Oct 19, 2019

Halloween Web - Kristen Lawrence

Finishing out our music interviews is Halloween songstress Kristen Lawrence and she had lots of photos to share.

"Here are the famous Tinkerbell wings my mom made. I loved this costume."
For those that don't know you, please introduce yourself.

I am an organist/composer/singer. I play organ for Pacific Symphony’s family and youth programs on the magnificent pipe organ at Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa, California.

Many years ago, I decided we need more beautiful Halloween music to enjoy throughout the month of October (and year ‘round for the freaks), so I developed my project called “The Halloween Carols” (HalloweenCarols.com) Last year I released my fourth album, a 2-disc set called “Hallowe’en: Night of Spirits.” And this year I’m giving away a free download of my newest song, “Witch of the Salem Town” until November 2.

Just a few days after the interview, Kristen put out a call to her fans for photos of the Salem Witch Trial Memorials and I was able to contribute a few for her video.

What were your childhood Halloweens like?

Halloweens in Orange County, California were otherworldly for me as a child. Though probably not directly aware of the changing seasonal light, I know my little soul noticed it, because I remember coming alive at dusk during the month of October. I remember, as the sun set, looking out the window from the front room my mom had decorated with porcelain pumpkins and ghosts with lit-up eyes, and feeling deeply happy. I often would dance in this darkening room, feeling a certain surrealism that words strain to express — I’m sure this is why I write music.

Trick-or-treating in my neighborhood was spectacular. I loved walking outside under the starry nighttime sky past house after house with glowing jack o’ lanterns. I especially remember the comforting and alluring smell of candles, wax, and heated gourd flesh at every porch step.

Do you have any specific Halloween memories?

I remember trick-or-treating at one particular house where some enthusiastic and very kind older boys answered the door and gave us multiple huge handfuls of candy. They were laughing the whole time. My mouth must have gaped open wider and wider at each handful they placed in my bag. I think I was very young, but I remember how much that experience lit up my soul.

"Here are the Marx brothers that everyone thought were just hobos. I’m Harpo, on the left. Notice little sister is now Tinkerbell, and little brother is a German lederhosen boy."
What about favorite costumes?

My mom made some light-green Tinkerbell wings, and I just loved those. Of course they passed around from sibling to sibling each year, each taking our turn wearing them. I also loved dressing up as Princess Leia and, of course, cats. Lots and lots of cat costumes. One year my sister, two friends, and I dressed up as the Marx Brothers (including Zeppo!). We thought we were obvious and fantastic, but everyone thought we were merely hobos.

How do you celebrate today?

Every year it varies, depending on what party or gathering is going on, but my favorite thing to do on Halloween night happens before the fĂȘtes — I love to walk around neighborhoods, just observing and listening. I love hearing distant doorbells and little voices calling out, “Trick or treat!” all under the Halloween evening sky.

"I was a blonde Princess Leia. Notice the Tinkerbell wings turned into insect wings on my little brother. "

Is there anything special you do to get into the Halloween spirit?

I try to go somewhere more rural, where there is a natural pumpkin patch, where I can smell autumn in the air. I live in sprawling suburbia, which is splendid for trick-or-treating traditions, but with all the Halloween history I study, it pulls me to the country.

Are there any shows or movies you like to watch every year?

I always bring out my favorite Halloween cartoons: Donald Duck’s “Trick or Treat”, Disney’s “Sleepy Hollow” with Bing Crosby, all the Bugs Bunny Halloween specials, and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”. And I always watch “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.” I love that movie.

"Here I am bobbing for apples. Does anyone do this anymore? I don’t want the classics to die!"

Why do you think we still love Halloween as adults?

Halloween imprints itself differently on everyone, but I think we can all agree on the word “magic.” Whatever feelings it stirs, they are intriguing and delicious enough over which to annually obsess. For me, the main feeling is surreality. Halloween is a removed night. It’s an outlier. There’s an unspeakable magic everywhere. I feel an unearthly swirling of life and death, silliness and seriousness. I try to stretch it out through the entire month of October, even reaching back into September. Soaking in its specialness as a child, then researching its history as an adult, I see Halloween as a familiar old friend who becomes more dear to me each year.

Inside the Spookster' Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was a penny! The worst! What? What am I supposed to do with this?

My favorite thing to get was Reese's anything. The peanut butter/chocolate combination today is one of my happy smell triggers for Halloween. The smell would take over my trick-or-treat bag (in later years, this was a pillow case), and I loved it. I also loved Pixie Stix. But these two treats are too sugary for me today, I’ve found Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, which are very nice.

My favorite monster cereal is haha, monster cereals are so sugary, they make my tongue ache. If I’m going to ingest sugar, I’d rather scream into a brownie ice cream sundae (with dark chocolate and butterscotch, oi). But on a very rare occasion, one of those peanut butter variety monster cereals is fun.

How can folks keep up with you online?

I encourage everyone who enjoys my music to please share it with friends. If you know or follow bloggers and broadcasters, please tell them about my music with a personal recommendation. Halloween freaks are everywhere, and hearing about my Halloween music would very likely light up their hearty gourds. You can find all purchasing, streaming, and social media links on my website: HalloweenCarols.com

I'd like to thank Kristen for joining us this year.

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