Christopher talks about his "funky" new album and learning Mandarin

12 April 2018

Christopher hails from Denmark, "small, small country of 5 million people", and it's clear his hometown can't contain his pop star ambitions.

The 26-year-old Dane is one of the country's fastest rising stars, with millions of streams and a growing, adoring fanbase to boot. Even without a proper concert tour in Asia, he's already been a familiar face around these parts, flirting with Mandopop and performing a number of sold-out shows to adoring fans.

The fanfare is so intense, Christopher has described one post-show encounter in Beijing that resulted in "scratch marks" on his neck. And in 2018, it's full-on Christopher season.

Christopher is already working on releasing his fourth album — while there's no release date or title confirmed, the singer recently debuted a handful of new songs in a brief and intimate showcase. And if you've been following his music lately, you're definitely not prepared for the sensuality and all-out funkiness of his new direction. 

We just had to speak to the singer himself about his new album, which he promises is "more organic", and why he'd like to appear on more Asian TV shows.

What has your experience been like touring and exploring Asia?

It's crazy, man. It's been an adventure every time I'm out here. I remember the first time we played a tour in China, we went to Beijing not expecting anything. and we played a sold out show with 3,000 people.

I grew up in this small, small country of 5 million people. When you get to travel and see all of these countries, when one city can have 22 million people, the world really looks much bigger than the one you were most familiar with.

What's your most memorable story from Asia so far?

After one show in Beijing, we had to get out to our tour bus and there were so many fans outside, just going crazy. We almost didn't make it to the bus, and my band members were doubling as bodyguards (laughs). I ended up with some scratch marks on my neck — it was just crazy for sure.

So tell us more about your new album!

I've been trying hard to not go far away from my original sound. I've always made optimistic, outgoing pop music that's danceable and combined with ballads. It's still like that, but it has a little more organic feel to it, which has become full circle for me now since I started out as a singer-songwriter. I've been working with so many different people and I've been searching for that sound, you know. I feel like I finally found it.

It's a combination of the lyrical content — me growing up and having an easier time just being honest and believing in myself, both as a songwriter and a performer — and just trying many different ideas. But you sort of narrow it down.

I think I've written about 100 songs for this album and when you have that many songs, it's easy to step back and look at the best songs and find the best vibe to go to, like looking at them and thinking, "this feels like the centre—the core of the project". I kind of wanted to remove all other parts that I didn't need. For me it's all about honesty. When I release music, it has to be 100% something that I love. I really do with this.

Chosen By You Fans! Christopher explores Chinatown in Singapore!

In the process of defining the "Christopher sound", what was some of the music that you were listening to that helped guide you?

I've always been listening to artists like Justin Timberlake, John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Shawn Mendes — all these guys are huge and are defining pop music for me today. It's hard finding inspiration in the biggest artists in the world, because you want to do something that's "you", where the references are not too clear.

So I've been trying to look too much into what's on the charts and just trying to focus on the songs, not so much on the production. The songs, on its own, have to be really, really great.

Could you tell us what about your experiences in Asia that inspired or influenced the songs in your album?

Well I've always been chasing an "international" sound, I've always wanted that. I was at Apple Music earlier and played them some of my new songs. One of the guys asked me, "would you ever try to do something that's more suited for the asian market?" and I was like "I'm always open to collaborations and remixes, but the reason why I achieved success in Asia in the first place is because I was doing my thing."

I was doing whatever I felt was real and was me. and you can't listen to too many people. you have to kill your darlings and collect the right songs. Music is defined by taste for so many people, and if I played it to my friends, my parents, my label, my manager, they'd likely have different answers.

I've really tried to narrow my focus group down to the people I trust the most, and that I know share the same vision as me. Asia has been a big part of my vision, but my goal remains to be working on something that works for the whole world, and not only just for that market. 

But what do you think is the next big step for Christopher in Asia?

I would like to do appear on TV. I know that the last collaboration that I did with Kelly Poon is part of a TV show soundtrack now, and I think that's so perfect. It's something like that to get your name out there.

Personally, I'm gonna do a bit of Mandarin to connect with as many people as possible. it would be such a big dream of mine to go on a TV show and be like "wo shi Christopher" and just run off.

Have you started learning yet?

I've done a little bit. Do you know the player Viktor Axelsen? He's a Danish guy, he's taken up Mandarin classes and speaks the language fluently now. I have his teacher, so I'm going in for it. It will definitely take some time — it's obviously a hard language to learn — but I can't wait.

Away from the tours, the studios, what goes into a day in the life of Christopher?

I'm super active as a person — I love sports, I love working out. I play a lot of tennis and badminton. I love playing music, even when I'm not in the studio, I can't help it. I'll be writing, playing the piano or guitar, it's just such a big part of who I am. It's constantly melodies or lyrics in my head, looking at new albums, new stuff other artists are doing. It's just a stream of music ideas.

Well, if there was one day where you'd want to get away from music, what would you do?

Put my phone away. (laughs) To me, that is the key to find some zen, and I felt that lately trying it. For me, going into nature, disconnected from the world, all of that works. Getting that fresh air, that clears my mind. 

Going into 2018, could you run us through what fans can expect from Christopher this year?

They can definitely expect a lot of live performances. I'm gonna tour as much as I possibly can with this new album. Hopefully I'm gonna keep with 2-3 months in between just releasing new songs and not gonna stop until the end of 2019.

I have so much new material, mainly because I took time to step back and really zero in on making music. Now I'm ready to go back in.

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