You Don't Have To Feel Bad For Kristeen Young Anymore
"I know it makes no sense, but I know it's going to work out, that I shouldn't give up," says Kristeen Young, punctuating the serious thought with a bright, loud laugh, as she does often in conversation. "There's no logic to it, but I know the best is still to come."
Kristeen Young performs with Morrissey tonight at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
While the St. Louis-born, Manhattan-dwelling singer, songwriter and keyboardist, 37, is bullish about the future, she's not shy about talking about the rough, occasionally demoralizing road that's been her 15-plus-year career--a journey that stretches back to Young's 1997 debut album, Meet Miss Young and Her All Boy Band.
With her dramatic, operatic, four-octave-spanning voice (which has been compared by virtually everybody, friend and foe alike, to Kate Bush, and not unfairly so) and discomfiting lyrics meeting oft-dissonant keyboards--and thanks to a commanding, sometimes combative, stage demeanor (she's not big on taking shit from people)--Young's fashioned a polarizing career that's earned her intense devotion and outright hostility, yet so far hasn't produced the big breakthrough she yearns for, and has suffered for.
After a decade toiling in obscurity, Young finally seemed on the verge of that breakthrough in 2006 when Morrissey handpicked her and her long-time drummer, "Baby" Jef White, to open for him on his Ringleader of the Tormentors world tour--so taken was his Moz-ness with the duo, they became his permanent opening act for more than a year and his relationship with Young took on a mentor/protege feel. "She uses her keyboard as a highly trained Nazi might use an electronic rod for shocking the parts...the voice is a beautiful bayonet, and the life swills out in song," Morrissey gushed about Young to The Guardian in 2007.
Still, for much of that time, most Morrissey fans were not feeling beautiful bayonets and Nazi keyboards, and Young was mercilessly heckled at shows and savaged online. Despite that, and the fact that her five albums to that point--featuring material sometimes baffling, sometimes off-putting, sometimes absolutely brilliant--hadn't really made a dent commercially, Young brushed it off, continuing to believe in herself and finding comfort in the support of friends and collaborators like David Bowie, Placebo's Brian Molko, and iconic producer Tony Visconti (T. Rex, Bowie, Moz, a million others).