By: Shayla Lee
Creative control is something that is sacred to most musicians but unfortunately, it is also something that many musicians end up sacrificing when they find themselves working with labels, management teams, and even other collaborators. The Canadian musician Christian Parry made sure that he maintained creative control throughout the entire creation process of his newly released EP ‘Sweet Life.’ The entire EP was written, recorded, mixed and engineered by Christian in his own bedroom and the result is nothing short of beautiful. This EP is slow, mellow, and is full of emotional layers. Every time I listen to it I feel nostalgic and I’m straight up obsessed.
I had the chance to interview Christian and he broke down the entire creation process of his EP and explained the challenges he is currently facing as an independent artist.
FEMME RIOT: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What inspired you to become a musician?
I grew up in Grimsby, Ontario, and ever since I was 7 I wanted to play guitar. My Dad is the one who really introduced me to music. He studied jazz vocals in college and would always sing around the house when I was young. He also introduced me to a lot of artists that I still love today. When I was 9, a music school was built in my town and I convinced my Dad to sign me up for guitar lessons. My parents bought me a Fender Squire Stratocaster for Christmas that same year. I’ve played guitar almost every day since and started singing shortly after. I guess what inspired me to start taking music seriously was the way that it made me feel, nothing can really make me feel the way music can.
Nothing can really make me feel the way music can.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
Where do you draw inspiration for your music? Do you have any musical influences?
Song wise, I try to only write lyrics when I have something to write about, that’s when I feel like I get my best stuff. This usually starts with a feeling, an experience, or even just a phrase. On the other hand, when I’m coming up with the instrumentation its almost always unplanned. It usually starts with me just messing around on the guitar or some other instrument. From there I tend to come up with a few phrases which set the tone of the tune and the rest of the lyrics usually follow. I don’t always look to write about a specific experience, but inevitably, the way I feel in that time of my life always comes out in my writing.
A lot of different artists have influenced me since I started playing, but right now I would have to say my biggest influences are Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, and Daniel Caesar.
You recently released your EP ‘Sweet Life’ which was written, recorded, mixed and engineered in your bedroom by you. Can you tell us more about this project? What was the inspiration behind it and what was the creation process like?
While I was writing and recording the EP I was listening to a lot of old and new R&B and Soul. I really wanted to record a collection of solid tracks that felt smooth but also made you move with them. I was mostly listening to Daniel Caesar, Lauryn Hill and Stevie Wonder and really admired their songwriting capabilities as well as the production on their records. Really, I wanted to make something that could compete with the music that I listen to and love. Of course, it’s near impossible to make something as good as Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” or Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life”, but reaching to make something great like those albums pushed me to make the best record I could.
To my knowledge, besides Dashawna Drew performing in ‘Never See You ‘Round’ and Aaron Parry doing the artwork for your covers, this EP was entirely done by you. What caused you to make the decision to do everything yourself? Did you face any challenges doing it alone? What were the benefits?
At first, I began recording and producing by myself because I wasn’t able to, and still can’t afford to actually go to a studio. Now, I actually prefer doing everything myself because of the freedom it gives me. I can do everything on my own time, I get to have total creative freedom, and I don’t need to run any ideas by anyone. I can kind of just lock myself in my room and do whatever I want, whenever I want. This just seems to be the most efficient way to do what I’m doing at the moment and I enjoy the alone time. I find it hard to get to the place I need to be mentally, when recording or writing, if other people are around. Recording and learning about production has also become a hobby of mine, it’s something that I taught myself to do and really enjoy doing.
The biggest challenge I face when doing this by myself is knowing when to walk away from a track and call it finished. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and usually drive myself crazy while mixing. If I still enjoy hearing a track after hearing it 100 times and mixing it for days then I usually feel like I’ve done a good job.
Oh… and shout out to my housemates for putting up with listening to me record and replay a track over and over while I mix it in my room.
My favorite song on the EP is ‘Sweet Life.’ It is so peaceful and calming to listen to. It reminds me a lot of water. Can you tell us more about this track?
Sweet Life was actually the first track I wrote for the EP and was the last track I recorded. I like to record the final track on a record last because it feels like more of an ending for me, not just for the record but also for that period of time in my life. I was really trying to make something that would take me into a relaxed and almost euphoric state, and hoped that it would do the same for others. That’s sort of my main approach to writing and producing, I try to make something that makes me feel that high that only music can make me feel. If it can do that for me then I feel like I’m on to something and hope that it can do the same for others.
What types of challenges or adversity have you experienced as a musician?
I think the biggest challenge I face at the moment is getting new people to hear my stuff, there’s more new music coming out now, more than ever.
What can we expect from you this year?
I’m currently living in the Netherlands without any recording equipment, but I’ve been writing some new stuff. When I get back home in July I hope to start recording some new tracks. Hopefully I’ll have another EP or full length record coming out next spring with a few tunes coming out before that.
What songs are you currently listening to?
Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You – Lauryn Hill
Moon River – Frank Ocean
After the Storm – Kali Uchis (feat. Tyler the Creator & Bootsy Collins)
Yes I’m Changing – Tame Impala
Nothing Burns Like the Cold – Snoh Aalegra (feat. Vince Staples)
I want to thank Christian for doing this interview with me. I absolutely love showcasing Canadian talent because we are killing it in the music industry! The cover photo was drawn by Christian’s brother Aaron Parry. You can find out more about Christian and his music by checking out his website, Facebook, Soundcloud, and Spotify. Listen to his dreamy EP below!