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All She Wants to Do

Boulder songwriter Kristina Ingham continues refining the sound she's built.

As silly as her role in the band may have seemed to her, Ingham's contributions to Windows managed to catch the ear of fellow musician Brian Nevin, now best known as the drummer for Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Nevin currently plays drums on The Sun I Built in You, Ingham's CD-in-the-making (a five-tune CD sampler can be purchased at her shows), and he has also played some local gigs as part of her band, when he's not out touring with the Monsters. Like Nahulu, Nevin has seen his share of top-rate talent across the country, and he's got a lot of good things to say about this particular Boulderite. "I like the fact that she rocks, that she's got a rock-and-roll attitude," he says. "Her music affects me the way Pat Benatar's music did (though it doesn't sound the same), in the classic-rock, big-chord, epic rock-ballad way. There's not a lot of female musicians in that niche."

Thematically, Ingham's music deals primar- ily with the most basic of emotions: love and the struggles of life. Holding a mirror to a musician's life in "Race," she delves metaphorically into how "disposable" a person can be if she can't bring a profit to someone: "They say this horse may never ride again/Broke his leg therefore he can't win/And we all do play/For we don't believe in your pain." Though she is prone to unabashed, rock-based guitar playing, many of Ingham's tracks have a dreamy kind of quality, like the mellow "Did I Lie," a song that describes the ups and downs of a relationship. Kicking off with a simple military-esque drumbeat from Nevin, the tune unfolds with guitars reminiscent of the Cranberries or even the Sundays as Inhgam sings about a "magic carpet ride" of love that her beau is trying to push away.

In 1996, Ingham was fixing to take her own magic ride. She was slated to release her major-label debut, a solo effort, on Relativity Records, a company under the Sony umbrella. After she'd recorded nearly half the songs for the CD, and just as she was shopping around for a producer, Relativity went all urban and shipped its rock department to Epic Records, whose execs told Ingham they needed time to "figure some things out." Crestfallen after coming so close to finishing up her first major release, she took some time off and went to Hawaii. Shortly thereafter, she became pregnant, which took her life temporarily into "another dimension," as she explains it. Six months after the birth of son Tiger, now four, Ingham was back on the coffeehouse and local music circuit, playing solo. "I knew that I was serious about my career, getting back in shape and back into writing and getting my voice," she says.

In searching for that voice, Ingham knew she wanted to get a band together, to help round out her sound and bring out the rock qualities of her songwriting. She joined up with some fellow local musicians, but finding the right combination of players took a while. "I did form a band, but it was just with a group of friends," she explains. "People liked what they heard, but it wasn't anything unique. To have any endurance or to make any impression, you need that certain magic"

Ingham found the right combination of elements when she hooked up with Todd Ayers (formerly of Twice Wilted, now of Antelope), who helped arrange, produce and play on her CD. An admirer of his music for years, Ingham views Ayers as a role model and mentor of sorts, and she credits him in part for her musical success today. "Todd, to me, embodies a [complete musician], with his music and his playing. So it makes logical sense -- if you hang out with somebody, they rub off on you. And I stole some of his cool chords," she says with a giggle.

While she works on those cool chords, and finishes up the CD project that seems to linger on, and continues to shop her sound to national groups as they come through town, Ingham is at peace with herself musically -- despite the occasional anxiety attack that the big break hasn't boomeranged back her way. "Ideally and philosophically, there was a place that I wanted my music to resonate from and that I wanted to come from as a person," she says. "When somebody writes a script for a movie, they have certain actors and actresses in mind for the roles, because they know the combination of the words and the intentions mixed with this person's vibe would just make it all come to fruition and [be] real. That's a really good analogy for the reason why my music is working, because it's something that I've been cultivating for years."

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