The Kaje talks realisation to Kristina Train

Just over a decade ago Blue Note spotted upcoming starlet Kristina Train at a showcase in New York and wasted little time in encouraging her to sign on the dotted line of a record deal. However, Train followed her mother’s advice and opted instead to take the college route. However, a few years later Train returned to New York, a move which culminated in the release of her 2009 debut album “Spilt Milk”. Since then Train has gone on to tour the world with likes of Herbie Hancock, Chris Isaak and Susan Tedeschi. Having relocated to the UK last year, Train is finally realising her dream of a UK album release, which she preempts with the release of the of the lush “Dream Of Me” EP. Having been blown away by lead single, and EP title track, “Dream Of Me”, The Kaje jumped at the chance to find out how Train felt about finally releasing a UK release.

You are set to release your UK debut album, however you have been active in the industry for several years already. Can you briefly give us some back story…

Its not that brief! I’ve been working towards this for over twelve years now. Before that, I spent my childhood immersed in studying music. I started my first band when I was 14 and played in six before I was 20. I was signed to Blue Note Records and put an album out in the States, toured with many of my heroes like Chris Isaak, Al Green, and Herbie Hancock. Now I’m using all I’ve learned and gone through to make my album, “Dark Black”.

Why has it taken so long for a debut UK release?

I moved to London in 2011 and spent a year (to the almost exact day) getting my armory together. I wasn’t in a rush to sign a deal straight away because I knew that the best way to approach the process was to spend the time refining the songs and the sound without the pressure … Which is what I did and when I was ready, we walked it in to the labels..

Can you tell us a little more about “Dark Black”…

It’s a record which I hope ressonates with all the elements of human life. There is a lot of emotion tied to the songs and reflections of where I am in my own life.

The album is headed up by “Dream Of Me”, is it a good example of what we can expect from the album?


How did you choose “Dream Of Me” as the lead off from the album?

Because I wanted to turn peoples heads (or prick up peoples ears?!) when they first heard my voice on the radio, and I think “Dream of Me” doesn’t sound like anything else out there at the moment…

What other tracks would you recommend listeners skip to?

I don’t like skipping through albums so I hope they will listen to every track.

You are also embarking on your debut UK tour-excited?

Of course, I love to tour, it’s what I live for.

What expectations do you have of the UK tour?

I’m looking forward to getting to know the UK outside of London a lot better. I want this to be my home so I think it’s important to devote my time in the place I love most. I’ll also enjoy sampling the local beer and whiskey.

What can we expect from the show?

Hopefully to exceed expectations!

What makes a good live show?

The unexpected.

What hopes and ambitions do you have for the UK and wider?

I hope that my music can pull people through things that they are going through like the music I grew up listening to did for me.

“Dream Of Me” is out now.

Interview by Jeremy Williams

The Kaje talks stadium success to Il Divo

Il Divo were the creation of Reality Talent Show Guru Simon Cowell. Having noted the popularity of Andrea Bocelli and the second place ranking of G4 on the X Factor, he decided to mastermind a Three Tenors of the noughties. Little did he realise back in 2004 just how powerful the quartet of French pop singer Sébastien Izambard, Spanish baritone Carlos Marín, American tenor David Miller, and Swiss tenor Urs Bühler would become as a combined unit. Having unleashed their sixth studio album “Wicked Game” last year, the quartet are about to embark on the UK section of the immense global tour. With the rain pouring fast and hard in Belfast, The Kaje checked in with Carlos Marín to see how it was all going…

Are you enjoying the tour so far?

Very much. It has been amazing since we started in January in South Africa. It has been a real journey from South Africa to Japan to Australia to China and South East Asia. It has been absolutely amazing. The reaction from the audience has been fantastic everywhere. This show that we are bringing is a 37 piece Orchestra on stage, which makes it feel a little bit more intimate even if we are playing big venues. We are always trying to be closer to the audience.

How do you create a sense of intimacy even when playing larger venues?

The good thing is that we have cameras in front of us capturing every moment which can be projected on to big screens and fill a big venue. We want to try be as close as possible as it shows our passion in our songs. The people’s reaction is amazing every night. We always get a standing ovation, which is really touching because you see each time younger people coming to fill the audience. We have a meet and greet every night before the show to have photos with us. In big venues with 7000 to 12000 people. In Madrid it will be 16000 people. It is just one of the most amazing tours.

Do you prefer smaller venues? Or do you get a kick out of arena shows?

Sometimes it is much more difficult to play for a smaller audience. Of course we are still talking 2000 people when we say a small venue. I don’t know why it just feels like you are ever closer to them. It is a different experience. I don’t know how to explain it. In a big venue it is a much bigger sound, but it is a totally different experience. Which do I prefer? Obviously I prefer both. Once you have the audience there clapping and giving their support, then we are happy about it.

Is there one venue in the world that you really feel a connection with?

I don’t know really. Obviously the Royal Albert Hall is a fantastic venue to perform, but it was also amazing at the o2. Every single country has something special. Every single night something special happens on stage. The people react differently. Every night there is something new. For example it was really funny in Korea, we were singing “La Vida Sin Amor” and I was talking to the audience asking if anybody wanted to dance with me. Suddenly a girl jumped on stage and started to dance with me. At the beginning it was funny, then she was getting closer and closer. The security eventually helped her go off the stage.

The audience means a lot to you. Do you feel that the intimacy of an Il Divo concert relies on the two-way relationship between audience and performer?

It is a really amazing relationship we have with the audience. You see people crying suddenly, so you really get touched every night. Every night there is a new story. We had a letter from one woman who came to a meet and greet, she told us that she was in a coma for a long time and woke up to our music-that is just so touching.  It is just amazing. It is amazing what we can do with our music. We find it unbelievable.

Before Il Divo you were already very succesful. You have recently returned to projects outside of Il Divo, how do you strike a balance between personal ambitions and group ambitions?

Right now we do not have much time to think about our solo careers. Obviously I have done things solo. I am a workaholic, so if we have one month off, I will rest for a week then I will see what I can do in the other weeks. For example last June we had a month off and I prepared my own show. It was a jazzy Frank Sinatra kind of show. It was an amazing experience with 25 other musicians on the stage. Those are things that I love to do, but being on tour our mind and full being is in Il Divo. We all think Il Divo has a long life ahead of us.

Having taken three years to record and make our latest album “Wicked Game”, which I think is our best record, was really good for us. We feel really strong and are having such a great time on this tour. We have always had a really great time, but right now we are having a really great time too.

“Wicked Game” contains perhaps your most diverse material to date, how do you select songs for a record?

It was quite difficult. This album we wanted to not make an obvious Il Divo album. We were trying to choose songs that would not have a typical formula. Take “Wicked Game” for example, Chris Isaak didn’t want us to cover this song because no one had done it before. He just didn’t want us to cover it. But we got lucky. His Mum is a very big fan of Il Divo and is Italian, she suggested that if we sang it in Italian then he should say yes. So we recorded it, sent it over and we had the blessing of both him and his Mum. That is why we called the album “Wicked Game”.

The other songs just took a lot of research. We wanted to give something different to our audience. “Crying” for example was another song that we thought about but did not know how to approach. We listened to Rebekah Del Rio, the American singer, and her haunting voice just touched us. So we approached her and asked her to sing the song as a duet.

What we would do typically is put a list forward and the record company put a list forward,then we go to the studio and record about 40 songs. We then just choose which should be in English, which in Spanish and which in Italian. So it is quite a long process.

There was quite a long break between “The Promise” and “Wicked Game”-are you already planning a follow-up?

We are going to release a new record this year, then we hope to release a new record every year. Obviously I cannot tell you what the new record is going to be as it is a surprise. With each record we will head out on the road. We are live singers, that is what we love.  Recording is an amazing experience but you don’t get the closeness to your audience. That response, that applause is what we all love.

WIN!!!!! If you would like to get your hands on a signed copy of “Wicked Game”, simply tell us who performed “Wicked Game” originally… Answers to by Friday 21st April.

Words: Jeremy Williams

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