How many acoustic rap/ballad medleys have you heard lately? Does hip hop mix with classical music or are there strict rules that say this cannot be done? Whatever the rules are, Chris Goslow loves to experiment beyond musical boundaries with different styles. Part of his multicultural slant on music comes from growing up in San Francisco and studying music at U.C. Berkeley. Another part of his diversity comes from a love of many styles that covers a wide spectrum of music. He now makes a living performing and teaching music in Sacramento while being happily married to photographer Charr Crail, who has worked for the Sacramento Bee and now does freelance photography and digital art.
Chris surrounds himself with creativity and has ambitions to take his eclectic music as far as it can go. On Saturday, March 23, I met with Chris to do a series of video interviews for SacTV.com, focusing on his musical background and his unique musical ideas. From a songwriting standpoint, his musical diversity goes way back to growing up with pop, rock and alternative music, then learning classical music and eventually hip hop. When he first moved to Sacramento from the Bay Area a few years ago, his first gig was joining a Journey tribute band. During his years in the Bay he earned a living playing a wide mix of popular standards and classical pieces for retirement homes. This experience has given him a very broad musical perspective.
Our five part video series kicks off with Chris talking about his journey from the Bay to Sacramento. In the second segment he talks about his musical message and purpose, which is essentially to have fun, but he also believes music can impact society in powerful philosophical ways that go beyond entertainment. Chris performs two of his songs in the third segment, which may very well be the first video of its kind: an acoustic piano medley of a rap song and a love ballad. The songs are called "Snuggle Bunny" and "Here With You I’m Home." While "Snuggle Bunny," which is dedicated to his wife, has an upbeat playful sound, "Here With You I’m Home" takes on a more serious love song approach. Hearing these two completely different styles in a medley is interesting in itself, but the fact that this hybrid is done as a solo performance on piano without electronics makes it very unique.
Crossing musical boundaries is just one idea that artists can do to stand out. In the internet age of indie music, of course, it’s much more advantageous to be one of a kind than to compete with thousands of soundalikes. The indie world is a vast terrain of forgettable names trying to resist the status quo while sometimes ironically falling into conformity with certain movements. But Chris Goslow stands out because he certainly is not trying to fit into any prefabricated mold or subgroup. By blazing his own trail he has the opportunity of creating his own niche, which is the precise key to success in the internet era.
"I think as artists we get the opportunity to express something that other people may want to express," Chris observes. "So you know, there’s this great freedom to kind of create on a canvas for the world to watch and take in. And I think that’s exciting. That’s just who I am as an artist anyway … I like to entertain and perform … Sure, it’s all ideals but at the end of the day it’s about expression, entertainment and fun." One of his greatest inspirations has been 18th and 19th century composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who helped pave the way for musicians of the Romantic Era to be their own freelance merchants.