Welcome to BUZ, Chris! We love the relatable and conceptual message of your 13-track debut album, To Be Known. What inspired the record, and how might your experience on the cruise ship have shaped it?
Hey, thanks for having me and checking out the record! The album is a compilation of my favorite songs and stories from the last three years. Whether I was at the start of a pandemic, graduating college, or out at sea, the relationships and daily struggles I went through inspired these songs. Furthermore, while on the ship, I had much free time with minimal internet. So I just sat, planned out this album, and wrote a few more songs to fill the gaps. I even went back to tweak "Europe,” a song I wrote months before I had any idea I'd live there for two months. As soon as I got home, I hit the ground running, fleshed out this album, and learned so much. I wouldn't have ever finished this album and started to take my career seriously if it wasn't for those months in the ocean where I was left alone to think, "What do I want?" "What are my dreams, and how can I reach them?"
How did you divide the tracks on To Be Known between Side A and Side B? Does the first half have a different meaning or significance than the second?
I focused a lot on how the songs sounded sonically instead of lyrically to place them in their spots. Sodon always comes first to me, rather than lyrics. There are songs I love that I’ve heard a million times where I still have no clue what they’re saying. I knew they'd the first three songs to be the first three because they encapsulate the whole project genre-wise. They’re also my most pThey'reommercial tracks, so I wanted those right up in front to help sell this thing. “Who Knew” was the interlude between sides A and B. I pictured people getting up to flip the record over after that one. The rest fell into place like a puzzle. I did have an entire song called “Opener” that was supposed to"open the album and was about being an opening act. After sending it to some friends, I felt the least proud of that rushed song, so I dropped it, which changed many things. But once that was gone, the rest was easy. I would be lying if I didn’t reference a few didn't Brothers albums for ideas.
Your cover of Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" was a solid choice. "How did you add it to the album, and what do you love most about performing it?
I got the idea from Stephen Coakley, a great friend and fellow artist, while I was working on his project on a cruise ship in Alaska! He’s a vast Mariah CarHe'san, and covering songs is something she and so many other artists do. I love getting reactions out of people, so I wanted something to shock people, whether good or bad, and I thought this might do the trick. I perform at many bars and restaurants as dinner music with my guitar and loop pedal, and these songs consistently hit. If the audience is a certain age, I can get everyone and their mother to sing this one, so I wanted another reason to sing it in my shows and give a little nod to all the cover gigs I grew up doing.
To Be Known is packed with diverse musical influences. Which artists or musicians impacted you the most when creating the album's 13 tracks?
Oooo this is a good question because there are so many! A good friend said this album is like 70’s pop for Gen Z-ers70'sch I love! I wanted to combine old and new with this, and quotes like that make me think I got the job done. I was heavily influenced by Paul McCartney, The BeeGees, James Taylor, and specifically Paul Simon in the old category. I was reading a book about him on the cruise ship, so songs like “To Be Known” and “Who"Knew” make "e thi"k of him"immediately. And then, on the new side, all of my music will always be influenced by my heroes, The Jonas Brothers lol. Through a little Harry Styles, Olivia Rodrigo, Rex Orange County, and one of my favorite artists, Charlie Burg, you have my album!
The title track, "To Be Known," clearly" holds a spec"al meaning. What did you want listeners to take away after hearing it, and how did you want to make them feel?
I wanted them to feel like they just watched a wholesome movie on a Sunday night! Or got off the phone with a longtime friend they haven’t talked to in a while, driving through a new state. I want to make uplifting, wholesome, and family-friendly music. I feel like this song perfectly captured how I want to be considered an artist, so I also wanted the album to get that vibe. There are also a lot of songs with “Know” or a version of"that" word in the title, so it fits perfectly for this project. I hope listeners think about what it means to be loved and how they can show that to others. It's that four letter that makes the world go round, so we might as well sing and talk and think about it as much as we can!