Chris Louis, is by far one of my favorite rising stars, since the moment I heard his music on myspace, it caught my attention. Something in his voice sounded to me like he would be the next hottest artist out there. Now let me just tell you this interview has been a long time coming, since the official launch of the magazine on myspace.
We have stuck around and stood by his side as a friend, as well as an artist. We have seen the progress and success in his music. Let me just say he is not only “Carolina’s Finest”, but also born and raised in Upstate, NY. So here it is the first official Jnel & J. interview.
Jnel & J.: Chris Louis, It says in your bio that you not only perform, you write and produce as well as engineer. It’s a diverse listing… is there any particular aspect you prefer? If so, why?
Chris Louis: I prefer writing and producing my own songs. Nothing better than that honestly. I love to write and have written since forever. It’s just the whole process from beginning to end that I enjoy, so that actually involves all three I listed.
Performing, I never really have in front of a huge audience so I’m going to refrain from making any comments on that just yet. I’ll be sure to hit you up though whenever I get my second interview! Hopefully by then ill have something to share haha.
J&J.: What made you get into music?
CL: It’s funny you ask that because I feel like nothing ever “made” me. Like some people will say a certain artist inspired them to get into music. Or they hear a song on the radio they really like when they were young and wanted to be just like that person, but I honestly was never like that growing up. I feel like it was always just a part of me, the art that is; writing and than eventually producing. I’ve always been big into art and took art courses through out high school and then music was the next step. I felt like I could always express myself better through music than I could art. I just never had the means to perform or record.
On another note, the person who actually got me to record was a friend of mine from New Jersey, Ian Thatcher (T. Knibbs), who heard of me and knew I had talent producing and mixing. I sent him a track I recorded one day and he was like, “Who is the guy rapping over your beat?” and when I told him it was me he damn near did a back flip. I don’t think he believed it was me, the first couple of times I told him, but after the next couple tracks we did together it was a done deal. I actually still think I’m more popular in Jersey thanks to him than I am here in Carolina.
J&J.: In your influence section on MySpace, you have a picture of a man in a baseball uniform and say “My Grandfather”. How did he influence your life?
CL: My grandfather is such a humble man, I didn’t know a lot of things about him except he had to quit playing due to a back injury he suffered. You basically have to force everything out of him about his short-lived baseball career and he passed on a lot of big opportunities in his life to lead a more normal life. One that he felt he would enjoy more. Even though he didn’t go chasing big dreams like most people would do. He went after what he wanted in life not what someone told him he should do.
J&J.: You seem to have a large list of musical influences on your page. Who are the ones who have influenced you the most and why?
CL: That’s so hard of a question because I take a little bit of something from all of my influences. Anywhere from Nas to Nirvana to Sizzla. Whether it be the lyrical content or the imagery or even the way a song is composed. Its hard to narrow it down, but I must say Nas in general has always been my biggest influences hands down just due to the fact that his words are very powerful and the way he uses metaphors is amazing to me. He always motivated me almost as standard to one-day reach.
J&J.: In your blog, you have a post called “My Life: the Soundtrack”. Can you tell me why you chose some of the songs you did?
CL: Wow. This is going to take awhile. Well, Opening credits are A.T.C.Q. – Find a Way. I have to start my life soundtrack off with a classic song everyone can kick back n relate to. Well the 80’s babies raised in the 90’s at least. I felt like that would be a solid choice as my opening song.
Average day is Sizzla – Just One of Those Days. Title says it right there. I love reggae and especially love Sizzla, the lyrics to that song the melody I could listen to it a hundred times over and I may have even listened to it a hundred times over at one point in time.
In love, Aaliyah – One in a Million: That song to me epitomizes love. I may not have ever been in love before but the feeling that song gives you when you hear the words, her voice, and that beat. I don’t care what Timbaland produced in his career from there on out! Hands down that was the best song he will ever make. A lot of emotion in that song.
Flashback I had to choose Nas – Memory Lane. It just brings me back to growing up, the upbeat melody and everything about it reminds me of the park back home in upstate New York where I grew up. Anything from the 90’s reminds me really, but not as much as this track does.
My party song is 2pac – how do you want it. That song is timeless, every spring break we would throw that on the mixtape/cd and play it at the beach or whatever. It never gets old and it just makes you want to party, love life, whatever. That’s what its all about isn’t it?
J&J.: Who is your dream collaboration?
CL: Nas, I may give up a kidney for that actually.
J&J.: It says on your space that you’re also a graphic designer. What made you get into that?
CL: Like I said earlier, art has always been my niche. I grew up being the kid that could draw really good haha. I enjoyed doing it my whole life till I went to college and it was more a pain in the ass than anything and that’s when I started focusing more on music than art. Like I said I still love design but music comes first by far.
J&J.: What do you think of the state of R&B and Rap today?
CL: Well better than ever popularity wise, quality wise not so bad. I’m not one of those people who try to claim that all music sucks today though because it really doesn’t. We just seem to reminisce on all the great classics we grew up with and times change and so does music. A lot of hip hop heads are in love with the 90’s don’t get me wrong I prefer almost all of the music from that time period myself. You have to realize though, there was horrible music then too. That’s where all those one hit wonders come from, or not even. I’m sure there are plenty of artists we have completely forgotten about from that time period because they were so horrible!
J&J.: Have you got any special appearances coming up soon?
CL: Wow! Where do I begin? DigitalGrinder.net is featuring me next month as their featured artist. T. Knibbs is opening for Jedi Mind Tricks up in jersey on July 4th so I might try and get up there for that so we can perform a few of our popular songs together like Little Black Dress. After that it is very possible the two of us may have a short campaign overseas in Europe if everything goes as planned. Then towards the end of the summer I’m hoping, and I stress HOPING, to get my solo album released on iTunes and Rhapsody.
J&J.: What inspires you to write a song?
CL: Life, emotion, beauty, almost anything you can think of really. Sometimes I will hear a sample from a song that will inspire me. Turn it into a song of my own and write to it. Any little thing can inspire me to write.
J&J.: What’s one song you wish you had written and why?
CL: Almost ANY Musiq Soulchild song. If I could sing like him and was an R&B artist. I swear I’d write the songs pretty much exactly the same way he does. I swear sometimes I feel like he stole thoughts from my head and put them to paper and made a song out of it. Sometimes I will listen to a song of his and just be amazed. He is the only artist I can really say I have ever been like damn I really wish I had wrote these songs.
And I’m going to give you a follow up question. Even though it’s about love and I’m for the most part always single and I also told you I never experienced a real love in my life like that. This song to me is what I think myself and most people imagine it to be like and if it really exists like that. That’s powerful to me and speaks to me on a level that I would like to experience if it does truly exist. It’s almost like a fantasy like… wow…if that could only be. The song puts me in a whole different place. (Thought I’d clear that up!)
J&J.: What is your favorite track that you produced yourself?
CL: Damn… that’s like asking to pick a favorite child! That’s not fair… but I’d say “Dream” or “Can I Dream” I have a lot more popular tracks like “Little Black Dress” and even “She Said”.
J&J.: So what’s the reasoning behind choosing that particular song?
CL: Well it was the first time I got in the studio with my buddy and guitarist Nick Allen. He knew I produced and made music but didn’t know exactly what I could do. When he finally saw the possibilities he was like a little kid in a candy store and soon we both couldn’t believe our ears. We just kept layering guitars and he would play chords until I like them and id be like “that right there… lets use that” and we would throw it in the mix. Serious it was like magic haha. He just seemed like he knew what to play and knew what I wanted to hear and I layered the tracks with the drums he actually programmed and felt like I did pretty much nothing. On the other hand he felt like I did everything. Guess it was a perfect match.
J&J.: Now is this one of the songs that will be featured on your solo debut?
CL: Yea I actually have a few versions of it, one being around 3 minutes the other almost being twice as long which will most likely make the album.
J&J.: Do you prefer to be in the studio or on stage?
CL: Studio as of right now, I’m sure as I get more shows though it may have a chance of changing. I love creating though.
J&J.: Any idea of when we might be seeing the album or a few singles on iTunes?
CL: Not quite yet, this project has been my “baby” so to speak for a while now. I just want things to be perfect with this being my first album, but I am shooting for a digital release this summer if all goes as planned.
J&J.: So the album, lets hear what it really is all about. Give me a rundown if you could on what we all should expect when we hear the first song.
CL: This album is called Diamond and I use the line “there are many faces to a diamond” and that basically means that you are going to get a lot of looks on this album. There are so many sides of a diamond, you can look at it in so many ways and the same goes for people, love, life, and any situation. That’s how these songs are and the album in general. I’m sticking to my genre of Lyrical, progressive, hip-hop but you are going to hear influences from a good amount of genres.
J&J.: Sounds pretty interesting, I’ve heard a few songs off your myspace and I must say I believe almost anyone could really relate to what you say in them.
CL: Yea I mean that’s what a lot of people have told me too. They tell me if they wrote and made songs they would most likely have said it the same way I did or that’s exactly how they feel and I love getting feedback like that.
J&J.: Yeah I bet, I mean it is true though. The subject matter and lyrics seems to captivate a great deal of people.
CL: Well thanks, but like I said I draw from experience and I’m human just like anyone else walking this earth so its most likely that I’m not the only one feeling the same way you know?
J&J.: Haha yes definitely, but it is interesting where you get the concepts and ideas for your songs. How do most of them come about?
CL: I tell everyone this… its basically a nonstop stream of thoughts and ideas that run through my head constantly and once one sticks out more than the rest… ill write down the idea and try to make a song out of it on the spot or later when I have time.
J&J.: So it really is just thoughts constantly streaming through your mind?
CL: Yea and I definitely wish I could turn it off, especially when I’m trying to sleep haha.
J&J.: Ok well since we are on the topic of your ideas and how your songs come about. Please do tell how you came up with “Evil Eyes”?
CL: Haha oh man! I have told a few people because they have asked me, and they just shook their heads n laughed cause they thought it was going to be something way deeper than it really was.
J&J.: I can just imagine, so I’m expecting it isn’t what I’m thinking? It’s not the typical I got this song idea from an ex girlfriend?
CL: Hahaha no, no, nooo and actually I wrote this entire song while I was happily dating someone!
J&J.: Umm so lets hear it?
CL: Honestly this story right here just explains how crazy my thought process is and how simple things can be triggered in my mind haha. I was looking at some photos of my friends. And there was just one photo of his friend who happened to be an attractive female, but she had this evil ass red glare in her eyes. And I was just like damn she’s beautiful but; you can see the evil in her eyes.
J&J.: Hahaha seriously now?
CL: Yea and then I came up with a melody and an old school beat I could clap too cause I wanted it to have that vibe. Then just did the doo-wop thing with the vocals in the background.
J&J.: That is a little hard to believe to be honest.
CL: Yea it really was simple as that. I’m weird like that haha. Then the rest is just creative writing really. It’s all in good fun to me, draw from experience or people you know, know of, or heard about.
J&J.: Where do you see yourself a few years from now?
CL: Hopefully, I’ll be wherever I need to be. Wherever or whatever God has planned for me trust that’s where I’ll be.
J&J.: What’s the most memorable thing a fan has said to you?
CL: Ahhh there is so much. I don’t like to call them fans really. I just see them as my friends, but around the time my favorite athlete Sean Taylor died. I had made a couple songs in his memory and so many of my friends wrote to me flooding my inbox of words of thanks and encouragement. That it actually brought tears to my eyes. It was such an emotional time anyway but I couldn’t believe some of the things I read most of the time. I actually ended up saving all of the emails in a document on my computer just so I could look back on it one day. I love my friends though everyone I meet even if I only speak to them once or twice they all impact me greatly.
J&J.: So sort of off topic are we still happily in a relationship? I’m sure the women would love to know?
CL: Well I am single but I have a lot on my plate right now. It would be unfair to any woman I was with right now. Considering everything that has happened within this past month even and the fact I may not even be in the same country or state.
J&J.: That’s true and respectable but at least there is hope for the single ladies out there!
CL: Hahaha yea yea, I’m also pretty young too so I’m good for now thank you.
J&J.: Yes you are and I must say it’s been a pleasure chatting with you Chris. Is there anything else you want to tell the readers?
CL: That’s pretty much it!! Check out my myspace at www.myspace.com/carolinasfinest and follow me on twitter people! www.twitter.com/thechrislouis. Other than that be on the look out for the new website and album this summer.
Check out some more photos of Chris Louis below. Also make sure you download Chris Louis’ spin on Drake’s song “Best I Ever Had” free by clicking [Clean Version] or [Uncensored Version]. There’s also a video of him called, “Dreaming Reality”.
Here’s the video to his song, “Dreaming Reality”. This is his take on Lil Wayne’s “Prom Queen”….