Kristina: A Profile

Kristina at the console [photo by Mark Collier]

Ariel Zevon is demoing a new love song. It's a pretty little thing, with light, lovelorn lyrics set to a melancholy melody that sticks to the ears. That is, until she gets to the hook. As the song reaches both an emotional and musical crescendo, something is off. The melody, which previously charmed with music-box simplicity, stumbles into dissonance against a swell of sustained electronic piano tones. Zevon's voice and piano lines derail from the precise, metronomic beat of the click track in her headphones. At the end of the take, Zevon leans back from her keyboard, shrugs and shoots a bemused look at the recording engineer seated across from her, as if to say, "Got any ideas?" Indeed, she does. Kristina Stykos removes her headphones and rises from behind the console of Pepperbox Studio, her solar- and wind-powered, off-the-grid mountaintop recording studio/home/lair in rural — like, really rural — South Washington, Vt. Momentarily lost in thought, she runs a hand through her long salt-and-pepper hair. Then a smile softens the sharpness of her features. "We can fix that," she says. ” - Dan Bolles

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