‘Progressive pop’ artist ready to pedal on

Chris D'Lima

Chris D'Lima - Credit: Archant

Camden regular musician Chris D’Lima talks about his influences and hopes for 2014

You describe your sound as funk/soul with an urban twist. That’s quite a mix – who are your influences? Why that genre?

Over time, my music has progressed through different genres as a result of varying influences and finding out what I like and am good at. I think I’ve finally settled on the term ‘progressive pop’ as it encapsulates my catchy melodic hooks, but with a back drop of funk rhythms, rock instrumentation and small inflections from various other genres, as well as meaningful lyrics which often tell a story (unlike most pop music).

My influences include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Jimmy Eat World, among many others. I also find it very important to keep up to date with the current charts to see whats popular, as well as trying to predict what will be popular in the future.

You been gigging regularly for ten years? What have you learnt about playing live because of this? What’s the best and worst things about gigging?

I started gigging with my band at the age of 14, and about 2 years ago started gigging as a solo act. They’re very different experiences and I love them both for different reasons.

In 2012 I played over 100 self-booked gigs which was an amazing but tiring experience which taught me a lot. I suppose the main thing I’ve learnt about live shows is to not stress about the audience. When I first started, I used to worry that the audience would be small, or wouldn’t like me. Now I approach every gig just looking forward to playing my songs, whether its to 5 people, or 200 people. I also now know how to read an audience, so if I sense a crowd isn’t feeling a particular vibe, I am able to change my set to cater for that.

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The best thing about gigging definitely is having people come up to me after saying they enjoyed my performance. It really means a lot. The worst thing is probably the travelling by myself. Because I gig so often, I spend a lot of time in traffic going to and from the venue. It’s not too bad I guess...I have my CD’s to keep me company. To be honest, the most stressful thing nowadays is trying to find a place to park!

What are your plans for this year? What do you hope to achieve? Any NY resolutions?

I’m currently working on a really exciting project with some top producers. We’ll be approaching major labels this year and are really confident in the songs and overall package we have. No NY resolutions this year, although my general ethos is to not let any day go to waste.

You spend a lot of your time in Camden – what is so special about the area?

I really enjoy Camden. There are loads of venues for live music and I think I’ve played about 80% of them! The crowds are great too. There are always people who want to listen to unknown artists and will give you the time of day. It’s so important to artists of all levels to have a place to go to try out material and know it will get listened to.

What do you write your songs about? How do you go about composing them?

My songs tend to be about experiences of my own or interesting stories or scenarios I create. A lot of thought goes into the lyrics as well as structure and instrumentation. I’m quite a perfectionist in that respect, and after I finish writing and recording a song, I’ll keep going back to it over the next few days before I decide it’s finished.

Is it difficult to perform them using a loop pedal live?

I love performing with a loop pedal, as it adds so much to a live show. Audiences can get bored with yet another guy with a guitar, but when I take to the stage and start beatboxing a drum line and harmonize with my own vocals, people really take notice. Sometimes I have to change a bit of the structure of my songs for a love show so it fits nicely with the ability of the pedal, and other songs just aren’t possible. I wouldn’t want to compromise the quality of the song just to play it with a pedal. I do, however, have some songs specifically for live shows, to show off my use of my loop pedal, which are a lot of fun to play, and always go down well. ‘Walk in the Rain’ is an example of one of those songs which you can find on my Youtube channel.