Chris Kirby takes control of his sound

Much in the same way that Donnie and Marie Osmond is a little bit country and a little bit rock n’ roll, Newfoundland musician Chris Kirby is a little bit greasy and a little bit sticky.

With a sound that faithfully brings the funk and soul from the 1970s into the present day, Kirby’s excellent new album Wonderizer continues this tradition with fine results.

Described as a cross between Stevie Wonder and Jamiroquai, Kirby has earned himself a reputation for his high-energy and infinitely fun live show.

Kirby is celebrating the release of Wonderizer with a performance at Moncton’s Plan B Lounge on Wednesday evening.

The Newfoundlander shares with the Times & Transcript that Wonderizer was originally intended to be released as two separate EPs, the first known as Greasy and the other dubbed Honey. Kirby jokes that having to wait to release two separate EPs was simply too much for him and thus decided to combine them into the one release.

Kirby’s decision to go with a full-length album over the release of two EPs took a little bit of strategic planning however as, prior to being slapped together on one record, each of the EPs were thematically different. The Greasy EP paid tribute to the various characters that made St. John’s legendary George Street a little shadier while Honey was intended to be as sweet as it sounds.

The very fact that Kirby had put such consideration into how to offer his newest music is something that is often overlooked by many musicians today. In an age of quantity over quality, the latter portion of that equation is often falling by the wayside and is something that Kirby believes is of utmost importance to creating memorable listening experiences.

‘In my opinion, it seems like a lot of people are serving the masses instead of necessarily leading the masses in the direction that they want to bring them,’ Kirby says on a break from helping to mix Charlie A’Court’s new record. ‘As the consumption of music has gotten more simple, producers are just giving basic, hand-to-mouth music production instead of truly taking back artistic control. I see a big problem with that because so many people aren’t operating at their full potential otherwise.

‘What artists should be doing these days is investing in what will make their project different and make people want to buy the record as a whole instead of grabbing one or two songs off iTunes. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of good music coming out these days that has some obvious thought put into it but I still believe that if musicians take a responsible approach to making music, people are still going to follow them.’ Kirby shares that he feels only a select group of extremely talented musicians can get away with releasing music at the rate that some bands choose to release new material. He says that while this prolific na­ture suits some well, he feels there are other ways to stay on people’s radars without releasing a new record or a new project every year.

‘People are skipping steps along the way to get as much product as they can out there. I think that people need to take care and make things as great as they can, starting with the songwriting process.’ Quality is something that Kirby holds dear to his heart and when it came to the making of Wonderizer, it is something that weighed on him during the creative process. Instead of handing over production control to someone else, Kirby took the reins but says that he definitely felt the pressure in doing so.

‘Producing myself was a first for me with my band,’ he says. ‘The pressure was definitely on to create a project that would live up to my last record, which was produced by (Big Sugar frontman) Gordie Johnson. Those were some big shoes to fill. We definitely did not want to come up short with this record.

‘I think overall though, the record hits the mark. We intentionally sought a doo-wop vibe for one of the songs while we also took the time to arrange backup vocals, which was also something new for us. It was a very exciting process but one that was also a little nerve-wracking.’

Article published in June 22, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript