Call it a flash of inspiration: 26 days ago, on the morning of Sept. 11, veteran songwriter Kristie Stremel woke up and decided to give away 30 downloadable songs for free in 30 days. With seven albums under her belt and a career that spans more than 15 years, Stremel has plenty of material to work with, both from her solo endeavors and her earlier recordings with her band, Exit 159. This week marks the final countdown of free songs for Stremel - you can grab the collection on her SoundCloud page here
Stremel's straightforward rock and roll is at its best when she really tears into her songs. Her lyrics are always relatable, whether she's aching for a second chance with an ex or wanting to settle down but knowing she still has a bit too much fire in her belly. The Pitch
talked with Stremel about purging the past, the evolution of her songs, and how the right relationship inspired the feel-good vibe of her new record, set to be released next spring.
The Pitch: What inspired you to give away your songs for free?
: I woke up one morning and a thought popped in my head: I should give away 30 songs in 30 days. I'm expecting a big life change - it was a countdown to this huge change in my life. But also writing songs is like writing a journal, and you can see your own growth - I could never write another song like that because I haven't put myself in that situation again. It's so weird to see that.
There are also some things I was reading while I was doing this - I read a quote by John Lennon that said music is everybody's. Everybody owns music. So there was this element of - not that I'm comparing myself to John Lennon by any means - freeing your ego from what you've created. Not to get too dramatic, but the song was really only mine when I was creating it. That's when it was most intense, and that's when I felt like it was mine.
I have no fucking idea why I just decided to do it, but those things were in my head. It was also to honor the players who played with me while we were recording. Plus, you know what - who has money to buy songs these days? Everybody is paying their rent and their bills, and who has extra money?
What gets you worked up and makes you want to write a song?
Most of my songs in the beginning - I think because I was drinking so much - I wrote a lot of songs that were all about me and what I was experiencing. I can see the progression - they kind of start lightening up, and when I got sober I started writing about other people and their relationships and how they were reacting to a situation. And I got better at my craft and songwriting and started writing about people, places, and things and not just the way I was feeling. But in my defense I guess that's why we write - to process things. It's such a therapeutic thing - maybe not at the time, but listening to it later. It's like a journal - you can go back later, and be like, "What was I fucking thinking?"