Thursday, February 16, 2012

VIVE Interview

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by VIVE (check them out HERE)'s that interview:

Pat – I was lucky enough to see Ross Christopher do a show in West County a few months ago and afterward, I began listening to some of his music on Spotify. He graciously agreed to do an interview with VIVE and has invited us to join him at his show on February 24th in the Duck Room. We’ll be giving away some merchandize and doing a follow-up Hi-Def video of his performance – I am looking very forward to that! For now, enjoy the great interview I had with local STL artist, Ross Christopher and come down to the Duck Room to see everyone on the 24th!

Interview – Ross Christopher

Me - Firstly, I love the violin, when did you first learn and how long have you been playing?

Ross - I started playing violin 27 years ago, when I was 3 years old. My parents got me started on the Suzuki Method, and I haven’t looked back.

Me - Also, I know you play a few instruments, how many can you play? And does playing multiple instruments affect your songwriting? 

Ross - I play violin, sing, guitar (acoustic & electric), bass, keys/organ/piano, mandolin, cello, and really anything I can get my hands on. I love trying new things and pushing myself with new sounds and textures. Playing multiple instruments has made me think more broadly about sound, what makes a soundscape, and how the listener reacts to it. Different sounds create different emotions, and the more I can use (tastefully), will no doubt create a broader experience to its listener. 

Me - Do you write and play all of the music on your records? Is there an instrument that you use primarily when creating a new song? And what do hope to accomplish with a diverse instrumentation?

Ross - Currently yes (for the most part), but not always in the past. Boxes and Human Fog is my 6th solo album. I recorded and produced it at my studio, SiloTreeSTUDIO. My first 3 were done from more of a band perspective, and the past 3 solo. I think you can hear the difference in the recordings, and each record was done so with that kind of intention.

I write a few different ways. Violin is definitely my bread and butter instrument. It’s the one that gets the crowd going. I use it as the writing tool for my songs that are more riff-based, and most of my lead electric guitar tones are actually violins. When I write the non-riff songs, it’s usually from a guitar’s perspective. 

All in all (instrumentally), my goal is to use lots of traditional instruments in very non-traditional ways. I like it when people are caught of guard, thinking to themselves, “I didn’t know a violin (or whatever instrument) could sound like that.”

Part of my motivation in life is to make people see things that they’ve never seen, that have been staring at them the whole time. I want to create new realities.

Me - When did you start using a loop pedal?

Ross - My wife (fiancée at the time) bought it for me back in 2002.

Me - Can you explain how the loop pedal works and why you enjoy using it? 

Ross - Basically the loop pedal allows me to record a sequence and layer an infinite number of tracks on top of it. I start with a chord progression or riff, add percussive hits on my guitar, strings, etc and before you know it, I’ve created this sonic-orchestral piece that takes the song to new heights.

Me - Your album ‘The River Child’… you claim to be the river child. Why do you claim to be this person and what does being a river child represent?

Ross - It’s a story of redemption, renewal, and life. It’s certainly my story, but I think it’s the story of humanity. We started perfect, we’ve broken that, but I believe that’s all been set straight by Jesus about 2000 years ago.

Me - Your newest album Boxes and Human Fog has a lot of new sounds; piano, spacey vocals, a plucking banjo? (maybe), organs… can you tell me how your music and you as an artist have changed since River Child and Act Alive?

Ross - Ha, no banjos, those are violin plucks. Boxes is different than The River Child in lots of ways. Its way grittier and more in your face. I think I took more lyrical leaps and discuss some more volatile issues. The River Child was much more pop-rock. It’s where I was in 2007-2008, but the topics I wrestle with on Boxes just needed more raw, in your face, instrumentation and vocals. 

Topically, I was working out this issue I take with those that say God is black and white and create these boxes to define who God is, how he works, and conversely, how he can’t work. It’s a call to arms for the revolutionary practice of grace, of a justice that isn’t anything like war or our U.S. justice system.

Me - On your new album I listened to a song called 372 Year Eclipse… what is 372 Year Eclipse?

Ross - I wrote the instrumental piece the night of an eclipse that only happens every 372 years. I figured, “you can’t not name it that…I won’t be around again to name it that in the future!”

Me - If you were to cover any popular artist, who would it be?

Ross - That’s a tough one. I’m a huge Beatles fan. I really get into Radiohead. Sting and Michael Jackson are also huge influences. But to be honest, the only “cover” I’ve ever done was ‘Amazing Grace.’ It’s the perfect song. It sums me up. It’s ageless and everyone knows it, whether you call yourself a follower of Christ or not. It’s such a gritty song. Grace is not pretty. I don’t like the idea of the guilty being set free, but that’s grace. So I tried to capture that feeling. 

Me - What is the most important message you hope to convey to your listeners?

Ross - Just to think, wrestle, and embrace doubt. I think it’s in those moments we see what we’ve been missing. Realities are made and transformation happens.


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