Years ago, dream pop singer-songwriter Kristen Lay waded through darkness, mourning the loss of a close friend. The passing grew to be symbolic of a blockage in Kristen’s self-development, but, nevertheless, she forged ahead as a gifted songwriter with an uplifting mystical message.
Today, light streams in for Kristen, as does a colorful spectrum of self-knowledge and confidence gleaned from a new era of living up to her personal and artistic potential. This is most evident in Kristen’s mesmerizing and enlightening single “Bigger” and its accompanying video. With a clear path ahead, and a clutch of fresh, transcendent indie pop gems to be recorded, Kristen has set out to share her liberating self-realizations with others in the guise of her majestic artistry.
“I’ve been overly self-conscious for a long time, but I’ve learned that it’s okay to be yourself. You don’t have to battle your instincts,” Kristen shares. “This has been a new beginning for me, and I want to encourage people to follow what’s natural in themselves and realize life isn’t as rigid as it seems on the surface.”
The Charlotte, North Carolina-based artist sneaks relatable lessons and narratives of introspection, a sense of otherworldly epiphany, and a transcendent meditational musicality into modern, hook-laden pop. Her prismatic array of influences include Keane, the Beatles, Yanni, Florence and the Machine, Hozier and Patrick Wolf, among others.
“I try to make the music I want to hear, something that I don’t feel is out there—a bridge between mainstream, and spiritual and esoteric music,” she reveals.
Kristen’s formative epiphany occurred watching a PBS special of Yanni performing at the Acropolis. As a teen in high school with the desire to sing but lacking the confidence to seriously pursue music, Yanni’s spiritually bold but musically populistic artistry resonated with Kristen. His work showed her music could be anything the artist imagined. However, it wouldn’t be until after college that Kristen trusted herself and her talents with such creative freedom. “Over time I’ve learned to put what scares me into my songs,” she says.
The path to this profound knowledge came in the wake of looking for meaning after her friend’s passing. Through a powerfully cathartic dream she came to the realization that everything she had been looking for outside herself was within her. “I tried for a decade to put that into a song,” she confesses. Through passion and persistence she wrote “Bigger.” “Halfway through writing the song, I had a humbling moment where I realized I had taken a huge step as a person and as a musician,” she says.
In Kristen’s music each song is a cinematic experience with its own message. “Bigger” is a song of empowerment through taking responsibility to become your unrealized self, as to become “bigger” than you thought. The song is an anthemic piano ballad that soars skyward with richly expressive vocals, sweeping strings, lush harmony vocals, and revelatory lyrics. The verses practically pop with euphoric self-realization. On the second verse, Kristen sings: I look around and everything is aglow/Like life has come alive and I have finally arrived/I want to dance, I want to scream with delight/Want to shine a light in every corner of the night.
The accompanying video is profoundly transcendent. It features Kristen singing on site against glorious backdrops of nature that make bucolic and beach scenery seem almost like a spiritual fantasyland. Within this context, Kristen’s presence is shamanistic as the screen morphs into vibrant color with the single shot of a flower. It’s a video brimming with powerful symbolism and it celebrates the rich rewards of introspection.
Grammy-nominee Darryl Neudorf (Neko Case, Robyn Cage) mixed and produced “Bigger,” and celebrity vocal coach Cari Cole arranged the vocals. Kristen’s work with Cari has been transformative. Cari’s sage and sensitive guidance, along with Kristen’s diligence, enabled her to open up as a singer, lyricist, and hone in on her signature aesthetic.
Now, Kristen is readying a collection of songs to be issued in the near future as an EP. Reflecting on the milestone of “Bigger,” and the journey ahead, Kristen says: “I feel like I found my home, and now I’m ready to share these lessons and my music with everyone.”