Q: How long have you been involved in music?
EB: As I remember my 6-year-old self plucking out “My Country Tis of Thee” on my aunt’s baby grand piano without any music, I tend to think that music and myself have had an inevitable bond from my earliest days. At eight years old, I took actual piano lessons from a lady at my church that I was afraid of, and that classical/sheet music reading endeavor lasted all but five years. In 7th grade, I began teaching myself guitar and also had acquired a new mentor on the piano that taught me the ins and outs of blues music. He was so cool! Chris stomped his foot and slammed the keys and belted vocals at the top of his lungs. I knew somehow that is what a piano player is to me. From there, my ability to improvise in music has guided me through worship teams, open mic nights and secular projects.
Q: What does music mean to you?
EB: ...Music means a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me, music has always been an avenue of expression and a source of joy. I honestly love it. I love it to the point that I dedicate my schooling, my energy, my passion, and my future vocation to it. Music is just plain fun, heartbreaking, hilarious, somber, reverent, inspiring.. really whatever the moment calls for.
Q: Have you incorporated your faith into your music at all, and what does that mean to you?
EB: It has definitely been my joy to use songwriting as a platform to incorporate my faith in Jesus, although it is intentionally not the most obvious thing in some songs. It is my specific conviction at this point in my life to create secular music to reach a secular audience for the purpose of Christ and the kingdom of God. I will likely end up playing a church as a worship leader someday and will love it, but this album and these songs are about building a bridge to those who love music but don’t love the Lord… For example, on Epitome of the Opposite (the upcoming album), there are songs like “Pretty Lady” or “Waiting Game” that are not really about my faith at all. However, “Foreverlong” is literally a prayer to God to help me come up with songs. “Hymn to Wisdom” is a song that directly quotes Proverbs 3 and speaks of God’s wisdom, “Promised Land” is a view of God in the Old Testament from the Israelite’s perspective, and “Entitlement” is a fictional story imagining myself growing up with atheist parents. On this record, I would definitely say the songs with faith are the majority, but it’s sneaky sometimes. Music is my mission field.
Q: What inspired you to record an album?
EB: I’ve always wanted to record an album since songwriting became a craft of mine. I have tried my hand at DIY home recordings and have made solid ground in learning it, but I don’t think I have the skill set I would need to produce my own music professionally. Last year when I recorded with Fly These Wings in downtown Chicago, I knew that could not be my last time in a studio, and when I met Jonathan Class of Varsity Recording Co., I knew that I found someone that would help me make the project how I wanted. The truth is that I have been sitting on some songs for way too long and knew I had to finally release them before I began to hate them! That’s the way it is with art sometimes, — if you are the only one observing it, you begin to tear it apart farther than it should be and end up not liking your own stuff. For me, it just seemed to be time to create something!
Q: What artist inspires you the most?
EB: Well, I would be lying to myself if I didn’t flat out start with the Beatles as my number one inspiration. John Lennon is my personal musical hero, but all of the Fab Four capture my heart and have been the fuel to my own creation. The current artists that inspire me include Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit, Alejandro Rose-Garcia (or Shakey Graves), and of course my piano idol Ben Folds. I think that vibes from the Alabama Shakes and Stevie Wonder also appear on Epitome of the Opposite, which is a joy of mine to say.
Q: Is there any person in particular in your life that inspired you to pursue music deeper? If so, how?
EB: My worship leader back home, Nate Fisher, is in all senses of the word, a huge “support” to me. In high school, when I first began to see music as a viable option, he helped me with some of my first demos and constructively critiqued some of my earliest songs. He has always believed in me, and as a songwriter himself, tells me he lives vicariously through me. Nate has taught me never to waste a day and to seize every moment as an opportunity to grow. I cannot wait until he gets to hear this project and know I wouldn’t have gotten here without him.
Q: Are there any themes that you see through your music style?
EB: For sure! I love writing nonsensical phrases in my music, a trait I’ve undoubtedly picked up from Lennon himself. For example, the song “Waiting Game” begins “Always, and never was, it seems.” I have no idea what I am concretely trying to say with that line, but it can mean various things at various times, which is the beauty of songwriting in the first place. Another thing I notice in my writing is that I normally have a bit of lyrical “snarky-ness” or a sarcastic tone that naturally pops up. I attribute that approach to all the Ben Folds I have listened to in my lifetime and am grateful to have lyrics that discuss serious topics, but can allow me to look back and laugh. I love wordplay, and whenever I can incorporate that into a lyric, you bet I’ll be all over it. Another theme that I have seen in my writing is a sort of a surreal approach to dreams. I love dreaming and have literally written entire songs off of the topic, but on just Epitome of the Opposite alone, I can think of four songs that sing about sleeping or dreams. Maybe that’s just the wannabe hippie coming out in me.
Q: If you have a music style, how would you describe it?
EB: The goal for this project, and my style in general, is to mix the old with the new. The new qualities of my music usually manifest themselves as a piano-driven rock, but my old soul can’t help but toss in the delta blues, psychedelic or even sometime vaudeville characteristics I have grown up loving. All that to say I am an alternative hipster… (Sarcasm… or is it?!?… it is.)
Q: What are your dreams with music? How do you want to incorporate that with your major/career?
EB: This question ties in very closely with the way I view music as a mission field, because my dreams are essentially based out of that. I would love to find some way in my career, life, whatever you call it, to find a balance of worship leading and performing. The truth of the matter is that I absolutely love both, and am leaving it up to God to decide what it will look like. We’ve talked about it a lot to say the least! My ultimate dream in music is honestly just to be steady enough to make it a living. If I could support a family someday doing what I love, I feel that is the golden ticket. Also a personal goal of mine is to get to the point where touring the country and not being a complete stranger to everyone is a possibility.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
I hardly think I’m established enough to give advice, but I will say this: don’t wait for the “right” moment to start. In all reality, there won’t be an angelic choir showing the direct path to your dreams. Take any chance you get and don’t be afraid to work hard and fail a few times. Another thing I’ve learned is to always surround yourself with people that are better than you — not only is it extremely humbling, but also it is an avenue to your own creative growth!
Also, I thought it might be helpful for you to know that the moniker I am assuming for music stuff is “Wrongbird Erickson”. That is my stage name for lack of a better term and the name of the album is “Epitome of the Opposite”. The single Superego Lightning Bolt should be out in the next few weeks and I believe the album will shortly follow! If you want me to write anymore on the names I can do that too.