We constantly feature notable rising artists in the alternative scene on the verge of success. Meet this week’s artist: the multi-genre inspired folk artist that is Christian Dupree:
A classically trained musician, Christian draws his diverse musical range from his experience growing up in a creative community, surrounded by a musically inclined family in Sonoma, CA where he fostered his love for unique sounds. His original music teeters on the essence of California and Country with a distinct affinity for Blues and R&B.
In a recent post about his song To The Stars (see video below), I described his sound as "the audio equivalent of the calm, breezy coastal Spring sunshine," mixing "chill vibes of California ease, melodically complex vocal lines, and a passionate heartfelt sentimentality." This can be said about all of his released music as he combines elements spanning a wide range of genres to create a unique sound, which showcases his talent as both a trained musician and indie singer-songwriter. The dedication and innovation is evident as you hear how he inserts his soul to push the boundaries of the folk-aesthetic. Christian forges his own path, but comforts and awakes those of us who follow him along his journey.
Find out how Christian's sound became so genuinely crafted and his take on alternative culture in the interview below.
Will Smith: Big Willy Style- Will Smith is a total pimp and I enjoyed his well crafted album at the time. His music made me feel pretty good for a youngster.
Jack Johnson: Brushfire Fairytales- Recently found this one again and I'd have to say it left a lasting impact on my music. Would have never dreamt that I'd get to play with him one day. I had the great pleasure of playing with him in Ojai, CA a few years back and it was pretty magical.
Angelique Kidjo: Black Ivory soul- This was an album I randomly came across at my parents' house. I fell in love with Angelique's smooth melodies and wonderful world music sound. The album is mostly unheard of, but it was one of only a few albums I had at the time.
What are your fondest musical memories?
Playing string trios with my family in our living room. My mom is a violinist and my step dad is a pianist.
When I first began writing music, my three friends and I formed a rap group named Ghillie Flage. We were so incredibly bad. We couldn't stop laughing as we played the recordings back. It was so wonderful to not take the music seriously and just enjoy making funny recordings.
I have always thoroughly enjoyed busking in all sorts of places. I feel like it is the most satisfying way to express the music and put a little well earned cash in the pocket.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
Mostly live music. I listen to a shit load of live music at the night club I work at.
I have no particular taste in musical genres currently. Just whatever comes down the pipeline.
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process?
Creativity is a channel that one may spend their entire life learning to access at will. To me, it's about getting out of the way of your own stream of consciousness and letting it do its thing.
Jay and I both work at a live music venue in Venice called Witzend. I am the host and Jay runs the sound department. I can't quite remember the exact circumstances of our introduction but I remember I dug his attention to detail as a live audio engineer. Working with Jay is amazing. He is very selective in what he devotes his time to. I am lucky to have a friend and musical partner who is as impeccably devoted to his production as he is. We are working on multiple musical projects currently and can'twait to share more collaborative work in the future.
You describe your music as California inspired country. How has your both Northern California, where you grew up, and Southern California, where you currently are based out of, inspired your sound? What is it about California that adds a unique sound to the artists here?
I wouldn't really classify my sound as country...only because I lack a more accessible term. I love writing about nature and there is something about a slower life lived in the country that appeals to my soul. I spent a few quality years living on top of a mountain in a beautiful rustic house in Sonoma. I think that time solidified my appreciation for the simple quiet things. Moving down to Southern California introduced me to an insatiable life pace which I have also come to love. My journey in the southland has largely been one of refining my abilities and defining what statement I am making musically. I feel like a lot of musicians these days try to say a lot before they really have a grip on what it is they are trying to convey.
You blend elements of alternative, folk, R&B and classical training into your songs, which I attribute to your wide range in music taste. Do you think the new frontier in indie music is this genre-less environment? Do you find yourself being more creative due to your innovative mix of genres?
I have always appreciated all genres of music. The trick to being able to play in multiple styles is a heightened sense of empathy. I try and remain very receptive to music and leave all doors wide open. The paradox is that criticism is only effective if you stay open and objective in my opinion. This shit is all jazz to me.
Great question. Creating the last album was a year long process in the making. When I initially decided to do the live album I was spending a considerable amount of time in Ojai, CA. The people I was playing with up there were inspiring me to abandon my notions of perfection in the musical sense. I decided that it would be valuable to capture the moment of creation instead of processing the entire performance. I made the album with world class musicians and I knew they had the ability to pull it off. It was a really crazy idea and a tremendous amount of work. Honestly I wouldn't do it again unless someone else was heading up the production. Ultimately, I wanted to display the worth of musicians who spend years perfecting their abilities so they are able to pull off something like this.
What is it about the live element that contributes to you crafting your sound?
It keeps me right sized. I like playing live because there is no faking, no auto tune. You have the stage to do with what you will. It is a very powerful place to have a group of people listening intently to you. Being on stage is where I do my meditation. Everything leaves my mind and I can just be present to the moment. That's what it's all about.
As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?
If people dig your music you will be ok. If you write shitty music you might still be ok. If you write good music it could be lost forever and forgotten but that would still be ok.
What is your dream collaboration and why?
When I was a kid I always wanted to be a fighter pilot. I wanted to fly a fighter jet, but only under one condition: I didn't want to have another pilot with me in the cockpit. I felt that he would take away from not only being able to fly the plane but the thrill of shooting the missiles and machine guns too. I had severe air sickness. In other words, I fly solo baby. I haven't really considered who I would want to collaborate with. I like creating by myself mostly. That being said I would have loved to get the chance to sit and play with Ray Charles. He is dead.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
Working on a few new songs with various producers. I've written three new songs since the new year. They tend to be pretty polar. Either super lovely and heart warming or about loss and hopelessness.
Finally, a question we have been asking all of artists lately: which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
Songs? I listen to live music 4-5 days a week. I write and record at least 3 days a week. I don't know if I have been really foraging the musical landscape for new stuff. Listen to Mount Saint. They will be a widely popular band within the next year.
Mount Saint…say no more.