by: Nicole Juliette Hetlyn
War·ri·or (n): a brave or experienced soldier or fighter. Krigare truly is a fighter, and is indeed a warrior. I had the honor of sitting down with Krigare and talking about all things from her journey, music, coffee, and Jared Leto.
You just found out that you’re cancer-free, congratulations!! We are so happy for you!
Thank you! It’s been a crazy three years to finally get to that mark, and it’s a whole new level to finally get that title “cancer-free” vs. in remission. It’s been an exciting month being able to celebrate that.
Krigare, Swedish for warrior. Such a cool statement for a name; one that you deserve. What's the backstory and why did you pick this name?
I have fought a very intense battle in my life, having fought two separate types of cancer. I was diagnosed at 16 with the first one, and 17 with the second one. My personal name actually means warrior, and through my cancer journey that was the word that really stuck with me. It inspired me to fight as hard as I could. With this sound of a cinematic pop, which is how I define it, it helped when I was releasing this new project and this new era. I wanted to find a name that felt like my own without being my own. I looked up every possible translation that you could imagine of “warrior,” and this Swedish translation was my favorite. It still had a K in it, which is my first initial and it was just a beautiful version of that word. That’s kind of why I chose it, plus it’s been a word over me my entire life. I feel like it’s something I can show with total honesty, instead of just putting on a persona. It really shows who I am.
You're no stranger to the music industry. What was your transition like? Was it hard to delve back in and kinda start over?
I started to really take music seriously when I moved to Nashville, when I was 11. I am a Nashville native, I was born here and then I was raised in Los Angeles. We moved to Nashville when I was 11, and that is when I started songwriting for the first time. It added a whole new depth of music, being more than me singing other people’s songs. As much as it could feel like to an 11 year old of music being a “real thing.” When I was 12, I released my first EP and it was super pop and super fun. There was a song called “Summer’s Here” on it, and it was a lot of fun and perfectly age appropriate for that time. Over the years, I was developing my sound and figuring out who I was as a person and exploring every aspect that I could. Do I want to be pop? Do I want to be rock? Independent? Electronic? Then at 16, when I was diagnosed with cancer, my whole world completely changed. It caused me to re-evaluate again, “who am I?” Not only as a person, but also in music. My life had a new purpose in it and a new level of seriousness. I was asking myself, “what do I want to do with my life?” From that moment on, instead of a 12-15 year old writing a song about junior high or writing songs about experiences that I hadn’t gone though, I finally had something to say that meant something to me emotionally. Once I was put into remission, I released an EP called Crossover, and it was me telling my whole cancer story from top to bottom. It was as honest as I could be with it, and I tried to be emotionally true to how I was feeling. It was the first time that I felt like I had a project of quality, where I wasn’t just faking emotional songs. I emoted what I was going through. I had a lot of great response to the EP, and only a year after I released that project and was touring, I started writing again. When you tour, you write, and then you do another album. So I started writing, and it was really an odd process because what was coming out didn’t sound like what I was doing. It sounded more intense, theatrical, and cinematic. It was the more intense side of my story of “I’m fighting hard, but I’m doing better.” As the songs came together, it was obvious that a big change was happening, and I questioned what I wanted to do with this change. I did all of my own graphic design and videos, and I handle just about everything creatively for my company. I would take these songs and create mock album covers for it, and the imagery that I was using with the name on top of it just didn’t line up. It didn’t feel cohesive. I had one of those realizations where I’m in a whole new season of my life and I’m a whole new person, and I am young enough where I have so much freedom as to what I can do. I came to my own conclusion of new season, new life, new music, new name. In the beginning of January we collected everything together and deleted all of the old, released the new, and started fresh. Not in a way of thinking this didn’t work maybe that will. More of a “this is what I need to do to tell my story.” It needed to be portrayed in a cinematic warrior-like way. `
Is it challenging to talk about such personal battles in your lyrics, or do you find it to be more-so therapeutic for you?
Oddly enough, it was kind of neither. Post-cancer, every season is a different version of therapy. Having to deal with what had happened. Writing these songs was very effortless because I had reached a level of understanding my emotions and had processed that to where nothing was forced or a challenge. It was just happening. I’m an internal processor, so everything had kind of built up inside of me. Usually I’m not the kind of person to write seven songs in seven days, I can’t do that. It’s more like one song a month. It’s usually me internalizing something. Every time something gets written, it’s like a part of me gets a little lighter. It’s like “oh, this is how you were dealing with that, and this is how you let it out.”
You've worked with / shared the stage some of your musical influences, like Kelly Clarkson. What was that like? Any favorite memories?
This last Christmas, I got to do her Miracle on Broadway performance with her at Bridgestone. This was my first time being able to perform on the big stage at Bridgestone, which was insane! Kelly has known me almost my whole life, since I was about four years old. We've really become family at this point. I think the coolest part was that she did a show two years prior that was benefiting Vanderbilt’s Children's Hospital, which is where I was treated. The day of her performance, I was in that hospital having a 12 hour surgery. Because that whole crew is my family, they set up a live feed of that performance for me in my hospital room, so that I could watch it. It was a really cool full circle moment for me. Not only was I at that event, but I was performing at that event. Being able to say “what you guys have donated and how you guys have helped, is one of the reasons why I’m here today.” It was an absolute honor that she let me be a part of that. I also got to wear a big pretty dress, so no complaints!
When you go out on tour, what are three things that you must have with you?
Very good question! I always bring a pillow and blanket. I have been traveling in busses and vans since I was two weeks old. The sounds of an engine rumbling puts me straight to sleep. I have no issue with sleeping in a van, on a bus, or on a plane. I can sleep literally anywhere. I have to have snacks, I am a very snacky person. I like food a lot; it’s an absolute must. Finally, an aux cable. You cannot go on a road trip without music. With my band, we have a rule that whoever is driving gets to control the music. We all have very creative differences on what we consider “good music.” I choose the specific times I sleep based on who is driving. There is always that one point in every trip where we turn on every Disney soundtrack, and our van is tall enough where you can actually stand in it. Whoever is driving is obviously sitting down, but the rest of us are standing up and doing an interpretive dance to Pocahontas or Mulan, or who knows what?! Disney songs are an essential as well!
If you could pick any song to be the soundtrack to your life, what would it be?
That’s really tough! What is the soundtrack to my life? I would say Kings and Queens by Thirty Seconds to Mars. (both talking about our love for Thirty Seconds to Mars, and how excited we are for the upcoming tour!!). I think Thirty Seconds to Mars might have been the transition into what I’m doing now. We were watching a live festival concert on tv and they were performing Closer to the Edge and the moment I saw it, I bought the album. I was obsessed with the This Is War album, still am, it’s on my running playlist. Jared Leto is one of those people that intimidates me a lot, because he is so amazing and so intense, but If I could partner with him, I absolutely would. He’s incredible at storytelling and intense visuals and sound at the same time. He’s also a director and an actor. Though their genre is more pop/rock, if I could be the cinematic version of them, that would be great.
You’re really into coffee, what’s your “go to” drink?
Vanilla latte is the easy way. If you’re in a bad coffee shop, any latte could go horribly wrong. Being at CEMA, I’ll get a Cuban. The Cuban is special because they sweeten it with condensed milk. It’s a whole new level, it’s what really got me into coffee. I hadn’t had much coffee, until I had the Cuban and now it’s my life.
What does the rest of 2017 have in store?
A mixture of everything. We already have some festival dates booked for the summer and we are booking some tour dates for the fall. I am constantly writing and working in the studio to release another album next summer. Once we leave here, we are heading to the studio to record vocals for one of the songs! It’s constant writing, singing, recording, touring, and then I try to do any creative outlets that I can. I’ve been creating jewelry for cancer survivors which say “warrior” on them. I try to be creative in any way that I can and give back in any way that I can!
You can purchase a “Warrior” bracelet on Krigare’s website ( http://www.krigaremusic.com/ ). Please support this amazing girl. She is officially CANCER FREE - so excited for her!!! She is also one of the most genuine, humble individuals that I have ever met; I am very appreciative that I was able to chat with K.