We had the opportunity to have a chat with the amazing new artist, Christopher The Grey. We discussed his childhood, losing his parents at a young age, what music means to him, his mother's influence on his career and more. He also reveals how Prince's music helped shape his sound.
RNB: Hello Christopher, thank you for taking time away from your busy schedule to talk with us today, to reach out to your fans and let them know a few more things about you and your music.
Christopher: You are welcome and thanks having me on. Fire away! I am an open book.
Q. Christopher Smith! Who is Christopher Smith?
A. Christopher Smith, is guy from Alabama that loves to laugh, make music and not take life too seriously.
Q. Tell us a little more about your childhood.
A. My childhood was a mixed bag. Mixed with the fun of being a kid with loving parents and 3 siblings but also had the pain of losing both parents at early age. So, I had to grow up really fast.
Q. We understand that you come from a musical family. Describe the impact that had on you growing up and how it helped build you as an artist.
A. My mother loved to sing and my father tried his hand at songwriting. Also, we always had music playing. That early introduction to music was key to me exploring sound and creativity.
I can remember my mother singing and wondering how is she making those sounds.
Q. Where did you get your artist name from?
A. Now that was a stroke of genius...lol! Over the years I assumed a few names that were cool at the time but not really who I am. Christopher the Grey is me in a nutshell. Christopher is the obvious part but "the Grey," well it's a combination of Lord of the Rings and getting wiser, older and grey. So, I put it all together and as the song says, "This is who I am."
Q. Amazing where the name came from. So, Influenced by old school artists like Prince, Public Enemy and Rakim, how did their influence help shape you as an artist?
A. Just the craftsmanship of each of those artist is like wow! I mean I can remember playing Soft and Wet in band, 3rd or 4th grade. I didn't really know who Prince was at that time or anything about the song's title. As I learned about Prince I became totally consumed with wanting to do what he was doing. Public Enemy's showed me how to go left while everyone else is going right. Their sound a game changer in the 90's. Plus, one my former shipmates and friend DJ Johnny Juice is a member of the group. Man! Rakim is that one MC that everyone wanted to flow like. His style, vocabulary, and finesse was and still is on point.
Q. Losing your parents at an early age followed by a long hiatus from music, how did that help shape you both as an artist and individual?
A. Losing my parents early on forced me into adulthood. I didn't get to enjoy experimenting with life, making and rebounding from mistakes and the other things that come with being young and naive. As an individual, I learned to get hit hard, hide the pain and press on. So, I guess resilience was forged. As an artist, those life changing event taught me to walk into the unknown even though I was afraid. By that I mean coming back from a long break, a lot had changed. I gave away all of my gear, stopped writing, buying or even listening to music for the most part, except for Prince. So, coming back was really hard, there was a lot to learn about the business, software, hardware, what the vibe was, it really seemed impossible. Still I put my head down, closed my eyes and went forward. In a word, Courage!
Q. Returning after an extended hiatus, how will you describe the music scene of this new age?
A. The scene as a whole is very different. Ironically enough, in the aforementioned difference, it all seems the same. At least when one listens to mainstream radio. It seems that creativity has been stifled until you listen to other music outlets like RnB Hits Radio (: Spotify, Pandora or of the alternatives that's out there.
Q. As a songwriter, where do you get your inspiration from?
A. My inspiration comes from my life...things and events I lived through or witness first hand. I can really only write about things that I know. For example, the songs on "Not So Common" are a reflection of my life. "I Am Sorry" comes from the selfish person I used to be in terms of relationships.
Q. Tell us a little about your new and current single, "I'm Sorry".
A. Simply put. It's a person that realized his mistakes, albeit too late and apologizes. I was alone in the studio as always but that night I was really in my feelings. So, I closed my eyes, listened to the track and the lyrics flowed like water. Guess that was guilt.
Q. Are you currently working on any new music at the moment?
A. Yes. I always have something going. For me, it's like reading several books at once. I'll start a song, walk way from it, start on another and another, then eventually get back to the first one. It's not often I start and complete a song in one session.
Q. Who are your favorite musicians?
A. Prince will always be at the top. Others include Stevie Wonder, Luther Allison, Bruno Mars and Alicia Keys.
Q. What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?
A. For me, the greatest challenges was access and having control. Like, how do I get my music out to the masses for them to decide for themselves. Being able to bypass the gatekeeper has helped.
Q. How do you define success as a musician?
A. My definition of success as a musician is being able to do the music that I want to do and not conforming to what's "hot."
Q. Outside working in the studio and making music, What do you enjoy doing most?
A. Restoring old school cars.
Q. Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
A. That's a good questions. I am not much of a planner. I would like to be in a position to help others realize their dream as a musician or artist.
Q. Any advice for the younger generation aspiring to become musicians?
A. Yes. Never stop practicing your craft. Learn from other but be creative.
Q. Where can we find you online?
A. Twitter: @3rdchildChris, Instagram: 3rdChildMusic