Bridging the gap between contemporary pop and ambient jazz seems to be the ethos of this favorably acclaimed Australian trio of musicians that are gaining momentum in the music industry with their unique brand of jazz laced pop with soul ……. Kristen Fletcher Trio. Based in Sydney and comprising of lead singer and pianist Kristen Fletcher, bass guitarist Carlo Tapia and drummer Dominic Cabrera, the trio all hail from very different life paths yet have found a symmetry through their love of music and performing to form this elusive trio.
The trio have been making sweet music since 2008 and have formed a respectable niche for themselves on the live music circuit for their creative take and remixes of both current pop hits and soulful classics by infusing a delicious jazz overtone that carefully pushes the envelope whilst adding unique layers to songs we all know and love. With the strong musical backgrounds each of them possess, it stands to reason why the Kristen Fletcher Trio are the group to watch in the coming months. With the release of their debut single “ Miss You Like Crazy“ gaining steady love through various online music portals, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to Kristen, Carlo and Dominic this burgeoning success given the respect they all garner within the industry. Fletcher, a seasoned piano player whom has been classically trained since the age of six has gone one to work with some of Australia’s brightest stars as both session keyboardist and songwriter before fronting her own band and creating her own personal sound. Collaborating with a passionate musician like the consummate professional in Carlos Tapia has seen one of the best bass guitarists in the industry bring his flair to the Trio. Hailing from Davao City, Philippines, Tapia has been strumming the bass since the age of 15 and has gone on to co-form a Philippine rock band called Freestyle, who went on to be overnight successes touring the US, Canada and Australia, garnering accolades and awards from MTV to boot.
Joining the ranks of the KF Trio is drummer on the rise Dominic Cabrera, hailing from Sydney and is fast becoming the most in-demand session players in the city. Having worked with the cream of Australia’s pop crop in Guy Sebastian, Stan Walker, Timomatic and Rob Mills to name a few, Cabrera has also snared his way onto top shows like X-Factor, The Aria Awards and Young Talent Time. In addition to his extensive session workload he is also a music teacher that holds collaborative jam sessions with a legion of celebrities, performers and music students.
As they get set to release their debut album this week, The Kristen Fletcher Trio brace themselves for what lies ahead in their musical journey. Steadfast in their craft, they remain focused on the opportunities and veritable challenges that lay ahead with any outfit embarking on a record launch, yet manage to stay humble, honest and in the moment with all they are experiencing. It’s an exciting time when music brings people together and even better when it belies definition. Be it jazz fusion pop or soul laced pop with a touch of jazz, labels and definition don’t mean much to this Trio, who at the end of the day just enjoy being about the music, pure and simple!
Congratulations on your new single “Miss You Like Crazy” and the launch of your debut album….. How has the process been for you all as you have been working as a collective since 2008…. Must be nice to see it all come together?
Thanks so much! As you say we’ve been together for a while now, and it’s every musician’s dream to come up with an album full of original material. I’m glad we waited though and I’m happy we spent years playing together & developing our sound, I’m relieved I went to all those extra singing lessons to keep improving my voice & I’m ecstatic with the final product!
I enjoy your sound and style – I would call it a hybrid of jazz and contemporary pop fusion ….how would you best describe The Kristen Fletcher Trio?
I like what you said! We’ve found it difficult to be succinct in our description, with so many different influences around us – but it’s definitely fusion. A fusion of musical influences on the 3 of us, ranging from pop, jazz, classical, neo soul. In general terms, you can put KF3 under Pop, but with high musicality.
What is the story of how you all came to be and your collective talent pool – was being part of a group always in the making or would you say this is the music card you have been dealt for now?
I love being part of a group, I don’t think I could do it on my own. The support that comes from doing something together is really special. The story of how we came to be starts with Carlo, who was there from the beginning… I needed to put a group together & a friend of mine had done a few gigs with Carlo & recommended him to me. After a couple of gigs together, we knew there was something special about this combo, I guess you could call it “musical chemistry”. Dom came a bit later, as our first drummer Wahyu had left the country to settle down back home in Indonesia & we were looking for someone to fill his shoes. It took us a while, but after meeting & playing with Dom at a random wedding gig – I was sure we didn’t have to look any further. And I was right, he has added so much energy to the group, it’s been great playing with him for the past few years! We definitely have that musical connection, and are good friends, to top it off. Playing with each other is always a joy.
How would you best describe one another, your talents, your creativity etc… ?
Carlo – Mr reliable, always on time & ready to go! Amazing ears, I pretty much constantly change progressions & arrangements & he’s always on top of it! Carlo is the chops master!
Dom – Dom is also the chops master & keeps us tight & together. Brings great energy to our live shows! He has the best memory for our elaborate arrangements & also brings a certain “Bruno Mars-esque” vibe to the group.
Kristen – The rudder and motor of this band; Has the musical maturity for her age that you’d usually see in older and jaded musicians (hahaha)
Dom – Brings the sex appeal & hips-terrific vibe to the band. Great feel and heart in his drumming.
Carlo – Carlo can be the class clown (with his dancing & Dad jokes) but he is an undeniable wealth of experience & wisdom. He’s been to the top & been through it all, as a member of one of the most successful bands in the Philippines. I have tremendous respect for him & always have my ears open for his advice.
Kristen – Kristen leads us well & takes care of business like a boss. She is a gem in the Sydney music scene as a total package of brains, talent & beauty. She is feisty & knows what she wants and at the same time is one of the most understanding & generous people I know.
What are your thoughts on the Jazz / Soul music genre today – has much changed in the purity of the music form given technology and just natural evolution in music? If there have been changes would you say they have been beneficial?
Yes, music is always changing, and it’s a good thing. I don’t think anyone is ‘strictly this’ or strictly that’ anymore, there’s just too much good stuff out there & now anything goes! In terms of the question in originality, listen to the last track in the album 😉
You do a remake of Michael Jackson’s classic “ I Can’t Help It “ and produce a sultry ambience to the song …… who would you say are your musical influences and how have they helped shape the Kristen Fletcher Trio?
Kristen: Definitely Stevie Wonder, who actually wrote ‘Can’t Help It’ for MJ. I love everything about Stevie, although I wouldn’t say I’m anything like him vocally, perhaps his influence is more present in my playing… Other influences include; Norah Jones, Erykah Badu & Alicia Keys. Local Sydney musician Darryl Beaton has also been a huge influence of mine, esp. in my early development years. As far as shaping the trio & our music, I think learning jazz & incorporating the harmony into my music, along with my love for pop & neo-soul is the combination that forms the basis of our stuff! Carlo’s influences include top bass players like Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten & Marcus Miller. And Dom’s drumming idols include Chris Coleman & Travis Barker.
Your debut album is due for release very soon – what are you hoping the Australian industry and music fans will garner from this album?
I’m hoping firstly for as many people as possible to listen with open minds. We’ve already hit a few road blocks with the promo leading up to our release, as we’re either “not jazz enough” or “too jazzy” or “not rnb/soul enough” so it’s been tough to get people to help us spread the word. Ultimately though, I’d like music fans & the Australian industry to get to know us & come & watch us live, as this is only the beginning.
Any future tours / live shows coming up for your trio?
We are currently in the planning stages for a tour early next year around the major cities on the East Coast & also rural areas around Sydney (as I grew up in Bathurst – I’d like to go back & share my music there!). We are also planning a South East Asian tour for mid-2014 – with Carlo’s contacts in the Phil’s & friends in Indonesia & Singapore we are hoping to tee up some shows in a few countries across S.E.A.
What would you say is the greatest misconception with the younger generation when it comes accepting / listening to Jazz on a mainstream platform?
The misconception is the ‘labels’ we put on music. It’s about time every musician in every genre open up, get over the ‘labels’ and just enjoy music.
Your greatest motivation / muse in life and why?
Kristen – This grand vision I’ve had since I was a kid… Not the “I wanna be famous” vision, but more like “I want to be able to play my music to people, watch their enjoyment… maybe even have them singing along”! It’s a strong image I’ve always had, so I guess that helps motivate me.
Carlo – I feel fortunate & blessed to be doing what I love.
Dom – My motivation comes from my idols & the people around me. I feed off my environment & as a naturally competitive person, my biggest growth spurts have come when another cat comes around & forces me to up my game.
For more information on The Kristen Fletcher Trio visit: www.thegrooveacademy.com.au/artist/kristen-fletcher-trio