What's Up Magazine
Refreshingly Honest by Brent Cole
Having travelled over much of the West Coast, recent transplant Kristi Nelson has brought her gifted songwriting and superb voice to her adopted new home. Inspired by and in love with Bellingham, she’s doing the opposite of many musicians instead of moving away to bigger and better things, Kristi has found her inspiration in Bellingham people and atmosphere and is using it to create refreshingly honest and beautiful songs.
Originally from Orange County, CA Kristi first moved to Bellingham in February 2008 – having befriended Clickpop artist Darren Schafer in Idaho. She lived in town for six months before moving to Portland. While here, she began to make connections, playing at open mics as well as the Green Frog Acoustic Tavern.
After moving on from Portland, the traveling Kristi went to Montana for a few months before heading back to her family who were now living in Utah. In the process of all the traveling, her renovated school bus (and home) died and was replaced by a van.
At the end of the summer, though, Kristi realized it was time to come back to Bellingham, a place where she finds no shortage of creative energy. “I find that I write a lot of songs here,” she said with a smile, “it’s kinda of a mecca for my muse. I just kind of felt drawn for some reason.” She added, “It’s a very open kind of place. Even if I’m having a low time and the winter blues are getting me down, I still feel so creatively in tune and open.”
Upon arriving back in town, Kristi found all of her former roommates had moved away. Answering an ad on Craigslist, Kristi checked out a room for rent. By chance, it was another singer’songerwriter’s Shawnee Kilgore’s place the two hit it off and Kristi had a new home.
Kristi got her start in music at an early age, playing piano at her grandmother’s home on Flathead Lake in Big Fork where she spent her summers. She took lessons for a few years before picking up the guitar at 15. “Started writing songs shortly after, but they were pretty shitty at first” she said. “Silly songs about love when I hadn’t even kissed a boy yet.”
While Kristi played and learned through her teens and early 20s, it wasn’t until September 2007 that she began to find her true voice. “I feel like it happened when I was sitting in my school bus in Santa Cruz. My bus was breaking down and I was feeling overwhelmed and lost, but so free at the same time.” She added, “It kind of happened. I wasn’t trying to sound like anyone else. It wasn’t that I was trying to write songs to write songs, but it was just an expression of what I truly felt.”
Expressing herself isn’t much of a problem for Kristi, who writes a song every few days. “Anything could inspire a song,” she stated. “So many things that I write about. Anything from seeing a spider on the jukebox, to relationships, and venting. If I’m happy or not bitter or not.” She added, “Wrote a song yesterday. I do it a lot I can’t help it, I feel like I’m going to start going crazy if I don’t write my thoughts. It’s my way to record life as it happens.”
While creating her own sound, Kristi gladly sites some of her favorite songwriters as influences including Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Heart, Sara Mclaughlin, Bjork and the Velvet Underground.
Currently, Kristi is working on her debut CD, and dreaming of playing to bigger and bigger crowds. “I’ve been seeing the same faces out at shows, which makes me really happy.” Eventually, she’ll hit the road again, heading out on a tour with the goal of playing to larger crowds. “I want to do worldwide tours,” she said, “with as many people who want to listen to my music as they can.”