Like the Big Bang, the music of North Bay solo artist Krane Alis began with a spark of an idea before expanding into a cosmic tapestry … of electronic pop music, in Alis’ case. This month, Krane Alis, a.k.a. Chelsea Walsh, debuts her darkly danceable sound on the album Shake What Sticks.
The longtime North Bay resident always loved music and played piano when she was younger, but she was in her 20s when she became interested in performing music.
“I just had a bit of an epiphany,” she says.
That spark of inspiration came from a book her friend lent her—The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.
“It’s a book about challenging artists,” she says. “One of the questions was, ‘What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but have not allowed yourself to do out of fear of failure?’ Out of nowhere, ‘being a musician’ came into my head. It surprised me a little, but I decided to go with it.”
Walsh started learning drums, and then began attending production school at Pyramind in San Francisco in order to match her technical and musical skill sets with her natural songwriting skills.
“Initially, when I started all this, my goal was to play one show on the drums,” she says. “But, you can never set too many boundaries on anything, because it usually evolves into something different than what you thought it would; and that’s what happened here.”
For her solo project, Walsh adopted the moniker Krane Alis—with nods to literary characters Ichabod Crane and Alice from “Alice in Wonderland”—to pursue dance music that’s heavy on synths and drums and filled with dark and dreamy lyrical themes.
“I love dancing and dance music, for myself that is one inspiration I draw on,” she says. “I think, too, that I was at this point where I wanted to let go of genres in my own music and see what I could do as far as bringing different elements in.”
Falling in love with the recording process as much as the writing process, Walsh spent countless hours in her bedroom studio perfecting the beats and embellishments on the nine-track album as both songwriter and engineer.
Possessing a dark edge in its synthesizers and programmed rhythms, Shake What Sticks is a rich collection of bedroom-pop and indie-electronica that also tells personal stories and explores significant emotional lyrics among the beats and breakdowns.
For the past year, the creative endeavor of making Shake What Sticks helped Walsh navigate the social isolation of the pandemic. Now, with the album available online, she says she feels a mixed bag of emotions ranging from nervousness to catharsis.
“Ultimately though, I think it’s always a good thing to put your creative self forward and put out what you’ve made, regardless of what anyone else thinks,” she says. “At the end of the day, I do this for myself and that’s what matters most.”