Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Christian Gregory: True Soul

Christian Gregory
Christian Gregory Christian Gregory

Fusing raw funk with smoothly soulful vocals, the driving, analogue bass-driven groove of “Count On You” not only counts as the debut single from London multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter Christian Gregory but also marks the first release for Gold-selling British acoustic soul troubadour Michael Kiwanuka’s brand-new independent label Movement Records.

Indeed, recorded in one take at Movement’s studios in North London while using a range of vintage instruments and recording-gear in order to capture an organic live sound and remixed in New York by recent D’Angelo collaborator Ben Keane, the aforementioned “Count On You” arguably also acts as a fitting introduction to the fledgling label’s stated intention of “forging a strong identity by releasing music with an organic sound rooted in soul that defines both the personality of Movement Records as well as that of its artists”.

...Cue a warm-mannered and forthcoming Mr. Gregory on the line to “Blues & Soul” Assistant Editor Pete Lewis for a revealing introductory chat.

His early background as a musician

“I was born in London and then a few years later moved to Oxford, where I went to school. And with both my parents being musicians I naturally fell into doing music myself from a really young age. And though the fact they were both classical musicians did mean it was kind of hard to find records in the house that weren’t actually orchestral pieces, at the same time I would occasionally manage to rummage through and find like old Count Basie and Duke Ellington albums. Which is what initially got me into jazz and then later on into more soul and BLUES stuff…So yeah, by the time I got to like 10 years old, after six years of being schooled classically in violin and piano I basically just started picking up the drums and taking a more serious interest in the music that I PERSONALLY loved! You know, I started listening to more upbeat stuff and old-skool-type guys like Stevie Wonder, James Brown, D’Angelo, The Roots… And then from that I got into playing in bands and just taking a really keen interest in how the records I was listening to were made in terms of production and ENGINEERING. I mean, I guess I was quite lucky in that at school when I was around 12 I managed to find a room that had this really old mini-keyboard in it on which I began learning how to RECORD stuff. Then from there I managed to persuade my parents to eventually buy me a computer so I could start recording at home - and to make a long story short, I guess that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing ever SINCE!”

How Gregory first came to hook up with now-globally-successful, London-based acoustic soul man Michael Kiwanuka and what their working relationship is like

“I’ve known Mike now for probably around six or seven years. And we basically met because we were moving in similar circles MUSICALLY. You know, because we were gigging at the same places and playing with a lot of the same musicians, we basically just started hanging out and playing music together, doing some recording together, doing bits of writing together... And I think what’s really great about our working relationship is that we’re both sort of on the same PAGE. In that we like ideas to come out organically and we won’t force anything to come out if it doesn’t feel NATURAL. You know, we are kind of comfortable to just put ideas out there and we’re not scared of being rejected, we’re not scared of coming up with something better... Which is why I guess the idea of us setting up Movement Records together came about just over a year ago. Basically, because it was something we’d always dreamed of doing, we started working on putting the team together and just generally figuring out how we could put out the music we’d always WANTED to put out.”

Movement Records itself and the label’s long-term aims

“It’s actually a team of six of us at the moment where we all own a stake in the label and everyone brings something to the TABLE. Like we’ve got a couple of guys who are helping in terms of the overall strategy and direction; we’ve got a guy who’s going to be doing all the visual/film-making/video-related stuff; we’ve got Miles James who owns the fantastic studio we’ll be using for most of the releases...Plus as you know, we’ve obviously got Michael who’s really passionate about the project and helping other artists to release their music, while I’m the one who - in addition to being an artist in my own right - is sort of there helping him bring it all together really and hopefully connecting the DOTS... And then in terms of long-term aims, I guess our main focus is on making great music that’s rooted in soul where we really want it to be all about the artists themselves and the songs that they WRITE. You know, rather than changing anything about them that makes them unique, we instead just wanna be there to help them grow and support what they DO - because we believe that makes for better RECORDS… So yeah, overall I guess Movement Records is all about an organic process with everyone basically in the same head-space where it’s all about capturing a vibe and trying to capture that initial excitement of the day of RECORDING as opposed to overdubbing stuff LATER. You know, we’re basically trying to keep it pretty much true to the way people were recording back in the Sixties or SEVENTIES, which is something I don’t think many people are DOING today.”

The single “Count On You” is out now through Movement Records

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