Growing up as the daughter of R&B crooner James DeBarge has its advantages. Songstress Kristinia DeBarge (pronounced Kris-ti-nee-a), 19, was thrust into the entertainment world by her father while still in diapers. Now she’s making a splash with her debut single, “Goodbye,” a new-age rendition of a classic.
Running around L.A. and preparing for her upcoming East Coast tour, Kristinia chats with Rap-Up.com about snagging a meeting with Babyface on her own, collaborating with a top-tier singer-songwriter, and waving “goodbye” to romance, at least for now.
1. Had you heard the original song, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” before you recorded your single?
Yes, I was familiar with the original 1969 Steam version before we recorded it. I researched the song on the Internet with Babyface. He has been great to work with.
2. What has it been like growing up in a family with a musical past?
It has been a great thing for me, very positive. I have been around [music] my whole life. My father helps me to make better decisions and I know what I’m doing when I go out and do it. I produce a lot of my own vocals. It’s been a great pleasure having my dad in my life.
3. Do you feel that your family’s name works for or against you?
I definitely have had people bring it up, but it doesn’t take away from Kristinia the artist. Even if a misunderstanding occurs or focus is lost, I would spear it back to Kristinia the artist. Challenges make me more focused in a good way because I can challenge myself. One challenge was that I met Babyface on my own; my dad didn’t introduce me to anyone. I went to the studio with my dad when I was 14 years old, but that was it. I met Babyface because I said I was going to meet him and I did everything I could to meet him. I put in long hours, long days, and long nights, often writing until 2 a.m. It has been a seven-year journey, but I have youth on my side.
4. Are you looking for love?
I’m not necessarily saying no. If love comes in my direction and I happen to fall in love, then that’s fine. Number one is my music and whoever I am with has to support me.
5. What activities do you enjoy doing when you’re not behind the mic?
Before my career, I enjoyed swimming, rock-climbing, and hiking. I liked going to the movies, having dinner with my family, getting a massage, hanging with my friends sometimes at the club—my friends would request my song. Now I am very busy, so I don’t want to wear myself out during my downtime. If I am at the hotel, I will write in my diary and write a song or poem.
6. What is your dream collaboration?
At this moment, Ne-Yo. He has pretty melodies and writes such pretty songs. His songs are filled with a lot of emotion and conviction. They inspire me to write girly-girl songs. I would love to write with him; he reminds me of Michael Jackson. Right now, I am collaborating with The-Dream.
7. What’s a must-have item you carry around with you?
I must have ChapStick and mascara in my purse. My lips get chapped a lot while I’m working, so I like to have lip gloss to pull out.
8. Are you on any strict diets as a new artist?
I love Mexican food. I eat it at least four times a week. I am constantly rehearsing and on the go—that’s my workout. I make sure I am in shape by always walking and keeping busy.
9. Do you ever get stage fright?
I usually don’t get stage fright, but I was in rehearsal and got really nervous. My choreographer told me, “You got this, you look great.” I did the routine again and felt more confident about it.
10. What has been your craziest fan encounter thus far?
My craziest fan moment happened when I received a letter from three little girls who sent a photo with their names and ages written on it. They wanted me to sign it. I thought it was so cute. I am going to take a photo of myself holding their photo and email that to them.
Kristinia DeBarge’s as-yet-untitled debut album hits July 28. Listen to a snippet of her new track “Future Love,” which will be featured on an upcoming mixtape.