Krissanthemum likes “name one thing in this photo” music

Krissanthemum likes “name one thing in this photo” music

Happy Friday!! Wow we did it: five days of I Enjoy Music (Stoned), a themed week where I interviewed five musicians about how weed enhances their music-listening habits (not to mention their music-making habits).

Yesterday's interview was with Mira Tsarina of Iffin, who explained the importance of repeat stoned listenings of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless to her own music:

read Iffin's interview and break out the fuzz

And today we wrap up with Krissy Lassiter, who records as Krissanthemum. When I put out a call for musicians who liked to listen to music stoned, she reached out with an undeniable hook: not only is she a singer-songwriter with a studio composition background who has self-produced several bedroom pop albums, but she also works at Gotham, one of the first licensed dispensaries in New York City to emerge post-legalization.

Even her music itself makes her love for weed explicit. An acoustic demo of her song "Smoke With You" features honeyed harmonies in the form of an invitation to a smoky creative gathering; she'll "bring some weed," and then "we'll talk some shit and write some hits." And even without overt references to getting high, Krissanthemum's music has the undeniable touch of the earworm-obsessed stoner: the sunburnt lounge-pop of "Do You Know What Would Make This Better?", the spacey flourishes on "Violet to Blue," the euphoric instrumental tracks on her 2018 album Kaleidoscope Drive. Her oeuvre is open-hearted and luminous—très sativa.

Over text, we discussed the ongoing power of Dan Deacon's America, the iconic meme her music taste most resembles, and the "ear candy" of Stereolab...

Go Ahead, Do Your Thing + Roundabout, by Krissanthemum
2 track album

To start, I would love to hear a bit about your personal musical history. When did you start playing music?

I’ve been playing music for as long as I can remember! I was in choir at school and loved singing, but was always curious about how the rest of a song was made, not just the singing part. I learned how to record tracks on a Fisher Price cassette deck and bought Fruity Loops from an Office Depot going out of business sale in elementary school. I taught myself guitar through YouTube in middle school and began messing with creating fully tracked songs and orchestra arrangements with GarageBand and a pirated version of Logic in high school. The childhood obsession with learning how to make recordings that sounded like a “real song” (like what I heard on the radio/CDs/internet etc) never let up and I ended up majoring in Theory/Comp and getting a masters in Studio Composition.

real heads know

Fisher Price cassette deck!!! Wow that brings me back
Definitely made some “radio shows” on mine
How would you describe the past couple of album releases you’ve put out?

Kaleidoscope Drive, by Krissanthemum
11 track album

My first album Kaleidoscope Drive is half bedroom pop songs on the “a side”, then all instrumental, what I considered to be “psychedelic orchestral music”, on the “b side”.

A Fire Left Inside of Me, by Krissanthemum
10 track album

My second album I Am No Longer In Love But There Is Still A Fire Left Inside of Me is a collection of sad songs, lo-fi bedroom poppy, starting to explore more with production quality, samples and sound design!

Safe in My Garden, by Krissanthemum
6 track album

My third album Safe in My Garden is another collection of similarly orchestrated lo-fi pop songs, this time about friendship and anticipating major life changes.

My upcoming album is demoed on SoundCloud, and I’ve been applying for grants to maybe record it with a band in studio one day. As fun as it was to work on the first three albums as a “solo project”, I want my next album to sound more thoroughly collaborative.

I don’t go into any of my production work planning to sound a certain way, I just write the songs and experiment with filling in the empty space behind/around the vocals/main melody until it sounds exciting and satisfying to me.

That's awesome. I imagine a band would be super exciting to expand to!

And then on the weed side of the weed 'n' music – I'd be so curious to learn about how you ended up working at Gotham, and what it is like to work there?

I got to a point in job searching where I wanted a day job that included weekend hours so that I had more weekdays available for freelance or part time audio/music gigs. Retail seemed like the immediate option, and I knew I’d have the easiest time working retail if it was in a physical space I liked, selling something I’m actually knowledgeable about.

Gotham | NYC Recreational Cannabis Dispensary
Gotham, on the Bowery. cool tree!

It’s still a little surreal to be able to use my weed knowledge professionally, but I have a lot of fun doing so! Out of all the legal dispensaries in the city, I was attracted to Gotham because it’s not just a store, it’s an event space too. There are a lot of days on the sales floor where I get to be a part some of the first public community cannabis related events where people get to sip weed seltzers and listen to live vinyl DJs while viewing local artists work in the gallery, or participating in crafty workshops like making pumpkin bongs on Halloween.

In my job interview I noted that although my recent resume experience was all audio/music related, my second biggest passion is weed lol

That's so sick

What kind of music (if any) plays in the store?

Mainly mainstream pop, hip hop and R&B greatest hits from like 2005-2015. My manager once said she never sees me getting into any of the songs for some reason lol, I don’t dislike it, but it doesn’t trigger nostalgia for me and it’s not what I casually listen to. It’s usually a handful of tracks on rotational repeat, but there was a random, unexplained time that "Pitch the Baby" by Cocteau Twins played, and that was the singular instance of me being like, oh shit, this is my jam.

Maybe good to keep the work music vibes separate from the home music ahah

Right now I Got a Feeling by Black Eyed Peas played and was followed up by Fergalicious, that’s the general playlist style hahah

Okay, let's get into ur own personal listening habits! Do you have any go-tos for listening when stoned?

My go-to while stoned is always music that could be described as having a lot of “ear candy”, extra noise and six, dense layers, dramatic panning…Stereolab has been my #1 stoned music for the past 3-4 years.

I like to listen to music that is really interactive and mentally engaging because when I’m smoking to free my mind of other worries, this helps! “Simple Headphone Mind” is a great example of this kind of track in their discography.

I also love stark contrasts within songs while stoned, anything that feels like a exiting a dark tunnel into sunlight or like looking through a kaleidoscope and it’s suddenly rotated. “Space Moth” from Stereolab’s Sound-dust has a change like this 5:20 into the song that I can always depend on to give me a huge serotonin blast hahah

The other kind of music I love to listen to stoned is the audio equivalent of “name one thing in this photo” meme

For me, that’s Animal Collective and Cocteau Twins. The arrangements and sound design disorient me in a way that I just sit back and enjoy the music and don’t think about how it was made at all because if I tried to guess, I’d probably be wrong.

That being said, when it comes to the vocals with these bands, I can still really latch onto the melodies in their songs and there’s a nice ease in singing along with them. Singing along with Avery Tare or Elizabeth Fraser allows me to flex parts of my vocal range that I don’t always get to. It’s great when paired with an energizing sativa when I’m trying to boost my confidence and drown out ideas that are really creative limitations imposed by the capitalist mindset I’m told to consider as an artist

I absolutely love the way you describe these types of music!!

Stereolab are super underrated and I absolutely love the “name one thing in this photo” description

Another artist I interviewed [
ed note: Sun Kin!] also named Animal Collective as a stoned listen, they might be in the stoner listener hall of fame

I think the thing about Animal Collective is that they produce such an accurate sonic depiction of the psychedelic experience hahaha it is truly incomparable to anything else

Does listening to music stoned ever then help you figure out ways to write your own music?

100% listening to music stoned helped me in finding my sound!! Before becoming essentially a daily user, I didn’t really allow myself to make music for myself. I was compared a lot to Sara Bareilles/musical theatre, taking suggestions to keep things simple - just girl and piano or girl and acoustic guitar. It was suggested that no “ear candy” was necessary because it was a “distraction” from the song and wasn’t me being “vulnerable enough”…

That’s not the music I was listening to though! I loved MGMT, Miniature Tigers, Dan Deacon…songs that were weird and cartoonish as possible…was obsessed with Janelle Monáe not confining themself to a single genre or sound. All of these artists referenced psychedelics. The songs were so complex and densely orchestrated and I loved everything about them. It’s my body’s instinctual reaction to release serotonin while listening to these tunes hahah

The semester I started Krissanthemum, my roommates and I were in off campus housing and had a garage with a few couches in it. I would stay up all night in there smoking weed, and decided my next move would be instrumental only, something I hadn’t done a lot of so no one would have expectations from me based on my prior music.

The process for writing the “b-side” of Kaleidoscope Drive was messing around with open tuning chords on my guitar, in a stoned trance, and then layering in as many synths as I could fit around the guitar parts, adding drums last. Weed played a huge part in these arrangements because it cleared my head of all of the noise from diagnosed PTSD, anxiety, and depression, and allowed me to orchestrate with what I thought of as a David Lynch inspired method.

Lynch talks about fishing for ideas out of thin air. Weed quiets my mind so that it is open to these ideas, in my case, melodies and harmonic structures I could translate into the orchestration of my arrangements! The whole creative process was major therapy that allowed me to take ownership over my mind and body in ways I never had before.

Weed also helped me go back to being a singer with Krissanthemum. It helps me stay in my body. I love to sing and when I’m in tune with my bodily instrument, I can’t help but add vocals on top of everything else that’s going on in my arrangements.

After developing my wacky, experimental Krissanthemum sound via my weed fueled exploration of instrumental arrangements and sound design, I went back to my old ways of writing the song first, and then “fishing” for the production sounds afterwards because now I know how to fearlessly allow myself to please myself creatively. Pleasing my audience with these sounds is more dependent on the clarity of the mix…something I’m still working on and something I prefer to do sober actually.

I know this is so long, sorry 😅 I’m not always sure how to make sense of creative thinking without including as many details/analogies as possible lol

No no this is so good!!

This is such a great peek into the creative process

Also I just bought Dan Deacon’s America on CD at a used record store and it’s truly everything to me

America was a huge for me too!! :’) I’ve been slow on getting back because Thursday I had a technical test/interview for a studio engineering position, I had to do a ton of editing work based on my ability to read an orchestral score (🤞!) Totally links back to being influenced by that album to study classical music in combination with studio composition!

I think my only other question is—given you work at a dispensary, how would you describe the Krissanthemum sound as if it were a strain of weed?

Krissanthemum is my favorite strain, Lemon Cherry Gelato—relaxed and distanced from stressed, euphoric and giggly too! Also, strong in THC lol

hell yes.

a strain created by Backpackboyz :) ho ho ho

Thank you Krissy! Go listen to her on Bandcamp and check out her website. And thanks for reading I Enjoy Music (Stoned). It's been a great week and I will reward myself with a medium-size J this evening, likely before going to see the movie Madame Web. If you like the blog, please tell a friend.