Whenever I sit down to review or even just listen to music, I’m always on the hunt for that special something – whether it be a specific chord progression, a moving line or lyrics or instrumentation that’s engaging. So when Chris Saunders sent me his new track “Palace of Marbles”, set to be released Friday 2/7, it was only seconds into the song where various “special somethings” managed to make themselves known.
Immediately, I was captivated by Saunders’ almost brooding, yet melodic voice that can send chills down your spine or put a smile on your face. While the track begins as a simple acoustic tune, it manages to swell and fall beautifully, along an ensemble of strings and even a flute, in a way that I found impressively executed. His influences include such legends as Bob Marley & the Wailers, Seal, and Coldplay, and it shows. It’s the kind of song I could imagine would have the power to quiet a room full of loud people, causing heads to turn in awe.
As if giving me an early listen of his new track wasn’t nice enough, Saunders also shared some more insight with me about the story behind “Palace” and the future of his solo project:
DEAD LANGUAGE: Thank you so much for sending me an early release of your new track “Palace of Marbles” which you’re gearing up to finally release to the world this Friday! Its such a wonderfully crafted from beginning to end, and your voice is haunting in the most beautiful way. What was the recording process for the track like?
Chris Saunders: Thanks so much. That means a lot. I actually wrote this song years ago, but only just got to recording it. I record a lot with my friend Segnon Tiewul in Harlem. For songs that I have written on guitar, we usually lay down my guitar to a click track and then I go in the booth, sans guitar, so I can focus on my vocals. After that, Segnon gets familiar with the song and we start brainstorming ideas for what to add. In this case we didn’t hear any percussion, but we heard strings, which my bassist, Ben Krupit, did on synthesizer. I’m not even sure where the idea for the flute came from, but my bassist played that too (he’s a music teacher). From there, it was just mixing and mastering.
DL: The lyrics seem full of surreal, imagery; what were the inspirations behind them?
CS: The title for the song came from my friend Didier, with whom I was trading poem/song titles with. He said ‘Palace of Marvels,’ but I heard Palace of Marbles. I think I had been into a girl who wasn’t as into me at the time, and the idea of a palace built out of something unable to support its own weight (a relationship that seemed to be more than it was) gave me these ideas of “towers reaching way to far, built on nothing at all” and “walking on clouds, floating on air.” Delusions, essentially.
DL: I remember reading that you also play for the band Eleventh Ward, so how did playing solo come about for you? And do you prefer it?
CS: I loved my band Eleventh Ward. I actually started out solo, playing open mics, solo gigs, and even battle of the bands solo. I made it to a Battle of the Bands final and brought a bassist, who I had met through a friend, along with me and won as a duo! After that, another mutual friend jumped on guitar with us and then we met a drummer at a gig, who was playing with the band after us. I love collaborating with other musicians, but it’s hard to coordinate for rehearsals and shows. Solo is definitely easier. And I’ve been told people can hear my lyrics more solo. I’m big into lyrics.
DL: I also remember you mentioned playing the NYC live circuit for 10+ years now, which is no easy feat. What has it taught you as a musician?
CS: I think I’m a slow learner, ha ha. I’ve learned that it is hard to get a crowd out to your show month in and month out, especially when your fan base hasn’t grown. But I’ve also learned that no matter what, whether in front of a packed house or a handful of people, it’s always great to share your creations and to share yourself, and hope people relate and enjoy.
DL: You’ve also played the UK, Costa Rica, Australia and France. How did you find yourself playing music in these places and what was it like?
CS: Well, I have family in the UK, France, Australia, and Jamaica and have found places to play with their help. My family always supports en force and bring their friends. The energy is absolutely amazing and different in each place. I was lucky enough to perform during Sydney Fringe when I was there, at a bar overlooking the ocean in France, and in a comfy pub in England. I hope to do a little more performing outside of the city.
DL: Will “Palace of Marbles” be on an upcoming release? Or can we expect a another album in the works?
CS: Palace of Marbles is solely a single. It’s a song I’ve wanted to record and release for a long time now and I’m excited that time is finally here.
My next big project I’m hoping to get rolling in the next year is “Inferno.” It’s centered around a song of the same name that I wrote based on Dan Brown’s Inferno, which was based in turn on a Bernini painting which was based on Dante’s Inferno (I know, a lot of connections). The song essentially says I would walk through hell to be with my soon-to-be wife and I’m hoping to build an album around that theme.
“Palace of Marbles” will be dropping this Friday February 7th; you can listen to this below, and his other releases on Spotify and Soundcloud. Also, be sure to give him a LIKE on Facebook, subscribe on YouTube, and follow his progress and upcoming shows on his main website.