Chris Payn is a British musician, who started his musical journey at the age of 10. He is visiting The Gambia for the first time in February 2016. Read below our interview with Chris:
What’s On-Gambia: Tell us briefly about yourself and your music career?
Chris:I guess I was just born into music. It has been the main focus of my life ever since I can remember, playing piano and singing from the age of about 3. I put on my first concert when I was 8, singing Meatloaf songs to a 100 seater hall. It was then that I knew where I belong. At age 10, I picked up the guitar, after years of thinking I never would, but it turned out to become more natural than I thought! I started playing shows with my father, a pianist/comedian in pubs and clubs until I joined a rock band. We played covers mainly, writing our own material in rehearsals and playing them live at festivals, clubs and eventually theatres/halls. When I was 15, we signed a production deal and continued our path as an original band under a different name, eventually stopping the covers band. But a few years later we started to become different to each other and we ventured into our own separate paths in music. I am now working as a solo artist, getting involved with all sorts of projects that are very different from each other, from dropping as a singer for a crowd of 40,000 to working in the studio with Diversity! Mainly, I am now finding my own sound from everything that's inspired me in my journey so far.
How would you describe your type of music?
Essentially you could call it Pop/Rock, based around the piano/guitars and my voice, but right now it's quite hard to categorise my music. One day, I'll write a song with a funky groove and a heavy undertone and the next I'll base a song around synths. I just love music so I'm open to anything, really.
What specific themes do your songs cover?
I'm quite a deep thinker so when I write my lyrics, they can relate to more than one situation. The message is either quite uplifting or about being free to live life to the full, or about missing a certain someone/something, those songs tend to be quite dark and deep. As long as it moves someone, I'm satisfied.
Why do you want to introduce your music to Gambians, and how did you come to know about the country?
One of my dear friends visits the place a lot and the opportunity arose for me to come over. Her son Zaq, another close friend and someone I've shared the stage with many times, is a talented beat-boxer and I'd heard all the stories about how much of a great time they had out there and it felt like something I had to experience, I'm always looking for something different to inspire me and also to inspire someone else, whatever genre, wherever you're from, music really helps make the world go round.
Do you know anything about Gambian music?
I'm not too familiar with Gambian music in terms of the hip-hop scene, although I'm looking forward to experiencing it first hand when I'm over there! I have worked with a few people in the reggae world, jamming with Black Steel on one occasion and a couple of gigs with Mad Professor and Jamaican artist Jessie Royal. I love to jam along with reggae, the unique rhythm structures and even the sound of their voices, it's very powerful!
What should Gambians expect?
Something different. Who knows what will happen when our different lives meet? It's always worked out well with Mad Professor so I'm confident it will be incredible, for me anyway. Of course we're certain to expect a good time!
Chris will be in The Gambia between 1st -8th February, 2016. He will be playing live on various Gambian radio shows. More about his Gambia tour coming soon.