Remember those 2 kids with their clothes on backwards singing “Jump”? Kris Kross was the name and the whole world went mad for them. Chris Smith is still active in the music industry and has his own brand called Urbane Muse. His new album will hopefully be released this year.
KB: You were very young when Kris Kross was formed: How old were you both? What is the story behind you two?
Yes, Chris and I were 13 & 12, when the first single Jump, was released in 1992. We happened to be in the mall with Chris’ mom. Chris was shopping for new sneakers when we met JD. JD noticed how girls in the mall were watching us like we were already a group, so he approached us. Our moms simultaneously recommended the group name.
KB: The success with “Jump” came overnight: How do you respond to something like that? All of a sudden you were everywhere! You even went on tour with Michael Jackson!
Being asked to open for MJ was certainly the dream of a lifetime, what a great opportunity. The fans, the size of the crowds was incredible. We’d never performed at venues of that magnitude, like Wembley Stadium. Performing, is what we enjoyed most from the music business. There were lots of good memories of the MJ Dangerous tour.
KB: In 2013 Chris Kelly died. A devastating blow to you and everybody around him. Tell me how you felt and how you keep his memory alive? You knew each other since first grade?
They say time heals…. music, writing lyrics help in that. Yes, Chris & I grew up together since 1st grade. When we entered into the music business, we had to grow up fast, working, performing at a young age. Chris’ passing of course was difficult. I’ve written a tribute song “Best Friends Forever” and drawn sketches and paintings in memory of Chris. I hold onto all those good times.
KB: I saw the painting you made of Chris. Absolutely stunning! Where is the talent coming from?
Thank you. I was always interested in photography and architecture, studying the Old Masters, so painting and drawing sketches came as a gift. My paintings are portraits like of a woman “Going to Symphony”, other works of landscapes, street scenes, still life and abstracts. It’s something I enjoy, and it flows over into my music, writing lyrics, creating short films and videos for my songs.
KB: Are you still active in the music industry or would you like to have a music career again?
I’m always creating music in the studio, writing lyrics for new songs, or working on the music for Urbane Muse campaigns, creating short films Gas Clutch and Sketchbook. This is the 30th anniversary of our Jump-single and the Totally Krossed Out album. I have an album ready for release, hopefully this year.
KB: Tell me a bit more about your website Urbane Muse for people who are not familiar with it: What is it? When did you start it?
Urbane Muse is my personal brand I started about 15 years ago. It’s an expression of design and style. It’s an extension of my music, art, and design. The collections include, casual shoes, leather & canvas backpacks, designer bomber jackets, sweatshirts and pants, hoodies, long & short-sleeved t-shirts, jewelry, artwork, and eyewear and other accessories. My original artwork is featured on my bomber jackets and scarves and other products. Art Over War is one of my brands, also. The Aow logo is featured on caps, bucket hats, jerseys, t-shirts, and bomber jackets.