By Johnny Griffith
It’s easy to be impressed with the resume of Karisia Hernandez. This past year alone, she was nominated in three categories at the ETX Music Awards, taking home two honors. Oh, and she had only been performing publically for about a year when she was originally nominated. Now add in the fact she’s only 18, and on top of teaching herself piano at age 13, and guitar a couple of years later, she’s also a senior at Tatum High school, a Lieutenant of the Tatum Drill Team Eaglettes and the Vice President of the Tatum Drama Club.
Yeah, impressive is an understatement.
Now, fresh off releasing her first single AND a video back in November, Karisia is geared up for the last half of her senior year, and she isn’t content to just sit back and look at the trophies on the shelf, she’s intent on continuing to make her mark on the local and regional music scene. She took time out of her busy schedule this month to answer some questions for us about her journey so far and what’s in store for her next.
Johnny: What is your first memory of music in your life?
Karisia: Besides my mother singing Spanish lullabies to me, my first recollection of music was in our church. When I was young, our church in Tatum was very small and had no choir. So, my mother and my aunts and uncles made up our church choir. I remember my aunt would play the bass, my uncles would play their guitars, and my mother sang.
Johnny: When do you recall first taking an interest in being an artist?
Karisia: In the summer of 2010, we had family members that would travel for work across the state stay at our house in between jobs. In their younger years, however, they had a Tejano band. They performed around Texas in the 1980s. Anyway, while they stayed at our house they would stay up all night singing and playing songs. I remember them telling stories about touring and how many people they had met and places that they saw. I think that I took an interest in becoming an artist listening to those stories, thinking about how cool they were. They use to kid me and say, “Let us be your roadies!” or “Let’s buy a bus and we’ll take you to sing.” To this day they will call out of the blue and ask if I’m ready to purchase that bus!
Johnny: Who has been one of the biggest influences musically in your life to this point?
Karisia: Billie Eilish. Definitely. She is such a well-rounded artist on so many levels. Her voice is crazy good and her lyrics are incredible. I am absolutely in love with her songs and how they sound. It’s like she can put any thought into words perfectly and her musicality is amazing. So, basically, every time I write a song I think about her songs and think, “Okay, this is your goal.” Not that I want my music to sound like hers, but she definitely inspires me.
Johnny: When was your first public performance? What did you learn from that first experience that has stuck with you?
Karisia: Besides open mics and public competitions, the very first place that I was asked to perform was the LifeBridge church for a back to school bash. I only performed one song, “Riptide” by Vance Joy, but to this day I believe that was one of my best performances. One of the things I learned that has struck me is to always be prepared for questions. Whether it be the person that hired you, or the person that announced you, or even people after your performance. People always have questions, and you have to be prepared for them. If not, you’ll end up stuttering for forever! I know I do! To this day, even if I am prepared for a question I always say “um” in almost every sentence. It’s something I’m working on.
Johnny: At what point did you think this might be something you’d want to take a little more seriously than just a hobby?
Karisia: Well, I always sang here and there at family reunions and such, so people knew that I sang. It wasn’t until a family friend requested a song for me to sing and post that I realized I wanted to take singing more seriously. The video was recorded in a closet with me playing the keyboard and singing and my sister accompanying me. Once we posted it the responses were all so great. I just knew I wanted to entertain people with music. I went to an open mic at Kawa’s where Matt Coats had let me go up and sing a song. I was so nervous! One song and I was trembling. Now, I play three hours and I’m ecstatic coming off stage. I truly love performing.
Johnny: Your bio simply describes you as an “alternative” artist, but there are obviously influences from several different genres present as you perform. How would you describe your style to someone about to hear you for the first time?
Karisia: From what others have told me, I would say that my style or sound is very easy to listen to. I’ve been told my voice is soft, which that I believe. Genres that I usually listen to and feel my music should be placed in is indie. I think my style fits and leans more that way, anyway.
Johnny: At what age did you write your first song? Do you still perform that first song?
Karisia: I wrote my very first song at 15 years old sitting in my room with my keyboard in the middle of the night, which, to this day, is about the time that I do most of my writing. The song was called “Pretty Boy” and it was a very upbeat song and sounded very much like a 15-year-old wrote it! Maybe one day, I might go back and rewrite some lyrics and put it out. But for now, no, I don’t perform and have never performed the song live. Yet, it is one of my mother’s favorite originals of mine.
Johnny: Being still in high school, have you had any challenges juggling school and music?
Karisia: All of the time! There have been multiple occasions where some of my activities overlap and I have to choose one over the other. For example, the date I scheduled to record new music happened to be the same day of my town’s Christmas parade which my drill team participates in. It gets a little hectic sometimes, but I have my mom always pushing me and helping me to stay on track. Honestly, if it wasn’t for her I probably wouldn’t be able to do all the things I do.
Johnny: At the 2018 ETX Music Awards you took home Junior Artist Of The Year and Latin Artist Of The Year. How did it feel be the top of the class in those two categories and what sort of pressure, if any, do you feel to build upon that success?
Karisia: Before the awards, I had only been doing music publicly since October of 2017. So, even getting nominated in one category was surprising, let alone three. Taking home two out of three nominations was such an honor. Everyone seemed to know what to say when they went to accept their awards but I was searching for words the first time and didn’t know what to say the second time. It was all so amazing, though. There’s some pressure from winning those awards. Like I have to uphold a reputation, kind of. However, it’s all uphill from here. Everything I do, I make sure it’s at least a little better than what I did before. Each gig, song, cover has to be better in some way. The pressure pushes me, though, in a good way.
Johnny: You recently released your first single back in November, “People Bore Me,” and a video to accompany it. What did you learn from that experience that you feel has helped improve you as a performer?
Karisia: “People Bore Me” was a song that I performed at the East Texas Music awards. With all the positive responses I got from it, I decided to get it recorded and out. I was blind going into the recording studio and didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully, Orlando Williams, my producer, helped guide me every step of the way. The process was way different than what I was expecting and he pulled me out of my element to get great sounds for the track. Juays Photography is responsible for my music video. The music video also pulled me way out of my comfort zone. I am really shy and awkward so I felt really odd at times, However, they helped me and gave me some tips and overall made my first video really amazing. All of this, recording a song and shooting a video, helped me improve as a performer in a number of ways. I play with different sounds on songs to see what sounds best and now I’m not afraid to make some faces to go along with songs. For the most part, I’m no longer just singing songs, I am performing them. Even if I am sitting down.
Johnny: What is on the horizon for you in 2019 that excites you in music?
Karisia: For my music career, 2019 is a very exciting year in itself. I will be releasing two more songs in the beginning of April and they sound SO good already even though they aren’t done yet. They are a little different than my first single, but I love them and I am so excited for everyone to listen to them. I also will be moving out of East Texas and closer to the Houston area because I will be attending Sam Houston State University where I will pursue forensics but minor in music. I have already started booking over there for later in the year. I’m very excited to be playing in new venues and growing my audience.
To see what’s next for Karisia Hernandez go to facebook.com/kvhmusicproduction.