Time is all one needs to open a door full of new possibilities and avenues. In the spring of 2020, free time was all we had. While some filled their days with new recipes and DIY projects, others finally took that time off to embark on long-awaited hobby projects. For Kristen Conti ’21, a stretch of time with nothing to do but stay home was all she needed to pursue something outside of her comfort zone.
As a former member of MCTV and the Marist Circle, her real passion in college was journalism. Conti interned for Entertainment Tonight and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon as well as a number of magazines which led her to her current role at NBC Sports as a digital editor.
Entering the music world was not something she envisioned when working for her career. But once the pandemic created such an amount of free time, Conti decided to dive headfirst into his musical interests. Writing music wasn’t new to Conti, she explained, because as a journalism major, writing is involved in every aspect of her life. Writing articles and research papers soon turned into writing his own creative pieces, including music. “I felt like I could write down my feelings – put pen to paper and make them creative through music. I didn’t know of any other outlet where I could express that.
Many of these songs started developing when she was 17, so by the time the pandemic hit, she had a variety of musical content: lyrics in her phone notes, voice memos, journals, and plenty of time to work on them. . However, Conti didn’t realize how many extra elements there were when it came to seriously working on his music. “I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find a producer and get your song mixed and mastered and released to all the streaming platforms and all the marketing. It’s really a lot of things.”
Eventually, Conti was able to find a producer to help produce her debut single, “Prove Me Wrong”. When her single was released, it was the first time anyone had heard her sing before. Still, Conti received a lot of positive feedback, especially about her writing, which she was very proud of.
Still, Conti acknowledged that none of this was necessarily easy, as she entered this type of industry rather naively. Eventually, she was able to find her calling and move on to her current producer who she has a much better relationship with. “I learned what to look for and how to trust people because people all have different motivations…it’s important to have a good head on your shoulders that will guide you through this industry.”
Something Conti is still learning to accept is social media criticism and opinions about her music, as much of what she releases is vulnerable work. Yet despite the occasional discouragement, Conti never lets the opinions of others hold her back in any way. Specifically, many of the artists Conti looks up to have faced a number of criticisms on even greater scales, which inspires him to keep moving forward with his music. “I love Billie Eilish with a passion, I think she’s amazing. Ever since I was a kid, Taylor Swift has always been my inspiration and Mac Miller.
Currently, Conti states how his music exudes a style similar to Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, and Gracie Abrams. This style is particularly visible in his latest single, “Why’d You Take It Out On Me”.
And when asked about the inspiration behind his new single, we both shared a laugh over the answer: a Marist boy. “It’s just honest experiences that I have that are super detailed…and that’s what my work is all about. I want it to be super detailed and I want it to tell my stories. If you listen to them, you will know a little about the inside of my life. Conti notes that being so vulnerable was also difficult, as it was the first time she had been so open about her experiences. But rather than keep them to herself, she figured that if she shared them with the world, her experiences might help others.
As someone who has just taken a small step into the music industry, Conti still feels like she still has a lot to learn. However, she knows there is one key piece of advice she can give to someone who is nervous about posting such vulnerable work, as she does. “Once you decide you want to do it, all you have to do is make a serious commitment…it’s just a matter of perseverance and if you really, really want to do it, you will.”