With voting for the 2022 Interstate Music Awards in full swing, we wanted to go "behind the music" and share a bit about who each nominee is personally. Get to know the nominees below, and don't forget to cast your vote!
Alexis Wilkins — Nashville, TN
With hooks that stick in your head for days, Alexis Wilkins has more than proven her ability as a songwriter. In addition, she has a remarkable natural talent with her crisp, expressive voice that makes any of her songs truly touching for the listener. Alexis is able to create new-wave country sounds with a classic country spirit, giving her music distinct character.
- Multiple charity/fundraiser-based projects throughout career
- Spent time living in multiple countries growing up
- Also an accomplished actress and writer
Some highlights from our interview with Alexis Wilkins:
What’s your first step when working on a new song?
“I tend to start with titles. When you walk into a writing room, everyone has some sort of ideas, but for me, I have to have a title. I have to know where we’re going.”
What’s something that’s important to you as a musician?
“A lot of people are musicians. And when you do this, and people are impacted by it, that really means the most.”
How do you write songs that are able to resonate with other people?
“It’s such an empathy thing, you know, just trying to share your perspectives with others. And I try to do that intentionally in my music, I want it to be for everyone who listens to it. I want everyone to be able to stand at a concert and say, ‘I felt that.’”
Chesney Claire — Las Vegas, NV
While she’s lived and performed in multiple cities over the past few years, one thing has remained the same for Chesney Claire — she’s captivated audiences wherever she goes. With her bright and sweet vocal tone, she’s able to deliver a soulful melody over any genre, making her a versatile singer and songwriter. Her songs and vocals truly come from a place of passion, giving her music a genuine quality.
- Has been performing since age 15
- Owner of Zeiss Entertainment/Zeiss Records
- Looking to sign with major label in 2022
Some highlights from our interview with Chesney Claire:
Where did your career begin?
“I started performing in local bars in my hometown when I was 15. I had to be accompanied by my mom because I was so young, but every time I got on stage, I remember the whole room changing — people enjoyed what I was singing to them.”
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music full-time?
“I went to the first recording studio I’d ever been in, in Branson. It was Atlantis Recording Studio, with a very sweet producer, Rich Brown, and he helped me produce my first five covers. After I released those, I knew that this was for certain what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
What’s your songwriting like?
“Usually what happens is I get inspiration from a beat or an instrumental, and then it’ll usually come pretty easy for me. Whatever vibe the beat is giving me, I just try to copy that, and then write things that other people can relate to.”
King Isis — Oakland, CA
Combining aspects of R&B, pop, rock, soul, and more, King Isis is able to create striking, completely unique sounds with a romantic flair. She refuses to place her music in a box, and is continuously breaking down the barriers of genre within her work. With undertones of classic jazz paired with unconventional songwriting techniques, her songs carry a totally original, modern-retro sound.
- Featured in Teen Vogue
- Multiple tours with 70+ shows in US & Europe in total
- Performed at max capacity Bandcamp Headquarters
Some highlights from our interview with King Isis:
How does your sound reflect who you are?
“My music resists the boundaries and binaries of genre in the same way I challenge boundaries and binaries in my thoughts and actions. It’s a representation of myself through all moments.”
What’s your musical background like?
“My mom put me in piano lessons when I was really young, around 5 years old. I grew up playing piano, and then I started learning the guitar in high school. I think knowing the piano beforehand definitely made it a lot easier to pick up the guitar.”
Who or what’s been an influence in your career?
“My great-great grandma was one of the first black opera singers in Chicago and has definitely left a powerful legacy of Black women who find power through music. Being from Oakland, surrounded by the cultural hub of artists and the rich history of musicians and activists has also definitely impacted my musical journey as well.”
Kristine Kabbes — Nashville, TN
Whether it’s an upbeat tune for the honky-tonk or a tear-jerking ballad, Kristine Kabbes is able to capture the full spectrum of country music. Her infectious choruses are backed by a solid and versatile sound from her band, who create the perfect atmosphere for all of her songs. With years of experience as a Nashville performer already under her belt, Kristine Kabbes shows no signs of stopping.
- Has shared the stage with several country legends
- 8 years performing on Broadway in Nashville
- Would like to help new artists in the future
Some highlights from our interview with Kristine Kabbes:
What’s inspired your career the most?
“What continues to fuel the flame is all of the people in my life that asked me, ‘so what are you really going to do?’ I take pride in the fact that I’m solely a working singer and musician — singing and performing is my 9-to-5.”
How do you include so many different styles of country music in your work?
“I would say it’s all organic — I don’t ‘try’ to do anything, it’s just what comes out that day in the writing room.”
In what ways do your songs reflect your personality?
“You could say I’m a bit old fashioned, and my music reflects that. I’m a romantic too, I feel that comes out very much in my lyrics, especially in the ballads I write. I am a lover.”
Kryssy Samson — Honolulu, HI
Although she brings a softer tone to rock and alternative, Kryssy Samson delivers her masterfully written songs with a chill-inducing edge. Playing with perspective when she writes her lyrics, her music often exhibits the darker side of life — a stark contrast to her bright and positive personality. With a deep-rooted love for 1990s-2000s rock, Kryssy consistently writes new songs with a timeless sound.
- Multiple years performing on international cruise ships
- Completely self-taught
- Originally from Calgary, now based in Hawaii
Some highlights from our interview with Kryssy Samson:
Can you tell me about your last few years music-wise?
“I moved to Seattle In 2016 to focus on songwriting and recorded my first professional EP, and then went to perform professionally on international cruise ships for a few years. I am now settled back in Hawaii performing and writing regularly, and even taking proper music theory lessons to truly understand the deeper concepts behind writing and playing.”
How do you infuse authenticity into your music?
“There’s something about art in itself — and this is gonna sound a little pretentious — but art is our truth a lot of the time. You can’t really fake a feeling when you’re making art if you’re being genuine. And it’s hard not to be.”
Has perspective writing impacted how listeners receive your songs?
“The fun part about music is that it’s fully up for interpretation. Someone can listen to something and decide what it means to them, whether it makes them feel something good, or feel something bad. If you feel something, I’m for it.”
Remember to cast your vote once a day until April 30th!