Sunday, April 14, 2013

Chris Reed

Name: Chris Reed

What do you do?      
I am a recording artist and songwriter. I play guitar, ukulele, saxophone, mandolin, piano and I sing. I am currently recording my debut; solo album entitled “Sweet Destiny”.
I am also the co-owner of a company called “Arts Initiative”.  Arts Initiative provides personalized performing arts programs for local elementary and middle schools.  We specialize in performance-based classes & workshops for band, choir, theatre, guitar and general music enrichment.  I have also been working at Willow Glen Elementary school teaching music, directing plays,  and operas for the last 2 years.  I recently directed a production of Aladdin and Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” which I adapted special for the students.

Where can we find your work?

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough?
My wife is my greatest muse and inspiration.  We have been together for 11 years now, and she has inspired most, (if not all) of the love songs I have ever written.  In fact, she is a brilliant singer who is featured on my album in a duet we sing together called “Fire & Ice”, and is my main back up vocalist.  Her love and belief in me is what motivates me to keep following my dreams.   
The countless people that are in, and have been apart of my life, continuously inspire me to create new music.  It is [their] life, personality, and struggles that have inspired me to create my most honest work.  My favorite part about being a musician is that I have the capability to tell stories.  Not just my own, but the stories of other people who do not have a voice.  There is so much that can be changed through music and I will never forget the power that it holds.  Music has the power to connect us in so many ways and helps us to gain perspective when times are tough.  

What do you think is more important content/finished product or technique/process?
At first, when I write a song, the content and message is the most important part.  Then when I begin recording, the process and journey of the song becomes the most important part.

It is easy to get caught in the trap of just wanting a “finished product” but after treating half of my album with that approach and then taking a step back for a couple months. I realized that it is more important for me as an artist to discover who I am through this process. I want each song to live up to it’s true potential and not be held down by anything.

I let the songs be the guide and do my best to listen to where they need to go. This approach has led me to enjoy and learn from the journey more than ever before, and I cannot wait to see where it takes me next. 

Who are some people who influence and/or inspire you?
Since I started educating & directing I have found inspiration through my students. Their sincere passion & love of music and the arts has helped me to embrace who I am as an artist. Working with them has pushed me to hone and understand my craft to the best of my ability in order to provide them with the best education I can offer. 

Some of my greatest musical influences are Ben Harper, Manu Chao, Gypsy Kings, the late Ali Farke Toure, Mat Mchugh and Josh Garrels just to name a few. I also have a profound connection to music from across the world.  It may sound funny, but I love music in languages I cannot understand. I really get to enjoy the vibe and emotion of the song.   Some artists I would recommend are: TRYO(folk), Saian Supa Crew(hip hop/beat box) and Raggasonic (Ragga-hip hop & reggae).

If you could be any fictional character who would you be?

When do you get your best ideas?
I get my best ideas when I am traveling.

What materials/tools do you use most to create your work?
A pencil, paper, ukulele, guitar, and piano.

Are you self taught or formally educated? How do you think that has influenced or affected your work?
I was educated and trained formally on the alto saxophone from the age of  8 until I was 13 years old. All the while improvisation on sax & writing songs were my favorite part of music. Which (at that age) didn’t fit into the curriculum. After that, my education came from playing at blues jams, open mics and in bands (hip hop, funk, pop, reggae).  My father also contributed to my musical education, as he is a trained musician himself. 

As each year comes and goes, I strive to better myself and learn new instruments and become a more knowledgeable musician.  I don’t get wrapped up in the technical aspects of unusual time signatures or clever chord changes, I just try to keep things simple and true.  Whether my approach is good or bad, there is no reason to regret what I am or am not.  I enjoy what I know and learn from what I do not.  

What would your creative work taste like?
Like an always aging Primitivo.

When you are not creating what do you like to do?
I love to hike, run, go on long walks with my wife & 2 dogs. Travel, garden, cook. Solve all the world’s problems with my friends and family.

How did you learn to access your creative talents and gain the confidence to put it out there for everyone to experience?
When I began this journey back in 2001, I dove in head first.  I didn’t worry where I was headed or how I would get there. I just had faith.

Early on, when I began writing lyrics and melodies, I could not play any instruments other than the sax & harmonica.  This made it impossible for me to write or perform my songs without the help others.  Frustrated by this, I eventually taught myself guitar in order to fully complete my own music.    
I will admit that up until now I have always released and presented my work with a band.  This is the first time in my life that I am pursuing music in a solo capacity and it certainly is much different and does require more confidence. In a band situation you have the natural strength in numbers.  As I release my music as a “solo artist” I am trying not to think about what others might think or how they may judge me or my music.  I am simply trying to give it my best shot & present myself in the most honest way I know how.  That gives me confidence knowing that I am just being me, and if anyone has a problem with me, then that is quite ok.  We can’t please everyone.  But to be honest…  I really just try not to think about all that too much.

What advice would you give others just beginning their creative adventures?Trust your instincts, have fun and explore. 

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