How do you change your perspective of death? You discover the joy of living. That's what singer-songwriter and producer Chris Koehn brings to light in his newest 5-track EP: When Death Is Good News.
Chris Koehn's music is nothing short of impactful. His unique shoegaze songs spread awareness of the importance of enjoying each moment and living in the now. After experiencing his brother's death, Chris Koehn turned to music as a way to grieve. Turned out, the healing power of music was all he needed to launch his music career forward.
Now embracing what comes with musical healing, Chris Koehn released a new 5-track EP that practically celebrates it. His best advice to change our perspective of death? Besides discovering the joy of living, Chris invites us to practice it daily, free ourselves from our fears, and live in the present moment. Without further ado, let's dive into the new project.
The EP opens with the intro and title track, "When Death Is Good News," alongside the stunning vocal stylings of Florencia Quinteros from Celest. While the song sounds like this Portishead-esque journey with synthetic drum machines and an expansive atmosphere, Chris Koehn's skilled electronic production perfectly highlights the long, exhausting journey of facing fears and changing perspectives. It's an eye-opening, thought-provoking track that starts the album with meaning.
Moving into track number two, "Melancholia," this song features the sweet vocal stylings of Ximena Sariñana. While Chris Koehn's dreamy electronic production takes the song into a refreshing and soothing space, he emphasizes a state of melancholia, feeling lost in time and yearning to make it through this treacherous journey. It's a reminder that sadness will linger, but it's on us to create happiness - not wait for it to appear magically.
Slowing things down with the album's third track, "Sympatheia," Chris Koehn takes us deeper into the theme of loneliness, as it was written during quarantine. The droning background synths and downtempo percussion make this song incredibly impactful, reminding listeners that we must face it and attempt to navigate it once loneliness kicks in. It's a beautiful song that helps listeners realize we aren't alone; we're all connected with the universe.
Upping the dreamy atmosphere is track number four, "A Hummingbird Song," featuring the beautiful vocals of Reno Rojas. While this song dances the lines between alternative and electronic, it provides a unique, comforting blend of both. Chris and Reno's vocals calmly encourage us to slow down and take in our surroundings, from the dancing leaves to the twittering hummingbirds. It's a perfect example of how Chris Koehn is living (and healing) in the moment.
Landing on the EP's fifth and final track, "Ballad Of Happiness," Chris Koehn dives deeper into the journey of human nature and our childlike ability to sing a song without meaning, lyrics, or a specific message. With no more than faint oohs, aahs, and la-di-das, the song includes a harmonious dialogue between various instruments as if it were the swaying sounds of nature. It's a beautiful outro song that reminds us of the importance of forging happiness and living in the present moment.
Chris Koehn's 5-track EP, When Death Is Good News, is one of the most eye-opening projects we've heard. And we mean that, honestly. It serves many vital reminders on navigating the lows of life, all while Chris Koehn and his accompanying vocalists serenade our souls with impactful lyrics. Hear it yourself and find the new EP on all digital streaming platforms.
We feel enlightened after hearing your 5-track EP, 'When Death Is Good News.' What experiences inspired you to create such a meaningful project?
Since the pandemic, I've been doing a lot of introspection, meditating, yoga, nature, cold plunges, reading a lot, taking plant medicine trips, healing, and breathing work. The project started organically as that. It is an invitation to change our perspective on death, to practice it every day in what we do, our daily habits & our relationships.
To free ourselves from our attachments and create a fuller & happier life. "The conquest of the fear of death is discovering life's joy. One can experience an unconditional affirmation of life only when one has accepted death, not as contrary to life but as an aspect of life.
The conquest of fear yields the courage of life." Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth. At the same time, I invited musician friends I admire to collaborate on the project so each song has a beautiful magic from each collaborator.
What do you hope listeners feel and take away after hearing your songs on When Death Is Good News? What realizations or concepts do you hope they discover?
To feel calmer and happier. To realize that nothing is permanent and to enjoy each moment. Through music & lyrics, I hope to elevate our frequencies for a better humanity.
Which song from When Death Is Good News was the most enjoyable for you to create, and why? What made that song so special?
I enjoyed them all. Collaborating with such talent made me feel honored and grateful. Each is so different, yet they all work together as one concept. Probably, When Death Is Good News was the most different one in its creation process.
I usually start with guitar cords, adding lyrics & melodies. And for this song, I started playing with a drum machine without any lyrics, chords, structure, or melodies. So, after playing and recording these drum beats, I started working on them and loved the song—like Portishead's electric drums.
What was your experience collaborating with such talented artists on When Death Is Good News? How did they help bring the project to life?
It was beautiful; they all are so talented, and I am grateful for their talent. When they asked what kind of sound, vocals, etc, I had in mind, I always answered whatever the song told me.
So the results were amazing; Ximena Sariñana's vocals & harmonies on Melancholia work perfectly with an upbeat tempo—Reno Rojas's ghostly vocals on a Hummingbird song add a beautiful natural magic to it. Quique Rangel's bass lines on Ballad of Happiness gave the song a Lou Reed vibe, which blended all instruments. Ro Guardiola's drums on Sympatheia and Melancholia gave an analog sound, almost like a John Bonham style. And Chete's baritone solo on Sympatheia blew my mind. It sounds like a Tarantino movie soundtrack, and the funny thing is I'm a massive fan of Quentin, and Chetes didn't know. So, all collaborations added beautiful magic, and the album wouldn't sound as precise as it does with them.
Were there any challenging moments or experiences when creating a personal project like When Death Is Good News? How did you overcome them?
I started the project during the pandemic, so recording remotely in some cases was a challenge. On the other hand, this is my first time working with a producer, so it was always exciting to hear Jerry Quintana's feedback on songs and sometimes change what I had in mind. In the end, the results were fantastic.