Meet Chrissi, the UK musician creating potent R&B with BERWYN
The Essex-based musician's debut single Back In The Day is a beautiful, yet darkly-layered introduction to her sound.
Header image by Krystal Neuvill.
It's a rare occasion when an artist is able to stop you in their tracks after hitting play on a song, yet it's something English musician Chrissi is able to do within just a few seconds on her debut single Back In The Day. It's an emotionally potent introduction to the Essex-based newcomer, one that's indebted to references spread through R&B and soul which she manages to bring to life through soft lyrical romanticism, delivered with a vocal prowess that makes it hard to believe this is anything but an entrance.
In saying that, Back In The Day may be Chrissi's debut single, but it's definitely not the start of her career. Growing up amongst a hot-bed of Trinidadian culture and the UK's blossoming electronic music world, Chrissi's eventual debut has been a long time coming, preluded by low-key performances and songwriting that analysed the inner workings of her life and everything around her.
Eventually, that turned into music like Back In The Day, worked on alongside Mercury Prize-winning favourite BERWYN. It's a song that still feels remarkably natural, one born from casual songwriting that soon blossomed into something bigger, assumingly when BERWYN's jagged-edged production came further into play. The end result is something potent and reflective yet left-field and incredibly forward-thinking; rough-around-the-edges on the outside yet delightfully smooth on the inside, as Chrissi and BERWYN find a natural fit that stems from their lifetime of collaboration.
"I used to try to avoid dreams about this guy so much, that he would just appear whenever," she says on Back In The Day, which aches with his gentle touch of aforementioned romanticism that seems to bring everything together. "I want you to feel upset, I want you to feel what I feel!"
You mostly do feel that catharticism by the time Back In The Day wraps up, and it's something further explored through the song's accompanying video clip, shot entirely in black and white and directed by Udoma Janssen. "Initially inspired by Carrie Mae Weams’ kitchen table series from 1996, we wanted to capture authentic aspects of Chrissi’s everyday life as the song felt so honest and introspective," Janssen says. "After meeting Chrissi, we knew that she was a special artist, one that was relatable yet unique. We involved her friends, family, and her nephews to further channel her personal story. Each frame is a window into a chapter of her life thus far."
If each frame of Back In The Day's video is a snapshot of Chrissi's life, then the song as a whole feels like a life-long journey, one that pulls apart the walls around her and introduces you to the tenderness of someone sure to impress. There's plenty more on the way we're sure, but in the meantime, take a dive into Back In The Day below, and further introduce yourself to Chrissi underneath:
Tell us about yourself?
Hi I’m Chrissi, I’m a singer-songwriter from Essex.
What’s your music like? What does it sound like? What kind of themes does it usually cover?
I’d say my genre is pop/soul/alternative and the themes I usually cover are unrequited love, heartbreak or once in a while there’s a cheesy love song that’s actually quite hopeful.
What are your production and writing processes usually like?
Half of the time I write with my guitar so I come up with a chord progression and build vocal melodies off of it, later on putting lyrics to the melodies until it all comes together nicely. If I’m in the studio with a producer I prefer to have a chord progression laid down and then I write lyrics and melodies which the rest of the track can be built around.
Can you tell us about your debut single, Back In The Day?
I wrote Back In The Day in the studio with Berwyn, I was three hours late so he had just been messing around with string samples and it sounded amazing. As soon as I heard it we started writing over it and got it recorded. It was a really lovely day. The lyrics explore what my views on love were at the time when I wrote it, it’s quite a hopeless and defeated tone. I thought this was perfect for my first release as it had a genuine special place in my heart and it’s a part of myself I’m happy to share with the world.
The song was created in casual sessions with BERWYN, who is someone we’ve become a big fan of over the last few years. What was your experience like working with him, and what did he bring out of you as a musician?
It’s cool working with him we definitely bring the best out of each other with our different ages and influences. He grew up with me listening to One Direction in my room and I grew up with him listening to Otis Redding in his room. It’s easier to be emotionally vulnerable with him than with any other producer because he’s my bro and also my bestie. Love u bdot.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2021 and beyond?
Tour with Berwyn, EP release also for 2021. Excited to release second EP next year and do more headline shows.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
When I find a good song it almost feels like a hug when I listen to it, I want to provide that with at least one of my songs for at least one human being. Complete comfort and happiness.