THRDS are proud to introduce Ulteria’s Chris Freeman. He shares his leap of faith in making the big move from Paris to London in the pursuit of music and desire for self-expression. With his laid back “too out of touch to be in style” approach, winning smile and smooth vocals, this French-born artist is definitely one to watch. He was even nice enough to bring in his guitar and give us a sneak preview of what’s to come.
Hey Chris, are you looking forward to today’s shoot?
Yes I am very much so!
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m from Paris, originally. I moved to London about three years ago because I felt I knew Paris like the back of my hand and needed a change of pace. What’s comforting about London is its not too far from home so if I feel the need I could still go back. It’s also very different to Paris, I remember the first three months when I got here I saw the energy of the people and what the city had to offer. That’s what inspired me. I’ve always been a fan of music it’s like me and music clicked very early, my uncle that I grew up with and looked up to introduced me to the likes of Boyz II Men, Shai, New Edition and all those good guys, my mum had Whitney Houston on repeat and my aunt was a fan of TLC so I really grew into it, and was majorly influenced by R&B.
Would you say you sit in one genre of music or do you like to dabble in other areas?
I definitely like to dabble, I’m a kid of R&B that’s what I grew up on but in terms of my sound I like hitting all types of genres, I like experimenting with alternatives genres; which is why I love artists like Miguel, although it’s R&B it’s very rocky and has an edge to it, even in terms of lyrics it’s not always cheesy love it’s always a bit more, so I definitely like not hesitating to explore in other genres. Break the clichés a little bit.
In what ways would you say busking is a different performance experience?
When you do a gig the people that are coming are coming to hear you, they’re coming because they like you and they want to hear your music right, but when you’re busking the person that stops and listens might have loads of stuff to do in their day, meetings, journeys home, but at that moment they are willing to stop and listen to you, automatically there is a connection, they’ve taken that time, I didn’t ask for it, it wasn’t planned but they stopped to listen to you and you get immediate feedback and it’s very genuine, so I love that connection you have with the people passing by.
What made you realise that music was your calling?
Good question, I mean I’ve always wanted to sing obviously and I’ve always loved singing, but I think that when I started really playing guitar and learning songs is when I knew. There was this one artist I really loved, his name is Justin Nozuka, an amazing Canadian artist and I would listen to his songs and learn how to play them on the guitar and when I got good at it I started wanting to sing on it too, but at that time my vocals weren’t where I wanted them to be so I started vocalising, which is when I started to see and hear the progress and thought “oh maybe I can really do this”. Before that music was a hobby but the more I learnt the more I realised I can do this.
What do you listen to when you are looking for inspiration?
Depends on the vibe I want to get, so if I want to get into a chilled vibe I might listen to some Erykah Badu or D’Angelo but the inspiration can come from anything maybe even a single word, then my mind will draw a concept around that word becoming a song. It could be a feeling, a conversation I’m having with someone or anything.
How do you approach writing new songs?
The way my writing process has worked so far is vibing with people, I like feeding on the vibes in a room so if I’m in a room with loads of creative, chatting, jamming I can feed off that then I’d write around it.
What do you think of the UK music industry at the moment?
Personally, the young people in the UK are so driven. They are really pushing to do their own thing, I feel like sometimes in Paris they take it for granted and play games with their opportunities but people take it serious here. There’s people 17, 18, 19 really pushing, working every day on their craft, relentlessly. It almost has that New York feeling people are hustling so I feel like the UK industry is very hungry.
If you weren’t making music what do you think you’d be doing now?
I’ve always been into journalism, writing, acting just anything that would allow me to express myself. A teacher maybe because I love teaching and the concept of nurturing a new generation or being a role model for someone looking for guidance, because I remember every teacher that had an impact on me in my childhood so that inspires me.
Do you feel that you are very fashion conscious?
There’s that Miguel lyric “too out of touch to be in style”, that would be me.
Is functionality important to you when buying new clothes?
Yeah, I value practicality and function a lot more.
Where do you think your style influences come from?
There are a few people I’ve seen, Lance Gross I love his style, Idris Elba, I know it’s like the fourth time I’ve said his name but Miguel his sense of style is great, Lenny Kravitz maybe, all those guys with and edge no one too specific, so maybe not an inspiration from them but the idea of a different edge.
Can we look forward to you releasing some music in the next few months?
I’m working on that at the moment so stay tuned!
How can we see when you’ve released something new?
My Instagram is the main; you’ll see what I’m getting up to in the next few weeks, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter too.
Great, it’s been wonderful having you I hope you enjoyed the day.
It’s been great being here, thank you.
Chris will be performing this Saturday at our new monthly Undisclosed event.