“Music is Like Breathing to Me”

Passenger Profile: Chris Brown

By Kenny Kerner
taxi member success chris brown
Chris Brown lived in San Francisco all of his adult life and studied film at San Francisco State. The knowledge he acquired in the classroom came in pretty handy because today, in addition to being an independent recording artist, Chris is also a successful filmmaker. Here's the January Passenger Profile:

Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in the Bay Area, and have lived in San Francisco all of my adult life. After high school, I studied film production at San Francisco State, where I made my first films. I have been making films, long and short, ever since.

Did you come from a musical family?

Yes. My dad and both my grandfathers were all musicians. All three had small bands. My dad is an amazing trumpet player who taught me music at a very young age. He's currently playing in a swing band.

How did you become interested in music?

I've always been interested in music. Music is like breathing to me. There were always records and instruments around the house growing up, and as soon as I was able to reach an octave on the piano, my dad sent me to a piano teacher.

What bands/musicians influenced you as a youngster and why?

Gee, so many. Paul Simon was my biggest early influence, and has persisted as an influence and musical hero up to this day ("Surprise" — amazing). As a writer and composer, the guy has maintained a level of quality (and curiosity) that's unparalleled. Other powerful musical heroes include Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, and Lou Reed. When I first heard the Velvet Underground, I felt as if a magical door had opened up.

At what point did you begin to think about music as a real career?

I've played music for money since I was a teenager.

At what point did you actually feel that you were a "professional" in the business?

I shy away from that word "professional" for some reason. The great filmmaker John Cassavetes always maintained that he was an amateur and was keen to point out that the meaning of "amateur" was "a person who did something out of love."

Of what achievement are you most proud?

I'm proud of some of the films that I've made (not all of them). Many have won awards, screened all around the world, others have gone the way of the wind. I am immensely proud of Now That You're Fed, my first solo album. It's rare that one can finish a piece of work and be truly satisfied with it, love it like a child, want to show it off to the world, shout it from the mountain tops.

What made you join TAXI?

In LA as an independent musician, it's a challenge to be heard. TAXI helps give the Indie musician a voice.

How has TAXI helped you?

Just in the last month or so, I've signed a deal with a licensing firm. Another deal is pending.

Were you at the recent Road Rally?

Unfortunately, I couldn't attend the Road Rally because I was playing a show in NYC, the 2006 International Pop Overthrow, hosted by the great critic and impresario, David Bash.

Do you pay attention to the screeners' song critiques?

I read all of the critiques very carefully. One always likes to know what one's listeners think!

What's next for Chris Brown in 2007?

More films, more music! I've already started on a second album and have enough material for a third, but today's goal is getting Now That You're Fed heard by as many people as possible!

Well there it is... the very first Passenger Profile of the new year. Already making a living with music, Chris is gearing up for another successful year with a new CD in the works and hopefully more movies. And of course, more help from TAXI.

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