Kristy Apps
Kristy Apps

It’s been about a decade since Queensland singer-songwriter Kristy Apps was described as an arresting new performer, with striking tunes, lyrics and vocals

Now Kristy Apps, for whom that early description still fits, tells LOTL about tea, footwear, being sent home from Sunday school and her new recording (Kristy Apps and The Shotgun Shirleys)…

As a child, what did you think you might be doing when you ‘grew up’?

I’ve always dreamed big. Before I heard Melissa Etheridge sing, I was aiming at a career as a professional tennis player. And then my life kind of shifted focus to being all about music. I begged Mum for a guitar and got some singing lessons (which didn’t go that well in the beginning) and started writing my own songs when I was about 15. Then that’s all I could possibly imagine for myself and still is.

How and when did you start to seriously see music as a possible career?

I was pretty serious about it from the start. I had many battles with my Mum over it not being a secure job, which of course it’s not – but once it’s in you, too bad, that’s a big part of who you are. I mostly played in bands when I was younger, but always with solo things happening. I was determined there was a way I could make a living out of it, and for that, I kind of stand defeated as I have a day job, but I worked really hard especially in my early 20s when you have a little more freedom to focus solely on music. I have never really stopped working hard at it, but my expectation that one day I will buy a house with music earnings has gone. It’s the classic line though…you can’t put a dollar value on making art, what I get out of it far exceeds a big paycheque.

Tell us about some of the differences between performing solo, performing with a backing band and performing as part of a band (e.g. Mirrortri).

Wow, Mirrortri is a blast from the past! The best thing about playing in a band is you get to enjoy things with other people who you are close to, everyone has a vested interest so the buck doesn’t stop with you. The music industry can be tough and if you’re running a bit low on energy to deal with it maybe someone else will take the phone calls and send the media release. I’ve been really lucky to play with some great musicians, but none more so than the Shotgun Shirleys. It’s different energy playing with all women but I think that as we are all great friends that adds to it in a way. Playing solo can be a bit lonely and it can be intimidating to fill all the space on your own, but on the other hand, it can be quite liberating, you can play old songs, extend songs and change songs – that’s all pretty fun.

What feeds (or impedes) your creativity?

Music feeds it. I only seem to be creative when I’m listening to lots of music. My songs are so personal, I’m often inspired by my own feelings or thoughts about something. What impedes my creativity is a lack of time. I find I need to be in a certain headspace to write and I often can’t get there when I’m battling the daily grind. This is something I’m experiencing right now actually – between working and planning tours and recording music, it’s really hard to find the freedom in my mind to get creative. I know it’s there, I just need to sit with it a while.

As a performer who seems to sing with your heart on your sleeve, how do you deal with the emotions involved and how do you protect your inner-self?

That is a great question. Often by the time I have written and am performing a song I have had time to reflect on it and it doesn’t feel quite as raw. It’s a hard one because it’s often easier to write a song about something heartbreaking or sad than it is about something really positive…well it is for me anyway. It’s that realness and rawness that really drew me into music so I kind of love it. While the songs might be really emotional, the joy I get from singing and performing counteracts any negative memory that might come up. So performing is my self-care I guess and writing is my reflection.

How does your family feel about being part of your songs?

I was on stage for my EP launch last week and all my family were there and as I was singing ‘Modest in its Glory’, which is all about my family and my childhood, I thought to myself…“I hope this feels ok for them”…I mean it’s a pretty honest song. But for me it’s really joyous, it’s really saying if things were perfect I wouldn’t be who I am and I kinda like who I am and we all go through some tough times. We didn’t need to be hanging out all the time to know we loved each other and that’s pretty cool. We are a pretty close family these days and they are really proud of me. One of my favourite songs is the one I wrote for my brother and sometimes if he’s at a gig I won’t play it in case it brings up emotions for him. They are often the songs lots of people relate to cause everyone has their own experience of being a part of a family…good and bad…ups and downs. Our family is the most real it gets sometimes.

The music business has changed quite a bit during the past decade, including with the internet, digital formats, social media, YouTube and modern-day crowd-funding. Tell us about some of these things and how they have affected your career.

This latest EP was part-funded by crowd-funding and, without it, I don’t know how I would have recorded it – so I am a big fan. For me, it was initially really scary to ask for help and then it felt like I had this group of people all willing this album to be made – which felt awesome. Facebook has taken me a while to get right into, and I probably don’t use it to its full potential, but I love that it’s a great way to bring people together and of letting people know what’s happening. I love thinking of a song and being able to buy it on iTunes immediately. The internet has affected the music industry both positively and negatively I guess, it’s certainly made it easier to do a lot of things yourself.

You’ve toured the USA. How does playing in the USA compared with playing in Australia?

It wasn’t that different to tell you the truth. It was hard work, some great crowds, some tough crowds, just like here. I played a show at Eddie’s Attic which is Indigo Girl’s stomping ground and that felt really amazing. I didn’t really know what I was doing. With the Eddie’s Attic show, we literally hopped off a bus from Baltimore, into a cab and I ran on stage! No clue! It wasn’t the most well-organised tour I have done, but it was a great experience. I would have liked to have had a bit more time to suss out where my music fits and spend some more time in Nashville and New York.

You’ve just played at the Brisbane Pride Festival’s Fair Day. What is special about community events like Pride and Fair Day?

They are really special shows for me as a lesbian artist. Although parts of the world have moved forward as far as LGBTI rights, we have fought hard for those changes and continue to do so and that deserves some celebrating. The LGBTI community is full of amazingly talented people and these events give them a place to really showcase their talents. I love running into people and hearing new artists perform and just that sense of community is always really special.

Tell us about your new recording (Kristy Apps and The Shotgun Shirleys), including how the Shirleys got their name.

We recorded the new EP with the wonderful Shane Nicholson on the Central Coast and it was such an incredible experience. We recorded the whole EP in three days and it all went down live, which is something I’ve always wanted to do but been a bit scared of cause you have to get EVERYTHING right…but it worked really well for us and the sound has come out so organic with so much feeling. The name the Shotgun Shirleys just came to me out of the blue one day having breakfast in a café. The music has a bit of a dirty country feel with Sallie Campbell on fiddle and Ruth Gardner rocking the guitar I wanted a name to reflect that and it just popped out. The band brings such a unique flavour to the songs that I really wanted them in the title of the outfit. I’ve never worked with such intuitive musicians, I don’t tell them what to do or where to come down, they just know. I’m pretty blessed to play with all three Shirleys (Sallie, Ruth and Shiv Zimmerman).

And where can people see you perform (with and without the Shirleys)?

We have a few tour dates coming up (see below). I’m super excited to hit the road and play these songs. I haven’t toured in a little while, so I’m looking forward to it.

Over the years, LOTL magazine has covered the music of many lesbian performers. When and how did you become aware of lesbians making music?

Pretty early on, with my love for Melissa Etheridge – although at 12 years old I had no clue she was gay…and even less of a clue that I was gay. As I grew up, I did work experience in a music store and I saw an Indigo Girls songbook and thought, “Hello, what have we got here?” I bought their CD that day and was blown away! It’s a love affair that has lasted 20 years for me and I never get sick of them. Lesbian artists really seem to have that edge that I’m really drawn to…passion I love it. Many straight women have it too, of course, and I am a big fan of them.

And finally, share your thoughts on:


Absolutely my favourite summer-time fruit. My parents owned a fruit and veg shop which I worked on most holidays and I would down a case a day if I could!


Should be all year round. Reminds me of romance.


Need a new one…think they are sexy sexy sexy. Always wanted a BMX but that dream is fading.

Newspaper comic strips

Prefer comic books, but entertaining nonetheless.


Thanks to having an Irish girlfriend…it’s Barry’s or nothing for me now.

Guitar picks

My old faithful…Dunlop 88…started with them and still use them today…I’m very loyal.

The Bible

Hmm, never read it…only at Sunday school – where I got sent home for climbing on the roof of the church! I don’t believe the essence of religion is bad at all, but unfortunately, humans have manipulated religion for their own interests for so many years.


I love shoes in general. Sneakers, boots, Vans, all of them. (I don’t own any high heels though – I would probably break my leg.)

Community radio

Keeps the world going round!