You know Kirstin Maldonado from Grammy-winning group Pentatonix, but now she’s exploring a solo path as ‘kirstin,’ and she previewed the new sound she’s got coming.
This interview with Kirstin Maldonado has been edited and condensed for clarity.
First, the obvious. Why go solo now?
I had never taken time to question if I wanted to, it was maybe more of a confidence thing. I never thought I’d be able to spearhead an entire solo project, or that I’d have anything to say! But as I’ve grown up and come into myself as a person, I got more confident and wanted to be able to express that. Now having experience and confidence, this project has been amazing and I feel more creative.
You have the best of both worlds, too, because Pentatonix is still on tour.
I made the joke that I need a Harry Potter Time-Turner. I love it, though, because I function best when I’m busy. If I have sporadic blocks of rest, then work, it never evens out for me. If it’s constant, I’m always on my game! So I like it.
How do you guys put together a setlist? You have so many covers to choose from.
It depends on what the setting is, and what our mood is. If we’ve done a song for a year and a half, and we don’t want to do it anymore…but if it’s a crowd hit and they love it, we definitely leave it in. For our tour in the fall, we’ll probably add more covers and swap some older things out. We’ll always do Daft Punk, for example.
I saw you at the Highline Ballroom in 2014, and when you whipped out the *NSYNC medley, it was the best thing.
Yes! I remember that show. I was geeking out at that venue because I love performing in New York.
Can we expect a cameo in Pitch Perfect 3?
Oh, my God! I don’t know. I don’t know. Hopefully.
You guys started on YouTube, and now have multiple Grammys. Do you have any advice for any DIYers out there?
Keep persevering. A lot of people get bogged down by everything going on, and so many people are trying to do the same thing, so find your niche and stick with it. Stay true to what that is and create your own unique brand of what you are. Try not to dive around and do too many different things. You’ll have a lot of “no’s” along the way, but you’ll learn so much.
Okay, let’s talk about kirstin. Take us through your first single, “Break A Little.”
I’m really proud of it. I’ve always wanted to write a song where the content is sad or serious, but the production is almost happy. It encapsulates a feeling or emotion that wasn’t easy for me to experience in real life, but I was able to capture it in the song.
What about the music video?
I wanted it to be in the rain. It’s funny — I made a Powerpoint presentation of all of the songs and my treatment ideas for all of the videos, and I was like, ‘This is what I think!’
A Powerpoint, I love it.
I was layering stuff, changing the opacity. [Laughs]
And you’re working on your EP. What’s the sound like?
The EP will be out in July! It lives in that darker pop/electronic realm; all of the songs have edgier production. The content is kind of dark too. Not in a negative way, but in a confrontational way. I’ve never been like that, and now I’m starting to be. It’s a little intro to my life. I want the entire EP to be a journey. It’s my journey of how I’ve grown, and I think you can feel the change of perspective, from “Break A Little” to the last song.
Finally, PTX collaborates all the time, but who would you want to work with as a soloist?
I’d love to collaborate with James Blake!