By Kevin Naulls
Kreesha Turner arrives at the Soho Metropolitan rocking a gracious smile with her bold leopard-print pants and Gucci heels. She’s here to discuss "MJ," the debut singleoff her new, yet-to-be-titled album, which features a hybrid sound that’s a departure from her poppy past.
But while she’s moved to L.A. and is making waves via Nick Cannon’s NCredible label and Universal, she says Canada doesn’t know where to place her, and that’s a hurdle the 29-year-old artist is still trying to overcome.
HELLO! Online sat down with Kreesha to discuss her struggles, her triumphs and her jaw-dropping nails:
You are getting a lot of airplay in the United States and you’re trying to get that momentum going here. Has it been difficult to tap into the Canadian market?
Kreesha: From my last [two] albums, there’s been a big sound change. It’s much, much more urban. And the difficulty with the Canadian music industry is that we don’t have an urban-formatted radio station left. Some of them still play urban music, but they’re still classified as Top 40. For my new sound… unless fans and programmers are showing love because they like the song, it can be easily overlooked.
© Darion Ko
What is this new sound? How do you describe it to someone who might only know your pop career?
Kreesha: I take three elements: hip hop, dance hall reggae and R&B.
Who else is doing this? Are you creating a genre all on your own?
Kreesha: A lot of the production is very Missy Elliott – from when she was killing it in 2000. I go back and forth singing in English and Patois a lot, so people often compare me to Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. It’s hard, 'cause I’m often asked, ‘If you were nominated for a Grammy, would you be hip hop, R&B or pop-crossover?’ It’s hard to say where I’d end up.
Tell me about how you and Nick Cannot got involved
Kreesha: I was going into Hyde, a club in L.A., and as soon as I walked in Nick was DJing and he took the mic and said, ‘Kreesha Turner is in the building.’ All I could think was, ‘he knows my name? What?’ Afterwards we chatted and he said that he followed me on Instagram and Twitter and heard my songs in 2010 or 2011. It’s interesting to find out that relevant people in this industry have heard my name at some point in time.
Now that Nick Cannon is your manager, how involved is he in your process?
Kreesha: It’s amazing to me to know how busy this man is, and everything he has his hands in. It’s amazing that after everything he does, he still has time for me. It’s exactly what I want. It has opened my eyes and made me realize that being busy has a lot to do with a person’ priorities. No one is as busy as Nick Cannon.
Are there any plans to work with Mariah Carey?
Kreesha: I wish. I know that if I ever have the opportunity, that I’d be speechless. I believe I might be able to open for one of her upcoming shows. Knock on wood. Don’t jinx it.”
Have you ever met Mariah? Kreesha: She hates L.A., so she’s never there.
© Darion Ko
Tell me about your style. It always seems so dramatic and exciting. Who does your nails?
Kreesha: I have always been very specific. I immediately know if I like something. Being an artist, I’ve always had an admiration and love for excitement. With fashion, it’s the visual and music is the audio and they go hand in hand. My designer tastes change with the season. For example, for 2011 and 2012, I loved Versace and this year I don’t at all. As for Canadians? I always have a place in my heart for Greta Constantine, Dean Davidson, Carlie Wong, Lucian Matis and Pavoni.
It is so expensive to get nails done in Canada. I have these guys in L.A., Nails by Males, who are these four American Filipino guys who do your nails and I love them. $30 for designs and everything.
Your skin is pristine and you always seem fresh without wearing too much makeup. What is your beauty routine like?
Kreesha: I had a much more complicated process once upon a time. I used to have really bad skin and tried everything. Last year in April, I cleaned up my diet – no soy, cow dairy, corn, gluten, refined sugar, coffee, peanuts and pork – and my skin cleared up. If I consume any coffee, I will have a zit in five hours without fail.
Fame and getting people to accept your talents is a tough spot to be in. Were you ever ready to give up and try something else?
Kreesha: Yes. After my second album, I had a phase where Universal just bought EMI and EMI shut down and there was a long limbo period. My second album hadn’t gotten the kind of support we had desired, and I remember feeling incredibly defeated. I talked to my mother and she said it might be time to consider going back to school and I was not ready for that speech.
The label set me up for six months in Toronto in 2012, and for all of August, I had no idea where I was going to go. I returned to Edmonton, got my mother’s speech, and then I decided to return to L.A. I decided to network and not be subjugated by the limbo, and through all of these quick decisions, I met Nick.
Are you dating anyone?
Kreesha: We’ll leave that as a no comment [laughs].
Okay. Fair enough. Easier one: are you planning to act while you’re in L.A.?
Kreesha: It is something I have pursued. As a singer-songwriter, there are also times when you are given the song. Taking a song that I didn’t write, it’s my job to record it and make you believe I wrote it. So, essentially, acting has always been a part of the gig. But I did have an agent when I first moved to L.A. in 2009 who did a good job of getting me into a lot of great auditions. I found that in music my racially ambiguous look works, but for acting, they cast racially specific. I’m not white, I’m not dark-skinned enough and I’m part Chinese but I don’t look it. I still go to auditions and keep up with my acting classes – it’s definitely something I hope to experience in the not-too-distant future.
Are you playing the app game “Kim Kardashian Hollywood?”
Kreesha: What is that? I’ve never even heard of it. Trust me, I’m one of those people who has never seen the video for “Gangnam Style.”