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Rising Stars: Meet Johnathan Chriest

Today we’d like to introduce you to Johnathan Chriest. 

Hi Johnathan, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Often times musicians can point to their parents’ love for music as a defining factor of their early taste. I don’t really have that experience. My family listened to music, but it never felt like a definitive part of my childhood experience. I wanted to be in band in middle school, but we couldn’t afford to rent the instruments. Eventually, my mother went in for a “First Act” guitar from Walmart, and after I played that for a while and seemed more seriously into the guitar, I got a few better guitars. I eventually settled on acoustic guitar and got into finger-picking style. Without specific influences at that point, I sort of developed my own style of chording and building songs and melodies. My music started as a sort of solo folky style with a focus on lyrics, but my tastes evolved into a more ambient folk feel, and now I make ambient, dream-folk, and cinematic music. After living in Pittsburgh, then NYC, I settled in LA, where I have lived for around 3 years now. 

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The early struggles in my musical career come from lack of funds. That struggle continues but now, with social media and recording programs, you don’t need lots of money to make great music and promote it yourself, but it does take a good amount of time and work to find success. Especially now that it is more attainable for more people and the pool of artists is much larger 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I think my song structures are what set me apart from many others. When I write an EP, usually of four songs or so, I try to tie them together as four parts of a larger story that all move together. 

Risk-taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
I think, for most people, deciding to become an artist and committing to that is a huge risk. Our socioeconomic system doesn’t reward you early for those risks in most cases. Working on something that doesn’t pay and isn’t guaranteed to ever pay is a huge risk. That is why it is a career path that favors those who didn’t have to struggle to learn the craft and buy the gear, but for the rest of us, it is a massive stressful risk, but a necessary one I feel. 

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Image Credits

Natasha Wilson

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