Photo Credit: Adam Kelly
There are two types of songs I like to listen to in the summer; those that remind me of Warped Tour and those that have this lazy-day-afternoon vibe. Kris Ulrich grew up listening to the likes of Warped staples, but his music delivers the latter, especially in songs like “Friends on the Internet.” A song one can hear on his March 31st release, ‘Big in the USA.’ We talked about the new music, socializing online vs real life, and more like the community found within Winnipeg. All of that and more await below!
Kendra: First, I’d love to know what initially drew you towards music. Have you always been one of those people who knew pretty early on that you were going down a creative path?
Kris Ulrich: My folks had me in classical piano and voice at a young age but I don’t think I really had a strong desire to play music until I heard Linkin Park.
I remember hooking up the family computer speakers to my walkman on the floor of my room and absolutely cranking ‘Hybrid Theory.’ That stuff FIRED ME UP. My brother and I had a band together as kids that I played bass in and we would play Beatles and Travelling Wilburys. I always looked up to him because he fronted the band and played guitar.
Kendra: You have been very active in your local music scene, which I think is great but it can also be scary for someone starting out who doesn’t know how to really get involved with theirs. What advice do you have for someone who just moved to a new city who is trying to emerge themselves and become a part of their local scene?
Kris Ulrich: I got super lucky with the Winnipeg scene honestly. I moved from a small town and didn’t know anyone there, but there were so many established musicians that took me under their wing and I am so thankful for that. My advice would be to be supportive and curious. Go to shows, meet new people, and be open and kind.
Kendra: Speaking of, many from your local scene were enlisted to work on your 2023 release, ‘Big in the USA.’ When you started writing, did you think you would have this sort of communal support?
Kris Ulrich: I absolutely did. I was at a time in my life where I didn’t know if I would make another record or pursue an artistic career anymore. Then I joined a song club run by my friends in Slow Spirit where you had to turn in a new song every week and I felt the tap open again. It really lit a fire to create and I wrote a bunch of the songs that ended up on this record.
I remember showing some of the demos I had made to my friend Field Guide and he said, “You’ve got a record started!” I remember being shocked because they weren’t recorded “properly” and I thought they were too different sonically from my previous stuff. If he hadn’t gassed me up about the songs and direction, I wouldn’t have made this record.
Kendra: The record also embraces that DIY spirit. You recorded this in your home and being someone who has worked remotely for over a decade – it can be hard to focus. For you, were there any tricks you used to not get distracted when it came time to work on music?
Kris Ulrich: I really try to make the space I make music feel like me. My current mood is cactuses, orange sound panels, and some animal skulls. Lighting is big for me too. I despise overhead lighting so there are lots of lamps and ambient light.
Kendra: So let’s talk about the title track because…some of my favorite lyrics to date. When you sang, “I’m not famous on the internet/And my record sales don’t pay my rent/I wouldn’t change it for anything,” I was like, YES! I’m a creative person, and I feel like this is such a realistic anthem for those who strayed from the expected 9-5 because it can be and often is a struggle but at the same time, we love what we do. So, thank you! But my question is, do you think there is something in people like us that makes it hard for us to accept the “typical” path in life?
Kris Ulrich: I think something that translates across mediums is the desire to learn and develop your craft. To me, that is the addiction. I love learning new things and being absolutely blown away by a song/film/book/photo etc…It feels like magic. How did they make that? I just can’t imagine spending my time here not chasing that magic. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but for me, I think that is why.
Kendra: Another song on the record is “Friends on the Internet.” It’s weird to think that there are people I’ve followed on Twitter for years that I’ve never met but I’ve watched them become parents, grow in their careers, and all that jazz. Which I’m fine with, but do you think that having so many internet friends can hinder your social skills in real life?
Kris Ulrich: I don’t think it hinders, but it can definitely make it strange when you finally meet someone you have only known online. You feel like you know so much about them but it’s only through that little periscope of their online selves.
Kendra: Time for a side note – We’d love to know when you perform, do you have any sort of lucky charms you take with you on stage, or do you have any sort of pre-show traditions you do to ensure you have a great show?
Kris Ulrich: I don’t have any charms, but one thing I always do is empty my pockets. I feel out of sorts if there is stuff in my pockets like receipts or change. I have no idea why but it vibes me out haha, even if it’s in my shirt pocket. I usually listen to heavy music before I go on. Usually the record ‘Low Teens’ by Every Time I Die.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Big in the USA’ out on March 31st, what else can the world expect as we focus on spring and soon enough, summer?
Kris Ulrich: I have been on the road pretty heavily since September so I am going to take some time to relax, but this spring I will be recording stripped-down versions of a few songs from the record with some of my favourite artists being featured on them.