Session Work


Working at the Wood and Stone Room in Baltimore for
We're About 9
In addition to my own bands’ CDs, I have played on over 30 recordings for various artists - mostly around the MD/DC/VA area, in genres ranging from folk to pop to hip-hop. See the “Listen” page for a complete list of recordings, with links to listen/purchase. I’ve worked at many of the top recording studios in the area, including Airshow/Tonal Park, Asparagus, Omega, InnerEar, Mobtown Studios, and more. Session work is something I really enjoy doing – I love adding texture and depth to another artist’s work! I’m available to record on acoustic cello, electric cello (which also can fake out pretty well for an upright bass), steel drums, and harmony vocals. My steel drums are “double seconds” – mostly an alto range, chromatic from E3 to A5. Steel drums aren’t only for “tropical-sounding” songs – they can really work for a variety of genres!

Sometimes an artist might only know they want cello on a song, but they don’t have any particular ideas of the kind of part they want. In a case like this I’m more than happy to take the lead on developing  a part based on draft recordings you send me, and we can discuss ideas. I’m very comfortable playing by ear and improvising. If you have specific lines or parts in mind, it is extremely helpful if you can provide sheet music (bass clef preferred, but I can read/adapt treble clef). Or even a lead sheet with lyrics/chords, and any notes/specifics. Not required though, I can work by ear – but it does help to have any of your ideas/requests  in advance, as much as possible. It’s also very helpful to know what other instrumentation is going to be on the song, if not all the parts have been laid down yet.

I enjoy the collaborative process, but I also very much respect the “my song, my way” concept. If it’s playable, I’ll do my best to make it happen! I’m comfortable trying different things on the spot in the studio – but time is money for your studio hours, so as much as we can work out in advance is good.

My rates are based on a few things:
- How many songs you want (if between 1-3, I can generally get them done in 1 recording session)
- Where your recording studio is and travel time (see note below on remote recording!)
- How much prep time I think I’ll need based on your vision/ideas for the song(s)
- Whether you want to meet/rehearse beforehand. I do charge extra for this (though less if you are able to meet at my home in Baltimore). Most of the time I find rehearsals aren't necessary, as I’ll prepare with the track(s) and discuss ideas with you beforehand. I can also send rough “conceptual” audio files you can listen to and give me feedback on (I factor this into my rate, if it’s something you want).

Please email me with as much of the above information as you can, and I’ll get back to you with rates/availability.

Recording steel drums at home for ilyAIMY
I am told I work very quickly in the studio – usually if I’ve had time to prepare on my own, 1 hour is more than enough time to get one song done unless we’re layering/trying multiple parts.

Don’t live in the DMV? I can still play on your recording! My husband rob Hinkal (of ilyAIMY) has a professional recording setup with Adobe Audition and high quality mics. He can record me at home and we can send files to your engineer to mix. I’ve even done this for local artists when our schedules don’t match up! Also, if you are just starting out and don’t have a recording studio, we may be able to help with either home or “live” recordings.

Hope this gives you some helpful information about what I do in the studio. Here’s what some other folks I’ve played for have to say:


Vocals for Russ Arlotta's project, Zan McLeod engineering
"Mince no words! Kristen is an absolute joy to have on your musical project! Kristen is well known as a top-tier cellist for studio work and performances, so I was really thrilled when she agreed to add cello to tunes on my second CD, "For the Heart to Learn." The cello tracks that Kristen laid down in the studio for this CD are so soulful and captivating. And Kristen's wonderful cello accompaniment is but half the story. Her vocal harmonies on this project are absolutely "spot on" and emanate an honesty and beauty that absolutely captures a listener's heart. In addition, it should be noted that the soulfulness and the artistry that Kristen brings to a project is matched by her incredible efficiency in the studio. I was stunned at what she accomplished in a couple 2-1/2 hour sessions! If I sound "over the top" for Kristen...well, I am!" - Russ Arlotta

"I absolutely love to hear Kristen perform in her various bands and it was an honor to have her join my band for the CD release concert (after adding some amazing cello to the CD). The cello is one of my favorite instruments and if one of my songs cries out for that sound, it will always be Kristen who I will call. If you know what you want, Kristen will take care of it. If you don't, she will create it. I'll be going in shortly to record my third CD and some of my songs are already shouting at me to get in touch with her. Don't worry, songs - I will!
David Potts-Dupre

"Before I found Kristen, I researched several other local cellists, but none matched her in sound or interpretation. Kristen is truly a magnificent player who was super easy to work with. She was able to learn parts I wrote very quickly and faithfully, and adapted instantly during studio recording. She understood what emotional tonal quality I wanted and was happy to redo any sections I wanted to change. Kristen is a very easygoing person and got back to my emails reliably." - Allison Chang