Kristen Holloway- Gypsy Wind
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I was a late bloomer in regards to songwriting. I wrote my first song when I was 45. For years, I shared the stage performing with some really talented players and songwriters. Lyrics and melodies often danced through my head, but honestly, I lacked the confidence to act and put the ideas down on paper. In 2011, I performed at The Florida Folk Festival which I’d been participating in for years. I was really inspired by the songwriters and their stories of Florida and the environment. About a week after my return from the festival, I was driving home and noticed a bulldozer demolishing a beautiful lush field where I’d often played as a child. They were paving the way for a new college campus. While at a stand-still in traffic, I noticed a lone hawk circling above the field searching for something or perhaps surveying the loss of his home. This was the inspiration for my first song “The Hawk Has No Home”.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Gypsy Wind performed at an outdoor German Bakery in Yalaha, Florida on a crisp Saturday morning. Edith, the owner, wanted to sing Edelweiss. So, Michael, our guitar player, handed her the microphone from the stage as she was standing down in the audience. At that moment, he lost his balance, and with his 1957 Martin D-18 in tow, he fell to the ground. This scene was almost surreal as he was trying to break the fall and save the guitar. The Martin survived unscathed, however, Michael’s knee required surgery.
What has been the high point of your music path?
Performing for audiences that hang on to every note and word of your songs has really been the highest point of my career. I’ve had the opportunity to perform with some legends like Vassar Clements, John Cowan, and David Grisman which were life-changing and memorable and I am forever grateful for those opportunities. However, having your original music truly touch someone in the audience is the greatest reward. Recently, my musical partner, Michael, and I played in an intimate setting for two hours straight because the music was just really clicking that night and the audience was so engaged that we didn’t even want to pause. During this performance, as I looked out into the crowd, I noticed them singing along with the lyrics of one of our original songs Lonesome. By far this was one of the best and most rewarding moments of my life.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Honestly, I don’t have a real structured approach like “Today, I am going to sit down and write a song.” However, I continually have words and melodies that run through my head. I usually jot words and phrases that come to me down on a notepad so when I am really inspired to write, I have a working list to pull from. I’m definitely an “empath” and do my best writing when I delve into the role of who or what I’m writing about. I’m often triggered by historical events, environmental issues, even photographs or personal struggles including my own. Everyone and everything has a story. So, I usually hear the melody in my head, and sometimes it becomes a bit of an “earworm” so I will hum the melody and record it so I don’t forget the tune. Then, I start working on basic chords as a structure to align with the melody and begin piecing the words into it. Once I have a basic framework and direction, I collaborate with my musical partner, Michael, and he will add substitution chords and work on arranging. He is phenomenal!
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?
One of the biggest challenges for Indie Artists is that true talent, originality, and creativity aren’t always acknowledged or rewarded. Our society and the music industry are profit-driven. There is an emphasis on having a “certain sound” or “look” to be considered mainstream. I would challenge the music industry to embrace the original and the imperfect and provide a platform for organic music.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
It would definitely be with Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons, and The Fallen Angels. I love to sing harmonies and Gram and Emmylou had this amazing ability to create a perfect blend that was sometimes almost sorrowful. Gram’s poignant lyrics and imperfect voice are interwoven with Emmylou’s angelic harmonies and are infallible.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
We generally have a working list and will talk over ideas for arranging our originals or covers. Gypsy Wind rarely plays a song like the recording; Michael is a genius at creating alternate rhythms and chord progressions to really make the tunes our own. We usually chunk out sections of a song that are creating barriers and work on that part many times. Then, we incorporate it into the entire song and run it. We collaborate about break lengths, harmonies, taglines, etc. We are always willing to try something new and creative!
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
Daddy’s Banjo was probably one of the most challenging tunes for me to write. Honestly, I wrote this around 2012 when I first started songwriting. The subject was my life, my father’s death, and my brother’s evolution after his death. So, this was the first time I was really delving into some raw emotion and then writing it down. I knew that there would be family members and friends who would really react emotionally to it. Songwriting that really bears your soul takes courage and for me, this song was a big step.
What's coming up in the future?
We are in the process of recording a new CD. In addition, we have some house concerts booked and are looking forward to traveling out of town. Our dream is to travel to Europe and perform perhaps in Ireland, England, or Switzerland.
Tell us where fans can access your music.
About Gypsy Wind
Gypsy Wind's style carries its listeners across borders and through time. A musical journey from the Kentucky bluegrass of Bill Monroe to the gypsy swing of Django Reinhardt. Working in a medium of acoustic instruments, Gypsy Wind embodies a new take on an old blend of jazz, swing, bluegrass, and folk.