Creating a name for yourself in any industry is something that should be celebrated. When you stop to think that there are over 7.6 billion people in the world, for anyone to raise their profile to where they can be known locally, nationally, or even internationally, it’s a big deal.
What makes it more interesting is when narrowing that pool down, when someone decides to join an already crowded industry, the task becomes that much more difficult. For example, with as many great innovators we’ve had in the computer and technology space, a la Bill Gates, Steve Jobs decided that what he and his team developed at Apple was enough to take hold of the world. Before there was a Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson was setting stages ablaze following the footsteps of her family while also creating her own path. Before there was a Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan to debate who was the best swingman to ever play basketball there was Dr. J, a.k.a. Julius Irving and David Thompson who inspired the masses. In every listed example, there was someone who set forth a path in which those named, or countless others, have decided to follow and branch off in a new way.
The same could be said for entering the entertainment industry. Anyone going in begins with the knowledge that it’s going to be difficult due to the sheer number of people who are also doing their best to “make it”. Looking closer at the women mentioned previously, it takes a lot of talent, hard work, determination, and intuitiveness to be able to rise to a level of that magnitude. Some move from all over the world to completely change their lives to fit a mold they’ve predetermined for themselves and the success they want to attain. Most don’t make it to their lofty and high reaching goals and settle somewhere along the way, but not Kristinia DeBarge.
While she may come from a family of R&B legends she has been steadfast and focused on building her own career outside of her last name. From transitioning away from pop music to a more adult-themed R&B, to opening her own cosmetics line that is growing more and more daily, Kristina is developing an empire of her own that would have others in awe of all she’s accomplished and is still setting out to do.
Recently, I spoke with her in an exclusive interview for “The Alternative Road Podcast” about her new and upcoming single “Bet”, how quarantine changed her perspective, Krissy D. Cosmetics and why she joined the beauty industry, and how she intends to help children find their way through the arts in their schooling.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. You can listen, to part 1/3, via the podcast link below.
How did you spend quarantine / how has life adjusted for you since?
Kristinia DeBarge: Yeah. No, that’s a great question. So, right when quarantine happened, it was actually my birthday. We celebrated it like a couple days before and I was so excited because I got to celebrate right before everybody shut down. And then not even three days after we celebrated, they were like, oh, yeah, there’s a stay-at-home order. You got to stay at home. And then at that time, I remember thinking — I was really scared because I didn’t know the gravity of the disease and the virus and all the things that were going on with different illnesses in different parts of the country. So, I was kind of really scared. And then once I educated myself more on the virus and how it works, I was just like, okay, as long as I stay in the house, I’ll be good. And then sort of like Instacart all my groceries, I’ll be good.
But eventually, I mean, there were times I had to leave the house and definitely had anxiety. And I was constantly washing my hands. I was just telling my fiance that I need to get a facial on my hands because they’re getting wrinkly from washing them so much. But yeah, I adjusted. I made the most of it. I mean, I definitely ate a lot. I mean, who didn’t? I watched a lot of TV. I was still working so I was still pretty busy. But I did get a little bit of cabin fever. What about you?
Throughout quarantine, I’m sure you’ve worked on or pursued different passions or hobbies you had. Why is music something that you’re coming back to right now?
KD: That’s a great question. So, I actually took a break from music for a little while to focus on other hobbies, like my makeup line, Krissy D Cosmetics, and I was also trying to focus more on just kind of myself, I guess. I was going through a little bit of depression when I lived in LA, right after I finished Season Four of Growing Up Hip Hop. And so I just felt like I needed to change and I knew that in order for me to enjoy the passion of doing music, not just actually recording and being creative but like the business of it too, that I needed to work on me for a little while.
So, I did that for a couple years and I did music here and there on the side. I wrote for some artists and I did some songwriting for some up-and-coming independent acts. And then I put out like a few little singles just for fun on like Instagram and on Apple Music, and Spotify, just to keep something out there in the marketplace. But yeah, I just started recording, actually, I want to say was like, October of last year, I got like a little itch and I was feeling some inspiration. And I just started wanting to write music again for myself. And it was cool because I didn’t feel any pressure and I didn’t feel like it had to be thought out or anything like that. I was just like, you know what, let’s just create music and whatever happens happens, you know.
And it just so happened that the music ended up being amazing and I felt like my best body of work. So, now I’m where I’m at six months later, and I’m just so thrilled with the body of work that we’ve created, me and my fiance, Adonis Shropshire. I mean, I feel like it reminds me of basically like a 2.0 of my EP, Thinking Out Loud. And I’m not sure if you’ve ever had a chance to listen, but this is definitely an album that I would say goes great with that album. I feel like it shows growth as far as the sound, very similar, just more grown and sexy. But yeah, I really enjoyed making this EP. And I’m really excited to show everyone the songs and talk about the music and talk about the stories, and how I came up with the storylines and all that fun stuff.
Do you feel as if earlier in your career, you felt more pressured to make a certain type of music, and now that pressure’s kind of relieved? Or was it just the pressure of knowing who you are, knowing who your family is?
KD: Yeah. So, I think when I first came into the industry, I didn’t really feel a lot of pressure. I think it was when I was in it, like when I was full-fledged in it, 19 years old. And I had all these people telling me what I should sound like, what I should look like, what I should do, what song I should sing next, who I should have on my song, how I should perform my song. So, I think it was just kind of like, that’s when the pressure started to feel overwhelming. But I always thrived. I always thrived from being under pressure. So, I always figured it out. But I think after being in the industry for so long, and being around people that you think have your best interest and then you find out later they didn’t, you kind of wonder a little bit. You’re like, “Oh, man. Were they really looking out for me or were they just looking out for what they wanted?”
And so when I finally grew up into the woman that I am now, I decided that I wanted to do what made me happy. Because at the end of the day, regardless of what everybody else wants, I’m still the one that has to go up there and do it. I have to go and perform it, I have to go and be in front of everyone and put on a happy face, and a great smile. So, whether it’s they tell me to do it a certain way or me tell me to do it a certain way, at the end of the day, it’s still going to be how I portray it to my audience. So, I just decided that I wasn’t going to live my life like that anymore and that I was going to always be true to myself. And yeah, that’s kind of where I’m at now. I think I have a more open mind. When I was younger, I didn’t really know how to articulate or how to communicate how I was feeling because I didn’t want people to feel like I was like a diva or like, I was trying to do things my way or whatever. And I think now I’m at a point where I can communicate and articulate exactly what it is that I want and still hear the input of my team.
That speaks volumes too. I just want to say the maturation overall from your early music into which you’re moving into now seems like it’s a much positive direction and a big step forward. So, I’m excited to be able to hear that.
KD: Thank you.
Would you mind just giving me a little bit of background on this song “Bet” with EB (Eric Bellinger) that you’re going to have come?
KD: Yeah, definitely. So, when I first started writing the record, Adonis and I were writing records together, we kind of were inspired by Beyonce and Rihanna. And we were thinking that we could do something more upbeat. So, like a modern day Crazy In Love. So, we were like, okay, how do we make it feel like a modern day Crazy In Love and not sound like a modern day Crazy In Love? Because I remember that record, I don’t know if you remember when it came out, or what you were doing at the time, but I was 13. And that was like, the time where I was like, “Oh, my God, I want to be her when I grow up.” It was when you could still buy CDs. So, my dad took me to go and buy her album Dangerously in Love. And I mean, and that whole time, that whole movement, I just remember thinking like, “Damn, she’s a mother frickin’ star.” So, yeah, I was so excited when we came up with that concept and that idea and that inspiration for the song.
What was that process like going through and saying this is why this should be here, this is what this lyric means, if you can go a little deeper into it?
KD: Yeah. Well, I mean it’s funny because we’re both very headstrong people. So, in the beginning, there was a lot of back and forth. There was a lot of, well, I see myself this way. And he was like, “Okay. Well, what do you think of this?” And so I was like, “Okay. Approach this differently, Kristinia.” I had to have little pep talks with myself because I was trying to not get in my own way because sometimes I have that tendency. So, I was like, all right. Let me see where he’s coming from. And I was like, “I’m thinking more like Beyonce.” And he was like, “Crazy In Love.” And I was like, “Oh, my God. We’re on the same page.” I was like, “Cool. Now we’re on the same page.” But there was a little bit of back and forth, and we finally got on the same page.
And then from there, I mean, the rest of the EP, it just was like smooth sailing. So, we definitely were excited. We decided this time around, instead of — What we normally do is we write the song and record, like in the same day. But we decided this time around, we were going to write all of the songs first and then record them. So, we wrote all of the songs, and then we started to record. But it was definitely hard because normally, we’re so excited we just want to record it already. But taking this different approach, I actually liked it because I felt not rushed. And I felt like I was able to give more energy to the song because I wasn’t so tired from writing it. Because you kind of don’t have as much energy after you’ve written a song. Like, you’re excited so you have that energy to build off of, but you’re kind of already getting tired because you’ve been singing already for an hour or so.
So, this time around, going into the studio with eight hours of sleep and my tea, and everything is done already. I’m like this is great. So, I definitely felt like I was able to push myself more. And I’m really grateful because he’s an amazing vocal producer. And so he was able to get and push some vocals out of me that I was a little hesitant about because I hadn’t sang in so long. So, I was like, “Man, am I going to be able to hit those notes?” He’s like, “You can do it. You can do it.” I was like, “All right.” So, yeah, it was definitely a different approach but I enjoyed it.
Would you be able to tell us about what we’ll get in June, and then further on down the line? It feels as if this is going to be a complete summer release. Yeah?
KD: Yes, yes, it’s definitely going to be a summer release. So, I can’t give you too much about it, but I will say this, I will tell you this, I will tell you that there are two records after that, that are absolutely bonafide smashes. I love them. One is a mid-tempo and the other one is a — I guess it’s also a mid-tempo, but it has the feeling of an up. And so it depends because we might choose between one of these songs to go second, but it’s a really hard — it’s a hard decision because they’re both really good, but they’re completely different vibes. So, one is like a more sexy song where it’s like, oh, she’s talking about some shit. And then the other one is more like, woman empowerment, woman anthem, like all the girls are definitely going to be singing it, that type of feel.
So, I don’t know, it’s a tough one. It’s a really tough one. But I am excited to share it with you guys. I mean, I kind of already a little bit shared some of it with the fans on Instagram. I did it like, maybe, I don’t know, three or four months ago, I showed like a little snippet of what the second single could potentially be. And people were really excited. So, yeah, it’s a toughy. But if they do go with the more sexy one, I’m just going to say this, it’s definitely very revealing. And if we do — Well, not if. When we do the video, I’m assuming it’s going to be on another level.
So, I know that you can’t tell us any more than what you’ve given, which is a lot already, and we thank you for that. Can you tell us how many songs, in general, we’re going to get on that?
KD: Yes. So, I have actually one more song to record. We’re shooting for eight, but it could be seven. But we’re shooting for eight. Because eight is my lucky number. It’s the day that I was born March 8th, and it’s also infinity. So, I am a big person of belief and alignments and destiny and speaking things into existence and energy and all that kind of stuff. So, I feel like eight is my lucky number.
What was one, the most fun experience you had in the studio? And two, what is something that you learned maybe at a younger age, or maybe not that long ago that you carried with you into the studio every time you go now?
KD: That is a great question. So, I think one of my most fond memories is when I first really got the chance to start working with my fiance, Adonis. We were supposed to work together when I was 19, but we never had the chance to, which is so funny because he actually was one of the Songwriters on Goodbye, my single. And I did not even — What’s crazy is I did not even know that until I was 24.
RESPECT: That’s incredible.
KD: Yeah, I thought that it was the pentagon, three other songwriters on the song. And so when he told me he was like, “You know, I also wrote on that song, right?” I was like, “What? Are you kidding me?” I was like, why are we just now working together?” Like better late than never. I was like, okay, cool.
RESPECT: Fair enough.
Kristinia: Right. So, we started working together when I was 24. And working with him, it’s a real treat for somebody who also is a singer. For any singers listening, he’s really amazing. I mean, he’s vocal produced for Mariah Carey, he’s vocal produced Jamie Foxx, he’s vocal produced Brandy. You know, some of the greatest vocalists that are out there. And there’s definitely a reason, for sure, and he knows how to give you confidence in the studio, how to boost that and he knows how to bring out the sweetness in your voice. And like, he can hear which notes you sound the best at. And he really accentuates on that. And he writes songs more and those keys for you. And he really does his homework, like when he is working with an artist, he takes his time and he figures out what works for you. Which I think is just so great because we don’t always get that.
I’d like to have that foundation, a percentage of the proceeds going back into the arts departments of schools. Because a lot of schools lack teachers and instruments and you know, just tools in general for an outlet for their creative arts.
We know that with you being a part of music royalty with your family, right, we just lost somebody huge in the hip hop/R&B, and I really want to look at a community with DMX. And I was wondering if you just could kind of speak — I don’t know if you’ve had any interaction with him ever before. But if you could kind of speak to just like what his music kind of meant to you from what you could see through other people and, just the passing of him overall.
KD: Yeah, of course. Well, first I want to just say condolences to his family and to his loved ones and the people who are close to him. You know, definitely gone too soon. What a great talent. I never got the pleasure of meeting DMX. But I definitely, growing up, knew who he was, I grew up to his music. I was a big fan. And this travesty has definitely been a shock, and a surprise. I was just talking about him, that’s so crazy maybe six months ago, with my fiance and I was just telling him I was like, man, I was like, what’s he up to? What is he doing? And I was like, man, I really want to hear something from him again. I was like, I feel like, if he came out with something like, people would be down to support him again, you know, I was like, even after all these years. But there’s a lot of different demons that a lot of people are facing, and everybody has them. We all have them, even me.
So, I just am definitely sad and I feel definitely — it’s still hasn’t even hit me. I feel like he’s still here. I’m like, wait, no, this can’t be he was still so young. You know, he was 50. Right? [crosstalk] Yeah, he’s just so young. And also too like, when I found out that he was 50. I was like, mmm, that’s crazy. Who else was 50 when they passed? Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and I’m sure lots more people. So, it was just kind of, like weird. I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is kind of scary. But I definitely think that, if anything, it’s just showed me that life is short, and that we can’t take anything for granted, and we can’t take any day for granted. And we literally have to live every day to the fullest. You know, even the days where we’re not having a good day, always make sure that you say I love you to your loved ones, always make sure that you never going to bed angry, or that you always are on good terms with people that you love in your life, because you just never know, you never know.
And I think that, in that moment, when I had first found out, I was just like, thinking that, wow, life is really short, and tomorrow is not promised. So, I think I’m going to reach out to my family. So, it kind of like inspired me to want to reach out to some of the people in my family that I haven’t spoken to in a long time, and just tell them, I love them, and that I hope they’re doing well, and send them some love, send them some light, and let them know there’s someone in their corner. We don’t know what he was going through, and we don’t know what his circumstances were at that time, but I just pray that his music and his legacy will continue to live on in a positive way.
Can you tell us about Krissy D. Cosmetics because I would love to know what you have in store for all your fans or for all the women that are out there looking for new solutions for themselves?
KD: Yes, of course, I would love to! So, I’m so glad you brought it up because I actually am in my bathroom, I’m in my little vanity area. And I have all of my cosmetic stuff right here. So, Krissy D Cosmetics was actually something that I wanted to do years ago, but I was kind of just waiting for the perfect opportunity to partner with somebody because I didn’t know anything about makeup. I was like completely clueless as to even how to start a makeup brand. And then what’s crazy is when I decided to move to Vegas, I just spent that time really educating myself and I started reading a lot of business books and I started following a lot of different beauty entrepreneurs that are in the beauty world that aren’t per se, you know, the Ultas and Sephoras but they still have big brands and big presences online and it was very inspiring.
So, I just kind of dove headfirst and was like all right, I’m going to try and figure this out on my own. So, I started buying a ton of samples. I started the company and I started going on my Lives and like playing with swatches and playing with like different eyeshadow colors and like getting my fans opinions and asking them do you guys like this color? And should I get lashes and would you guys buy this if put this out and all kinds of different stuff? And from there I decided to start with the palette.
So, where do you see yourself in five years?
KD: So, I definitely do see myself bona fide global superstar, for sure. I do see myself getting back into acting. I’m probably going to actually meet with some agents when I go to LA next week. So, I’m excited for that. I do feel like I’ll be doing a lot of movies, and film, and TV. I’ll definitely be back in that world again. I want to come out with more books. I have a children’s book that I put out years ago, but I want to put out a new children’s book. And I want it to be more animated. And I’m hoping that by that time, there’ll be some cool features like video children’s books where it’s more virtual, I guess. Yeah, I kind of wanna do something cool and futuristic. But yeah, I wrote a children’s book many years ago, and it was about bullying. So, I think I definitely want to have like more — like a series of children’s books that I can put out. And I see myself reading them, going to elementary schools reading them. I have a dream of having a foundation. And I want to name it the Purple Piano Foundation because I’ve always dreamed of having a grand purple piano in my house. So, I’d like to have that foundation, a percentage of the proceeds going back into the arts departments of schools. Because a lot of schools lack teachers and instruments and you know, just tools in general for an outlet for their creative arts. So, I’d love to fund that any way that I can with these children’s books. I’m really excited about it.
The final question I have is, do you have any advice for somebody who’s looking up to you, or looking to say, man, I would love to be in the space that Krissy’s in one day. Do you have any piece of advice for them?
KD: Yes, of course. I would say what my dad told me. So, my dad always told me that, you know, work hard. If there’s something that you really want, don’t expect for it to just happen, work hard, work for it. If this is something that you want to pursue, and you see yourself becoming an entertainer, whether that’s an actor, whether that’s a producer, whether that’s an artist, whether that’s a performer in Broadway, whatever it is that you’re passionate about. Even if it has nothing to do with music, just work hard at it. Don’t expect it to just happen. And if there are opportunities that present themselves, sometimes, you may not know it, but there are blessings through people that may not be for you to be your friend or somebody that you should be close to, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have blessings for you.
So, sometimes God uses people to give you your dreams. So, be more open-minded when you’re out in the world. Be open to tons of different opportunities. Try a lot of different things because you’re going to mess up, so don’t expect to be perfect. You’re going to make mistakes and be okay with that. That’s a part of growing. That’s how you grow. That’s how you learn, you know? So, my advice would be just to, don’t give up. Don’t give up, work hard, and know that it’s not going to take the first try. You know? I think — I can’t remember what chocolate company it was, maybe it was Nestle or something like that, but I think it took him like a thousand and one tries until he finally got the formula, right? So, hey, if he can sit there and be like, “Oh, no, it’s going to get right. I’m going to try another time.” After a thousand times, then I think we can all say that we can try a thousand times too. So, that’s the best advice that I can give you.
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