Bassett’s talent blossoms in London
A night of karaoke eight years ago changed Kristina Bassett's life.
Before that the 20-year-old had no idea she could sing; after she didn't want to stop.
The Bermudian performer recently signed with British company BGM Entertainment, whose client list has included Sam Smith and Pixie Lott.
Miss Bassett recently released her debut EP, Midnight Hour under the stage name Bassette.
Q: How did you get interested in singing?
A: I've been singing seriously since I was about 17, but all together since I was around 11 or 12. I first learnt I could sing while at my friend's house for a special occasion, I think it might have been her birthday. She had a karaoke set and we were just playing around with that. That was the first time I actually heard myself sing, loud and clear. I was surprised and my friend was surprised as well. I kept it secret until maybe 14 in high school. That's when I'd do school talent shows and stuff.
Why were you keeping it secret?
It was probably just a confidence issue and being shy as a child. I wouldn't say I've completely grown out of it, but I practise a lot and just tell myself it'll all be fine. When you're performing live people are there to support you. If you practice there's not really much you can really do to mess it up. It all tends to be fine.
See, I'd think live performing would present you with even more chances to mess up ...
Yes and no. In one of my first performances I forgot the words to a cover song in the second verse. That was pretty scary, but what I learnt from that is the crowd is happy to sing along with you. I made eye contact with someone in the audience and she kind of mimed the words to me and that gave me a lot of encouragement. That was when I was about 16 or 17 and was performing at Proud Camden, a live music venue that Amy Winehouse used to perform at in London.
So where are you based now in the UK?
My parents [Angelia and Stuart Bassett] are both Bermudian, but my dad's job relocated us here. He works at HSBC. We moved when I was five — first to Scotland and then when I was 12 to Sheffield. That's where I'm based now, but for the past two years I've been studying psychology at the University of Westminster in London. That degree was going to be my back-up plan, but then I thought if I'm going to take music seriously I don't need a back-up. I will be taking a gap year to focus on music because you have to put all your energy into it. I'm going to be doing a lot more writing, releasing more music and doing a lot more gigs as well to really make a name for myself.
What made you decide to pursue music professionally?
I was about to go off to university and started thinking what I wanted to do for a job. I really didn't want to do anything else, other than write and sing. It's what I enjoy and makes me happy so I figured why not pursue it as a career. Even though I loved it, it was still quite scary in the beginning. I wasn't really confident with my writing and wasn't sure if I could write well enough to make it in the business. But I've done a couple of writing classes and have really improved. Now I even write a lot for other people.
With music you never really know what's going to happen or if you're really going to do well or whatever. It's tough to put your all into something and not be sure how it will pan out, but for me it's worth it.
What's been the biggest challenge for you in establishing your career so far?
Probably preparing for my move back to London next April because once I do that it's going to be a lot more expensive. I'll also be by myself and will have to search for a job to pay my way while I also focus on my music. For the past two years I've balanced university work and the occasional gig, so I hope I'll be able to keep up that momentum. The biggest difference next year will be I won't have as much emotional and physical support from my parents. They will be moving to Portugal to retire so I'll have to get used to being much farther from them.
How do they feel about your musical ambitions?
They definitely are impressed when they hear me sing, but they are more concerned about it and don't really see it as a career option and want me to finish school, get a job and that kind of route, but I think once they see me making progress that's when they will be more open to it. London is both good and bad. There are plenty of opportunities to perform, but there are also a lot of talented people in London which makes it hard to set yourself apart.
The way I see it is I just have to be myself really. Everyone wants to make this club and party music, but mine is more a down-tempo and chill vibe.
What's the reward?
Just developing my craft and having people enjoy my music. My music is considered alternative R&B. A lot of people get into relationships and are afraid to just be by themselves and alone. I've seen that with some of my friends who'll leave one relationship and then jump into another without taking time out to be by themselves and heal. I think my music says it's okay to be who you are and love yourself. My stance is it's better to be happy by yourself than unhappy in a relationship.
Another really fun thing is when people give you feedback, especially in the beginning when I wasn't so confident. It was nice hearing what other people, especially the ones who didn't know me, thought of me. People would compare me to different artists like Corinne Bailey Rae, another artist I've been influenced by.
• Listen to Bassette here: https://soundcloud.com/bgm-entertainment/sets/midnight-sound/s-p6Ybg. Or visit Facebook: Bassette.