It's difficult to separate Kristin Hoffmann from her music. She began playing the piano at the age of 4, started writing shortly thereafter, and released an album while still in high school. (There were years of classical study in between, most notably at Julliard School of Music's pre-college, where Kristin studied both voice and piano.)
When she talks about her life, she talks about her music - she lives her songs. Yet she's far from one-dimensional - in her 23 years, she's lived a rich life, and her experiences are interwoven into her music. She's equal parts soulful and playful, joyful and lamenting, serious and flippant, a dichotomy that becomes apparent upon one's first listen - the accessibility and simple beauty of her music accompanies deeply intellectual and emotional themes.
Although she's chosen to express her music through the rock genre, her early training is always present: her grasp of musical theory, her technical ability, and the passion and dynamics of classical music shape the style in which she writes and performs. Kristin expanded from the classical realm when she began writing - she discovered herself as a songwriter and lyricist. Music gave her the vocabulary in which to express herself, and her classical training provided its foundation.
While she cites popular influences such as Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos, Kristin's music is simply her own - and likely, that singularity led her to the enviable position of signing with a major label at the age of 19. However, Kristin's first experience under a major recording contract led to a disappointing outcome. "I was signed at a very young age, in the midst of developing as a performing artist and a songwriter," she says. "My inexperience caused me to abdicate control over the creative process, and the results no longer represented me, but an unprincipled, collective direction."
Nearing the end of her first major label experience, Kristin embarked on an introspective journey to Thailand as an effort to recapture her musical soul and acquire an overall perspective on her life and ambitions. She spent time listening to her heart - sleeping on the beach, writing and drawing, meditating, and practicing yoga. In essence, she woke up her imagination. "I brought a guitar with me, and spent countless nights playing for groups of people for no other reason than to add something to my life and to theirs," she says. "For me, it was the true meaning of music - the opportunity to share strictly for the sake of sharing."
Through her study of eastern culture, she learned to let go of the familiar, to trust her instincts, and to relax and to be patient - to take the time to let thoughts, sensations, and new ideas come to her naturally. "Everything in me is enough," she says. "I was living in a place with no electricity, no computers, no cell phones - and I was happier than I'd ever been. I realized that true happiness comes only from within myself. I gained a sound understanding of the difference between music as an art, my art, and music as a business. I now know that no matter what happens in the music business, I will be fine - and I will enjoy music and thrive within it for the rest of my life."
Kristin returned to her home in New York rejuvenated and immediately began recording the songs for Divided Heart, which she'll release on her own in May 2002. Divided Heart is an aural catalogue of her life and her experiences. It features ten new full-length songs that explore a woman's journey through life, love, heartbreak, professional challenges and personal renewal. Kristin wrote or co-wrote and performed each of the songs on Divided Heart and collaborated on the production.
While each of the carefully chosen songs holds its own meaning for Kristin, she describes "Temple" as the song most representative of where she is right now. "'Temple' represents my ideal vision of a relationship between two people and with myself," Kristin says. "It's about being real - letting yourself be seen and loved in your true light. 'Temple' is about the things that can break down this realness - things like moving in the same circles over and over again without growing. It's about opening your eyes to the night-time hunters and moving beyond them."
"I know that for me, music, the beauty of deep, permanent melody, speaks directly to the soul," said Kristin. "Music allows people to connect to each other and that connection can encompass so much, relationships, healing, exploration, love, challenge, and openness. Connecting with people, sharing who I am, is what inspires me, and I feel as if I've been given a gift in being able to express myself through music."