Music is crucial to all societies and peoples. Cherish your gift and share it with others
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Christopher Burris Hochkeppel.
Christopher Burris Hochkeppel is a singer-songwriter from Lafayette, Louisiana. He studied music education at Louisiana State University and now resides in New Orleans, LA where he teaches, writes, and performs regularly. Chris plays piano, guitar, bass, and horn professionally, and is the lead singer and manager of the nationally touring roots-rock band, Burris. Burris has had music featured on The Syfy Channel, Lifetime Network, WGNO News with a Twist, Inside New Orleans, and 504 TV. The nationally touring artist has performed at French Quarter Fest, Festival International, Bethlehem’s Musikfest and more. Burris has also performance on stages such as The Legendary Howlin’ Wolf NOLA, Rockwood Music Hall NYC, ISIS Music Hall Asheville, and The Listening Room Café Nashville. Chris is a member of the Recording Academy and is an activist in support of arts and music education in Louisiana.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I come from a very musical family. Both my parents were music teachers and my mom was my middle school band director! Growing up, we went to plenty of concerts and listened to a lot of jazz and big band music around the house, so I was constantly absorbing the sound of new music. I was a band geek pretty much my whole life. I played French Horn in the marching band and started my first rock band when I was 15. I’ve been writing music ever since and have known it’s what I wanted to do for living since the first time I stepped on stage.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I remember in high school my band at the time, Seven Horse Tango, played at the local music venue. We packed the house with all our underage friends and rocked the place! It was a magical moment that showed me the true joy I find when creating on stage with my closest friends. I knew then that I wanted to play some form of music for the rest of my life.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I think one of my most interesting nights as a performer (and favorite nights) was playing the Shrine Music Venue in Harlem. I had hired a slew of diverse musicians I met while traveling in New York and this one night just had a great crowd with some very cultural and intriguing opening and closing acts. The crowd was energetic and unique, the food was good, and we all drank the night away dancing and singing to each other’s music. I was so far away from home and completely surrounded by strangers, but I never felt more comfortable!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Wow, I’ve made so many mistakes… it’s hard to tell. I still make mistakes! I’ve forgotten entire songs worth of lyrics. I’ve tripped and fallen in front of 100 people. I’ve gotten so drunk that I can’t play… I’ve gotten so drunk that I play better! I’ve played whole passages in the wrong key… There have been so many! I think that’s the beauty of it. A lot of times, people can’t tell when you make a mistake. If you’re a good enough performer you learn how to cover it up!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am so excited to be releasing Burris’ latest project, Over You. It’s a two-part album that’s been 2 years in the making! It consists of 10 songs I’ve curated over the past few years. I started writing these tunes after a life changing heartbreak and the songs seemed to just flow out following every experience I had in dealing with that breakup, and learning to move on. We recorded the album at the legendary Studio In The Country just outside of New Orleans with engineer/producer Chris Finney. Some of Finney’s other artists include The Revivalists, Dr. John, and Samantha Fish. This project has been both a struggle and a joy to make. I’m ready to have the music out and into the universe for people to internalize how they chose.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diversity in the arts is so important. To me the main reason is that diversity is what pushes creation to its next level. If all artists were just stuck inside their bubble surrounded by the same cultures, sounds, foods, and people then they probably wouldn’t experience that risk factor involved in creating something truly meaningful. Additionally I think diversity in music, TV, and film is a crucial step in pushing our society to one of equality and acceptance. People love to be entertained and we as artists have a duty to help entertain in a way that opens up minds and broadens the horizons of those that consume our art. Lastly, I think diversity is important simply to keep the arts interesting and ever changing. I dread the day where all art in the world becomes stagnant.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1 — Music is crucial to all societies and peoples. Cherish your gift and share it with others.
2 — You’re going to hear more “no” then “yes” in the music industry. Keep pushing forward no matter what.
3 — Take a business class and learn how to organize your finances.
4 — Practice your scales every day.
5 — Crappy songs, writer’s block, bad performances are all just a part of eventually creating something great.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
It’s cliché but… do what you love! There is of course a balance between holding and promoting your brand and “playing the game” but at the end of the day if you’re creating the type of art you truly enjoy then you’ll be happy.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
EQUALITY! — Racism, bigotry, and hatred are evil and suppressing ideals. If we as a group of people could realize that we are all equal in cardinal rights yet different in lifestyles, we could maybe learn to embrace those differences and simply love one another. No one deserves less.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My three biggest supporters and influences so far have been my two parents and my applied French Horn professor in college. My parents love music. They understand it’s power in the world and have always supported me in my “starving artist” struggles. They come to many of my shows and always love listening and sharing new musical ideas. My horn professor in college was a very inspirational player and leader. He showed me that all genres overlap. Every nuance of music that I learned studying classical music I now apply to popular music. He showed me that if you work hard enough you can forge your way into any realm of creative work.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“So it goes.” — Kurt Vonnegut
To me this quote has so much meaning. It’s a short, concise reminder that the world turns on. Life happens, and you have the power to react appropriately. We tend to dwell on the past or get fixated on things beyond our control. I like this quote, not to use as an excuse, but to use as motivation to keep moving forward and accept the past as it is.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Jamie Cullum! He is an artist I greatly look up to especially over the past few years. On his radio show he showcases his ability to articulate the beauty of all music, and is a diverse artist that loves to collaborate with people of all sounds, shapes, and sizes. I can identify with a lot of what he stands for as an artist and influencer, and I would love to just sit and talk with him about music and the people that create it.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!