Interview: Emmy Nominee and Memphis Native - Chris Arena

  My latest interview was by far, one of the coolest. Nominated for an Emmy this year - 'Outstanding Original Song' with five s...

 
My latest interview was by far, one of the coolest. Nominated for an Emmy this year - 'Outstanding Original Song' with five songs featured on Pretty Little Liars and on various shows such as General Hospital, Ravenswood, Chicago Fire, Scream, Awkward, Teen Mom, Younger (w/ Hillary Duff), Catfish and This Thing with Sarah (feat. film), singer/songwriter Chris Arena is a Memphis native. Like many other famous Memphians before him, he is making his mark in the music industry.



ME: Where did you grow up?
Chris: I was born in New Jersey and lived there till the age of 12. My father got really sick and took a new job in Memphis and moved us down south. He had stage 4 cancer that grounded him, literally, from continuing work as an airline pilot at FedEx. He took a ground job at FedEx after chemotherapy.

ME: What inspired you to become a musician?
Chris: My father. He always loved playing and urged me to follow my heart. We always had guitars laying around the house and he taught me to play at a very young age. In fact I can't remember being alive and NOT playing guitar.


ME: When/how did you discover your musical talent?
Chris: I remember playing the song 'Wipeout' in second grade. I use to get picked on and bullied when I was kid because I had funny ears. They stuck out and kids use to call me 'dumbo' and push me around. After a rough day my dad pulled me aside and taught me how to play that song. I remember walking into school the next day and playing 'Wipeout' for my peers at recess. They we're amazed-almost bewildered-that 'dumbo' could play such a cool song. It was a great moment. I finally had friends-and a new talent.


ME: What made you move to LA?
Chris: 'Closer' with Jude Law and Natalie Portman. It was the first time I heard Damien Rice's 'Blower's Daughter' used in a movie. That was it. I was hooked. I wanted to have my songs used in movies. My grandmother bought me an issue of BILLBOARD magazine that focused on 'Music in Film/TV' where I learned of a conference taking place in Los Angeles later in the month. She bought me a ticket and I was off. The conference was insane-2,3000 people comprised of artists, managers, publishers, agents etc. Los Angeles, for someone who wanted to have songs in film, was the place to be. I moved in 2010 and currently live in Venice with my dog Monte.


ME: What is your typical day like?
Chris: I usually write music till the early hours of the morning. As you can imagine I sleep 'late' so I wake up around 10. I do yoga and/or run every morning for at least 60-90 minutes followed by a short meditation. This really has had the most incredible impact on my life-the meditation.
I then try to eat a healthy lunch.

After lunch I setup shop, meaning start a session or idea, and record at my home studio for only 20-30 minutes. I always walk away from the recording and come back hours later. This helps keep a fresh perspective since I work alone. The hours between are filled with taking care of my 68 pound English Bulldog. He's like having a child who doesn't learn, and poops, everywhere.
Around 5 or so I'll check back in with the recording. If it sucks I'll walk away and probably grab a drink. If it connects I'll get very OCD and work until the early hours of the morning. Usually around 2am I'll force myself to sleep.


ME: What would you say to fellow local musicians who want to chase their dreams?
Chris: I would urge them to get ready for rejection. The business is for the bold and blind. There is no 'one way' or 'path'- It's very situational and organic meaning that everyone finds success in their own, unique way. You don't always have to get down on yourself either. When you see others doing well, be happy for them, not jealous. It's the biggest mistake I made. Another person's additions don't subtract from yours. Just keep going but try and stay humble! If you love it you'll enjoy the process.

as if all of this wasn't the coolest... 
Chris also has a 1959 black Les Paul standard which was recently inducted into the Grammy Museum in Downtown Los Angeles. WOW! Check out some of Chris' work below and be sure to check him out this Friday at Lafayette's Music Room in Overton Square. Oh... and, if you like Chris' look, he is wearing fashions from The Attic Apparel in Overton Square!



Thank you for reading!
 

 

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