Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in the tiny town of Norris Arm, NL. Like many kids, I grew up on the music in my parents’ record collection – most notably I remember listening to Cream, which started my musical journey digging into the roots of Blues and then discovering other music built on that foundation. I studied Electrical Engineering at Memorial University in St. John’s, NL, and I released my first solo album the day after I received my degree in May 2006. For a long time, I worked for a software company while carving my career in music. These days I am an artist, but also a writer, producer and side musician traveling the country and beyond to make music. I still do some Engineering as well, but on my own terms – I develop music production software, and I do that when I’m not working on music projects.
How did you get your start in music?
Going waaaay back, when I was 5 my Mom asked if I would like to play piano. Being 5, I said “no”. She said, “you start next week”. She was my teacher, so I didn’t really have a say in the matter.
Years later, after putting in time learning piano and also guitar, I started playing the bar scene in St. John’s while I was going to University. Local CBC started to notice what I was doing and became a huge booster for my career. In 2008 I met Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar), and he produced my album “Vampire Hotel”. I would say that was the turning point in my career. I got some national attention for that album, and I learned a lot about production from Gordie and soon started producing albums myself. That’s when I started to feel I had a real career in music.
How would you describe your musical style?
I like to explore many genres, but I would say overall my style is funky and soulful.
How have you evolved since you released your previous album, “Wonderizer” in 2012?
The biggest evolution is in my maturity as a songwriter. I have learned to recognize my own strengths and shortcomings, and to bring the right co-writers into sessions to really get each song right. I feel this album is my best work, and it’s mostly because of that awareness and attention to detail in the writing process.
What can audiences expect from your upcoming album, “What Goes Around”?
This album has my best writing on it, and also my best performances. Every piece of this album was put in place with thought and care. You can also hear in the performances that we had a great time making this album. My band and guest performers all got to put their own personal stamp on this, and the result is a fun, polished work that we’re all proud of.
Stylistically, this album is my most soulful for sure. It’s fun, sexy, and funky. But it also has serious moments. If you listen top-to-bottom you will be taken on a little journey and a wave of emotions. But it starts out fun and funky and finishes that way too.
What led you to wait 7 years to release your next album?
I self-produced “Wonderizer”, and after it was released in 2012 I started getting requests from artists to produce their albums. Suddenly I was busy as a producer and I wasn’t really touring to support my own album. I realized that I had an opportunity to make a good living in music without touring, so I stuck with that for a while and got comfortable as a behind-the-scenes musician. But after a few years, I got the itch to release my own music again, so here I am.
What can you tell us about your latest single, “Better Not Let Me Down”?
This song was born out of my experience in L.A. on and after election day in the US in 2016. I was there for a writing camp (which where I met Michelle Bensimon who wrote this song with me). I landed on election day, and the camp started the next day. The mood in town was tense the whole week. I felt anger and confusion in the air. Michele and I wrote the song about the vibe we felt in L.A. that week, but also gave it a message: a plea to people with any sort of power not to let down those people who are counting on them.
How was it working with Michelle Bensimon of “Caveboy” on the song?
It was easy! We connected on Skype and cranked out the song in a couple of hours. We talked for a while about what we wanted to say, then the song just sort of fell out of us. After I recorded it I realized it needed something extra, so I asked her to sing on it. She agreed, and I think her vocal took the song to the next level.
You’re in the middle of a Canadian tour. What’s the audience experience like at one of your live shows?
I like to make the audience feel at home at my shows. I like to interact with a crowd, and try to have fun with them. You pay your hard-earned money to come and be entertained, and I want you to have a good time, so I strive to sing songs and tell stories that will put a smile on your face, and make you feel something.
I also like to be dynamic. You’ll never be bored at one of my shows. There are tender ballads, upbeat fun songs, and plenty of humour in the songs and the stories.
What advice would you have for aspiring singers/songwriters?
The best advice I can give is to connect with as many co-writers as you can. And try to write with “better” writers, because that will make you better. And it’s a great way to grow your own musical family. In this business, we need to surround ourselves with like-minded creators.
What’s your life like outside of music?
I live in a country home with my wife, two cats and a parrot. When I’m not making music, I’m working on software development, or doing something active outside. We live next to a surfing beach so my wife and I are learning to surf.
Let the readers know where to find you online
My website is my hub: www.chriskirbyonline.com. You can also find me on Instagram: @chrisfnkirby, and Facebook: @chriskirbymusic.