"When Dave guest-hosted 'Chelsea Lately' show last year, writer and stand-up comic April Richardson gave him a mix tape with one of my songs on it, he liked the song and looked me up on YouTube," Young tells Billboard.com. "Then we started e-mailing. Around the same time, I suddenly was in need of a drummer for the new album. I asked Dave and was stunned and when he said yes."
"I love this record," Grohl says of Young's "The Knife Shift." "It's unlike anything I've done before. Piano, drums, bass, and guitar. That's it. It's bare, but very deep. Raw, but melodically complex. I love Kristeen. So much. I've never met anyone like her. Neither have you."
"It's unlike anything I've done before." -Dave Grohl on Kristeen Young's album, on which he guests.
In advance of the LP's May 13 release, Billboard.com is premiering the striking, intense track "The Pictures of Sasha Grey," featuring Young's razor-sharp wails over Grohl's staccato percussion. The name Sasha Grey might sound familiar: She's a former porn actress who's also starred in Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience" and HBO's "Entourage," among other roles.
"One day, I happened upon Sasha Grey's Facebook page," Young says. "It was update after update of the most everyday pics and posts: 'Here I am making dinner. Here I am gardening.' She was not presenting herself in a sexy way at all. This was Sasha trying to move on or really just be human. But, every comment – from males – in the threads underneath were the most vile-spewing. I thought the contrast was remarkable, so I remarked with this song. I thought it was telling how people won't let women be full people or move on. They desperately wanted to keep her a 'marked' woman. And I loved how she just ignored it all, living her fabulous life. She was truly rising above."
As for Grohl's contributions to the album, Young says it was almost a preternatural fit. "Dave is extremely shrewd, incredibly sharp. He inherently knew what I was trying to do with each song and where I was coming from. That's a pretty good place to start. For example, there is one song on the album that is definitely PiL inspired. Now, that's not a comparison I often, if ever, get, but I can assure you 'Flowers of Romance,' etc. is ever-present in who I am. When we were about to record that song, he went to his drums and, without discussing anything, started playing the beat to a PiL song. I know that sounds like a simple, nothing thing, but, it is everything to me to be understood, to be really seen, because I just am not, ever. I also love brutal, hard-hitting, rip-your-soul-out drums and he doesn't suck at that."
Young says the album is somewhat inspired by her upbringing in St. Louis and how the city has changed, an idea that led to the title, "The Knife Shift." It means, "Change. But with a knife. Stabbing it in and shifting it around. It also implies doing all of this while people sleep or working late hours."