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After becoming fascinated by dance music through listening to Donna Summer, Kristine W went off to Las Vegas to star in a lounge act. That show led to the singer's discovery in the '90s, which has since catapulted her to the top of Billboard's Dance/Club Songs chart an impressive 16 times. With an eighth album out containing new tracks and a few re-done past hits, Kristine W. shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: How does it feel to be in such an elite group of Billboard hit dance artists like Madonna and Rihanna?
Kristine W: It's pretty amazing because I have really self-propelled my career. I've been a working musician. I performed hundreds of shows before. I would five day to six day work weeks in Las Vegas. I worked and worked until I could afford to make my own records and that's kind of the way it happened for me. With the other people, they get a hit record and allows them to tour. For me, it was a backward way.
TCC: That is even more impressive to hear that you “self-propelled” yourself.
K.W.: It was very, very difficult because it's like: “Oh my gosh. I'm working so hard. Is it ever going to happen? Am I working to produce a product that people are connecting with?” It's good though because the amazing thing is that I'm a great live performer because of the hundreds of shows I've done. Vegas is one of toughest audiences to play for. There's so many distractions, so if you can get their attention then you got to be damn good.
TCC: With your new album looking back a little, what is your favorite past hit?
K.W.: New & Number Ones has nine new songs and four of my number one songs re-done with new productions. The reason I did that is because I didn't own the masters to my first eight number one records so I wanted to recreate them from the ground up so that I would be able to license those masters. What I've really enjoyed performing is “Land of the Living.” That mix has so much passion. It's really fun and has got so many different flavors in it. That record takes you on a journey.
TCC: You have come a long way since starting out in the '90s.
K.W.: 1997 is when the Land of the Living album came out. “One More Try” came out then the “Land of the Living” single. That was a time when they used to put out records right away. The singles would either make it up the chart or they didn't. Now everyone is a little more apprehensive. We're competing again pop stars on the dance charts. It's all pop people now and there are no dance artists left. Quite a few of them have hung up their dancing shoes because they don't have the money to compete with the Rihannas and Beyoncés marketing wise.
TCC: I feel like that chart use to be more exclusive to dance artists than pop stars.
K.W.: All pop people and remixes are getting on the dance chart now. There used to be a big variety of music you could hear on there, but not now because the pop and country artists. You even see rock artists doing dance mixes like Maroon 5. Everybody's on the dance chart now. You name it and they're on there.
TCC: What do you attribute to staying in the music game for so long?
K.W.: I keep in touch with my fans and I love dance music. I'm constantly immersed in it by listening to remixes all the time and trying to find out who is a great producer who no one has paid attention to yet. I try to find those people because then you get new sounds. You also get new inspiration and productions. When you get brand new people in, then you get new energy and new ideas.
To be honest, I always pick producers that do at least a little bit of live touring as a DJ just because it brings in their experience of what's happening in the clubs. There are some artists out there who make dance music but aren't really out there in the clubs. They don't know what DJs are playing or what works and they just throw the music out there. I feel very fortunate to be booked at clubs and pride festivals with DJs spinning live so I can talk with them. We all communicate. They're definitely the wind beneath my wings.
TCC: What can we expect from Kristine W in the future?
K.W.: I think with New & Number Ones we are going to go with a a new single that might be “So Close to Me.” We also got a tour we're working on right now called Kristine W. So Close to Me so we'll be touring this summer. I recently found out that I am going to be featured in a new show in Fort Lauderdale. Michael Jackson's choreographer has put together burlesque dancers and my dancers are going to come in from Vegas. It will be a co-going called Knock Out. It's just me being me and performing with their production. It will be quite amazing. Part 2 of New & Number Ones will be coming soon.
TCC: What is your advice for aspiring musicians?
K.W.: Be true to yourself and don't try to do what everyone else is doing. You will get attention that way. Create something that is original. Make songs that speak to you and what other people are feeling. You just got to connect with people for it to be successful.
Kristine W & Bimbo Jones - "Everything That I Got"
New & Number Ones was released on Sept. 25. For more updates on Kristine W, check out www.kristinew.com.