Chris Richardson On 'Joy & Pain,' Dream Collaborators, Working Out
From the Air Force base to the American Idol stage, Chris Richardson, 28, has had a wild ride. And with the upcoming release of his new single "Joy & Pain," featuring Tyga, Richardson is amped to bring his eclectic mix of sounds, which he describes as “blue-eyed soul,” to his fans.
Richardson’s father was in the Air Force and so he spent much of his childhood moving around, from Belgium, where he was born, to Colorado, then North Carolina, before finally settling down in Virginia Beach. Richardson's father helped instill a love for music in him at a young age. “My dad inspires me a lot because he was where the whole music excitement came from,” Richardson told Uinterview exclusively. “This man was jumping on tables when I was a kid playing air guitar with his headphones on, singing, just acting a fool, being a character. I think I grew into his personality as a kid, his energy, and it translated into my entertainment.”
After finishing first runner-up in a competition hosted by Teddy Riley, he was invited to Riley’s studio and decided he wanted to pursue music as a career. His career received the boost it needed when he qualified for American Idol (on his third try, in New York City, after auditioning in New England and Greensboro, N.C. before that). He finished in fifth place on the sixth season of Idol, and subsequently collaborated with a number of popular artists. He is perhaps best known for his collobaration on Tyga’s 2011 hit “Far Away.” Shortly thereafter, in January 2012, Richardson signed with Cash Money Records, who's extensive artist list includes Lil' Wanye, Drake and Nicki Minaj, among many others.
Tyga, a fellow Cash Money member, is also featured on Richardson’s upcoming album, “Joy & Pain.”
The writing process is really just based off of the situation and what we’re writing about. It’s so impulsive that you don’t go in there with the mindset of, We’re going to write about this.' You weigh your options. You go in there, you’re like, if you’re collaborating with someone, 'What do you guys want to work on? Let’s see if we can talk about a subject matter that hasn’t been talked about before that we can relate to.' My writing process is I’ll go into the studio and if there is a track that I like or if there is a guitar riff that I laid down, I’ll lay it down and go into the booth and just freestyle something off the top of my head, just immediately what I’m thinking about when I hear the music. Most of the time, nine times out of ten, I end up sticking with most of the melodies and lyrics that I, just off the top of my head, create. And I think sometimes that the music gives me the emotion to create. There’s no real formula to me, I just go in there and it’s different every single time. If there’s three other writers it’s obviously going to be different than if you’re just writing in the room by yourself. I’m just open to different types of collaborations and making great music.
I mean, probably going back to the fact that a lot of the stuff was created based off of a freestyle. I think the story lines too, I think people listen to the story lines and the situations and the stuff that I went through over the years. And not only that, I think the melodies too, I’m a big nursey-rhyme kind of dude, so I definitely love melodies that get stuck in my head so I’m the type of person that wants to create the same thing. You can be completely grown up, and you’re still going to love a lullaby if it hits you right. I think the people are going to get a well-rounded album of me, my stories and experiences, but also some edge on certain songs and some love on certain songs. It’s definitely going to give you different angles of me as an artist and what I went through. I’m definitely excited about getting it out.
I like that "Clique" record that’s out right now with Big Sean and Kanye. I do like Miguel’s “Adorn,” and I’m a big Frank Ocean fan as well, I love his “Thinking About You.” I’ve been covering his song in different cities as well.
My dad inspires me a lot because he was where the whole music excitement came from. This man was jumping on tables when I was a kid playing air guitar with his headphones on, singing, just acting a fool, being a character. I think I grew into his personality as a kid, his energy, and it translated into my entertainment. But not only that. There are definitely artists out there who inspired me: Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and, of course, my parents are so diverse in their music choices that I grew to love what they loved as well. My dad is southern rock and rock & roll, my mom is Frank Sinatra and Elvis and Christmas music. And my sister, she has different tastes too. Everybody has different tastes, which I grew a liking to at some point in my life because I was either forced to listen to it or I just actually genuinely liked listening to it. So I think there’s so many influences within me growing up that it just ended up, at the end of the day, creating me, which is really cool, with so many different genres and styles.
Probably Elvis. I’d love to collaborate with him. I’d love to do some stuff with Red Hot Chili Peppers. That would be cool. I’m all around the board. There are certain times where I’m thinking off the top of my head, “Man, I want to perform with that person. That would be really cool.” So it’s really impulsive as well. But definitely, if I could go back in time it would be Elvis. The Rat Pack, see how they went about things because you know those guys were crazy. I just like music and I like different styles mixed together so I’m really open when it comes to that.
Oh yeah, of course I will be. That’s definitely being set up. We can do that, we’re just out doing this radio promo now and then we’re going to get back to finishing up and rounding out the edges of the album and then hopefully get a tour set up in 2013 so people can get a chance to hear the music.
You can expect a roller coaster. You can really expect all these genres of music sort of blended into one. I’m making of course pop music, but you can expect some cool songwriting, definitely cool producers and collaborations, and mixed music. I’m a big hybrid fan so I definitely like mixing the whole live instrumentation with the techno, synthesizer sounds and modern age beats, stuff that really drives the radio. I’m really heavy into the Top 40 radio world. I love really driven beats and at the same time being able to have some musician-side to it, I think some guitar or piano. I definitely think it’s just going to be an organic mix of great music.
It switches every time because I can’t do the same thing or I get bored. It all depends. I’m running hills or I’m running on a beach with a pair of shoes or I’m in the gym lifting heavy weights or I’m pushing sleds. I’ll do old football routine workouts and then I’ll do cross-fit; I’ll ride a bike or I’ll go swimming. I just keep flipping it up. And of course they end up coming around full circle; I’ll swim three or four times a week as my cardio and then sometimes I’ll go out to the beach and run on the sand. I try to stay entertained with it because sometimes it can get boring just looking at weights all the time. So I really just keep flipping it up. In L.A. now I try to get up before we leave and run Runyon Canyon [Park] just to get a different view of things. I keep my workout routine with weights, that stays pretty routine, but when it comes to the cardio side I just sometimes like to get out of the gym.
Oh Lord, have mercy, we won’t go there! I’ve always sort of kept that personal side until the time I feel like is right. I want people to focus on my music.