What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
At eight years old I was listening to “Tarzan Boy,” by eighties band “Baltimora” in the car with my mother and I yelled out “I want to do this (play music) when I grow up!” I knew right then that nothing would make me happier! “Tarzan Boy” had a super rad, yodeling-ish, Tarzan yell in the chorus, and I loved it every time! I loved music but didn’t play an instrument growing up until I started guitar in high school. Once I started guitar, I wrote my own unschooled, very random sounding, instrumental music in only a few months. I recorded it into a boom box so I didn’t forget it. Luckily my guitar teacher was very supportive! I picked up bass, drums, piano and harmonica over the coming years as well. I often did demo recordings and played open mics but my first real record was “Grace” in 2014. I started getting bookings at local clubs and bars then. After this I followed up with “Heart for a Glove” (2016) and “Bare Bones” (2017). My name was now “Christopher Hill and the Stardust Crush.” I did a One-Man-Band then. No loops… everything was live! I designed a complex electronic foot drum kit with bass drum, snare, a tom tom and a cymbal crash. I ran my guitar to two amps, the second amp had the guitar processed through a selective octave pedal to create a lower separate bass guitar. It was strangely addictive to do everything myself but a little lonely and tiring! I have now somehow coaxed some great, like-minded musicians to hang around me and play my songs 🙂 It is definitely a happier time! These great friends are: Lisa Peterson on Piano, John Stoeck on Bass and Luke Allen on Drums. We all met at a book group where we drank wine and talked about the mysteries of life. Lisa is excellent at playing and creating brilliant and haunting piano arrangements, John has a much needed “keep calm and carry on,” strategic bass thump and Luke keeps us marching with an immense amount of “energetic class” intermingled with the beat.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
MAABA (Making America All Better Again) is an ironically titled Sci-Fi concept record about politics in a parallel Universe. The record is a protest against prejudice and tyranny in any Universe! “President Golden Hair (Overlord Orange Skin)” has taken over “Third Earth” and is causing havoc! Co-released with the Record is a 90 page “Story of MAABA” digital novella (with art by Lisa P.) about the fictional world where the songs come from… The text of the story tells a funny…touching and sometimes scary “folk story.” It explains all the strange ambient sounds on the record…and includes extra hidden details about the songs lyrical meanings. The following synopsis is applicable to either the MAABA Record or the MAABA Novella: “Welcome to the Sci-fi world of MAABA (Making America All Better Again)! “The Story of President Golden Hair (Overlord Orange Skin) of the “Collected States of America.” The Parallel Universe containing “Third Earth” is the setting… Strange songs from a Parallel Universe leak through a malfunctioning satellite, E.T.s are involved in the presidency…It’s all happening in a strange world (but not so different than our own) revolving around “Holographic Cable News!” The MAABA NOVELLA is free to download as an ebook at www.storyofmaaba.com.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
Pink Floyd is my biggest influence by far. I started on them young… I would space out listening to Dark Side of the Moon at age eight. I also loved The Cars. U2 came next…then Jospeh Arthur and Mason Jennings. I think “Jackson Square” by Jennings may be the best sad song ever written. It’s the only song that literally causes me to start crying when I think about it (I don’t even have to hear it!)…The song helps me process the loss we all experience in this world… So ultimately it’s a positive experience for me and is a relieving kind of sad… A cathartic sad that’s needed. Besides musical influence, the idea of love in all its forms inspires me. Love guides my work. My goal is that my music helps people to love each other and themselves on this planet.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
A friend said my music was “Like Bob Dylan meets Radiohead.” I was touched and humbled by this comment. I try to stay folk enough to not lose touch with being grounded in justice and love. I try to be psychedelic enough to not get stuck completely in what often seems like too painful of a world. I want to reach out into the cosmos for hope. I work hard to draw other worlds into my music and draw others out of common mental boxes. I want to be a tour guide into psychological territory that people have never gone before. This “other worldly” place contains the value of the psychedelic music experience…. Drugs are not what Psychedelia is all about… Instead it’s about anything that allows for seeing a mundane, sad or painful life experience from many new vantage points. It’s about insight! There are subtle layers and hidden passages within my songs… I want people to have many destinations where they can go in one particular song. My hope is that the sonic layering allows the songs to serve as many people as possible in meditative discovery and healing thought processing. I have worked using music to help youth on the autistic spectrum and I try to keep all types of minds in view when I write or produce.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
U2 Joshua Tree. (Talk of Justice, comfort, ambient production (D. Lanois), authentically spiritual, soul-window opening sounds). Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon: (quintessential Psychedelia, the best guitar solo ever (Time) and the best drum sound ever recorded. I am a sound engineer and I deeply appreciate whatever the magical technique used on these drum recordings was!) The Cars: Candy O: Sexiest album cover artwork ever! Candy O has happy songs, yet they are filled with respectable depth and mystique. If I were to make up a new batch of Bandcamp genre tags for the album I’d say: “Trip-punk-pop, ultra-violet-spectrum-pop, happy-robot-pop, sweet-tooth-sentimental-pop, Candy O Pop” The album Candy O to me is in and of itself a genre tag!
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
I like live. Recording with others however is much better than going it alone. Some solo aspects of studio work are relaxing. I appreciate becoming lost in creatively mixing a song (that meditative experience where the whole world goes away through concentration). Ultimately I like interacting with people in a live setting better because of the unrepeatable “in the moment” exchange of community and emotion. With our socially disconnected “super media connected” digital world, live performance seems to be being craved more and more. It makes life and music feel real. Music (played well) live always sounds better…way better than compressed mp3 files… better than vinyl too… Vinyl is next best thing to live though!
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
This story takes place at a show about a year and a half ago, it happened when a buddy of mine, “The Drifter Luke,” a great musician from Seattle WA, introduced me when I was doing my one-man-band set up. He ominously said to the crowd to “stick around because (Christopher Hill and The Stardust Crush) were gonna “kill it.” Then when I got up on stage, somehow all my one-man-band music equipment died on me. So I did “KILL IT,” something did anyway! There was literally a “technical difficulties death” on stage! Even my guitar broke and I had to borrow Luke’s guitar, (thank you Luke!) I had to do a solo guitar and vocal set instead. So… the story is funny to me now….but wasn’t so funny then! The positive thing about it is that that’s the night I decided to leave the digital “one-man-band” behind and form a human band! So in the end it was a good thing that it all happened!
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
My most unique song is…“Thoughts and Prayers for the NRA (T&Ps-NRA),” from the new MAABA record. In one part of the song I created an Extra Terrestrial voice singing on a bridge part. The E.T. is a character from The Story of MAABA named “Celexis Daledon.” He is a peaceful Alien and is concerned about the problem of school shootings and gun violence among human beings. T&Ps-NRA takes place in the parallel “Third Universe” on “Third Earth.” The verses are sung by a character from The Story of MAABA named Jack Donaldson. Jack is a school shooting survivor who has lost friends to gun violence. The choruses on the other hand, are sung in an altered voice by a “Robotic Representative of the NRA Gun Lobby of the Third Earth.” At the end of the day, T&Ps-NRA is a protest song against the powers of the gun lobby in any Universe! Something else interesting/Alien about T&Ps-NRA is the broken musical rules inherent in the song structure. For instance It has three time signatures 7/8(samba-ish), 6/8(swirling-psych) and 3/4(waltz). The song has regular verses and choruses but it also has three separate, totally musically/lyrically diverse bridges (most songs only have one bridge). Parts of the song also have a very funky “Clavinet” keyboard sound. You’ll recognize the sound, Clavinet was used on “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder. Despite what someone might think, this funky sound in a shoe gazing, samba-ish, psych-rock song worked perfectly! I was thankful that I stumbled upon it. The tone was perfect for an outer space song!
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
I want to do shows promoting MAABA in Seattle during the summer and perhaps do some show dates around the Pacific Northwest in the fall. Then I’ll need a break before I record my next album which will probably start to happen in the spring of 2020. I am deciding on a theme…possibly something around the ideas of death and rebirth. I’ve got some material already and I’m going into a writing phase now so I should have plenty of songs to work with by then! Perhaps we will do more full band written songs too!
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
Question: Did you just go to Maui?
Question: Where’s the best Mai Tai on the Island of Maui?
Answer: It’s the Mai Tai at the Monkey Pod restaurant! This cocktail has two inches of sweet passion fruit foam (like latte foam) on the top and is one of the best tasting (and stiffest) drinks you’ll ever have! BONUS INFO: The Tin Roof Maui restaurant (hole in the wall-order your food and go) by the Airport is the best food, try the Mochiko chicken!
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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