Lot’s has happened in the past few years for this successful country singer and songwriter. Inspired by his own life events and experiences toward his music, Chris Strei has been compared to well-known music artists and bands such as Chris Stapleton, Doc Walker, and The Tragically Hip. Can you say wow?! Not only did he recently make his radio debut on Niagara's Country 89 station, but he has been blessed with appearances at Canadian Music Week and Hugh’s Room Live.
With the release of his newest album Moonshine in July 2019, the first song “Love You Anyhow” gives you the ultimate country vibe to this album and song with such deep vocals that come straight from the purity of the heart. It’s no wonder that Chris cracked the Top 25 in The Spot, Canada’s Premier Singing Competition. His 10 song hit album was released to a sold-out venue at Riffs Music Lounge in Woodstock, Ontario and it gives you great dynamic touch on various topics and styles. Along with other music artists with a common theme of telling stories with a relatable point of view, Chris’s songs do the same.
“Love You Anyhow” portrays a theme of planning to leave and wanting out, yet still being kept back and going nowhere which is something many of us may relate to in certain aspects of our life. With the catchy chorus and lyrics “Girl you know just how to let me down, but I still love you anyhow” Chris Strei depicts that it's not always easy to just move on from something as it very easily brings you back or keeps you in the same spot. Not only do we get to experience an incredible voice from Chris Strei, but also his ability to beautifully play the guitar. The perfect melodic combo that you look to find in country singers. This song will be a good addition to your country playlist so make sure you check it out.
Listen to Chris Strei's “Love You Anyhow” here.
Hey Chris, it's a pleasure to interview you here on BuzzMusic! So much has happened for you in the past few years. Can you enlighten us with some of the positive experiences and lessons you've learned along the way?
Thank you for featuring me on BuzzMusic, this is so exciting! I've actually learned the majority of what I know just in the last couple of years. I've been studying audio equipment and music business for at least a decade, but I've really submerged myself into learning the legal side of rights and licenses, as well as how important radio trackers are.
As far as experiences, the last couple of years have been amazing! I would be confident saying that I've not only helped me mature as an artist but even as a person. I've packed a lot into 2018 and 2019, but at the risk of hanging on one event, I like to root everything that's happening now, back to December 2017. I was given an invite to open for the Juno nominated band, The Trews. That was an incredible motivator that I didn't know I needed. From there, I started putting a lot more into artist development by attending songwriting workshops, joined the NSAI for a year, found some opportunities playing songwriters rounds and connecting with other songwriters who became co-writers, and attending conferences. I also started turning my point of view around when it came to rejection and started using it as a notification of things to work on with myself. One example was getting turned down to play guitar on someone's tour because I didn't have tour experience. I started planning a June 2018 tour from Ontario to Alberta. When I went back to Alberta in June 2019, I was blessed to play on the main stage of Lethbridge's Canada Day celebration, just 2 acts before the headline act.
With such a passionate Country singing voice and music background, who have been some of your major influences growing up? How have they affected the growth of your music?
My Grandma has turned out to be my first influence. She gets all the credit for my country music passion. I grew up with her country records playing. She also gets the credit for my "I'll do what I want, but I know when I shouldn't" attitude. Sometimes I do it anyway though haha.
Until I truly committed to classify myself as a country artist, I was taking a lot of inspiration from Butch Walker, who has also gone a little bit folk in recent years. He seems to write from an autobiographical, yet relatable, place and that's been something that's worked very well for me over the last decade in rock bands. These days, I take a lot of influence from Chris Stapleton's honkytonk and blues style, High Valley's bluegrass elements, and I've recently started listening to a lot of Tyler Childers. Johnny Cash is a great person to listen to though, not even just his music, but his outlook on people in general. Although I agree with him and maintain a level of faith that the majority of people are genuinely good, I'm most inspired to write about being downtrodden and then put a liberating spin in the tone and lyrical context.
Is the song "Love You Anyhow" about a particular individual or personal experience? What is the message you're trying to get across?
"Love You Anyhow" is actually a very ironic release and a great example of what I was talking about at the end of the previous question. I wrote "Love You Anyhow" during a period of doubting if I should bother with pursuing a career path in music at all. The way things were going at that time in 2017, I felt like I was swimming against the current. I couldn't seem to find any opportunities in my hometown to propel myself forward if anything they were setting me back to a point where it felt like things were falling apart. I was still trying to figure things out and resisting what turned out to be life pushing me to venture off and explore the many surrounding cities in my region. Once I realized that's what I was doing to myself, I had my premise of, "It's not you or me, it's this place, let's go." I've now built myself some solid foundations and relationships in those surrounding towns that I was nervous to venture out to, but I will say that the gig opening for The Trews was in my hometown, and it was a great note to part ways and move on. My message is an underlying theme in most of my music. "Do what's best for you, take the high road doing it, and keep faith that it will always work out the way it's supposed to."
Have you ever been criticized for your music? Do you take it into your own advantage?
I think the worst I've heard is that a song isn't someone's cup of tea or that they just don't like country music. That's fair and I totally endorse that opinion. I do take a lot of pride in saying that no one has flat out said I have a bad song though (yet). I like to think that between me and Iain McNally, we've ended up with an album that can still appeal to the people who say they don't like country music. Ultimately, you can't please everyone, but you can impress them. So I aim to impress as many people as I can and take the criticism in the same way I do rejection. The people who already love what you do probably wouldn't mind if you better yourself for the people you haven't won over yet, the key is to develop and improve but not change. I hope that makes sense to the people reading.
We appreciate your time and look forward to more music from you. As a music artist, what is the next goal for you while you continue to grow as a successful country singer and songwriter?
Thank you for taking your time as well! I look forward to connecting with you in the future. At the moment, my fingers are crossed for a few radio submissions that have been sent out, and once 2020 comes around, I plan on releasing a bunch of acoustic versions of my songs starting with "Love You Anyhow", and to keep things interesting and fresh, I'm planning to start putting out a bunch of covers on ChrisStrei.com in 2020 as well.