Why You Should Care: Christian French is essentially the spitting image of what it means to be a self-made musician: teaching himself how to play instruments in high school and uploading covers and original songs to Soundcloud. French was studying biology in college when his music started garnering millions of streams on Spotify and suddenly, he realized that this was something he could pursue as a career. While Soundcloud artists are a dime a dozen, French has something unique and personal to offer in his music, and his relatable story of finding his passion as an artist while pursuing a college degree while simultaneously being a collegiate athlete is nothing short of incredibly impressive and inspiring.
Check out my Q&A with French below:
Chicago Haze: Can you elaborate on your musical background? Did you play instruments or sing at a young age, etc? I know you were self taught, but where did that inspiration come from, etc? Ever consider studying it in college before choosing the pre-med route?
Christian French: My family has always had music playing. I grew up listening to John Mayer, Eric Clapton, The Eagles, and a few others. My sister was in a successful band when I was in high school, so it was cool getting to see that side of the music industry. I started doing covers of some of my favorite artists on piano during my sophomore year of high school… At first I wasn’t really confident in my abilities, but slowly started to post them to SoundCloud and got feedback from my friends and family.
I’m not your music theory guy – I learned to play piano by watching a ton of YouTube videos and just learned by repetition. The more I played and sang, the more of a sense of direction I got with my musical tastes. Some of my favorite artists to cover were John Mayer, The Fray and Jaymes Young. I never really considered music as a super serious thing because it was always just a hobby for me…I loved biology as well, so I never considered studying music. I kinda nerd out over science, and continue to pursue knowledge in biology, especially as music and the body are so related.
Music became serious for me once I started getting better at it and when I released a few songs on Spotify. ’Fall For You’ ended up on the Spotify Viral Top 50, it was super random, and I didn’t expect anything to come from it. A lot of my friends at Indiana University started encouraging me to pursue it more, so I continued releasing songs independently. Somewhere along the way I met my current management, and that’s when things began to get more serious.
Chicago Haze: What is it like to have your music find so much success in an online sphere, particularly Soundcloud? Did you feel like it was a platform that worked well to get your music out there?
Christian French: SoundCloud was definitely a platform that helped me get started. I think it was a much more prominent platform back then compared to now, but I’m thankful for it as it allowed me to easily upload my music publicly and get fast feedback.When “Fall For You” got onto Spotify’s Viral playlist, it really, REALLY hit me that this was something that I could potentially pursue as a career – it’s crazy how just through online algorithms, my music can reach practically anyone in the world. I don’t think my career would be where it is today without the current streaming platforms.
Chicago Haze: How was your touring experience with Chelsea Cutler and Quinn XCII?
Christian French: Tour was nothing short of incredible with those two, there’s so many amazing things to be said about them not only as artists, but especially as individuals. Chelsea was someone I always looked up to musically and socially during my growth as an independent artist and when I started to experiment with my sound.
Tour taught me so much about myself, about performing and translating my music to an audience, and especially how much work it takes to become a successful artist. You could almost say those tours helped shape the artist I am becoming today, the fans, the excitement and spontaneity of being on the road…everything about those tours really encouraged me to work as hard as possible to get to where I want to be.
On top of that, they both only want to spread positivity through their music, which is something I cherish and always want to put first in my career and my life.
Chicago Haze: What’s been your favorite part of this experience so far?
Christian French: There’s a lot to choose from, describing the tours really makes me want to say that it’s been those. But don’t get me wrong – I love spending time with my producers and writing music because the recording process is something I will always love. But traveling the country and getting close with new people is not only an amazing experience as a musician, but it’s also an incredible life experience.
I think I’ve definitely grown the most while on the road; it’s some of the most uncomfortable yet rewarding times that I’ve had on this journey.Not to mention the fans, seeing an hearing crowds of any size scream your lyrics back to you, and knowing it’s impacting their lives in the way I intended it is priceless.
Chicago Haze: If you could collaborate with anyone in the studio, who would it be and why?
Chicago Haze: What’s on the horizon for your career?
Christian French: To be honest, I sort of put my head down and work. I try to remain in the present as much as I can…if I was always concerned about what was coming next, I think I would regret not cherishing the moments we’re having now, both in music and in my personal life.
I hope to be touring a lot this next year, and want to continue to grow my live performance into it being exactly what I want. I have some unreleased music that I feel very good about, and just am going to do my best every day to keep getting better.
Chicago Haze: Is there anything you are looking forward to the most during your tour?
Christian French: On this tour we’ll be doing a free meet & greet after each show, and I always love meeting the fans and getting to know them a little bit better. I want to remember names and faces along the way and see how my music continues to make a difference in their lives.
My team and I have never worked harder for anything – this is my first tour where I’m headlining, so having my brand be the focus, my message and getting to play over an hour of music each night will undoubtedly be the pinnacle of my career thus far. One thing I want people to know is how much self-development and growth can happen on the road, there’s a lot of down time with drives and before shows and I try my best to read as much as possible and listen to podcasts.
A lot of my music lately has reflected self-growth and positivity… hence ‘bright side of the moon’. I cherish that part of tour a ton as it’s really helped shape who I’m becoming & how I react to the responsibilities of being an artist & becoming someone that people can look up to.
Christian French hits Chicago on September 5. Tickets are available here.
Click here to read all of Chicago Haze’s Artist Of The Month posts.