20 Questions with Chris Kirby

Tara Bradbury
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It’s a wonder Chris Kirby has been getting any sleep at all. Send him an email late on a Saturday evening and he’ll respond right away; text him with a question before 9 a.m. on a Sunday and he’ll respond within minutes.

Chris Kirby performs with his band The Marquee at a house concert in St. John’s Dec. 30, 2012. The concert recording has been made into a live album, which will be released the first week in March.
— Submitted photo

Kirby, 31, is becoming one of the province’s hardest-working musicians: in addition to his own award-winning albums (and an unrelated day job), Kirby has been co-writing songs for artists such as Tim Chaisson and Charlie A’Court; producing records for bands (some of them well outside his typical blues/soul/funk style) like pop/punk group RocketRocketShip, and taking up-and-coming talent, such as Brianna Gosse, who recently scored an East Coast Music Week showcase, under his wing and helping them develop.

It’s not bad for a guy who, as a young child, never wanted to take up music to begin with, but was gently (or not so gently) pushed into it by his mom, his first piano teacher.

Following up on the success of 2012’s “Wonderizer,” which earned him two MusicNL awards and two ECMA nominations, Kirby will release a live album, recorded at a house concert in St. John’s  last year at the beginning of March.

Last week, he debuted a video for his song, “Leave of Absence,” from the “Wonderizer” record. Watch it online at bit.ly/1iCgLKm .



What is your full name?

Christopher Bernard Kirby.


Where and when were you born?

I was born in Buchans (well, the hospital was in Grand Falls, but you know what I mean). December 1982.


Where is home today?

I’ve been calling St. John’s home since I moved here for university in 2001.


What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading an email from Tara Bradbury with 20 questions in it. But seriously, I’m reading a book by a woman I just met in Cuba. “Memoirs of a Hippie Girl in India,” by Ann BeCoy.


What is your earliest musical memory?

I was four or five years old. Mom asks: “would you like to take piano lessons?”

I say: “No.”

She says: “You start next week.”

Mom was my first piano teacher. I had no way out!


When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I believe when I did my “when I grow up” speech at the kindergarten graduation, I declared that I wanted to grow up to be a teacher. Both my parents were teachers, and it seemed very natural to me back then to follow Mommy’s and Daddy’s footsteps. My sister was a little more of a dreamer. She wanted to be a sheep.

Do you have any hidden talents?



If you could learn to play a new instrument, what would it be?

I try to learn new instruments all the time. In my music room I have a case of harmonicas, a book and dvd on blues harmonica playing, and a whole lot of intention. They’ve all been sitting on the shelf together for about two years. One day...


What’s your favourite movie?

I’m a huge fan of most muppet movies. The earliest “Muppet Movie” and “the Great Muppet Caper” are my all time favourites.


Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Kermit the Frog, or maybe Justin Timberlake. Or maybe Phil Churchill. Yeah, definitely Phil Churchill.


What do you like to cook?

I’m getting pretty good at just about anything in a slow cooker. I also just started making kick-butt vegetarian curry.


Amongst the songs you’ve written, what are your favourites?

I really like what has become of “The Healing” from Tim Chaisson’s latest album. Also, I’m quite proud of the songs that wound up on Charlie A’Court’s record “Triumph & Disaster,” particularly “Chains of Gold.” As for my own releases, I would have to say my favourites haven’t been heard or released yet.


What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t really treasure possessions. I don’t even know where most of them are.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best words of wisdom I’ve ever received came from my dad: “The grass on the other side of the fence is still just grass.”


What was one act of rebellion you committed as a teenager?

I wasn’t much of a rebel. I drank once or twice. I do remember a trip to St. Pierre where I learned to smoke cigars ...


What was your most embarrassing moment?

I remember when I was a young teen, my brother and I were in Sydney, N.S., where our grandparents lived. We were hanging out at the Mayflower Mall and saw a couple of girls about our age at the food court. We dared ourselves to go talk to them. My great opening line was “are you girls from Newfoundland?” They said no, they were from Sydney. I said “Ah, that’s strange, we’re from Newfoundland, and I was sure I’ve seen you before.” One girl simply restated: “Nope.” Silence. More Silence. Oh and staring. I had no followup line, and my brother also had nothing to contribute to the conversation. We had no idea what we were doing. I think I said “this is awkward” a few times. Then the girls introduced us to their boyfriends. I think I said “this is awkward” once more after that before we said goodbye to our new friends.


Who would be your dream musician to work with?

I would love to work with Questlove from The Roots. Everything I hear from him makes me want to meet him more.


What inspires you?

What inspires me is when I hear from someone who appreciates my work. Once in a while I’ll get an email from someone who has seen a show or heard one of my songs on the radio for the first time. When somebody tells me that my work has touched them in some way, big or small, it really gets me amped up to do more.


If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be?

New Orleans. I am sure I would find it challenging to keep up with what they have going on down there, but New Orleans music is my favourite and I can’t keep it from creeping into my own songs. For that reason, I am certain that I would find it most inspiring to make music there.


Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

Geographically speaking, I don’t really aim to be anywhere in particular. I guess figuratively speaking I hope to be in a place where I’m writing higher-profile songs every day and paying all my bills with royalty money.



Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Geographic location: Buchans, Grand Falls, Cuba India Sydney Newfoundland New Orleans

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