Kristeen Young

The Beauty Shop is attached to the house. Your forefathers built it. Your foremothers toiled, broke their bodies and minds in it, raised you (in your playpen) in it. Burned you, manipulated you, cut and maimed you, in it. This is not your lineage. This is a foster lineage. But, that doesn’t matter, it’s yours now. Memorize these passages, you’ll have to perform them, disintegrate for them. ALL THAT MATTERS IS HOW YOU LOOK. ALL THAT MATTERS IS HOW PEOPLE SEE YOU. THIS WHOLE BIO IS THESE TWO LINES. One day, on the very steps to the shop where you aped the operator herself (by cutting your doll’s, while she cut hers) she once again raises her hand against you, but this time you GRAB IT. It’s the moment. The proprietor has changed. But is it real change or only a change of guard? Is the surviving victim only a different perpetrator? The Beauty Shop is no longer brick and quartered, but the everlasting presence of it in your mind feels heavier than any concrete existence. Or do you still feel anything at all?

The Beauty Shop is a song cycle and newest album by Kristeen Young. The album is comprised of musical snapshots in the life story of a serial killer, with each song inspired by a major emotion (ie. one song being rage, one being grief, etc.) But, really, the album is about how life kills our emotions. It’s also inspired by the little beauty shop in the ominous foster/adopted home in St. Louis, MO. USA where Kristeen spent her childhood. It also IS the USA.

Like her 2019 album, The SubSet, Kristeen wrote, arranged, and produced The Beauty Shop.  She has always been a DIY artist in the most classic sense: standing alone, outside, and in between categories. She plays piano in a sort of bashing/dissonant manner (but melodic at times) and sings using a wide range (of notes and emotion) that veers into operatic territory. But, the music is best described as no genre or multi-genre and she has done this for 9 albums. It might be a popular (non)category now but this was not so 9, 8, 7 and even 1 album ago. She stood outside, alone. She is a pioneer and iconoclast. “Me too” happened. “The Enlightenment” happened. She still stands outside, alone. “Is there real change or only a change of guard?”

Although a lifelong unsigned, manager-less, un-agent-ed artist, she has found support among some of the most undeniable artists of our time: David Bowie recorded a (Kristeen-written, self-released) duet with her. Kristeen toured, as opener, for several world-wide Morrissey tours (as well as singing on his #1 song, That’s How People Grow Up, and performing on Late Night with David Letterman with him. Dave Grohl played drums on her whole self-released 2014 album and then performed with her on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) played guitar on her self-released 2017 album. In 2020, she received her first New York Times review (an enthusiastic write-up by legendary music critic, Jon Pareles) of a re-working of the Bowie duet.

If there is no place for your creation you must create a universe for it. And this is what Kristeen has done for The Beauty Shop. Each song has a video companion that Kristeen shot, edited, designed and made all the wardrobe and props. Born in the same brain: the audio and the visual combine to compel you in. Here it makes surreal sense. You can feel it more than hear it. You are in The Beauty Shop. And it’s not always pretty….even when it is.
-Joanna Oceguera