I got to sit down with J-pop star Kristine Sa at this past year's Otakon in Baltimore. Not only is she an up-and-coming singer/songwriter, she's a full time college student, and a knock-out beauty. Kristine was gracious enough to answer some questions we had, and donate a CD and autographed poster for our 12 Days holiday giveaway. Click the pictures for larger versions, and check out her web site for more music, a diary, and loads more photos.
MillionairePlayboy.com: When did you first start singing professionally?
Kristine Sa: I began my singing career at 17 years old when an old friend of mine, knowing that I loved to sing and write, approached Nemesis Records and recommended that they check out my stuff. I was then contacted by CEO Kingmin. He said he loved my writing and asked if I also sang. I coincidently had a cover of Toni Braxton's Unbreak My Heart recorded on my home computer as an MP3. So, I sent him the song and he said he loved it. I was suspicious (since I didn't think it was good at all, haha) but we talked further and I found that it would be such an honor to be signed to the label. And that's how I started singing professionally. Though, I think I got pretty close to professionalism when I was 10 and my Grandma gave me two dollars for singing her a song while she cooked. ;p
MillionairePlayboy.com: Where was your first professional gig?
Kristine Sa: My first gig was at a car show in New York City about 3 years ago, I think. I was terrified! There were about 2 thousand people there. It was a huge venue and I am so sorry those people had to watch me. LOL! It must have been such a horrible show.
MPb: Where do you do the majority of your writing?
Kristine: Most of the songs used for my first album were written years before I had even considered singing professionally. They were all written in my basement... and for myself. I may have shared a few songs with some friends along the way. Then when I was toying with the idea of being in a girl band, the songs surfaced a little more. Slowly they became public in the first album. In this past summer though, I began working on my second album and experimented with writing in the studio with other musicians. There is a whole different feeling to that process and I liked it very much. There will be more of that for this coming album, mixed with the songs still written in the privacy of my basement. Some songs are just too personal to be shared.
MPb: Do you write much during the semester?
Kristine: Oh yes! I write all the time! In fact, I probably write more during the busiest periods of my school year. It's a great procrastination tool. ;p Whether they are good pieces of writing or not is a whole other story.
MPb: How can fans get in touch with your schedule?
I also keep an online diary that can be found at the web site. I guess you can tell when I am busy by the large gaps of time that are missing entries. =) I try to write as often as possible. I also try to write with motivation and inspiration. I avoid writing completely meaningless entries in fear of boring my readers to death. [Ed note: Hmmmm, note to self...]
MPb: How can fans order your CD?
It's easiest to go to NemesisMusic.com and check the store locator for a store nearest you.
MPb: When and where is your next concert?
Kristine: As of this moment, I don't know. ;) I am actually back in school right now and quite crammed for time. Because my program requires so much in-studio/rehearsal time, I can't really take breaks to travel. I usually manage to do concerts during my Christmas, spring, and summer breaks. After graduation, it should be easier to arrange an actual tour schedule.
MPb: What's your favorite venue?
Kristine: I love doing Anime Con concerts. The crowds usually are very welcoming and willing to have fun. That's the best audience to perform to: the ones ready to have fun.
MPb: Did you have any shows that went horribly wrong? What did you do to make sure it never happened again?
Kristine: Haha, yes! Actually, it's usually what happens before the show. Before the show, pretty much anything that can go wrong does! No matter how hard we try to prevent having the same issues, different ones always arise. I guess it's just normal now. When things go wrong now, I just sort of laugh and think, Of course! Because if something didn't go wrong, it would too easy! The actual performances usually go well. Occasional mics have been known to die during mid-song and song-orders have been known to switch themselves up during the set but nothing that an apologetic smile can't fix. Audiences are usually pretty forgiving when it comes to live concerts.
MPb: What differences do you find between your American and Asian audiences?
Kristine: Generally, I find American audiences require a little more strength and aggressiveness from me in performances and Asian audiences appreciate more grace and tenderness. These are just faint differences and audiences are often close to the same. I don't see any huge variation except in the languages used in the crowd.
MPb: What are you studying in college?
Kristine: Acting, it's actually my third year this year. I have next year to go and then I graduate. How scary!
MPb: What do you want to do when you graduate?
Kristine: I would like to maybe move to NYC and continue my singing career. While I am there, I'd also like to check out what acting projects I can be involved in. I would be great to balance both practices.
MPb: Do you find it hard to find time to study? Does your career keep your grades from being as good as they could be?
Kristine: It is hard to time manage but I think I've gotten better at it. The trick is to prioritize and focus on one thing at a time. I can multitask but only to a certain degree. Usually I try not to overbook myself. I stay realistic in my promises and deadlines when I know I have a heavy school workload. Pretty much, during the school year I work my butt off in class. Then, during my breaks I work my butt off singing, writing, recording and performing. A few more tricks are, I don't sleep, I don't vacation and I eat as little as possible. Just kidding! I don't really sleep that much but I try to sleep in at least once a week, I eat as healthy as possible and I stretch and/or exercise everyday.
MPb: Who were your top 5 musical inspirations? Why?
Kristine: Jewel and Jann Arden, because they are beautifully honest writers and performers. They are also a great female representative. Lara Fabian, because she has an amazing voice that makes me cry almost every time I hear it. She's a phenomenal performer, extremely theatrical. She also has a talent for languages, something I am interested in as well. Celine Dion, also has these great qualities that I admire. Amuro Namie and Hamasaki Ayumi because they are beautiful, have unique, powerful voices and have proven to be strong women figures. I also love dancing around to their music. There are so many more that I couldn't possibly mention. It would take weeks to list them all.
MPb: What is currently in your CD player?
Kristine: Hamasaki Ayumi's A Ballads
A Chopin collection album
The Cowboy Bebop Soundtrack
MPb: What are your thoughts on the RIAA's latest actions regarding music sharing on the Internet?
Kristine: I am quite torn about this. I believe in downloading, but for sampling purposes. I believe that if you are truly a fan that you should support the artist since it is the artist's way of income. From the artist point of view, it is hard to continue working when there aren't enough funds to create all of the ideas we would otherwise be able to do with more capital. From a listener's point of view, I hate buying CD's that only have one song I like. So... my thoughts on music sharing... I guess, I support sharing when it is used to get familiar with new music but if you like the music then why not buy it, own it and have it to keep.
MPb: Do you find it hard to keep in touch with your friends now that you tour the country?
Kristine: My close friends are very supportive and are always welcoming when I am back home. I do find it hard to keep in touch, but we have never lost closeness because of it. I am very lucky!
MPb: Do you get recognized on the street?
Kristine: Only sometimes, not very often. I like it this way. =)
MPb: Does your hectic lifestyle keep you from dating?
Kristine: *blushing and not answering*
MPb: When we met at Otakon you were hugging a plush Ein from Cowboy Bebop. Do you collect plushies from anime?
Kristine: Ein is the first of many!
MPb: Do you watch much anime? What are your favorite series and / or movies?
Kristine: The last series has been Cowboy Bebop and it is by far my favorite. I haven't had much time to watch many. Plus, I kind of don't want to get off my Bebop high. Ed makes me happy. =)
MPb: Do you have any favorite actors or actresses?
Kristine: I enjoy Edward Norton, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, and Anthony Hopkins. These are a few. I also like Michelle Yeoh very much.
MPb: What advice would you give to an aspiring recording artist?
Kristine: Dream, dream big. Work hard. Believe in what you create and create what you believe in.
Today (12.22.03) you can enter your e-mail address for a chance to win an autographed poster of Kristine, as well as her CD. But you can also check out KristineSa.com for sweet pictures and samples of her songs. You can also pick up her CD from Amazon.com
All images are copyright their respecitve owners and this article is copyright 2003 MillionairePlayboy.com and may not be reprinted without permission.