Bent Twig
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Bent Twig

Band Hip Hop Soul


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"Off the gridiron, UW football player's passion is the studio"

By Christian Caple
May 19, 2009

It wasn’t the best idea, he says with a laugh, looking back on it. But when UW junior walk-on center Gregory Christine and his best friend Samson Szakacsy got done recording their first song while the two were in high school in Camarillo, Calif., they wanted to hear how it sounded on a real system.

So they went to a friend’s house, put the song on his surround-sound stereo system and basked in the glory of their hard-earned auditory achievement.

Christine cringes when he talks about it now.

“We were so excited that we couldn’t hear how terrible it was,” said the 6-foot-2-inch, 286-pound Christine. “Looking back on it, man, that was so embarrassing. That was terrible. I don’t know what we were thinking.”

As grassroots as his music career started — at his mom’s house with a $10 microphone from Radio Shack and $30 computer-recording software — Christine has grown into a certified recording artist, co-producing the recent release Daily Thoughts with his group Bent Twig, which consists of Szakacsy and himself. A release party for the album is scheduled for May 29 at Pravda Studios.

It’s a unique sound, more laid-back than mainstream rap, with thoughtful lyrics and an easygoing flow that suits Christine’s friendly demeanor. But what’s most unique about the album is that Christine and Szakacsy put it together via the Internet. Because Christine plays football for the UW and Szakacsy is a quarterback at Arizona State University, the duo never have a chance to actually work together.

Szakacsy said he would record his verses using GarageBand and send them to Christine, who, along with their producer, David Thomson, would take them into the studio and put a beat to it. Then, they’d each add to the track until they had a final product.

“Thanks for the Internet, I guess,” Szakacsy said. “We just took it from there.”

For Christine, the album is a culmination of a lifetime devoted to music. He grew up in a family full of church-choir singers and musicians and learned how to play the piano when he was 7 years old at his mother’s urging.

“I had to get him into instruments because he had no rhythm,” said Christine’s mom, Maria Christine. “I can’t have a son that can’t dance.”

Piano fell by the wayside, Maria Christine said, once her son became busy with high-school football and other obligations. But he never stopped experimenting with music, teaming up with Szakacsy in high school to start trying to match verses with beats.

There was one problem, though. Gregory Christine and Szakacsy had to record all of their songs in one take, without stopping, because of the poor quality of their aforementioned recording software.

They needed better equipment. The solution? Sell their demos to classmates in the schoolyard at $5 a pop until they had enough money — about $600 — to buy a new 8-track digital recorder.

“It was, ‘You got $5? Here’s a CD,’” Gregory Christine said. “Samson transferred schools and started selling like crazy. I went to a private school, so people were a little more uptight. But he sold a ton of those things.”

They sold enough, eventually, to buy the recorder — or so they thought. In their excitement to upgrade their equipment, Gregory Christine had forgotten to factor in the cost of tax.

So Maria Christine, who had watched the two progress in their makeshift recording studio in a room of her house, gave them the money to make up the difference.

“They’re good kids,” said Maria Christine. “And when you have good kids, you want to do good things for them.”

Gregory Christine wasn’t surprised that his mom came up with the cash for them.

“She’s my everything,” he said. “I’m definitely a mama’s boy.”

Maria Christine recalls phone conversations with her son during last year’s frustrating 0-12 football season­ — he spent the season on the sideline behind senior starter Juan Garcia — telling her son to keep working hard and keep doing the things that had caught the eye of college recruiters when he led his team to a 14-0 finish as a senior in high school.

“‘It’ll pay off one day,’” she’d tell him. “I don’t know when, but it will some day. Maybe not in football, but in something. It’s a life lesson that it’s not always easy.”

As if he doesn’t already know. Remember, this all started with a $10 microphone from Radio Shack. - UW Daily

"Persistence pays for UW guard Gregory Christine"

In his rap song "Déjà vu," Bent Twig give us some insight into his makeup:

'Cause if we work together and we take a little pride

If we can do the best we can and not just try to get by

The world will see a change and not a roll of an eye

Just do what I can and I don't ask why

Bent Twig is the street name for the University of Washington's resilient junior left guard, Gregory Christine, and also the name of his rap group, which includes his good friend Samson Szakacsy, a quarterback at Arizona State.

A walk-on, Christine sat for the first 11 games and three quarters of Washington's 0-12 season of 2008. He finally played all of 13 plays in the last quarter of the last blowout of a lost year at California.

"I was so excited," he said, "because who knows, those could have been the first and last snaps of my career. I was holding on to guys. Whistles were blowing. I didn't care. It was like, 'Come on. This is it right here.' "

As Bent Twig's lyrics explain, Christine maintained his pride. He didn't roll his eyes. He didn't shrug his shoulders and tell himself he tried. He kept at it, through all the losing, through the punishing practices on the scout team, through Washington's coaching change and through the punishing monotony of last winter's weight training.

"It was definitely rough, especially when you're not on the field and you think you can make a difference," Christine said after Tuesday's practice. "Last year felt like, 'Oh gosh,' but at the same time, I'm still a Husky. I'm not going to up and leave."

But players leave all the time. Players transfer because they aren't getting playing time. They quit because they aren't getting the chance they thought they were promised.

"I know guys do, but I'm one of those kinds of people who would rather go through the wall than try to find a way around the wall," Christine said. "Sure you always feel like you're banging your head against the wall, but every little bang makes a crack until that crack becomes a hole. And then you can go through it.

"You just keep coming back to practice. Regardless of the score, or whether you played, you've got to come back and work for the next Saturday. I mean Saturdays are what you live for. If you're not working hard, then what do you expect on a Saturday?"

Tyrone Willingham left. Steve Sarkisian came, and life at Washington changed for Christine. He went from the scout team to the starting team. He has been Washington's starting left guard for the opening games against LSU and Idaho. He will be on the field again Saturday against USC.

"He's been putting in all the work that he had to do to get to be the starting left guard," left tackle Ben Ossai said. "It takes a motivated guy to keep going after it, after all the adversity of not playing for basically that whole year. But he stuck in there, and this year it's paid off."

Christine, from Camarillo, Calif., a center on St. Bonaventure's 14-0 team in 2005, is used to being told what he can't do. He wasn't highly recruited. He was told he was too small. Willingham invited him to walk on, then practically ignored him.

Christine took the snub as a challenge.

"It's always been my thing to prove people wrong," he said. "So just coming in here was one step for me. Then working hard was another step. Then being able to play with guys was another step. It was sort of a culmination. You set bars for yourself, and then you try to reach them."

He was told he would be the Huskies' starting left guard the week of the LSU game. He refused to celebrate.

"It was a great feeling," he said, "but it also just told me that I needed to study more. This was my show now,and I had to run my position. I had to know what I was doing. I couldn't go out there and just lose my mind. I had to show the coaches why they trusted me.

"It wasn't like I got my spot and I could kick my feet back. No, not at all. That's when you're most vulnerable, when you feel like you can relax. I put my foot on the gas when I was told I was starting."

You only live once and it's not about I

The world needs help and not a "well I tried."

Let's make some peace so no one else dies

And when we all get it right then we're all gonna fly

He spent two season on the scout team, as anonymous as an athlete can get. Now Gregory Christine is on the field. It's his time to fly.

Steve Kelley
- Steve Kelly - Seattle Times

"The Dawg Dish: Episode 4" - UW Athletics


Daily Thoughts (2009)

The Bent Twig Project: Asymmetry of Life (April 2010)



Bent Twig Avenue. Camarillo, California. Gregory "Preach" Christine grew up playing the piano since he was 7 years old. Wanting to pursue music further, while in high school, he decided to turn the extra bedroom into a recording studio. With a little help from life long friend Samson "Soos" Szakacsy they did just that. Having nothing more than an American DJ turntable mixer that Preach got for free from a high school teacher, an outdated demo version of Fruity Loops beat making software, and a $10 microphone BMP Records was born. The duo recorded nearly everyday and put their 3 best songs onto hundreds of blank CDs. They sold them to who they knew best, everyone in the schoolyard. With their earnings they were able upgraded to a multitrack recorder, and a brand new microphone. With Preach's jazz/soul/R&B background combined with Soos' funk/rock&roll influences the two created very unique sound.

After high school the duo became separated in pursuit of college degrees. Preach currently attends the University of Washington while Soos attends Arizona State University. The two might be separated geographically but they are on the same page musically. Working over cell phones and the internet the two were sending emails back and forth of vocals and beats. In honor of their humble beginnings Bent Twig was the name chosen by the duo. They have now dropped their debut album Daily Thoughts. The album captures the "Jazz Hop" feel which is credited to Preach's co-production of the entire album.