August 2nd , 2003

 

GROOVALICIOUS Is Definitely Music You Can Groove To

By Paula Edelstein

After a 3 year hiatus from the smooth jazz scene, British guitarist Chris Standring is back in a big way with 13 brand new GROOVALICIOUS songs. To hear him tell the tale, he’s really enjoying being back on the personal appearance scene. Yet on the musical side, the guitarist has never strayed far from his fans because during his time off, he reflected on songs with a 70's vibe and brought it all together with a seductive mix of retro-soul and contemporary jazz. Teaming up with Rodney Lee on several of the songs, GROOVALICIOUS is definitely a feel good CD!

The hit-maker, author and all-around great guy, also gives back in a big way by helping establish up-and-coming artists on the music scene. As an educator, Chris helps novices understand the workings of the music community while still helming the reigns of stardom as a songwriter, guitarist, and arranger.

We talked to Chris after his Groovalicious debut at The Key Club in Los Angeles and here’s what he told us!

SOTJ: Hi Chris, what a GROOVALICIOUS performance you gave at the Key Club in Hollywood, CA! Wow! Let’s talk about the new CD just released for Pyramid/Mesa. You’ve mentioned the CD took on that 70’s vibe as you and the band started writing. Was that particular decade a pivotal frame of reference and influence on your decision to make the switch from classical music to contemporary jazz?

CHRIS: Well that’s a good question. The classical thing was just a part of my training and it wasn’t anything really more than that. I didn’t have grandiose aspirations to become a classical musician. Back then I was really ensconced in many, many, different things, but it wasn’t until I came out here to California did I become exposed to a lot of R&B and started to look back on that particular time and got it all together.

SOTJ: Throughout the recording, you stay in tune with your listener’s needs and wants and have sequenced the songs in just the right way.

CHRIS: Really?

SOTJ: And then there’s that funky old-school sound that brings on the finger-snapping retro-jam atmosphere on “Say What” and “Miss Downtown Sugar Girl” and then there’s the head-boppin’ sexy very groove of “All In Good Time,” and “Hypnotize” that goes in a slightly different direction but keeps a person interested. Can you share a strategy for making such appealing songs? What do you think it is-- melody, rhythm, or harmony?

CHRIS: I know this may sound bizarre, but I’ve always thought that music should either be able to do two things to you and one is to be able to get very close to your partner if you will, and the other is to be able to dance to. I always thought that the perfect record is one that you can dance to and be intimate.

SOTJ: Who were some of the bands from the 70s that motivated your creative instincts for GROOVALICIOUS?

CHRIS: Bands like Earth Wind and Fire, Average White Band, Kool And The Gang, Marvin Gaye…and then of course the hardcore funk bands like Funkadelic! I became exposed to all those bands once I came to America and all my band members had been into them. They had been exposed to bands like Cameo and had their own reference points so basically we grew up together musically.

SOTJ: When you and the band were building the sonic architecture for GROOVALICIOUS, did you have to chart each song or did they play by ear?

CHRIS: Well there were two ways to do it. One way was to just pick up the guitar and get a vibe from the guitar and whatever comes out, I’d write it down. The other way was to get together with Rodney or whomever I’m writing with and start from scratch and see where it takes us.

SOTJ: How long did it take you to complete this project from start to finish? I mean, you wrote 13 brand new songs, did some of the horn arrangements, performed on them – this is a lot of work?

CHRIS: Yes, this does seem like a lot of work but I haven’t had a record out in about 3 years and one of the reasons was contractual. But during that time, I was writing, making demos and playing live and slowly but surely collected a repertoire of songs and recorded them over the years. So when I got signed to my new label, and once they approved the budget, we went into the studio and made the record.

SOTJ: Is there one aspect of the creative process that you enjoy more than the other?

CHRIS: Those are all very different. I don’t think you can compare them. I mean creating something from scratch is really exhilarating! I love the idea of getting a twinge of an idea that you can grab from the sky. But when you want to make a record, you really have to step up to the plate, arrange it and put a different twist on it and somehow make it sound different from the other songs out there. That’s really different than performing in front of an audience.

SOTJ: You are also an author, having written a very handy reference work called STREET TEAM: A KILLER PROMOTIONAL STRATEGY FOR INDEPENDENT ARTISTS. Where can one find that book?

CHRIS: I have another website called A&R online which is basically a resource for musicians that want to learn about the business. I also try to find 3 artists every month to showcase them. A lot of industry people go there to find new talent.

SOTJ: That’s very commendable.

CHRIS: I really do like to stay busy!

SOTJ: Finally, what was the most enjoyable moment for you when recording GROOVALICIOUS?

CHRIS: Probably deciding what direction we were actually going to go in. I thought that was a really nice thing when we decided what it was!

SOTJ: Congratulations on GROOVALICIOUS! It really brings on a great feeling. We’ll get the word out about it. Visit Chris at http://www.chrisstandring.com