Chris Grace Biography
New York City-based singer/songwriter, Chris Grace, is about to set things on fire. With his powerful, charismatic voice and the dark, seductive undertow of his vivid lyrics Chris Grace is, as they say, the real deal. Once you’ve heard his music, as presented on his debut album, Compulsion, or witnessed one of his band’s live shows, Grace’s magnetism and star power are impossible to ignore.
Chris’s background is not unusual. He grew up in a suburban family atmosphere with an intense love for the music of artists like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, and a natural talent for singing which his parents encouraged. Spending much of his adolescent high school years as, “kind of a loner,” Chris first picked up a guitar at age 14. He also studied piano and drums and soon began writing music of his own. ” I tried to learn the music of other artists, but I always preferred to write my own compositions,” he laughs. “When I began to write songs, it was almost reflexive; like something that just had to come out of me. I didn’t really have a choice. Although my music doesn’t necessarily sound like my favorite artists – say, Tool, Tori Amos and Peter Gabriel — what I share with and respect about those artists is the amount of emotion, sincerity and truth they put into their music. I appreciate how vulnerable they’re willing to be in how they express themselves to an audience.”
The songs of Chris Grace’s Compulsion run a taut emotional gauntlet, touching heavily on a myriad of relationships, life experiences and scattered ruminations. While addressing the queries inherent in living a life of any real consequence, Chris Grace demonstrates a truly artistic lyrical bent. With an engaging ability to turn a phrase, his stories of romantic longing (“Hush”), spiritual quests (“July”) and understanding when to move on from a difficult relationship (“Thorn”) unfold without burrowing into self-indulgence. Grace’s lyrics are completely unadorned and on the surface, (“Lovers have said they will stay true/but we realize it’s not always so,” or “Always someone to assist in the task/of never leaving her alone” to cite just two of countless examples), it’s easy to imagine your way into his head. With its explosive rock riffs countered against hauntingly beautiful melodies, Compulsion is a staggering first effort.
Compulsion features the input of many guest musicians, including members of Grace’s live band, bassist James Riot, lead guitarist Kiyanu Kim and drummer Marc Slutsky (formerly of Splender). “Everybody I worked with on this record is really talented and I’ve learned so much. That experience alone made it all worthwhile, but I also learned a great deal about myself and how to effectively create music.” Compulsion also gave Chris the chance to work with producer, Malcolm Burn (Iggy Pop, Emmy Lou Harris, Better Than Ezra). “The most important thing Malcolm afforded us was the environment to be creative; to wake up in the morning, roll out of bed and just pick up a guitar and press ‘record.’ He wasn’t totally hands-on, but I appreciated him pushing us to be creative and to be the breath of the record.”
Overall, it is an emotionally effective mix. “If people hear these songs and are able to find something in there for them, I can’t ask for more than that. I think I’ve said something on Compulsion that most people can relate to: whether it’s a couple of lines or a single word. I think people can relate to my music with their spirit, with their soul,” Chris says. “I love playing for young kids, my peers or older adults. I don’t like separating the audience into demographics. I don’t make a conscious effort not to alienate anyone, but because I know myself, I feel like I can know other people as well. There’s always something that holds us together, a unity of emotion that human beings have in common.”
“I’m really proud of Compulsion and I want the album to be a way to attract interest; get people coming to the shows and checking out the website. From that, I’d like to get some kind of infrastructure going, to the point where I can start making records as I come up with material,” he laughs. “Mainly, I want to ‘weigh in’ with this record; to let people have chance to hear the band and me.”– Gail Worley, April 2003