11 Questions: KEVIN CHRYST: He’s got it

PHOTO BY SARAH DAY

by BRENT COLE

I’ll be honest, for the longest time, I didn’t know Kevin Chryst’s last name or how to spell it – he was and will always be to me, Kreestoe. It’s a name that fits him, kind of badass and a tich quirky, but damn inviting. To know Kevin is to love him, he’s just one of those guys in the music scene that’s always got a smile, is a little cocky but has the ridiculous talent to always back it up. When I think about the folks on the scene that I appreciate the most, he’s right up there, and that’s why he’s this month’s 11 questions.

 

Who are you and where did you come from (tell us about yourself)?

I am Kreestoe. The Original Wizard, the Administer of Salty Licks, the Chief of Entertainment. I’m your ice cream man, I’m your puppet, I’m your huckleberry, I’m whatever you need me to be. A product of Portland, Oregon but raised in Seattle, I came to Bellingham in the fall of 2003 to begin school at WWU. Music is my mistress and my number one passion in life, we have a fantastic relationship. My roots are in jazz and primarily big band swing, but I love the blues, R&B and of course funk and soul. Im also a sucker for pop hits, more on that later…

What initially inspired you to play drums?

You know, the earliest human memory that I can recall in my life was being at a parade with my folks, watching a marching band go by. I was absolutely entranced by the men with the bass drums, HUGE drums being beaten with big ol’ baseball-bat-looking mallets. I knew right then I had to be and would forever be a drummer. I’m all about that bass.

 

Tell us about your new project, Baby Cakes. How did it come about and what are your goals for the band?

Baby Cakes was definitely born in the fire. I was bestowed the honorable privilege of putting together a New Year’s Eve band for Chair 9 out in Glacier this past year. The owner of that club said, “I want a cover band.” That’s exactly where we started, covering the most amazingly soulful and classic material in the history of American music (in my opinion). So naturally, I went out and hired a group of complete badasses. I believe the members of this band are the very best at what they do. I’m amazed and humbled by their talent and proficiency. And now looking forward, I am so excited to not only take this band on the road and show the world what we can do but to also create organically with original material. There’s no limit to what we can do, we are an amazing family.

 

If you weren’t playing drums, what other instrument would you tackle?

As a drummer to the core, my right hand man and partner in crime is always the bass player. I love a pure bass player that plays the bass like a BASS. Now thats sexy, I’d definitely do that. But if I were to play with my mouth instead of my hands, I would most certainly attack the trumpet. There is nothing as powerful as a lead trumpet scream. That gets me going.

 

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Well I am a bit of sweet tooth after all… My favorite ice cream flavor would involve salted caramel or toffee, brownie chunks, and vanilla. Gotta have a little crunch to it.

 

Coffee or tea?

There’s no question here. Coffee, baby. I like my french pressed coffee black as night, but I really love a good mocha. You know I like a little chocolate in my life. ;)

 

What has kept you in Bellingham throughout the years? 

Man, Bellingham has kept me close for so many reasons. Our community is hip. We are cool folks that strive to progress together. We are artistic, conscious, active and political. I’ve made some of my best lifelong friends here. I have come of age here. I have fallen in love and had the heart broken here. Bellingham and its people have certainly shaped me into the person I am today. I always look forward to leaving town for adventure, but I absolutely love to come home.

 

If you could change one thing about our community, what would it be?

Ethnic diversity. Diversity promotes an open mind! I don’t know how we accomplish or encourage this, but I do know we all would benefit greatly.

 

Which drummers have been the most influential to your playing?

Such a hard question to ask any musician. But, some of my favorite drummers and also most influential to my playing have been Adam Deitch, Steve Jordan, Brian Blade, Carter Beauford, Jeff Porcaro, Sonny Payne, ?uestlove, and Ari Hoenig. Google these cats!

 

If you could play with any musician in the world, who would it be and why?

This one’s easy, the great Count Basie, my favorite music and bandleader of all time. To feel the power and emotion of Count Basie’s Orchestra swinging to your beat, to be the drummer driving that train… Wow. That would be heavenly. Listen to the album Montreaux ‘77 and tell me otherwise.

 

Do you still have nightmares about Super Bowl 49? 

It’s just a game, baby. But yeah that one was on my 30th birthday and i didn’t think anything could go wrong for us… I thought we ‘won’ the game to be honest and of course you can’t define that game with any one play, but what a heartbreaker!

 

Who has been the biggest influence on your life (not necessarily a musician)?

I think many people would naturally say that their folks might be their biggest influence in life. And I certainly agree with this sentiment, my parents have blessed me with so many opportunities to learn and travel and enjoy myself. But my brother, Tim Chryst continues to inspire and influence me in everything that I do. My man has stood by me through everything, every accomplishment and every failure. I thank him for continuing to make me a better person, brother and son every day. Family above all.

 

Any last thoughts?

In past editions of this piece, I’ve seen you ask, “What are you currently listening to?” and like I mentioned above, pop music is alive and well in my world! Here’s my current top five guilty pleasure songs: “Want to Want Me” by Jason Derulo,
“Sugar” by Maroon 5, “Jealous” by Nick Jonas, “Style” by Taylor Swift, and
“You Can Have It All” by JRDN.

Published in the April 2015 issue of What’s Up! Magazine