Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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Chris Youngblood: Soulful Healing

Chris Youngblood
Chris Youngblood Chris Youngblood Chris Youngblood Chris Youngblood

The more I listen to music, the more I appreciate soulful music from yesteryear, music that can move you and take you to places you didn’t even know existed.

Take for instance Marvin Gaye, now that man in one album could you move you from getting it on in the bedroom, to crying over your distant lover, to breaking up with you as he could no longer keep you satisfied. That’s beauty of soul music, and the beauty of music which is not just about the latest sound, or the next hit single, its music that music lovers want to hear. Blues & Soul got a chance to interview Chris Youngblood a.k.a. Mister Youngblood, who is making soul music that many want to hear on both sides of the Atlantic for both the young and old alike. He let us in on what inspires him to write songs that have women running to see him perform, his similarity to the great Michael Jackson, and how he won’t be going crazy from staring into Erykah Badu’s eyes.

RICH: Firstly congratulations on the release of the album 'In Love With You'. How would you describe your music?

CHRIS: Well I’m originally from the country part of California (Chris is from Corcoran), so I would describe it as feel good music, something to listen to.

RICH: From listening to your music it sounds like it’s aimed at the adult listener who appreciates music, rather than someone who just wants to hear the latest pop music

CHRIS: Exactly. In my age range there are not a lot of artists that are singing to us anymore, you have to go back and listen to the old school music. I want to give people my age range something good to listen to, something that is current in our lives, and in our times.

RICH: How long did it take to record this album?

CHRIS: This particular album took probably took [about] a year. I worked with a couple of different producers; two good friends of mine. We basically vibed, we got in the studio and started laying down tracks and viola! Firstly Joe Augello from New York who came to Los Angeles to make a music career. He found me at a show with a previous band of mine, and he wanted me to come to work with his band. And Damian Valentine; his agent came to my show and then introduced me to Damian and we just connected; it was like we’d known each for a long time and worked together in the past.

RICH: What would you say inspired this album? Was it a new relationship? Being in love? Singlehood?

CHRIS: Well I have been with the same woman for 16 years, so a lot of my inspiration is derived from my relationship. It also comes from other people’s relationships from things I have seen, and things I have heard. Sometimes it is simply just the music that just drives me.

RICH: How did you get into music?

CHRIS: My parents married in 1972; he had 4 children and she had 4 children so there were 8 of us. Out of all of us I was the only who could sing besides my mum. She was the church choir president so we had no choice but to be in the choir. I was also in the band, I played the trombone, and she would make my brothers and sisters who were also in the band bring our instruments to church to play. When she figured out that I could sing, she did what they did with little Michael Jackson and threw me right in the front. Being the second to the youngest of 8, I carried my bothers and sisters in front of the congregation of hundreds of people in church, so I grew up singing in church.

RICH: What’s it like being on the Soul Unsigned label?

CHRIS: Well I haven’t met Phil Driver yet, but he has such a genuine soul and genuine spirit that I can sense that from his e-mails to me. So it feels pretty goodâ€Â¦ it feels really good in all our correspondence. It’s just such a great thing

RICH: I envisage at your shows there would be more women, and they would be giving you lots of love, whilst the guys would be picking up your album when they get home and they want to impress a woman. Is that right?

CHRIS: (laughs) yes that’s pretty much what happens. I love singing to the ladies; I think that’s my mums fault.

RICH: What’s been the most enjoyable part of your musical journey so far?

CHRIS: I would say probably writing the music, because when I write I actually write in my truck. My producers will tell me they have a track for you me and usually I’ll go listen to it and tell him what I like or don’t like about it. Once its complete I take a copy put it in my track, and drive around my neighbourhood that’s where I begin to come up with lyrics to my songs. For me it’s pretty cool because when I am inside my truck listening to the song I am going to be recording soon, I am in a totally different world. There’s no traffic, there are only blue skies, mountains and fields, and that’s all I see when I am writing. But being on stage is probably the ultimate, when the announcer is announcing me and I come on stage, that right there is the ultimate high for me.

RICH: And on the flipside what is the most frustrating part?

CHRIS: The most frustrating part is probably not getting enough tracks in a timely manner, that’s the most frustrating. I constantly want to do it all the time, and because I don’t particularly produce myself, not having the tracks on a consistent basis is probably the most frustrating part for me.

RICH: This album is very much a love and romance album. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about, or think you will talk about on your next project?

CHRIS: Yes there are things. I am very passionate about people; I genuinely love people and I am concerned about their welfare. Out here in Los Angels there is a lot of homelessness, and the more buildings go up the further they push the homeless people out; things like that spark a nerve for me. So on my next album I want to at least mention something about the people who don’t have what we have.

RICH: Tell us about some of your favourite album tracks and what inspired you?

CHRIS: One of my favourite tracks is probably 'In Love With You'; I wrote that with Joe Augello. He moved from New York to Los Angeles, and in about 1994 he wrote the music for that song. Now I didn’t meet him until 2004, and he gave me this piece of music that he had originally wanted to write for one of his friends but it ever happened. So he gave the song to me, I took it home, I drove around with it in my truck, and the lyrics just came. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was getting back with my girlfriend, who is now my wife; and it was fitting. 'Don’t Waste Time' I really love that track, which I did with Damian; I love to perform that one. What inspired that is just the feeling of wanting to wake up and be with the woman you are with, and not feeling like you have to be someone else again and again. Women love that song when I perform it in the live show, I change the arrangement and really pour it on for that track. 'All Over Again' I did that one with Joe, I mention 10 years in that song, and that was the 10 year mark I actually had with my wife. I draw a lot of inspiration from my wife, but I don’t tell her that (laughs).

RICH: Ok to close out here are the 3 questions I ask everyone I interview: Name your three buckwild songs that you go crazy for when you hear, and they literally have to drag you off the dancefloor:

CHRIS: Outkast’s 'Bombs Over Baghdad' They are one of my favourite, favourite groups. The content of this is not really club justified, but the music is really hot.

George Clinton’s 'Atomic Dog'- when that song comes on you have to get and dance to that.

Michael Jackson’s 'You Wanna Be Startin’ Something'- How can you not dance that right?

RICH: In 5 years time you are on the cover of Billboard or Variety magazine, what would you like the headline say?

CHRIS: Something similar to “Where has this guy been all our lives?”

RICH: If there were 3 artists either dead or alive that could work with or write for who would they be?

CHRIS: Oh that’s easy. Donny Hathaway- he’s my all time favourite, favourite, favourite artist. If it had not been for his vocals I do not think I would have pursued music. If I was alive during his period I would love to have worked him; he would have been my mentorâ€Â¦ Yeah he’s my ultimate. Mint Condition- I would love to work with them. Their lead singer Stokely, that guy is amazing. They play everything from jazz, rock, hip-hop, to r&b they cover the entire spectrum. They should be one of the biggest bands ever. Thirdâ€Â¦ I would sayâ€Â¦ probably Erykah Badu or Jill Scott. I love them both; I am torn between the two of them, I love their style.

RICH: Like I always tell people don’t look into Erykah Badu’s eyes though, she will make you go crazy.

CHRIS: Oh yeah they are amazing. When I was growing up my eyes were also hazel at one time, but over the years I got Glaucoma so the colour has changed slightly; but I still know how to use them.

RICH: No way! I saw your video on youtube and I thought you were wearing contacts

CHRIS: No, no those are the colour of my eyes. My mum and I are the only two in the family that have the hazel eyes, none of her siblings and none of my siblings have them. I always tell people I have three gifts: my voice, my name and my eyes, and I have been using them to my fullest advantage.

RICH: Finally is there any message you want to give to your Blues & Soul or UK fans?

CHRIS: I love the fact that UK appreciates music, and not just now, its always appreciated music. You guys don’t look for next best thing, you guys stick with the artists you really like; they don’t do that out here. Los Angeles is a really hard place to try and grab a crowd and maintain. So from the bottom of my heart I thank anyone from the UK who has taken a likening to my music.

Chris Youngblood's album 'In Love With You' is released on July 5th through the label Unsigned Soul.
Words Richard 'Ricardito' Ashie

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