It’s been a pretty big last few weeks for Krystal Keith. The Show Dog Universal artist released her self-titled EP, and debut music video “Daddy Dance With Me.” We had the chance to speak to Krystal earlier this month about the release of her EP, music video, and the best advice she’s ever gotten for the industry, her upcoming full-length album “Whiskey & Lace,” surprising her dad, Toby Keith, at her wedding, crashing the stage as a child at her dad’s show, why she thinks Miranda Lambert is so bad-ass, and much more.
Make sure to pick up your copy of her self-titled EP, which is available now on iTunes or other digital music retailers, and get to know Krystal in our exclusive interview below:
How hard was it to keep “Daddy Dance With Me” a surprise from your Dad?
It wasn’t really that hard. I recorded an Elton John cover for my dance with my husband, and I told my Dad I was going to do that months before. If he did find out I was in Nashville recording, if someone had said they saw me or something, then it wasn’t that far fetched that I’d be there recording without him. It really wasn’t that hard, I didn’t tell a whole host of people – maybe ten people knew. I kept it under wraps. I didn’t record it until a week and a half before the wedding; we didn’t finish the song until two weeks before. It wasn’t a really long period of time of when I had to keep the secret.
So how did he react to it?
He laughed, and I think he was shocked. We can’t ever prank or do surprise birthday parties because he figures everything out. I think he was shocked that I pulled one over on him and got something done in his field without him knowing or without him being a part of it. I had just called my manager and asked him to set up an engineer, who had set up a piano player. The original track just had my vocals and a piano on it, it was super simple and just really intimate. He said, “when did you do this?,” “who did you do this with?,” “how did you get out there?,” “who set it up?”. He was just full of questions. He didn’t really get the chance to listen to the lyrics, I kind of told him the lyrics and he’d cut me off to talk about it. I tease him that it was his way of dealing with it.
We had 65 people in Chicago for my wedding, it was just really intimate. Every single person, including my sister-in-law’s husband, who is is a very country boy, he was blubbering. Everyone was crying and we walked off the dance floor and my husband said “you didn’t cry a little bit, not even a little!” Dad said “I almost shed one tear but I’m a professional.”
So, for fans who aren’t quite familiar with you yet, how would you describe yourself as an artist?
I’m really kind of a raw person. I’ve never had any formal vocal training or anything. I have quite a bit of vibrato and I’m real rootsy. I tend to get a little bluesy sometimes – it kind of depends on the vibe of the song. I have a big range, and I showcase that a lot in the songs that I write and the songs that I do. It’s one second to another. This EP, for instance, has a pretty good sampling of what’s on the album: song to song is so different. There are still songs on the album that are completely different than the ones on the EP. There’s a song on the album that’s bluesy and rock-y. People won’t expect it who listen to my EP, and then get my album, who will be able to get that bluesy rock sound out of it. I’d say that I’m pretty versatile.
How does it feel to finally have your EP out?
Oh, it’s amazing! I celebrated a lot more than I thought I would. I thought that I’d pop some champagne and wear a party dress all day, but I got flowers from my parents and my in-laws. It felt like my birthday. To get the reaction from my fans, that’s the most important thing that the fans can relate to it, I haven’t heard one negative thing. It’s been pretty amazing to get that reaction. To finally be able to get my fans some music to listen to other than Mockingbird, they can see what I’ve been working on for the last couple of years.
I’ve heard about this cute story about you trying to join your Dad on-stage at a 4th of July BBQ…
(laughs) Yeah, I have a picture on my phone in my little bathing suit and I am throwing a fit because I was telling my mom “I wanna go up there,” and she was like “you can’t, Dad’s working.” This was long before he had his record deal and he did a lot of local shows, and this was a huge 4th of July BBQ that he was hired for through a family friend, and they hired the Easy Money Band. One of the breaks my Mom went to my Dad and said “you’ve gotta do something about your daughter, she just wants up there, so put her up there and let her pretend, and we’ll put her back down when you go on.” He was like “yeah, put her up there!”. I had wanted to sing “You Are My Sunshine,” it was the song my mom used to always sing to us before bed and it was the only song I knew at that age. She got me up there and I looked out at a ton of people, and was like, okay I think I’m done.
That was the first time that my Mom and Dad saw that I had any interest in being on stage or performing or anything. Even though I didn’t follow through at that age, I don’t think I was quite prepared. I think I just wanted to sing with him, not so much in front of everybody. I guess I thought it was cool that he was on stage. It’s always been intriguing to me.
Do you still get nervous getting on stage?
Oh Lord no. Other than maybe the first time I went on stage by myself when I was 13, I was in a competition at our state fair, I think I was really nervous because it was really the first time I had ever performed ever. I was nervous then, and I’ve never really been nervous since then. I think I’m weird and there’s something that God didn’t put in me to make me nervous. I get more nervous getting off-stage, but I think it’s from pure adrenaline. Getting on stage I just kind of love it.
If you could put together your dream tour, who would you hit the road with?
Right now I’m digging Miranda Lambert. I love everything she’s doing, she’s totally bad-ass. Her style and she does a lot of cool, gritty stuff that you don’t really expect to come out of a girl’s mouth. I love that she’s completely fearless and not afraid to be herself. Myself, I tend not to have a filter sometimes. I just appreciate what she’s doing and I think it would be a really cool thing if I got to tour with her.
If you could be in the studio with anybody, who would it be?
Oh, I’ve already been so blessed. I have Mac MacAnally playing on the album, so I can’t be greedy! I have the most amazing people ever on the album, but if I could chose a singer to maybe do a duet with… I don’t know, I think Loretta Lynn would be pretty amazing. I mean.. it’s Loretta Lynn!
Who would you consider to be your biggest musical influence?
My Dad, for sure. I’m a fourth-generation musician; my Great-Grandmother was in a quartet, and my Grandmother was actually offered a record deal but got pregnant with my Dad, so she gave up that opportunity so she could have him and be a mom. Obviously, he’s a successful musician, and now I’m doing my thing. My family has always been very music-centered, there’s always music playing, there’s always music being sung, there’s always a guitar in the corner. I think that being in a house with my Dad and all his band mates and writing friends has definitely very much influenced the musician I’ve become.
I saw on your Instagram that you love to cook, but what’s your favorite thing you’ve ever made?
I cook so much that I don’t really have a favorite. I won my husband over with my pan-seared Tilapia and country green beans and biscuit fried pies. I make pasta from scratch, I love to make Ravioli, and I love to make Parmesan from scratch. You just can’t beat fresh pasta. I love pretty much any Italian food.. pretty much all food in general (laughs). I don’t really have one favorite dish, I just love to be in the kitchen!
Is there a song that’s been released in the last few years that you wish you wrote?
Oh, there’s so, so many. Again, Miranda Lambert. She has The House That Built Me, and I grew up in a house but moved out to a farm that my parents live out on now, when I was 12. So the house that I really grew up in is the house that my parents bought when my Dad had his first record deal. It’s the first nice house that we bought, and I cried and sat in my room when we moved. When my husband and I were looking for our first house, I would drive by to see if it was for sale. I would tell him, “just go to the door and see if they’d be interesting in selling it,” ’cause I would buy it back in a heart beat. I remember a little closet in there, just under the stairs, it was made out of plywood, it was just an unfinished closet. Me and my friends used to write in the wall in there, and I know that it’s still there.
The House That Built Me, the first time I heard it I just bawled. It was so much like what I was going through, I was actually working on buying my first house right when it came out, so I was like “damn it! Why didn’t I write this song?” (laughs).
What do you think is the one rule to make a happy marriage?
Communication and good food doesn’t hurt. Just communicating and not bottling things up is the most important part.
Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter?
I love Wynonna Judd, because she actually replies to all her fans. I actually replied to one of her tweets and she responded and I got all giddy. I had just met her at the BMI Award show, and my Mom was scolding me for taking off my shoes, and I looked back and said “well, Wynonna has her shoes off and if she can do it, then I can do it too!”. She had actually turned to look and she goes “Did I hear my name?”. I was like “Umm.. you weren’t supposed to hear that, but…” (laughs). Anyway, I had just met her and I love following her. I’m a huge Dodgers fan, so a lot of the time when I’m out on the road and don’t have a t.v. I’ll keep up with the scores and stuff through their Twitter account. I love Stephen Colbert. I love people who are funny and will put random things and no one will understand but it’s still funny anyway. Blake Shelton, he’s a great one to follow.
Since it’s finally getting warm out, what’s your favorite thing to do in the summer?
Fish! I’m a huge fisherman. I’ve already been out – I’ve got to go two days in a row on our first warm weekend. I took my niece and nephew and took them out to my parents’ house and fished off the dock with them for the day. Any warm day I love to either go play with my dogs, go fish, go ride horses. My husband just bought me a bike so I’ll be biking a lot this summer.
What do you think is the coolest thing to happen to you so far?
Well, I was in the studio with my Dad and Willie Nelson when he recorded Beer For My Horses. That was one of my favorite musical memories. That and that I showed up at my manager’s house one night, and he was like, “we’re going to have a jam session tonight,” and I was like “cool!”. It wasn’t just your regular musician jam session, there was Glen Campbell and his two kids that are both musicians, so him and his kids and Bobby Pinson, and Liz Rose, and me and My Dad… there was twenty of the top singer-songwriters and musicians. I just literally had to leave the table with tears in my eyes. I was just watching Glen play guitar and sing with my Dad. It was one of the coolest experiences that I’ve ever had. I’ll never forget the reaction that my Dad had, and it was kind of just the same for me.
If you could give one piece of advice for somebody that wants to get into the industry, what would you tell them?
Get some life experience first. Start with songwriting, songwriting is incredibly important. I think it broadens your horizons if you never get the opportunity to get a record deal and sing, you can always write songs and hopefully have one picked up by another artist. Songwriting is incredibly important. Life experience helps one become a songwriter, they go hand-in-hand.
Krystal’s self-titled debut EP is available NOW! Get your copy today from iTunes.