Posted On 21 Aug 2017
On September 22, the Americana singer-songwriter Christian Lopez will be releasing his newest and sophomore album, “Red Arrow” via Blaster Records.
He was recently named by Rolling Stone as “10 artists to watch”: http://www.rollingstone.com/country/lists/10-new-country-artists-you-need-to-know-july-2017-w491510/christian-lopez-w491513
“I’ve dedicated 100% of my life and time to my music. I work on some aspect of it every day. But I also see myself back in West Virginia someday, with a house and a big yard where I can relax. And a dog too,” he adds quickly, with a laugh. “You could say that’s the American Dream. For me, it’s more specifically my West Virginian dream.”
For “Red Arrow,” Lopez decided to explore different paths for his sophomore project. Over nine months, he tempered the intuitive approach he had cultivated for his debut collection “Onward” with a more measured process, beginning with the careful selection of producer Marshall Altman. “It was almost like a science experiment,” he says, with a laugh. “But that’s what I thought recording would be like when I was a kid — a work of art rather than just throwing together a bunch of songs.”
The songs, too, were different. His recent works reflected a more perceptive view of the world as well as a greater self-awareness. Some of this came from co-writing, which he’d never done before. “It did help me expand my thought process and come up with ideas I never would have on my own.”
Learn more about Christian Lopez in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! How has 2017 been treating you? Musically, did you approach this year any differently then you did last year?
2017 has been a year of re-analyzing and rediscovering myself. I was in the middle of pre-production for my new album when the new year struck and it was in February that I started recording. So this year, so far, has been a year of creation. With that comes vulnerability, but also a chance to fully understand what it is you’re doing and where you want to go. So right now I feel nothing but pure excitement to share what I’ve been making, on the record and on the road. It’s good for me.
Where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What kind of music do you listen to when you are working? What music gets you instantly out of a bad mood?
I’m currently driving north from Key West. I came down after a recent show in FL to clear my head for a few days. And yes, I’ve got Johnnie Taylor on the stereo right now! When I’m out and working, I’ve found myself just sticking to the classics really. Burt Bacharach has been huge for me lately, and is definitely a pick me up. Burt has a way of talking to you without a need for vocals, if you listen to his instrumental records of course. The title is all you need. It’s good for occupying the mind and allowing you to relate however you want. Almost like the score to your own, personal movie inside your own head.
Growing up, have you always wanted to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
Always. Since my earliest memories, music has always been most important to me. My earliest music memories are probably my piano lessons at age 5. Mom was a music teacher, so me and my siblings all went into it with theory and discipline from day 1, which I think was really important for me. I come back to it to this day.
If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing?
I honestly couldn’t even tell you. If I had to come up with something, I’d probably say buying old junk, restoring it, and then selling it. And by restoring, I mean just making it look cool.
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your hometown has affected who you are as a musician and the art that you create?
Well, I’m from a town in West Virginia called Martinsburg. And when I’m not out on the road, I’m back home. I think being from, and loving my hometown has affected me as a person and therefor my music. I think, and I hope, that it’s a constant reminder to not be someone that I’m not, and to do what is natural. That’s the best affect it could possibly have on me.
Let’s talk about your forthcoming album, “Red Arrow.” What was it like putting this collection together? How long did it take to put together? Did anything surprise you about the process at all? What was the inspiration for the songs on it?
Well that’s a good question to answer in reverse. I’ve had since my last release to gather the right songs for what would be second. I came into he studio with my producer, Marshall Altman, and we went through 40-50 songs and picked what we think were the best, but also the most fitting one piece. Not just a collection of songs, but a narrative. Recording was long and thorough, but that’s what I wanted.
How did you feel when you first heard that you were named by Rolling Stone as “10 artists to watch”?
I of course was very flattered and humbled! I’ve been out here working my hardest everyday, so seeing something like that was very validating.
What has been the best experience for you so far in the music ride?
That’s a tough question. Amazing things happen all the time. Meeting our heroes, playing great shows, collaborating. One of my most memorable moments was playing “Lean On Me” with Bill Withers on stage at the WV Music Hall Of Fame induction ceremony. Something I’ll never forget.
Who has taught you the most about the business and what to expect?
I’ve taught myself really. Of course your team and your colleagues help guide you along the way. But honestly, you can only learn by throwing yourself into every situation in front of you. I do so everyday and I feel like it’s been very beneficial for having a grasp in this crazy business.
What are your plans for the rest of this summer? Do you have any plans to tour? Shows you are excited about?
Absolutely. Summer touring is not only the most crucial, as summer is the season of big shows, but it’s so much fun. We have shows on the books and more being added every day. I’m particularly excited about making my return to Mountain Stage, AmericanaFest, and my homecoming show in Martinsburg, WV.
How do you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today?
Besides the pure joy of having an outlet to express, I owe my happiness to the people who find comfort and joy in my music. When someone can feel the way I do about my favorite music, I feel the most meaning, reason, and fulfillment I could possibly source in my life.
Who are some of your very favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Growing up, classic rock was my life. I only covered AC/DC and Dio. It wasn’t till later I discovered the magic of country and folk music. Not only did the classics keep me in a trance, but I fell in a deep love with The Avett Brothers. It’s had to be a mixture of all of these, and nowadays even my friends! I try to keep up with all of my friends in Americana music, and honestly they’ve been the most inspirational. Being able to relate, discuss, and rise with them is a very raw form of inspiration and it keeps me driven everyday.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
Honesty. Good times. Love. Whatever it is they take from it, I just want to be real to them. That’s what it is to me.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started on this music path? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
To me, the most important rule is to stay 100% true to yourself. Do what you want, don’t let people sway
you, and rely only on yourself. YOU are the only person that matters when it comes to your music. And to all the youngins out there.. go for it.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I’d just like to thank those who’ve supported me from day 1. I’ll do all I can do to bring you the best records and shows I possibly can. I’ll see y’all down the line.