In today’s musical climate, there’s nothing quite like a genuine artist. While recording her Interscope Records debut Real in a remote studio in the middle of the woods, Kristin Hoffmann and her musicians had to get creative during their downtime. They would all choose an inspirational card every day. “The authenticity card kept emerging, and no matter how many times the deck was shuffled, I picked that card,” recalls Kristin with a laugh. “So when I chose to name the album Real it just seemed right.”
And you’d be hard pressed to find an artist quite as genuine as Kristin Hoffmann. Over classically-inspired piano and guitar parts, Kristin weaves her vocals through tales of life’s many journeys. “The whole record is about being true and real to yourself,” says Hoffmann. “It’s about the real human emotions that we all feel and ultimately finding light, peace and balance.” At just 26, she’s an old soul with a knack for musical storytelling.
At four years old, Kristin began playing piano, and before long, was writing her own songs. And from there on, she never stopped, taking classical piano and voice lessons through her teenage years and then picking up the guitar somewhere along the way. Eventually music became a way of life for her. Hoffmann was accepted to the Juilliard School of Music’s pre-college program and began studying opera, secondary composition and classical composition; she became influenced by Samuel Barber and French Impressionists like Ravel. “Opera training really molded my voice into what it is today. Once you study classical voice you can go anywhere with it,” says Hoffmann, who also found inspiration in popular artists like Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel and Radiohead. She soon realized she could marry the two, creating her own unique blend of classical and contemporary music. “I got a lot more joy out of creating my own music and having it touch people. It was just an unmatchable feeling.”
After Juilliard, Kristin spent a year at NYU and her songwriting evolved as she combined her classical roots with accessible pop sensibilities. She was briefly signed to Capital Records, but ended up self-releasing her first album Divided Heart, which she not only wrote, but co-produced, engineered and recorded. All the while, Kristin continued to hone her performance skills with a residency at Café Vivaldi in Manhattan’s West Village. Along with playing some 200 shows, selling 3,000 copies of Divided Heart and securing a loyal local following, As the buzz grew louder, Kristin was discovered at Vivaldi by Interscope and soon after signed to the label.
After enlisting her longtime musical collaborator Darian Cunning, along with producer David Bottrill (Peter Gabriel, Tool), Kristin escaped to Longview Studios to make the album she’d always dreamed of. “I really had a very special, deep experience writing this record,” she explains of her time in the converted farmhouse studio in the middle of pretty much nowhere. In all that quiet open space, and with the help of a great piano left behind by Keith Richards, Kristin’s songs evolved with love and care.
Using her piano as a vehicle for her voice, Kristin keeps her instrumentation simple, so the gorgeous melodies and lyrics resonate with the audience on songs like “Home,” which is about finding inner-strength, “Bittersweet,” a song about choosing to follow your dreams over taking the safer path and the title-track “Real,” a song about being true to yourself.
Of her live performance, Kristin muses, “I hope to stimulate my listeners to go deeper within themselves to places they may be reluctant to go. I’ve come to realize that my greatest challenges have emerged from my mistakes, and that they were really blessings in disguise.” Through her gift for songwriting, Kristin illustrates spectacular sonic stories. “My music can reach across a lot of generations,” says Kristin of her varied audience. “Connecting to people by creating music is my contribution to the world.”