Born: c. 1975
Birthplace: St. Louis, MO
Race or Ethnicity: Multiracial
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Intense and talented indie rock chick
A St. Louis native of German and Apache decent, Kristeen Young was delivered into the care of adoptive parents shortly after her birth, and raised within the invigorating humidity that saturates the southern St. Louis community of Affton. The climate must have agreed with the bright young fräulein, for by the time she had attained young adulthood she was pulsating with an ominous creative energy. Once in college, Ms. Young began her study of the piano, as well as training her voice for opera; the stultifying confines of musical academia were not to be her fate, however, and in the early 1990s she directed her skills towards the local independent music community, founding the band Nov. 9th with a bassist, two guitarists and a drummer. During this time Ms. Young was still in the process of discovering her musical identity, but her powerful voice and ironic bent already loomed large over the band, as is documented on their sole release Waiting Like Witch Doctors (1992).
By 1994 Ms. Young had moved on from Nov. 9th and put together WaterWorks, scaling down her accompaniment to just one guitarist and a drummer (although with some embellishment from guest performers). The music of this second ensemble harkened more towards the sound that was ultimately perfected in her later work, and their eponymous 1994 release showed the young singer moving along a trajectory farther away from conventional rock music and towards her own idiosyncratic style. The promise of this direction was finally realized later in the decade when Ms. Young launched her solo career in collaboration with drummer Jeff White -- a development announced to the world (and for once not just the parts of it around St. Louis) through the album Meet Miss Young And Her All Boy Band (1997). The record became a strong favorite on college radio playlists, its collection of songs frequently lurking in regions of unresolved personal trauma and emotinal unease, although sometimes expressed within a deceptively upbeat musical context; inevitably, comparisons were drawn between Ms. Young and various other female vocalist/pianists, but all of these comparisons failed to account for this sinister intensity bristling at the heart of her music.
After her self-released second album Enemy in 1999, Ms. Young and drummer White relocated to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where, joined by bassist Brian Ion, they continued their rigorous East Coast performance schedule. By 2001 she had made a move to the state of New York, somehow managing to take up residence in Manhattan the following year. Using homemade costumes and props to deliver a wry commentary on American consumer culture (an approach displayed on her first album, the cover of which depicts her wearing a dress constructed out of plastic Wonder Bread bags) in combination with an intense delivery of her songs, Ms. Young slowly built a strong regional following, but the location of her music outside of corporate music trends and the incestuous nature of mainstream rock radio continued to hinder a wider-spread exposure. This began to change when her fan base grew to include Tony Visconti, a producer whose resumé extended back to the 1970s and included work with artists such as David Bowie, T-Rex, The Moody Blues and Adam Ant. With Visconti at the helm, Ms. Young began recording a new collection of songs that emerged in 2003 as Breasticles; yet, despite the strength of the material (and the added benefits of a stunning package realized by NYC designer Howard Forbes, a duet with Bowie on the track Saviour, and a previous appearance on Bowie's 2002 effort Heathen), the obscure Portugual-based release of the record and a lack of proper distribution prevented a national breakthrough.
Over the next two years, Ms. Young's touring grounds extended to include the UK and Europe (although unfortunately still lacking most of the western half of the States). She continued her collaboration with Visconti (and resumed her collaboration with drummer Jeff White) in 2004, releasing her fourth solo album X, a collection of songs exploring the positive aspects of contravening each of the ten commandments. In addition to the input of Visconti (who both produced and added bass and guitar performances) and White, the album's first track also featured the vocals of Placebo vocalist Brain Molko.
Nov. 9th Vocalist/Pianist c.1992
WaterWorks Vocalist/Pianist c.1994
Kristeen Young and the Low Boys Vocalist/Pianist c.2000
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