This time, we get to know Christopher Crompton, a singer-songwriter from the West Midlands, UK.
His songwriting draws from English and American folk traditions and covers topics both political and personal. He cites influences including James Taylor, Dylan, Richard Thompson, Paul Simon, Mark Knopfler, Ralph McTell, and Leonard Cohen.
The track "Sing Another Song" is featured in the New Artist Spotlight Family of Playlists.
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1. Tell us a little about where you are from and what you are currently doing.
I'm from the West Midlands in the UK and I'm currently writing my second studio album and preparing for a US tour in June.
2. What inspired you to start playing and making music?
Ma played a lot of music in the house when I was a kid and we were always singing something. I played instruments and sang in choirs all through school, so the music's been there for as long as I can remember. I started out as a cellist and keyboardist, then picked up a guitar at 15 and never looked back. As for songwriting, I started writing poetry in my early twenties and I think the songwriting was a natural progression from that. I really listen to the lyrics in songs and appreciate a good wordsmith, so I try to make my own lyrics a bit interesting and avoid cliches if I can.
𝟯. Who are your biggest influences?
In terms of both songwriting and playing, I draw a lot from the British and American folk traditions – people like Dylan, Richard Thompson, Ralph McTell, Mark Knopfler, and older, traditional folk music too. But my music taste is very broad and shifts around, so you might see influence from classical music, blues, jazz, pop, country, rock... It's a lovely and sometimes crazy melting pot.
4. What are your goals in the music industry?
I'd like to be able to make a living as a recording and touring artist, but I'd also like to write songs for other people. I have a bunch of songs intended for American country music artists, for example; I just can't do justice to them myself.
5. Tell us about your creative process when you make new music.
This really isn't a fixed process for me; I just go with the flow. Sometimes I'll have lyrics or a poem that I later set to music; sometimes I have a cool guitar part or progression and the song evolves from that; sometimes the whole thing just pops out essentially complete.
In the last year, I've really enjoyed playing at folk clubs around the UK, and those audiences love a good singalong chorus. So lately I've been coming up with a good chorus first, then building a song around that. That's a new approach for me and it's had some enjoyable results. I've also been doing some collaborative songwriting, which has been really interesting and productive.
6. What is your all-time favorite song?
I think I'd have to say Leonard Cohen's "Anthem". It's a clarion call to recognise the present moment and keep moving forward. It has the most perfectly poetic chorus: "Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in."
7. What is the best advice you have either given or received in terms of music?
I can't think of any particularly memorable advice I've received, but there is one thing I always say to people who are just starting out with learning a musical instrument. Learn to play the songs you love. I never got very far with instrument lessons, scales, and exam pieces, but as soon as I started just tinkering with learning cool tunes by ear, I started to make real progress. Technique and grasp of theory can grow out of that, rather than the other way around. Making music should be fun!
8. Proudest accomplishment?
Writing, recording and releasing an album of original songs has to be right up there. A lot of things I've directed energy at have results that are slow, hard to measure, or both. A recorded album is a discrete, tangible unit of output you can look at and say "I did this".
9. Just for fun! What's been your most embarrassing moment so far?
Plenty of moments both on and off stage, but a notable early one comes to mind. When I was 17 and in my first band, we played at an event run by my school to promote students' music. There was a communication issue about when we were due to be on stage, so I didn't get a chance to slip backstage and sort out my gear properly before going on. I came out with a guitar lead that was tangled like spaghetti and had to frantically untangle it with a hall full of people watching in silence. Awks!
𝟭0. Tell us about your lowest and highest points in music so far.
The low points mostly centre around the frustrations of trying to establish as an independent artist – getting gigs, getting reviews, finding the audience – we all know what an uphill struggle all of that can be. The highest points come from being able to play at some excellent folk clubs here in the UK, where you get a strong and attentive audience who really appreciate the music. I'm also looking forward to playing some shows in the USA this summer.
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