Cristina F is a singer/songwriter out of the greater New York City area. Multi-talented, she composes her own music, writes her own lyrics, and plays guitar, piano and occasionally drums. She takes a killer pop sound and blends it with rock, r&b, and dance, drawing inspiration from artist like Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Billy Joel, and John Lennon. she has released 3 EP's: The EP, Greatest Mistake and her most recent release Pop Songs About Real Things & Feelings - Part I.
Check out the music video for her song “Dear Beauty” from Pop Songs About Real Things & Feelings - Part I!
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music?
I had dabbled in writing lyrics throughout the course of my life, sometimes to tracks I was given, or just the melody in my head, but I didn't really start writing writing until about 4 years ago. I was working with some people who really had me convinced they were the right people to work with and that my music would take off. When I was finally able to get the bandana off my eyes, I was so hurt. I was angry at myself for being so blind for so long. My emotions were flying high, and everyday I would just plug in my keyboard and start writing. I think I wrote like 20+ songs in a 2-month period, which doesn't seem like a lot but for me at the beginning of my songwriting career, that was a huge deal.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
I think so far, the coolest thing I've done is performed the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden. It was cool because, well it's Madison Square Garden, but it was for the New York Liberty vs. LA Sparks (always a good rival). I used to have season tickets for the NYL, and for a very, very brief time I wanted to play in the WNBA. It was also the day of the NYC Pride Parade, and that was very special to me. In the middle of the song, I think I realized where I was standing and said to myself 'Wow, this is surreal.' It was a great day.
What has been the high point of your music path?
Releasing my music is always very exciting. I have dreamed of performing, singing, and writing since I was a baby, so to be able to release music that I have written for people to hear...that's already a dream come true.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
It'll usually start with a vocal melody, or a bass line or some kind of riff. I'll play it on piano and start creating tracks for it. If I'm not feeling it, whether I have 10 tracks down or just fooling around on the piano, I will walk away. I get so stressed when I'm forcing something that I really don't like. If I'm really feeling it, I go all in. I'm usually in the middle of doing something non-related, so I drop whatever that is. This mostly happens when I come back from the gym or right before I need to go to work or do something else. I will completely change my plans to get this song down, because you never know when inspiration will hit you! There have been times when I've gotten to the bridge, been unsure of where I want to take the song, and walk away for weeks. Then there's times when the song is done in less than 2 hours. It really all depends. As for vocals and lyrics, that will come while building the song or after the song is done. I usually improvise this part. I'll plug in my USB mic, hit record, and sing whatever comes out. I usually write words based off of the sounds I make. Sometimes I say actual words that make sense, and those will become the real lyrics of the song or the topic of the song.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
I can't speak for all indie artists, but I will say the biggest challenge for me has been selling my music. My music is up on all possible sites, for both selling and streaming. For my last EP, I was hesitant about putting my music on streaming sites. Unfortunately, I knew if I did not put my music on these sites, I would not reach the largest possible audience. Now there's a new problem. When people have been listening to music for free, they're less likely to pay for music. So now, selling my music is even harder. Everything is changing in music today, and there are pro's, but each pro comes with a few cons. There's so many more ways to get your music heard today, and streaming sites, especially Spotify, have helped listeners discover new artists and helped undiscovered artists get heard. But there's no financial benefits for the artist. Imagine if you have to split each stream with your label, or writers or producers. It'll be even less! I still go to the store (what's left of them) and pick up a CD of my favorite artists. I want to own that music, you know? I also purchase music by the single on iTunes. I think iTunes is great if you hear a song you really like and want to have it. Maybe you're not crazy about the artist or the album, but just want that one song. I am honestly afraid of what will happen when iTunes closes shop. Now where can we buy music we love? Is it all going to be free streaming now? The term "free" comes at a cost for someone, and that will usually be the artist. The only people making money off of streaming is the streaming company itself. I am hoping there will be a change, but it's probably not likely. As long as CD's are still an option, there's a glimmer of hope. Anyways, for undiscovered artists with no representation, no buzz and maybe no mass amounts of marketing money, we just have to come up with new ideas and ways to get our music out there and to get people to buy it.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Justin Timberlake. I've looked up to him my whole life. I think we would have a lot of fun up there.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
I practice my songs everyday. I make sure that I can play everything on piano or guitar. I do not have a band right now, so it's all me, and I want to make it look as easy as possible. For a short (20mins - 1 hour) performance, I usually write out a set list and go over the songs I want to play. If I am doing a cover gig (2 hours or more), I won't make a set list. When I'm at the gig, I will figure out the first 3-5 songs I want to play to get started, and from there on I feel the crowd. I borrowed an idea from a friend who passes out request sheets with all the songs listed, so that makes it more fun and gets the crowd more involved. In this case, I run through any cover songs I don't always play or haven't played in a while to make sure I know them in case someone asks for it. I'm supposed to be background music at these gigs, but I don't like to be in the back :)
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
I was selected to participate in an ASCAP Songwriter's workshop about 2 years ago. There were 13 of us, and the first time we met, we listened to one original song from each of the songwriters in the room. We were then given a project to close out the workshop. Our task was to write a "hit song" for an artist on the Atlantic Records roster. I immediately felt a road block. First of all, there is no such thing as writing a "hit song." Today, it might be more controlled, but back in the day, a hit song might not have been that single release. A hit song could be the least expected song. It's all subjective, and it's all how the listeners react. Secondly, I never met these artists, and I cannot base their past music on what they'd want to sound like in the future. I decided to just write a song that felt right for me, and pitch that it could be for anyone. My process was the same. I was fooling around on the piano until I found something I liked, and I went with it. I had the music down, plugged in my mic, hit record, and sang how I felt. I really liked what I had. However, for the entire two weeks before the final meeting, I was pulling my hair out. I was writing and re-writing lyrics. I was changing sounds, adding sounds, adjusting. It was madness. I had never acted like this on a song in my life. I was overthinking everything, and I knew that this was just so unrealistic for me. It wasn't coming natural. I was forcing everything to try to make the song appealing, but that's not how I believe music should be. I finally decided to relax. The song was different, and I loved it and that was all that mattered. When we met for the last time, I was SO NERVOUS. I couldn't believe it. I think when they played my song I was shaking the whole time. After listening to everyone's newly made songs, one thing I was so surprised at was how monotonous and simple everyones songs were. Their originals were so creative and fun, and when given the task to write for a Top 40 artist, it's like the bar was lowered. I found that to be very interesting. Anyways, my song wasn't chosen. The girl who won was extremely talented, but the song was, well I'll keep that to myself. This process was so unnatural to me. From this experience, I learned the exact writer I will never be. I like to keep it real, organic and fun. I look forward to releasing the song one day!
What's coming up in the future?
Hopefully some new videos, live performances and Pop Songs About Real Things & Feelings - Part II (I like to call it P.S. ART for short).
Tell us where fans can access your music.
You can visit my website where you can find everything under one roof!!! www.cristinafmusic.com. You can follow me on all social media, find my music and videos, photos and show dates! Also, if you sign up for my e-mail list you will receive a free download code for my second EP 'Greatest Mistake!'