Chris Rob was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and remembers his mother, a classical concert pianist being his first influence at an early age. Chris Rob, now in NYC area producing and playing with Indie Soul artists like Maya Azucena and Kendra Ross has also performed live and in the studio with the likes of Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Lauryn Hill & Kanye West as well as touring with his own band, jazz trumpeter Maurice Brown, & The Real Live Show which consists of a 2 emcees, 2 singers including himself, and a 5 piece Jazz/Funk unit. Chris describes his sound as "a futuristic fusion of dance-floor funk, rock, doo-wop soul and hip-hop, with a touch of true jazz."
I met up with Chris Rob at a studio where he is currently working on tracks for The Real Live Show.
TP: What studio projects are you currently working on and have your put out recently?
CR: I recently put out the single 'Ghetto People' 12â€³ EP (Tea Party Music), produced with Ian Friday. I am also working on "THE CHASE" which is my solo project, Maurice Brown's project, and The Real Live Show album. I've also been collaborating heavy with DJ Spinna.
TP: How many artists are you currently playing keys for? Your resume looks like a who's who in R&B, Hip Hop & Funk.
CR: Besides myself, Maurice and TRLS are my main focuses at this time, in the studio and live. Lately, I have occasionally been performing with Macy Gray, Maya Azucena, and Kendra Ross, whom I worked very closely with on her recent cd "New Voice" as well.
TP: Do you have a preferred music software you use when working in the studio?
I prefer to work with Logic Pro which I find extremely user friendly, however on occasion I work with Pro Tools.
TP: Is there a pre-production process you like to work on prior to heading into the studio?
I map out the songs, but I don't really have a pre-production process going into studio sessions. I like to hear the music and bring the freshest quality to the recording possible, I kind of like to see what happens.
TP: What is your most memorable and positive studio session and live performance?
As far as studio sessions, it would have to be with Lauryn Hill. We worked on one of her new joints, and she pulled alot of range out of me that day. She was asking me to play in the styles of specific pianists ranging over the last century. This brought the sound to fruition on the recording.
In a live performance situation, I have had so many of my own great live experiences, but playing for Stevie Wonder is the first thing that comes to mind. It was encouraging to see how much Stevie's music brings to an audience. They had nothing but love and appreciation for his music. The audience was mad excited and on their feet throughout the whole show.
TP: You are considered a multi-instrumentalist, how many instruments do you play proficiently?
Keys, bass guitar, organ, drums, and guitar mostly. And I sing of course.
TP: Who would you like to work in the studio and live on stage that you have not yet worked with?
Me'Shell Ndegeocello and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan. I worked with Meshell before, but not that much. She even performed on my own show at SOB's in New York. She's on a whole nother plane, and I'd like to go deeper with her again at some point. Don Fagen is the man. I find he has a great comfort zone with his music, and I admire him alot.
TP: What was the last music you purchased that had a major influence on you?
Georgia Anne Muldrow from San Fran(Bay Area), she mixes a singer/songwriter sound with a grimy electronic Hip Hop sound...to me, it feels like Peter Gabriel meets J Dilla. It's a very organic sound which really hit me when I listen to her music. If anyone would like to check out her sound go to http://www.myspace.com/georgiaannemuldrow
TP: Name some early musical influences that helped shape your sound as player, singer and producer?
My mother and my brother were my first influences. Actually, my brother is currently an actor on NBC's "The Office". My favorite pianists are Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Prince and Dr. Fink, actually the whole Minneapolis scene was a major influence on me, McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans, and D'Angelo to name a few.
As far as singers, Marvin Gaye was the first artist that made me sit down and study my voice on another level, but also Donny Hathaway, Nina Simone, Steve Arrington of Slave, and the legendary Daryl Coley(gospel singer). The producers who inspire me, include Quincy Jones, J Dilla, Steely Dan, Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, and DJ Premier.
When will we hear your upcoming album "The Chase"?
Soon, but I am taking my time and not rushing to finish this one. I want to get the sound that I really hear!! My first project "The Official Bootleg of Chris Rob, Vol. 1", was really a mixtape of works in progress to me... I put that out kind of quickly, and didn't put any thought into the long term effect of the music going globally like it did.
By Tom Paul
Check out Chris Rob's infectious, soulful vibe, pick-up his current CD project The Official Bootleg of Chris Rob, Vol. 1, available at http://www.chrisrobonline.com/ , I-Tunes, and CD Baby.com.
You can check out both myspace page links Chris Rob at http://myspace.com/chrisrobonline and The Real Live Show http://www.myspace.com/therealliveshow