Chris Carval is a man with many hats – both singing, guitar playing and also producing. His latest song, “Falling” is a funky pop fusion that show cases his musical prowess as both a MC and also producer.
He is Chris Carvel, but behind that there’s also a wink to John Frusciante whose name inspired him on his way into the music. In our talk, he confesses how Jimi Hendrix and also John Frusciante ignited his musical road.
Do you want to know how the magic is created? Chris reveals how his creative process works – from messing around with the guitar to letting the words come out effortlessly. It is a little like putting together the pieces of a musical puzzle.
But wait, there’s more! Chris goes into his musical history – rocking out to Jimi Hendrix as a 15-year old he saves up, quits a day job just so that there was enough time for the music. Well, he’s got a particular style that has developed over the years from rock beats to the alternative pop mood.
And guess what? Chris isn’t just about music. He dishes the dirt on his out-of the studio life – philosophy books, podcasts and so much more including all that personal time.
Therefore, come along as we talk to Chris Carvel. It is not just the beats that he drops but also stories, vibes and a little bit of his own musical space. It is all about real talk, real music and a good time right? Let’s get into it!
Listen to Falling below
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What is your stage name
Is there a story behind your stage name?
Yes, Carvel is the name of a song by John Frusciante, who was the musician who inspired me to become a musician.
Where do you find inspiration?
For me it comes from my unconscious psyche. The music opens a portal and the words seem to come and naturally take form on their own from a jumbled mess, into something that has form and meaning.
I think when you write music you’re doing something really heavy and powerful – beyond just giving someone 3 minutes of entertainment. It’s deeply spiritual and affects the universe in all kinds of ways.
What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
I didn’t really get into music until the age of about 15 when I heard Jimi Hendrix for the first time and really took notice. By that point I was already interested in playing guitar because my friends were interested. First song I remember hearing is Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, and I still remember the happy euphoria it gave me around the age of 5. So there must have been something going on.
Are you from a musical or artistic family?
My dad played the guitar and was always interested in music. Although he lost most of his guitar interests after having a family, he was able to help me out in the early days.
Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?
John Fruscinate and Jimi Hendrix would be top two.
How did you learn to sing/write/to play?
I learnt to play guitar from youtube vids. Writing came a lot later after years of playing the guitar, things would just naturally come out while improvising, and I would record them. Singing was something I started doing after my girlfriend left the country for 2 years, and I needed an outlet besides work.
So I decided to do some singing lessons, and ended up recording songs for her during our time apart. I think without those initial recordings, I never would’ve taken up being a recording artist.
What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?
Amy Shark – I went cause my girlfriend was a fan. She was good. I’m not hugely into going and seeing shows, maybe cause the artists I like never tour in Australia.
How could you describe your music?
It’s music for deep thinkers by a deep thinker, and without a particular goal in mind.
Lyrically it’s quite abstract. Musically I’m still learning how to produce and because of that I do things that go against the norm, and sound very unique. I think that comes through in the songs. That’s as important to me as creating music – finding a unique sound that I can call my own, even if it means making mistakes along the way. I think it’s very tempting these days to just get a producer and follow all the rules, but I think that’s putting the cart before the horse.
Describe your creative process.
Both times I started a musically project, I quit my job and suddenly had more free time than usual. I think that’s an important first step. Usually when I’m practicing guitar, there will be a riff or a phrase or a chord progression that strikes me as interesting, and I’ll record it and build a song from that.
An entire song can easily be written just off a simple guitar riff, because that riff can then be matched with a chord progression, and that chord progression puts you in a certain key and opens up more chord progressions and the whole thing snowballs quickly.
Then I’ll normally just sing into the mic and record random gibberish until a vocal melody comes out. Normally within the gibberish there are words that come out without me thinking and that leads to lyrics being written. It’s quite automatic. Adding drums and bass is usually towards the end.
What is your main inspiration?
Trying to figure out the meaning of life and what the hell the point of all this is. Although I’ve calmed down lately and don’t really care that much anymore. I’m trying to focus on my human pursuits.
What musician do you admire most and why?
John Frusciante – because he gave himself fully to his craft and was always super genuine. His music runs so deep I spent years studying it.
Jimi Hendrix – The most creative musician that I’ve ever heard, and zero separation between himself and his guitar. I think every guitar player aspires to get close to his level.
Did your style evolve since the beginning of your career?
Yes, it has. I started more tilted towards Rock, and for some reason I thought I was writing punk rock even though I wasn’t. And it’s slowly become more alt-pop. But every song on the Conversations album is very different. I think that’s the thing I’m most proud of – that my style has evolved with each song.
Who do you see as your main competitor?
Time and money
What are your interests outside of music?
I like reading philosophy books, listening to podcasts and masturbating.
If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?
I was in sales before I started my music career, but I’m always itching to make a drastic change so I would’ve quit the job anyway and spent my savings on travelling around the world. Who knows – maybe a pornstar.
What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
The struggle to be free and creative whilst also trying to make money. I don’t want to pimp out my music, but if I have no money I can’t spend time on music.
If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
It would be cool if there was a platform for people to listen to music only by unsigned artists where labels couldn’t get involved or put music up.
Why did you choose this as the title of this project?
The word “Conversations” just popped into my head one day towards the end of the writing process. I was just finishing the song “Thorns” which is going to be out on February 16th. That song is a really heavy internal dialogue between two parts of a personal psyche. And I realised that every song in this project came from a conversation – usually in my own head.
What are your plans for the coming months?
To keep releasing songs. I’ve got 5 more songs to share with the world and I’ll be releasing 1 every 6 weeks.
Do you have any artistic collaboration plans
Yes, I recently collaborated with Cate Guirguis. She’s a singer songwriter in Sydney with incredible vocal ability and she was kind enough to duet with me on my single – Torn. That song is out now on Spotify. I’m also working on recording a song with Chris Sockel, who is the guitar player of the band Fathom. We wrote the song together, and that should be out in the next few months.
What message would you like to give to your fans?
When I released my first single “Time Stands Still” I made a little poster and stuck it around the city. It immediately got taken down everywhere I put it. The headline of the poster read “do what you want, you’ll be dead soon”. Then about a year later I saw that Polyphia was releasing an album called “Remember that you will die”. I think they’re essentially the same message. I think its good for people to think about their own death as much as possible, because it keeps you aware of what’s important and what’s just noise.