Krystal Dawn received a classical guitar from her father as an early Christmas present when she was 16, and has sang since she was two years old.
Dawn has lived in Vancouver, B.C., India, Parksville, B.C. and Maui, Hawaii, but there’s something about Whitehorse that always draws her back.
“Whitehorse has been really supportive, with lots of opportunities. It’s really easy to start out here, which is really nice because I don’t know if I would have been able to, otherwise,” Dawn says.
Her first show was when she was a “wannabe punk”, in North Vancouver, and singing Jimmy Hendrixes Purple Haze into a microphone (that didn’t have the cables quite connected) with a band at a high-school event. Dawn said she was so nervous, she wasn’t singing in her usual loud voice at the event.
“I didn’t really want people to hear me, and I knew they couldn’t hear me and I was kind of happy about that. But, I knew that I liked being up there.
“I wasn’t quite comfortable with my voice yet, but I knew that I liked being onstage and I was happy to be standing there in front of the microphone, even though nobody could hear me.
“I just really loved being there and I remember being so infused with this energy afterwards, really excited … It was such a rush. Even though I didn’t do a good job at all, I just felt so good,” she said.
The 21-year-old has played a few gigs around Whitehorse: at her work place as well as the Baked Café, the Westmark and the Gold Rush.
But she still remembers the first time she felt confident about a performance, when she played a few covers, including Ani Difranco’s Both Hands, at an open-mic night at Flippers about a year and a half ago.
“I got practice because of that, and practice onstage is really important. If you’re a closet performer or a singer/songwriter, you’ve got to show your stuff. You can’t expect to make it in your room, by yourself; you’ve got to perform and you’ve got to go to open mics all the time and get experience performing because performance is such a part of music.”
Dawn has performed with a local band, KGB, and has formed the Wooly Toques, with her friend and co-worker, Miriam Cook.
She’s also been fortunate to go on a leg of a Yukon Women In Music tour, and although her original goal of recording an album for this spring won’t be reached, Dawn said she’s confident she’ll get there.
“I’ve only really been performing for like a year and a half, and it’s daunting. It’s a lot of work … like, holy crap it’s a lot of work to get that together … and I’m kind of lazy,” she said with a laugh. “So! I’m working on it, but I have bills to pay so it’s hard to really focus on it. As soon as I live in my van, it’ll be easier, [I’ll] have more time and need less money.”
Although she’s been performing for only a few years, she’s always written poetry, which she said is pretty “transferable” to put into song. Her major influences are the blues, and gospel. And although she wishes she could write in a more “situational, storytelling kind of way”, most of what she puts onto paper is fuelled by feelings – from romancin’ to breakups.
“I didn’t know anything about music. I just knew that I sang forever and I liked to sing,” is what Dawn said of her knowledge at the time of her first performance. Although she has a few more stepping stones to reach, she’s learned a lot on her path so far and looks forward to continue playing and record an album one day.