Profile: Christian Walz

Published: 2006-11-30 by Sebastian Tiger

Christian Walz released his debut album at the age of 21. It received an enthusiastic response and Christian was nominated for Grammy Awards for Composer of the Year and Newcomer of the Year.

Although it was four years before his next album, "Paint By Numbers", was released, his fans had clearly not forgotten him and his pop-influenced soul. His song "Wonderchild" reached number one on Radio P3’s music chart and for a month was the most frequently played song on Swedish radio.

“But I’m not really the hit-song type of guy,” Christian stresses.

He hopes his songs are perceived as passionate music with depth and substance. He received positive reviews of "Paint By Numbers" although a couple of critics felt the album was over produced.

“I suppose that comment was to be expected because my second album was such a long time coming. However, the fact that it took a while to produce the album was not because I was spending time fussing over details, but lots of other reasons. One of the reasons was that I’d become a father.”

Soul with timing
What most characterises Christian’s music and songs is the timing. His gentle falsetto is rhythmical in an unstrained way – and it’s not a computer-generated effect. However, he flatly rejects comparisons made between himself and Eric Gadd.

“I don’t understand where the similarity is supposed to exist. Is it because we are both blond?”

It is often said that Swedish soul has problems creating an identity of its own. Christian feels that this applies to many different genres and is not typically specific to soul.

“We are too busy pigeonholing music into different genres. This soon robs the music of its identity.”

Discovered by record company
Christian comes from a family in which music was important and where Chopin’s piano music permeated the very atmosphere of his home. His great grandmother was a concert pianist and Christian himself had piano lessons.

“I wasn’t that ambitious a pupil. I preferred to play for fun rather than practising my pieces.”
He enjoyed sitting at the computer creating musical backgrounds, although he didn't actually compose any real songs, he says. That changed when he bought a sampler while at upper secondary school. Now he could get down to some serious composing.

One of his teachers heard a half-finished song that Christian had written and asked if he could send it to his publishers. The publishers, Peermusic, expressed immediate interest and asked Christian to sign a contract with them. They also helped him find a studio where he could work close to his school.

“I sat there toying with sounds but didn’t really have the faintest idea what I was doing.”

Play and discipline
Playing around with music to produce the desired result has always been a hallmark of Christian’s creative talent. Without this element of play, he might never have gone into music as a career.

“I don’t feel obliged to express myself through music. For me, it’s more of a longing to play with music.”

From an artistic standpoint, this attitude has worked well, but it has also been extremely time-consuming. Christian explains that working in a disciplined manner has not always been his strong point. It is only when someone’s snapping at his heels that he can meet deadlines. Then he can write very quickly and has found that in terms of quality the work he produces at speed is as good as the music that he has fussed over at length.

If you write music on a computer, it is highly tempting to start focusing on details far too early on in the process. Christian says that he has made that mistake before.

“I’m not a perfectionist, but I am extremely obstinate, and I couldn’t carry on composing a song unless I was entirely satisfied with everything I had written up to that point. I would get tangled up in details which meant that the actual process of writing was taking far too long.”

Nowadays, he works in a different way. He explains that he now gets greater satisfaction from writing a song that has a beginning and an end than writing one that only has a perfect beginning. For his next album, he would like to work with a project manager who could help out with planning, deadlines and management – just to be on the safe side. However, he promises that we won’t have to wait as long for his next album.

Mattias Franzén


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