Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love Wrote a Song for Me.

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Hi, friends!

To wrap up my series of homemade singles I'm releasing over the course of 2019, I've just put out two new songs, available now wherever you stream music.

The first is a cover of "Ol' 55" by Tom Waits. The other is a song I wrote in which I imagine what it might be like if Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love wrote a song for me.

Here are links to some of the main platforms you can listen on:
Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/yxhxu34f
Apple Music: https://tinyurl.com/y5sd9nh6
Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/y3jumwcf
Google Play: https://tinyurl.com/yyodv5fc
Deezer: https://tinyurl.com/y6forhln

For me, both of these songs are about the fleeting moments between the experiences that shape our memories. Not the first time you heard a band that you knew would change your life, but your eyes blinking away the chill as you walk to school the next day, thinking that maybe one day you could play guitar like that. Not the first date with the person who would become the love of your life, but the pressing of your foot on the gas as you drive home, thinking, “Well, that went pretty well. I wonder what will happen next.”

Both tunes feature my good friends Edwin. The songs were mastered by Focus Mastering and released by Grand Phony. Cover art photo by Logan Christian.

Many thanks to Grand Phony Music for releasing my new music. Support them (and me) by purchasing a CtC shirt (pictured below) from their online store.

much love,

christopher

"Mushroom Cloud Blues" and "I Only Call When I'm Lonely" Available Now

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Hi, friends!

My two newest songs are out now and available to listen wherever you stream or download music.

They're called "Mushroom Cloud Blues" and "I Only Call When I'm Lonely", and, put simply, they're a duo of songs about treating your lover badly and then wondering why you're all alone when the apocalypse strikes. Fun!

Here are links to some of the main platforms you can listen on:

While you're checking out those songs, be sure to follow me on whatever platform you listen on, as I'll be releasing two more songs in August and even more in September! A follow helps me out and it lets you know whenever I release new music.

The drums (Drew Selim) were recorded in a basement, the bass (H.D. Harmsen) at a dining room table, and the rest (me) in my home studio aka a room in a house.

The songs were mastered by Focus Mastering and released by Grand Phony. Cover art photo by ONErpm Studios.

Many thanks to Grand Phony Music for releasing my new music. Support them (and me) by purchasing a CtC shirt or record from their online store.

<3

christopher

P.S. You can watch a live performance of “Mushroom Cloud Blues” here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=429556780939732

"The Day I Went Solo" and "Too Many Teardrops Away" Available Now

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Hello, friends.

I'm so happy to finally be sharing new music with you. Today, I'm releasing two new songs, "The Day I Went Solo" and "Too Many Teardrops Away".

Listen on your favorite digital music platform:

My last record I’m Giving Up On Rock & Roll was a bit of a statement on what I wanted to do artistically, though I couldn’t really put a finger on it at the time. I had played to disinterested smatterings of people in so many empty bars so many times that I learned how to make them like me, while accidentally destroying everything I loved about music in the first place, which is the song as emotional art.

Music can be a tool to connect with people deeply, but I was undercutting myself by trying to “wow” the audiences with whatever I could think of. First it was a bombastic horn section, then it was standing on the piano, rolling around on the floor, getting behind the bar and serving drinks while singing a capella -- you name it.

The song "I’m Giving Up On Rock & Roll" was me saying “I’m done with that shit”. Well, maybe not done with it, but done relying on it. I want to lean into the song itself, and let that lead the way.

Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out how to move on. I’ve had no problem writing; I think I’m writing my best material ever. But I’ve struggled to know what to do with these songs: how to sing them, how to perform them, how to produce them as records.

At first I tried to one-up my previous efforts, creating the most dynamic, hi-fi recordings I could, but the results fell flat. They were the opposite of what I was feeling on the inside, which was that I just wanted to record my songs in a way that immediately convey to the listener who I am -- no editorializing required.

So I ended up returning to my roots of DIY basement recording (except now I’ve got my home office on the ground floor...moving on up!) and just started recording songs without questioning any of my decisions. Just messing around, playing everything myself, using the same microphone for everything, programming drums on an iPad app. Just making the music in a way that was actually fun for me. I desperately hated the stressful environment of the fancy studio, not because I don’t love recording studios, but because I can never afford to be in there in the first place. At home, nothing matters.

That’s how I stumbled on the realization that my home “demos” could be actual releases. After starts and stops in big studios in 2016 and 2017, I spent 2018 at home, recording dozens of songs, which I’m happy to finally be releasing, starting with these two.

The Day I Went Solo double single is a fitting start to this new stage of my career. It’s a direct follow-up to the song “I’m Giving Up On Rock & Roll”. I gave up, now I’m back, but it’s just me this time.

Consequence of Sound recently premiered "Too Many Teardrops Away". Read that article here.

Enjoy.

christopher

How to Get $5 Tickets to My NYC Shows

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I’ll be playing all new material at 4 shows, every Monday in February in New York City at a club called Coney Island Baby.

Tickets are $10 at the door but you can get them for just $5 if you RSVP in advance. Here’s how to RSVP:

  • On the Facebook event for the show(s) you plan to attend. Find those here: https://www.facebook.com/tours/733181423727189/

  • Comment or DM me on Twitter or Instagram (handle for both: @ctconquered) and just let me know your name and which show(s) you plan to attend.

  • Email me directly with your name and the show(s) you plan to attend: ctconquered@gmail.com

  • If you are bringing friends, ask them to RSVP (or please provide their names if you contact me).

  • All RSVPs will be added to a guest list at the venue. Provide your name when you arrive at the show and you will get admission for $5. Easy.

Thank you all, see you soon!

christopher

Sound Masquerading as Music: The Inherent Progressivism of Art

Hello, dear reader. 

I write today from my little studio/office in Colorado while listening to a record of ELO's greatest hits. The birds chip and somewhere the continent sighs at the weight bestowed upon it.

I am currently reading a book about the history of conscientious objectors to war, called "Ain't Gonna Study War No More". It's quite enlightening and has me thinking (a dangerous proposition, I know). 

I conscientiously object to much of what society has to offer, including the attempted and sometimes successful hostile takeover of governments by religious zealots seeking to impose their unfounded belief systems onto free peoples, the altogether too common mirthful embracing of anti-intellectualism, and the frighteningly muscular bonds of racial pride, nationalism, and patriotism.

I bring my objection into reality primarily through the study and practice of music, literature, and other arts. Art seeks innovation, making it inherently progressive (definition: going forward or onward).

Do not be confused. If it does not seek to innovate, it is not art. The definition of art notes it is "of more than ordinary significance." If it is only derivative, contains no element of surprise, then surely it does not surpass the ordinary.

To that point, sometimes I fail and make sound rather than music. Probably most of the time. There's plenty of sound out there masquerading as music.

Sound masquerading as music is conservative by nature. The definition of conservative? The inclination "to limit change." 

But in truth, to be conservative is simply to be progressive minus a handful of decades. If cutting edge New York fashion is progressive, then conservative is what they sell at Kohl's in Iowa 20 years later (I can say that, I grew up in Dallas Center, Iowa).

Music, of course, can have conservative elements while still attaining innovation. Perhaps progress manifests itself in the lyrics, in the way the recording sounds (the production), the types of instruments used, the arrangements, or chordal/melodic/harmonic structures.

Technical precision on its own is conservative, in that it abides by existing expectations of what is "right." This is why there are so many bands that are seemingly perfect in every way but somehow unbearably boring.

Still, many great artists have employed technical prowess as a tool to achieve a vision, but it is only one of numerous options in a musician's toolbox.

Artists again and again have eschewed expectations of what is technically correct, exploring greatness in the process. I cite Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, and Bob Dylan as just a few examples. Only later did their progressive acts become part of the conservative canon (Nina may be an exception to this; her recordings continue to shock. On the other hand, she did finally get inducted into that most conservative of progressive institutions, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame).  

Of course, as someone who struggles to find the right notes and play them in time, I am biased against the oppressor that is technical perfection. I more than likely have a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. He kidnapped me and holds me captive in his basement, yet I continually try to please him. I think I may just love him. Oh god, where am I?

But perhaps sound can become art through the innovation of intent, in that if a songwriter achieves unique expression of self through a musical statement, art is created.

Thoughts done.

Now, some news from my side of the world:

  • Patreon: I continue to record some of my favorite songs by classic singer-songwriters, along with requests, over on my Patreon page. Recent contributions include songs by Velvet Underground, Tom Waits, Carole King, and Queen. Become a member and listen to over 50 songs right now.
  • Documentary: I recently finished a project in which I traveled to 10 recording studios across the state of Iowa over the course of 10 days, writing and recording 10 new songs with 10 collaborating artists along the way. The documentary, Give What You Can Give, will be premiered on June 2nd in Des Moines, Iowa. You are invited. It's free. More info here.
  • Podcast Appearance: I spoke with Richard Sutton about songwriting, the intention behind my song "Mama, I Wanna Be James Brown", what I'm thinking when I get on stage, and share a new song on his podcast Your Own Private Iowa. Listen here.
  • New Music: I am heading into the studio next week to finish a new song. That, along with another being produced by Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady, will be released sometime in the near future. Ears peeled!
  • Spotify Playlist: I am always updating my "Tour Playlist" over on Spotify with songs that I am currently spinning the hell out of. These songs often reflect my worldview and almost always, I daresay, achieve innovation. Check it out here.
  • Summer Performances: I have just a handful of shows scheduled around the Midwest and Colorado for this summer (hopefully more to come after new music drops).
    • 6/01 Waterloo IA
    • 6/08 Des Moines IA
    • 6/09 Central City CO
    • 7/26 Grinnell IA
    • 8/03-8/04 Appleton WI
    • Details here.

 

Very sincerely

christopher

 

Photo credit: Graham Images & Photography

Musings on The Everly Brothers, Nina Simone, and Bob Dylan

Hi, friends!

I hope you all are well. I'm back in Des Moines for a few days, just home from my shows out of town. The last two were sold out in Davenport and Appleton (thx Appleton to all 200 people who came, wow). Suffice it to say it was really fun, and nice to know some people like my music haha.

This week over on my Patreon page I've got a classic song for you, "Let It Be Me" by the Everly Brothers. (you can subscribe here for $1/month and get access to over 50 covers I've done of classic singer-songwriters)

I never really gave this song much thought until my good friend and record producer Patrick Tape Fleming pointed out to me how great Bob Dylan's cover is on his album Self Portrait.

In his version, the voice is more isolated (without the iconic harmonies), and his delivery really sells the intent of the words. Sometimes in music, when everything is crystal clear perfect with strings plucking along, you don't hear the emotion within the voice. I think that's why the original presented a barrier to entry for someone like me who wants my music to be very raw and emotional. You go back after realizing how great the song is, though, and then you love the original. Or at least I do! And like 10 million other people haha.

All that being said, Bobby D's version is still very pristine, which brings me to another version that sold me on it further, and that's the one by Nina Simone, which is a live version (from her album of the same name). It does feature the harmonies on and off, backed with piano and bass and light drum accompaniment. Per usual, Nina's interpretation is the most powerful (she is the winner at this always).

So anyway, the song is a good candidate to be stripped down even further (it's all about the desperate lover, making his plea, down on one knee and all that...there's usually not a band behind a man in such situations). So here that is. I particularly like the lonely piano opening. (when it comes to tinkling on the keys, I am forever inspired by Keith Jarrett's Koln Concert)

This one's for Patrick!

enjoy

christopher

P.S. if you are in Iowa in the next two weeks, I am doing my Iowa Music 4x10, which you can attend in studios across the state for free (more info here). 

And if you can't make that, I am playing at Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines, Iowa on April 28th with Gloom Balloon and Pink Neighbor. Details here. 

double P.S. Patron producers are Richard Ford and Cliff Ford (thx fam!)

 

photo: sofar sounds washington dc

The Iowa Music 4x10: A Creative Tour of the State's Recording Studios

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Hi, friends!

I hope you are well. I'm writing today to tell you about an exciting new project I am planning for April 2018.

It's called the Iowa Music 4x10. Over the course of 10 days in April, I will travel with the DEFT video crew to 10 different studios across the state of Iowa to write and record 10 original songs with 10 Iowa artists. You're invited to join us in studio to witness the recording of each song (more info below).

A short documentary of the journey will highlight some of what the state of Iowa has to offer in musicians, artists, recording studios, landscapes, cities, and people. The documentary and video of each performance will be screened for free on Saturday, June 2nd at the Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines, Iowa, then made available online for free public viewing.

Full Schedule:

April 14: Ames - Alexander Recording Kompany w/ AIBU

April 15: Auburn - King of the Tramps Studio w/ King of the Tramps

April 16: Otho - Junior’s Motel w/ Tina Haase & Brandon Findlay

April 17: Dubuque - Dyed In the Wool w/ Medicinal Purposes

April 18: Shell Rock - Chandler Ltd. Studio w/ TWINS

April 19: Solon - Magic Barn Studio w/ David Zollo

April 20: Davenport - Future Appletree Too w/ The Candymakers

April 21: Iowa City - Flat Black Studios w/ Brian Johannesen

April 22: Des Moines - The Establishment Recording w/ Annalibera

April 24: Des Moines - Midday Studios w/ Gloom Balloon

June 2: Des Moines - Documentary Screening at Vaudeville Mews (2:00-4:30PM) - FREE & ALL AGES: RSVP on Facebook

 

INTERESTED IN ATTENDING?

The public is invited to attend the recording sessions for free, though spots are very limited. Please email me at ctconquered@gmail.com with the date you are interested in attending for more information on time, location, and availability.

 

Christopher the Conquered’s Iowa Music 4x10:

10 Artists

10 Songs

10 Studios

10 Days

 

If you're in or around Iowa, I hope you can come out for a date, or at least the screening in June.

I will also be performing in Des Moines twice in advance of the screening:

March 31st at Noce | 7-10PM | Tickets: https://noce.ticketleap.com/conquered0331/details

April 28th at Vaudeville Mews w/ Gloom Balloon & Pink Neighbor | 5:30-9PM | Tickets at Door | Every ticket comes with a Gloom Balloon or Christopher the Conquered VINYL or CD of your choice.

 

xoxo

christopher

Support provided by Iowa Arts Council.

 

P.S. I know this is by no means a comprehensive tour of Iowa's recording studios. These studios were selected by diversity of location and availability. We hope to include a little about some other studios in addition to the ones on the schedule.

How to Live + Conquered 4 Life Podcast w/ Paul Thompson (Prince, Dolly Parton, Stevie Wonder, Weezer)

Hi, Conquerors.

I was recently going through some papers and found a note I wrote to myself earlier this year, not coincidentally around the time of the inauguration of the current POTUS. Here it is.

In other news, I've just posted a new episode of my podcast Conquered 4 Life. Our guest on this episode is my neighbor Paul Thompson, a musical jack of all trades who has worked with PRINCE, STEVIE WONDER, WEEZER, DOLLY PARTON, and more. It's a wonderful discussion about his work with all those artists and his thoughts on all sorts of topics in music, including the attack at Ariana Grande's concert in Manchester in May of this year.

Listen here on my website

Listen/Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes

Here are the three of us:

Anyway, enjoy!

As always, you can support me by:

 

xoxo

Christopher

Escaping Ego + News: Conquered 4 Life Podcast, Shows, Best of 100 Conquered Songs

I was recently a guest on the podcast Depression Session with Chris "The Genie" Biagini (who is the co-host of my podcast Conquered 4 Life), and in talking about what is driving my art these days, I verbalized something I'd been thinking to myself in recent months: I'm actually kinda happy. And by that I mean, I have a strong sense of self. I am no longer concerned with validation by musical peers, by the industry, by anyone. My motivation in making music is now simply this: It's what I do best, so why do anything else? I suppose you could say I've fully recognized my "calling", though I hate when people talk like that. The last album I'm Giving Up On Rock & Roll was me working through the last of my need to find approval, though it seems to understand the point of it all, I had to go through the humbling process of promoting it and releasing it, finding people who care about it and a lot of people who don't, and then even when you think you've got everything figured out (Ryan Adams likes my music! Reddit hammer strikes! Billboard is writing about me!), you realize that getting noticed is just the first step. After that, you've gotta deliver more than ever. So let's just say I've stumbled here and there on the follow-up, but now looking back on my tunnel vision approach to my career, I wouldn't have it any other way. I needed to be put on a pedestal and have it kicked out from underneath me to kill the one final demon standing between me and truly sincere art: My ego.

Scroll through an artist's social media pages, read their interviews, listen to their banter, you see ego everywhere. I believe the idea that a performing artist needs to have at least some ego to have the initial confidence to get out on stage in the first place. The thing is that ego is really just a filler when the artist has little confidence in his or her own art. Ego manifests itself when an artist has to make sure everyone knows they're great. "Here's a photo of me doing something really cool!" "Here's me with someone famous!" "Wow, thanks blog no one has ever heard of for saying something about me!" I am guilty of all the above, and I trust I will be tempted to repeat such things occasionally. Eventually though, as your talent develops and you find your voice, you just know you are doing something meaningful. The process and the result become the focus. Everything is there. What people think of it is ancillary at best. This is true self-confidence. Ego, on the other hand, is a shield. A form of defense to keep you going when you have no idea if your work is distinct. 

So why do I feel like I am moving into a new phase of my career, one in which I'm escaping ego? I think there are a few reasons, here's some ideas:

  • Being validated by some big names and big press, then realizing that none of that really matters. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if someone important says you are good. It just matters if it connects with people, in their hearts. Popularity isn't an indicator of emotional relevance.
  • Writing for the 100 Conquered Songs Project. Spending every day working on songs about other people's happiest and saddest moments has helped me to truly understand how much bigger the world of human reality is, and to get away from my own anxieties.
  • Finding a partner who provides me with respect and support and a source of mutual artistic interest, while also being a good constructive critic. Having an honest opinion from someone who knows you on a personal level is very valuable. Also, having someone to talk about life's problems with means you don't have to put every emotion into every song, every time. It has opened up the possibilities of what I do with my art.
  • Maybe a sense of self grows with age. I've probably been slow to mature in life, for reasons not worth delving into here.

Anyway, those are just some ideas. Regardless, I'm excited for the future of my work. I hope I can come up with something that moves you.

Actually, I have something now that may move you. As you probably know, I've been working on a project called 100 Conquered Songs since last July, in which I am writing songs for 100 different fans from around the world, based on the happiest and saddest moments in their lives. Well, I've finished over 80 of those now, and so I figured it'd be a good idea to compile a playlist of some of my favorites, as a primer for anyone who hasn't been following along super closely. Check it out:

Many thanks to National Endowment for the Arts and Iowa Arts Council for providing financial support for that project!

 

And now, some other updates from my world:

  • We just recorded hands-down the best episode of Conquered 4 Life, my podcast with co-host Chris "The Genie" Biagini. Our guests are the musicians who made my album I'm Giving Up On Rock & Roll possible, H.D. Harmsen and Drew Selim (bass and drums, respectively). We talk about how I am as a bandleader, what makes a good bandleader, rules for being in someone else's band, the eggshell covered terrain of creative collaboration, communication, and mutual artistic respect. We also continue our series Build-A-Band Workshop, analyzing The Genie's lyrics, which opens into a very good conversation about songwriting generally. It's split into two parts, but you can check it all out in two places:
  • As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I was recently a guest on The Genie's own podcast Depression Session. Listen here.
  • I have just posted a number of new shows for this summer around the Midwest and beyond. Check it: christophertheconquered.com/upcoming-shows
  • My Patreon project has been growing fantastically! Thanks to all my supporters on there. Join them if you like and get exclusive recordings and more: patreon.com/ctconquered
  • My New World Songbook series at Noce in Des Moines ends this month! Last show is on May 28th. Tickets here
  • Composer LJ White wrote a piece of music for Chicago's experimental chamber orchestra Ensemble Dal Niente, based on my album I'm Giving Up On Rock & Roll. Dal Niente will be performing it at their annual "Party" in Chicago on June 2nd. I will be there. I'm very excited! More info and tickets here

I think that's basically everything! Here are some recent videos (also there are a few that are only on my Facebook, including a good live performance featuring J.E. Sunde, click here for those):

"What's the Name of the Town?" Live in Nashville, TN for SoFar Sounds

Headroom Sessions - Live in Denver, CO (includes a Jimmy Cliff cover and a brand new song)

Live at Down Under Lounge in Omaha, NE

A music video for my song "God Plays the Tenor Saxophone" made collaboratively by students at my alma mater Iowa State University

MUCH LOVE

xoxoxoxoxo

CHRISTOPHER