m going to fail, I’m going to mess up, I may even make the same mistake, like five times. Yeah, so I think that’s how I’m more gentle with myself, I just give myself that space.

Jocelle:
I think space is very important. And I think you really embracing it, it gives a lot of your listeners, the courage to do that as well for themselves. Because I think a lot of people are still in that place where you once were, or maybe they’re on that same journey as you where they don’t courage to keep moving forward and keep prioritising themselves, but when they see you out there saying, ‘Hey, it’s okay to give yourself space and to have breakdowns and you’ll get up again”, I think that’s really, really meaningful. So good job, A+. But anyway, so obviously, as part of this interview, I also got you to pick some songs for us, because you’re also a DJ. Do you want to share a little bit about the songs that you picked, like, what was going through your mind when you were doing that curation?

Krysta:
So these songs are, they’re not new to me, mostly. I picked one or two, maybe discovered through Indiego. But these are songs that I really do play when I’m really on my down days. There’s songs that bring me comfort, and there are songs that are very different than the songs that I would have picked, maybe five years ago. Because I used to have this mentality where if you’re sad, and when you’re down, you have to listen to happy music, because it only makes sense, you know? Like happy music is the solution to curing your sad feelings. But I feel like over the years, I’ve learned that there’s so much power in sad music, there’s so much power in listening to something that makes you feel less alone. There’s power in something that doesn’t give you an answer, it just gives you a friend. Yeah, so a lot of this, like the music that I chose, some of it is just really sad, you know? But it makes me feel like what I’m feeling is not unknown. It’s not something completely new that nobody has experienced, and nobody’s made it out of, and the artists that I chose are people that I know personally as well, some of them, and so I know what they’re like, and I know that this is exactly what I was trying to do with my music, which is just be real and vulnerable.

Jocelle:
Yeah, I think that’s really cool. And yeah, I also, I think everyone maybe I don’t know, I went through that phase too where I was like, yeah, if I’m sad, I should be listening to happy music, but really, when you’re listening in that moment, it’s like someone else is, okay asynchronously, but because you’re listening to that song, it’s like someone in this exact same moment is feeling that same feeling as you, and it makes you feel less alone. Can you share a little bit about which songs you picked?

Krysta:
Which songs? So I chose of course, lewloh. I feel like he’s every he’s everyone’s like sad, yeah, and of course Charlie [Lim] is on, because that’s just how he is.

Jocelle:
Man we’re gonna have a lot of Charlie on this mix because I put [Charlie too]

Krysta:
Yeah stuff like that I also did pick some Bon Iver to spice that up a little bit. Because he’s, yeah, these are just songs that they’re really sad. Yeah, but they really have helped me through some really tough times.

Jocelle:
Awesome, thank you so much for sharing that. So I think we are coming to the end of our interview but before we go, do you want to share with everyone about your show and where they can find you and do all the promo stuff?

Krysta:
Of course. So I do soul food every Monday from 9 to 12 and I play mostly soul, R&B ,and singer-songwriter type music. And I actually do a lot of talking about the message and the songs talking about the songwriters process. I love reading interviews and it’s basically things that I feel a lot of people need to hear and I really focus on what the song is really about. So you know if you’re interested in that kind of stuff, and also if you make music that you feel like would fit into that category, I would love for you to send that in. And you can find me at _Kristajoy on Instagram. Facebook is just Krysta Joy Everywhere.

Jocelle:
Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much, Krysta.

-end of transcript-

Disclaimer: This transcript has been edited for clarity purposes.

Watch the interview on Asian Pop Weekly’s YouTube Channel

Listen to Everywhere and Nowhere live on Indiego 9pm to 12am SGT every third Thursday of the month, and on demand anytime on Spotify and iTunes! Follow Krysta Joy on Instagram and their official website, or check out their music on Spotify or Soundcloud.