Meet our Artist of the Month: Chris Gennett

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If you’re a fan of John Mayer and James Taylor, you’ll definitely be a fan of Chris Gennett. 2015 has been a year on the upswing for the local singer/songwriter. Aside from being named our June Artist of the Month, he just released his first official record, “Hey Kid,” this past March to glowing reviews. An active member of the Philly music community, Chris is constantly performing as well as supporting his fellow artists. Rock On Philly got the chance to speak with him about his influences, goals for the future, and what drives him in our exclusive interview below.

Rock On Philly: To people that may not have heard your music before, how would you describe it?
Chris Gennett: I would say my music sits nicely inside of a Pop/Folk/Blues triangle, or at least that’s what I’m going for. If I want to do a folky pop tune I can. If I want to do a pop tune with some heavy blues guitar I can, or any combination of the three, really. I’ve always loved pop music. Blues music and blues guitar is my passion and folk music just feels like home to me. So a perfect mix of the three it what I’m going for.

ROP: Who are your 3 biggest musical influences?
CG: John Mayer, James Taylor, and Jimi Hendrix.

ROP: Let’s talk about your musical journey. What inspired you to first start writing music?
CG: My dad played guitar and always had one around the house so I’ve always been around music. I picked it up and played with it here and there but it never really stuck. For my 13th birthday my parents got me a few guitar lessons from a guy they knew. I took three and then stopped. I was lazy and didn’t practice. Later that year I picked it back up with a crumpled up chord sheet and a James Taylor song book and taught myself the rest. I’m not sure what changed in that short time but something did and I just knew that it was what I wanted to do. It was probably because I started getting into John Mayer. Learning the guitar is an incredible experience. I discovered blues music when my dad gave me a copy of “Damn Right I Got the Blues” by Buddy Guy and my aspirations for my guitar playing changed forever. Songwriting came so much later. I tried for a while but everything came out terrible. I wrote my first song “Lose My Mind” at 18 that stuck with me to the record but that was it. I played in public for the first time two years ago exactly and it just set everything in motion. The necessity of having songs to play is what made songwriting click. Since then I’ve played in Austin, TX for SXSW twice, Boston, New York, all over the Tristate area and wrote, recorded, and produced my own album on my own dime.

ROP: What challenges have you faced in your career so far? 
CG: The major challenge I’ve faced in my career is catching up with other musicians in terms of playing with other musicians and the nuances that go along with that. I was the solo guitar player playing alone in his room for too long. There was a bit of learning I had to do on the fly. I sort of just dove right into the scene.

ROP: What drives you?
CG: Moments drive me. I feel that people remember moments more than they remember facts. Whether they be good moments, or bad moments, moments of love, happiness, and peace, or moments of grief, sadness, and loneliness. I think moments of intense emotion define our lives much more than our actions do. There’s nothing better than hearing a song that 100% accurately transmits a moment that you’ve had. That is the theme of my next record.

ROP: You recently released your first record, Hey Kid, in March. Who did you work with?
CG: I recorded the album at Sine Studios in Philadelphia. It was an amazing experience. It is such a great studio and for my inexperience in studio recording they were so easy to work with. The other musicians on the record are the Bickel Brothers. John Bickel is on keys, his brother Pat Bickel on Bass, and Gusten Rudolph on Drums. I actually went to High School with them. They’re great musicians and great guys.

ROP: How do you feel about the Philly music scene? Things you like? Things that can be better?
CG: I feel that the Philly music scene is one of the best scenes around. I can’t compare it to much because in terms of time spent in it, I’m still rather new. It is a really accepting place. I’ve made so many friends that are the best people in the world. There is so much genuine music all over the city. The one thing I think could be better is the awareness of the scene to the general public. Most people I talk to that don’t play don’t know where to go see music. I think Rock On Philly is helping change a lot of that. I’ve seen too many bands play shows to an audience of only other bands.

ROP: Who are 3 of your favorite artists on the Philly music scene?
CG: There is so much great music in the Philly music scene right now, so it is hard to choose just three. So I’d have to say The Members Club, Emily Mineo, and Boy Wonder. They are all different variants of soul. The Members Club have a sound that I haven’t heard before. It’s a Motown/soul vibe that I think is refreshing to the music scene. Their song “How Long Can We Stick Together?” gets me every time. Boy Wonder has an awesome funk/soul vibe with some R&B thrown in and some killer guitar playing. He kills those high notes too. His song “It Ain’t Pretty” is an excellent example of all of that. Emily Mineo has a folk/soul vibe with incredible lyrics and her voice goes from sweet to powerful in the best way. Her stage presence is something I’ve always been envious of. Her song “Love You Light” is definitely one to check out.

ROP: What music are you listening to right now?
CG: I’ve been listening to Vance Joy’s song “Georgia” on repeat. It is such a good song. I honestly wish I wrote it.  I’ve been on an Angus and Julia Stone kick for over a year now. I guess it isn’t a kick then is it? Either way I love what they do with harmonies and their songwriting is really folky and different. “Yellow Brick Road” is one I really dig by them. Also, I’ve been listening to Adrian Dickey, a southern soul artist from Mississippi. His stuff has this feel to it that I don’t think you can get around here. He has a song called “Miracle” that I absolutely love.

ROP: What music event are you most excited about in June?
CG: I’m excited for the annual Blues Stroll in Media on June 13th. The whole town of Media has blues music seeping from every building all night.  That just happens to be my hometown. What could be better really? I fully intend on playing it next year.

ROP: What are your hopes and dreams for the rest of 2015?
CG: I want to be played on XPN and Radio 104.5, play the Tin Angel again, and play bigger venues like the TLA or Union Transfer. I also want to end the year with a small east coast tour of my own.

For more on Chris Gennett, visit his official website at www.chrisgennett.com. If you haven’t heard him live yet, be sure to check out his July 2nd show at World Cafe Live!

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: July Artist of the Month – Who Will It Be?! - Rock On Philly

  2. matt catona

    June 15, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I’m a huge fan of Chris Jennett!

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