Stacking The Deck with mmeadows

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack. 

When NYC-based artists Kristin Slipp (Dirty Projectors) and Cole Kamen-Green (who’s worked with Beyoncé, Lorde, Harry Styles, and Taylor Swift, among others) decided to join forces to create the indie pop project mmeadows it was the culmination of over a decade of working together.

The duo first met when they were students attending the New England Conservatory of Music, and their many years collaborating on projects has resulted in a musical symmetry that is downright remarkable.

Combining indie pop with electronic, synth, and downtempo elements, the duo released their first full length mmeadows project, Light Moves Around You, last month.

With their new music in fresh in everyone’s ears, I caught up with Kristin and Cole at the Think Coffee on the corner of Bleecker and Bowery to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about the secret origin of Kristin’s voice, women breaking into the male-dominated field of production, and a fire breathing Kenny G.


Kristin: I saw Sting when I was in high school. Let’s see … maybe 2002? I’m aging myself. {laughs}

I was not a fan at the time, but I had a friend who was a superfan. At that point Sting was probably in his 50s, so it was kind of funny for a high school girl to be a superfan.

To a high school kid he’d be … 

Kristin: Yeah, ancient! Wow!

She invited me during the school day, and the concert was that night, and I was like sure I’ll go. It was at the Portland Civic Center in Portland, Maine, and it was incredible. It was so fun. Jill Scott was opening.

Cole: No way!

Kristin: Yup. I also didn’t know who she was at that time. She was incredible. I remember being really blown away by her. Then Sting came out – this was around the time he put out “Desert Rose,” so he was still putting records out – and I knew a couple of the songs, the rest I didn’t really know, but it was amazing. It was one of my first big concerts, and I was mesmerized by the production of the show.

At the end we got his water bottle from the stage, went back to my friend’s house, and had a ceremony where we each drank a sip of the water. {laughs}

Cole: Really? And that’s what’s given you your golden voice?

Kristin: That’s right! So I’m so glad we pulled Sting (from these packs), because he gave me my voice.

We just got The E! True Hollywood Story behind all of your musical projects! 

Kristin: It’s Sting’s saliva.

And the ceremony. Was there incense, candles? What else was involved? 

Kristin: No, no, it was just sitting around the bedroom, giggling, and being like, “Let’s drink it!” We were young.

That’s my Sting story, and I guess when I was that age I probably knew some of The Police classics, too.

I loved the concert, he sounded great live, he put on a really good show.

(Cole and I) had a classmate that ended up going on tour with him for many years as a his backup singer. Her name is Jo Lawry.

M.C. Hammer

Speaking of great performers – and I’ll still say that even though for some reason I’m blocked from seeing his tweets – M.C. Hammer. 

Cole: I definitely had an affinity for him, big time.

Kristin: Really?

Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em / 2 Legit 2 Quit era? 

Cole: 2 Legit 2 Quit was big. Me and my childhood best friend definitely got our hands on all Hammer memorabilia that we could, and, of course, most importantly, the pants.

Kristin: I feel like if there’s one thing M.C. Hammer’s known for it’s the pants, right?

The real question is are they still in your closet today? 

Cole: I definitely have something similar, but maybe not as flowy. The Hammer pants were specifically flowy, tapered at the bottom, but flowy. They were always very loud, and very thin, and very easily blown by the wind.

Kristin: I think that has had an influence on your current style somewhat.

Cole: Maybe I feel more comfortable in baggier things, I like the way they look. Am I flowy? I wouldn’t say I’m flowy.

Kristin: No, but Cole’s dad has a huge love of Girbaud pants, which I think were really popular in the ‘80s, and they have that sort of same silhouette.

Cole: I feel like my pops and I, that was the one musical disagreement we had – M.C. Hammer. He wasn’t anti (Hammer), he just didn’t find him to be flavorful.

Was he like, “Let me tell you where these samples are from,” or did he hear you listening to Hammer, and say, “Listen, if you like this …” 

Cole: He wouldn’t be like, “This sample’s from this,” but he was like, “If you like this, you’ll like this.”

Kristin: That’s pretty cool of your dad to teach you what’s cool.

That’s a good way to learn about music. 

Cole: I also have to say that the Hammer phase was hard, and fast.

I remember I was on an auction site within the past couple of years, because I look for vintage instruments, and one of these auctions had an old Hammer doll. I sent the link to (our friend) Joan, and she got it.

Kristin: She bought it? That’s amazing! Our friend Joan, who’s a musician. I bet she was a big fan.

Debbie Gibson

Let’s move to Debbie Gibson, who I believe still holds the record as the youngest woman to write, produce, and perform a #1 single entirely on her own. 

Kristin: Don’t you think it’s pretty wild that happened in 1987, and no female artist has beat that record?

I believe she was like 15 at the time (actually she was 17). 

Kristin: OK, that’s really young. That’s gonna be really tough. I think Billie Eilish, it probably wasn’t #1, but she had a song that became very popular that she recorded when she was young.

But doesn’t her brother do all the production? 

Kristin: Probably, although I would imagine she does a little bit.

I think that’s really a common misconception – it’s easy for women, girls, female identifying people to get written out of the production of music.

(Cole and I) are not famous artists, but even we, in the short amount of time that we’ve been talking to people, and being written about, have sort of been pigeonholed as the singer, and the producer, which is not the case. We both produce, and Cole does a little singing, too.

Cole: I don’t do as much singing as you do producing.

Kristin: That’s true, but I think it’s just very easy to look at a band, and be like, “That’s the chick singer.”

Cole: These roles that are so cemented in the ethos of roles.

Kristin: Right, and I think the fact that those roles are so, sort of, psychologically embedded is what is so discouraging. Like for me, I didn’t even attempt to learn how to use a digital audio workspace until much later than I might have if I’d had role models.

That’s definitely not say there aren’t women producers. There are tons …

But when we think of producers, every name that comes to mind is a guy’s name. 

Kristin: Yeah, and looking at the numbers, I can’t remember the last time I looked at the statistics of the business of music, but it’s rough numbers for women, and non-male identifying people. That’s why we were drawn to (the Debbie Gibson card).

The other thing I was thinking about when I was listening to her is the singing style. I’ve been thinking a lot about, and this is being talked about a lot on TikTok, the popularization, and the trending of a certain vocal tone, and timbre. Right now there’s something singers are talking about called cursive singing. Have you heard of this?


Kristin: I really don’t like that shorthand way of talking about it, but it’s a certain thing singers are doing now that’s really trendy with their vowels, kind of like smushing the vowels. I’ve noticed that happening for probably a decade. As a vocal student I was very attuned to people’s singing styles, and I started noticing that probably ten years ago, and it morphs over time.

In listening to her it’s so interesting to hear how timbre-ly, and tonally different the singing style is, and when I hear something like that I’m like oh my God, it’s so ‘80s. That sound to me, that vocal sound, and style is very ‘80s sounding to me. Cyndi Lauper has a voice that feels sort of aligned with Debbie Gibson’s voice.

Cole, you have a Cyndi Lauper story. 

Cole: Yeah. In 2017 or 2018 I went on tour with a Boy George / Cyndi Lauper co-headline. Cyndi Lauper definitely stole the show every time. She’s such a powerhouse. She sounded SO GOOD, and also had so much energy, and is so knowledgable about every part of the performance, and the music, from telling the monitor guy, “I need a 10k shelf in these monitors,” and then the drummer missing what to most listeners would be a very inconsequential part, and her stopping the band band being like, “What was that?”

It doesn’t surprise me that a New York City native that came up in the ‘80s has a strong backbone. 

Cole: Oh definitely, but she earned that shit. She’s badass.

Kristin: And she was very sweet, right?

Cole: Very sweet, very humble, and I appreciated that in conjunction with knowing what the deal was, knowing what the fuck was up, and also commanding the stage, and the audience.

Jimi Hendrix

Cole: The first thing I heard when I was born – my dad brought me home from the hospital, and blasted Jimi Hendrix playing the national anthem over and over and over again.

So music was ingrained in you from the very start. 

Cole: Oh yeah.

Kristin: Cole’s dad is a huge music lover, and a musician himself. Definitely really imbued in Black culture. Listens to a lot of jazz. He deals in antique jazz memorabilia.

Cole: So a lot of these cards are not as familiar to me because they’re not Ornette Coleman, Bill Evans, and Miles Davis.

People wanted Miles and Jimi Hendrix to make a record (together) because Miles used a wah wah pedal with his trumpet, and he got it from Jimi Hendrix. People said that, although I’m not sure it’s actually true.

I just don’t want to see a trumpet getting set on fire. Tougher to play close to the face. 

Kristin: Dude, that would hurt.

Any brass instrument, really bad to set that on fire. 

Kristin: Really bad idea. Let’s not do that. Saxophone? No. Flute might make Kenny G a little more hardcore.

Cole: I would like that. I would like to see Kenny G with a flaming flute just shooting flames out. That would be dope.

Kristin: I feel like he would get into something like that.

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