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Check Out Kris Schultz’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kris Schultz.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was always the one person in the room who didn’t play music or write songs. All my friends were musicians from the time I landed in Austin after college, and I eventually started working for the bands they played in. I sold merch, I drove the van, I lugged gear. Eventually, I even ended up road managing a month-long tour of the Midwest, the Northeast and Canada, by default. But I never played and couldn’t imagine singing in front of people.

I came home from that tour and took a break from the music world and started a pet care business with my sister. Then, in the spring of 2017, I suddenly had some time on my hands and I had ended up with a cheap guitar, and a friend who I had worked for on the road was starting a songwriting mentoring business.

On a whim, I decided to have a consultation with her. I heard the words before I realized I was saying them: “Maybe I’ll be one of your clients.” I had no idea where the thought came from. She asked if I could sing, and I honestly didn’t know. I knew I could write stories and poems. I had done that all my life. I had loved music all my life, but I had no reason to think I had it in me to write songs or play music or sing. But I gave it a shot since something was obviously pulling me toward it, and I tend to follow my instincts.

Once I realized I could write songs, I would find myself going to sleep at night, thinking I couldn’t wait to see what would happen when I woke up in the morning. I had spent so much time in my life looking around at my friends, thinking how cool it was they were walking around with songs inside them. And now, somehow, something inside me had cracked open and I could see I had songs rattling around in there, too.

I took as many gigs as I could get the first three years or so. I set my alarm for two hours earlier than I normally woke up every day to write and practice. I did a couple of short little tours of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska with a friend. And then, I did a solo tour of New Mexico, Arizona and California, then came home and started my first full-length album in January of 2020. The pandemic kept us from finishing it until this year. But now it’s out there in the world, released in October. It’s called “Standard Issue Heart”.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I definitely took a scenic route getting here. I did a lot of wandering in my life. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. Finding my path with the pet care business was great. I love the dogs I get to hang out with, and their humans are such kind, generous people who, in many cases, are like family. But I have always been a creative person, and I feel like I was trying to figure out how that fits into the picture for a long time. It felt really important but never quite worked, somehow. I was always writing stories and poems that I never showed anyone. But they never felt right. Songwriting, it turns out, was the missing piece of the puzzle. It took me a really long time to find it, and I am determined to make sure I remember to be grateful for it every day. At the same time, I don’t regret the wandering because I also know I wasn’t ready for any of it until the moment it revealed itself to me when I found myself suggesting I give songwriting a try.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I guess if I specialize in anything, it’s two opposite things.

In my life, I can be extremely optimistic, even in terrible situations. I just always have a feeling that I will figure things out. I sort of see everything as a puzzle to be solved, and I don’t give up easily.

That said, in my songwriting, I tend to write sad songs. I’ve been drawn to sad songs all my life, even as a small child. If I’m feeling down, a happy song won’t cheer me up. But a sad song will find me where I’m at and make me feel understood. And those are the kind of songs I write, too, though I think I manage to sneak quite a bit of optimism and hope into them, as well.

But I’m a strong believer that there is not only room for both being optimistic and acknowledging the sadness, but it’s really important to allow both, to maintain balance.

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
The most important thing I’ve learned is to not forget to be grateful every day. And also to never be afraid to ask questions or admit you don’t know something. It’s the only way to learn what you need to learn. Playing it cool because you’re afraid to look like you don’t know something just takes a lot of energy and doesn’t move you further along in whatever process you’re in. Stopping to ask a question, however, can send you past some major roadblocks along the way.

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Image Credits:

Performance photos and “dog concert” photos by Amanda Stronza. Photo with Red Wall by Kirsten Schultz

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