Chris London / by E


What got you interested in music?

Chris London: I grew up in a mostly classical household; my father is from Austria and he definitely has a passion for the old classics, Beethoven and Mozart, so I always grew up around really eloquent music. It was definitely complex music that I grew up with and I was five and I just remember hearing that we had a piano teacher living behind us, our neighbor, and I was just drawn to it. So, I feel bad for my parents because I probably whined for weeks before they finally signed me up, but that's how it sort of all started. Then, the songwriting sort of kicked in around nine. When I was nine, I sort of just started writing little jingles on the piano and, by thirteen, I was writing songs with words and it sort of just has become part of my being. It's been almost three decades since I started playing and, when it's gotten to that amount of time that you've spent with an instrument, it's a relationship and it becomes something that's just an extension of your soul and expression, so it's definitely got me through a lot in the past almost three decades.

Do you remember the first piece or song you wrote?

The first song I wrote with words was in memory of my grandfather when he passed away, it was around the time when I was thirteen or fifteen, around that time, and that's the first time I wrote with words. In terms of the songs in music, you know, I don't even remember [laughs]. It was just kind of little jingles that sounded good to me and I just kept playing over and over and they were definitely extensions of what I learned in my piano lessons. I did ten years of pretty intense classical training and by the time I decided to let go of classical and do more songwriting I had learned a lot of scales so what I composed at that young age was very much my own interpretation of what I had learned, so it was a lot of just playing around and whatever sounded good to me was what stuck. Now that you mention it, I haven't played those little pieces since that time, it's been more focused on the songwriting, but that's where it started, with just those piano jingles.

Which composers or artists have you been influenced by?

Composers, definitely Chopin. Chopin's been like, you know, I like sob when I listen to Chopin [laughs], it's just something that, the decisions that he made in terms of how he wrote just moved me amazingly and every time I hear a Chopin piece it just does the same thing to me, doesn't matter how many times I've heard the piece. Branching away from that diet of classical music, around middle school I started really just being curious about checking out stuff that I connected to and here I am a middle schooler listening to Fiona Apple, which is deep and dark and heavy and probably totally age inappropriate but, again, it had something to do with that root in piano and that sort of just led to me finding Tori Amos - which was a whole other exciting adventure of mine to just discover her music - and it wasn't until actually later when I started playing with musicians that I discovered artists that people have known about for years but, to me, it was all new and it was all exciting. Like, right now I'm really into Stevie Nicks' record In Your Dreams, that's what I'm listening to right now, and it's almost like these artists that have been around for so many years I'm discovering and it's like they're new to me so, yeah, that's kind of where I'm at in terms of the music that I like. But, Chopin definitely and I grew up, for many years, listening to Tori Amos and being influenced by how the piano became something totally different after watching her perform; it wasn't just an instrument, it was like a band member, it was like 'her', it was just another human up there with her performing. I'd never seen a piano used that way, played that way, and it was just mind-blowing for me. Definitely love R&B, big fan of Erykah Badu, Elton John, really enjoy Queen, Björk, there's so many, and it doesn't matter what genre it is, whatever I connect to is just what I listen to.

Are there any tracks you've got on repeat now?

There's a track on that [Stevie Nicks] record called "Everybody Loves You" that I just can't get enough of. I discovered this new artist - he's not new but he's new to me - Teitur Lassen, and I just discovered his music and it's wonderful and exciting for me so I'm listening to him a lot too, but In Your Dreams is probably the record that's being played most right now.

How would you describe your sound?

Well, like I mentioned before, a lot of what I feel I express musically is centered around the relationship I have with my piano. When people see an artist at the piano, for some reason they always fucking want to see the artist away from the piano, like 'can't you just stand up and sing this song?' well, no, I don't want to [laughs] because, you know, I guess it's just something different but, for me, anytime I feel like I want to express something musical, it is just directly influenced by what happens when I play. So, there are moments where it's just me and the piano and it's incredibly intimate and it's really quiet and just peaceful, then there are times where I'm playing and I'm feeling a certain way and might be with other band members and suddenly the sound is totally different and insanely powerful and my voice sort of connects to what's going on musically with the piano, so I like to consider it 'piano soul' because it is connected to the emotion I'm feeling, but it's also connected to how I'm playing the piano, and they definitely go hand in hand.

What was the inspiration behind this latest single, "I Will Not (Say I'm Sorry)"?

Definitely growing up. It's a song about developing emotionally and I'm in a place now where, in my personal life, I have two kids and I've been together with my wife for almost ten years so, you know, you get to a place in your life where the thoughts in your head that dictated how you behaved growing up, you know, trying to get everyone's approval and not disappointing people and everything that really has nothing to do with who you want to be but who everyone else wants you to be, it's that moment in your life when you're letting all of that go and you're kind of relinquishing the obligation to be that for everybody else. To summarize, it's like this declaration of independence, this emotional declaration of independence and writing that song, to me, was the culmination and sort of this pivotal point of letting all of that stuff go. So, it's a very personal song and it's very deep, but I know everybody has had that journey in their own way and it's a journey that everyone will take; maybe people will get there when they're seventeen, maybe others will get there when they're fifty, I just happened to get there in my mid-twenties when I wrote that song. I know that probably happens multiple times in someone's life, but it was probably the first time that it happened for me, and that's where the song came from.

I know you've got a couple singles in the works, have you got plans to release an EP or album soon?

Hopefully over the summer we're going to get back into the studio. I worked with an amazing producer named Tommy Uzzo whose career is based around music engineering, but we were introduced and we hooked up with three tracks and his musical career is so unbelievably diverse and amazing and to be able to hook up with somebody like that just made what I had on my end of songwriting, it just made all of that so much more powerful and epic. He's just amazing so hopefully I can get back together with him and maybe crank out three or four songs so that we can get a six song EP by the end of the summer and I'm working on a video for "I Will Not (Say I'm Sorry)" right now, so that's in the works and that's being done and I'm excited to get that out, as well.

What can you tell readers about the forthcoming tracks?

They're very much my experiences expressed through music so they're very personal, but they're very human and it's something that I know other humans go through and it's an honest, raw look at those experiences. I remember being asked 'what is a live performance by Chris London like?' and it's pretty much, you get what you get. I'm not going to come on stage with makeup and a fucking cape [laughs], it's not this show of 'wow, look at how well I can dress up' and 'I'm going to wow you with all this other stuff,' it's really just about the human experiences that I've had and I love to share through music and I know that that's going to be a magnet for people to connect to, so pretty much all the songs are songs of just experiences, human experiences that I know other people in this world go through. I'm just trying my best to be honest enough to write about it and, hopefully, people will connect to it.

What do you want to say about your music?

Pretty much, to summarize what we talked about, it's just an opportunity for connection and it's an honest look at what I've been through in my personal life that goes along the lines of just being a normal person going through feelings and just touching the core of what those feelings mean to me and just being honest about it. I have a hard time not expressing how I feel, that's just who I am, and music has been an incredible vehicle to express those things. You know, I suck at drawing, I'm a terrible photographer - all my pictures are photobombs, even if no one is photobombing the pictures - but something about being able to sing and play and write, that has always been constant and consistent in allowing me to express my feelings, so my music is just sharing what I'm feeling. It's almost as if we're just in a living room together and I'm just telling you what kind of day I've had, and those kind of conversations that you have, sometimes with even strangers, leads to connection because everybody's going through something, so that's kind of what the music is all about. It's very raw and real.

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