Chris Zurich
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Chris Zurich

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF | AFTRA

New York City, New York, United States | SELF | AFTRA
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo Rock Soul




"Stream Black Ink, the newly reissued LP from experimental Philly songwriter Chris Zurich"

Chris Zurich is a really hard artist to pin down. The Philadelphia musician takes influence from genres as diverse as soul, opera and punk, blending them to create a unifying sound on his new album, Black Ink. The first single, “Annie,” is the perfect example of the different styles that influence Zurich’s music. Drums and vocals seem to pull influence from R&B and hip-hop, while the guitar and bass seem to come from music not far off from Stevie Wonder. It’s a soulful ballad that really opens up the album and introduces the world to Chris Zurich. Check out the single below and download it here. Black Ink is out October 15h. - The Key at WXPN

"Track/Video Premiere: Chris Zurich – “Nothing Around Me”"

Inclusivity can be a hard sell in music. If you’re not careful, it can easily be seen as a simple ploy to garner sympathy or pander to some common emotional denominator. But when done right, it can draw the listener into a complete and fully formed world of often communal ideas and feelings. In the case of singer-songwriter Chris Zurich, this campfire mentality comes all too easily. Drawing from his hardcore music upbringing — and being inspired by soul artists like Stevie Wonder and Cody Chesnutt — Zurich began to understand that melody and intense emotion catharsis need not be mutually exclusive. Studying with a former opera star, he realized that a vocal soulfulness paired with leagues of energetic rhythms could bring out the same sense of closure and release that the loudest hardcore bands always aimed for, and that soul artists always had in spades. The sense of unbound collusion between genres is hallmark of his music and can be found in almost every song on his forthcoming self-released debut record, Black Ink (out October 15th).
For out latest glimpse into Black Ink, Zurich has given us the intimate and pensive “Nothing Around Me,” which details the collapse of a relationship between him and a former bandmate. With an opening line like “nothing around me’s the same,” you can pretty much guarantee that it was a painful break. Wrapping occasional flashes of synths and shimmering guitars around his hesitant vocals, the track paints a heartbreaking portrait of misunderstanding and regret. There is a sense of cautious optimism — brought out by a brass outro — that the whole situation might possibly be okay somewhere down the line, but right now it just seems too close to feel anything but pain. But Zurich instills these emotions with a fragility and hard-won validity that keeps the song from ever feeling too maudlin or overly sentimental.
Beats Per Minute is pleased to premiere the latest single, “Nothing Around Us,” from Chris Zurich’s upcoming debut record, Black Ink. - Beats Per Minute

"Watch a new video for “Nothing Around Me” by Chris Zurich"

Philadelphia’s Chris Zurich has followed an unusual musical path – embracing the hardcore scene when he was younger, Zurich went on to form a Mars Volta cover band in a West Philly basement, take vocal lessons from an opera singer and is now on the cusp of releasing his debut LP. Describing his sound as a “culture clash,” Zurich hasn’t forgotten his musical roots on Black Ink. There are elements of punk, reggae and soul, woven together in a way that reaches out and connects to fans of all genres, as we heard on “Annie” last month.
This week Zurich released the video for “Nothing Around Me,” an “electro pop song about a broken friendship between a former a bandmate” that may well be the centerpiece of the album. The video alternates shots of Zurich’s emotive face and a swirling, thickening black ink that visually breaks up the positive white space of the frame bit by bit, perhaps reflecting the fissures of the friendship that has been overtaken by negative feelings. Black Ink is out October 15th; watch the video below and get a free download of the track here. - The Key at WXPN

"Spilling the black ink with experimental folk musician Chris Zurich."

“I called this Black Ink with a cover of an octopus expelling ink as a defense mechanism because there was a feeling of apprehension while making it,” says 27-year-old Chris Zurich. The Quaker-raised, Valley Forge-area native and experimental folkie is speaking confidently about the stinging lyrical themes that haunt his solo debut and its tales of a lover’s betrayal, friendships gone awry and wealth inequality. “I was saying things that might be uncomfortable for family and friends to hear so that octopus’ image was apt. I found myself trying to decide if something I’d say was too raw, but eventually saying, ‘no.’ That’s what art is for.”

Black Ink’s sonic-booming electronic ambiance and subtle twitches of prog-rock go handsomely with Zurich’s usual take on singer-songwriter folkie soul that local audiences first got to know through his one-time band, New West. The boldly rocking, country-ish ensemble debuted on the night of Obama’s first election. entertaining crowds in line to vote. “I chose that band’s name, not so much for political reasons, but cultural,” says Zurich. “Everything felt in flux or about to change. I also really liked how “big” the name sounded.”

By 2012 though, that band name became a weight around Zurich’s neck. Los Angeles’ New West Records sent cease-and-desist notices, a cock-block that slowed the band’s momentum to a stand-still. “The silver lining was that I got better responses from playing solo than with a loud band drowning out my sound.” Zurich’s New West went south as his solo direction grew sparse, blending electronics with traditional instrumentation.

One of Black Ink’s frankest songs, “Nothing Around Me,” is about a friendship-gone-awry with one of his bandmates, a necessary trade-off considering Zurich’s new-found need for a radically different (or at least complimentary) sonic palette for his earnest, often cutting lyrics. “My music changes rapidly now as a result of not having to answer to other musicians,” says Zurich. “I’m testing new sounds, but I’ve also experimented with writing quickly and not belaboring ideas, striving for some idea of perfection. The result is a direct voice and more spontaneity in my writing.”

Perhaps it’s that newfound impulsiveness that’s given Black Ink’s lyrics an unequivocally candid feel, songs that traffic in the travails of unconditional love (“Annie”), gender identification (“Doomsday”), a child’s death (“North of Sky”), and waking up to a lover saying someone else’s name in their sleep (“The Sounds”). With all the experimental change that Zurich has brought to his career and his art, Zurich will not eschew the one thing that drives most musicians: having a hit. That’s why he’s currently remixing Black Ink’s already-epic “Bend Song” into something eerily R&B-ish and grander still.

“It’s melodic, catchy, yet balanced with lyrical integrity,” says Zurich. “It felt big when I wrote it. Luckily, I have a producer reworking ”Bend” to shop around. He calls it a career defining song, one I’ll have to sing every night, like “Roxanne” is for Sting. I don’t know if I can stomach doing that, but I’ll try.” - City Paper

"Open mic contest opens some lucrative doors"

By Michael Weekley, For Time Out

All too often, gifted songwriters lend their talents to java-drinking audiences, with little to show for them but experience and the hopes that someone in the audience drew something from the performance. Fortunately, regional musicians like Chris Jones are starting to get the attention they deserve.

Recently, Jones, who lives in the Valley Forge area, along with seven other open-mic contest winners, competed for more than just street credibility at the “Battle of the Open Mics” at Steel City Coffeehouse in Phoenixville.

After a month-long competition to find the region’s top open-mic night performer, the battle featured two acts from four regional open mic night hosts. Participants from Burlap and Bean in Newtown Square, Chaplin’s: The Music Cafe in Spring City, Puck in Doylestown and Steel City Coffeehouse took the stage in hopes to win recording time at Los Halos Music Studio in Phoenixville, a mini-tour of opening slots at Burlap and Bean, Chaplin’s, Steel City and a high profile opportunity courtesy of the Philadelphia Songwriter’s Project.

As the final act of the night, Jones showed no hesitation in arousing the full-capacity crowd to listen to his music. Opening with a spirited a cappella rendition of blues singer Son House’s “Grinning in Your Face,” Jones engaged the audience without being overzealous.

“It’s the job of the performer to provide the atmosphere,” Jones said. “As long as they are having a good time you are doing your job”.

Jones certainly did provide quite an amiable atmosphere. His second and final song, Bend, included clever guitar playing and smooth, inspired vocals that he said draw from multiple sides of his personality.

“I’m now trying to represent all sides of my personality,” Jones said. “A contemplative, somber side. Even with sad songs, there are uplifting qualities. I hope to have danceable joyful rhythms. I try to have a couple different moods in one song; happiness and sadness.”

By scaling the lines between heartfelt ambience and true showmanship, Chris was able to win the approval and appreciation of both the judges and the audience. For his efforts, Chris will receive a package tailor-made for an aspiring musician.

“I’ve got four hours of recording time,” Jones said. “I already have a producer who I have a very good rapport with, but this studio has analog recording, so it might be fun to try some things with. I might work out a demo there.”

Chris places the most value in the upcoming-mini tour. “Different coffee shops in the area are giving us the opportunity to open up bigger artists and be exposed. That’s really helpful and a great part of the prize.”
- The Mercury

"We Never Asked For This"

We Never Asked For This is our short review of a band who thought (or their label/manager/agent/girlfriend thought) that it would be a good idea to send us an email saying “like me! like me! like me!” (more or less).

Today’s blind submission is from Philadelphia based project New West.

Postcard Editor: Maybe it’s the heatwave we’re suffering through, but these two songs from New West really hit the spot when they showed up in our inbox this week. Languid and lovely, both tracks build on the blueprint of neo-soul-rock pioneers like Sade and Simply Red for two slices of pure adult pop/soft rock perfection. As it’s only two tracks, it’s hard to say whether NW has more colors in their palette, but even if not, that’s fine. This is the perfect shade for days like these.

Check out both tracks below. - Postcard Elba

"July – Crop O’ Singles and a Dash of Pop"

Annie MP3 by New West from a coming release. I’m not sure how you start off as a Mars La Volta basement cover band then end-up making a pretty song like this one. Here’s Chris Zurich and his band which is more roots rock influenced than anything West Philly could ever offer. - Review Stalker


-The Eastern Standard EP 
-Black Ink



Generating the soundtrack to culture clash, Chris Zurichs music is an accurate representation of his impassioned mission statement, creating a sound that doesn't exclude highlights from any genre, a fusion that is designed to connect people or groups that wouldn't naturally collide.

Coming out of a hardcore music upbringing, Chris began to notice the value of the brief but often unrealized melodic instincts that have gone largely unexplored outside the genre. Inspired by this, Chris began to mine this idea and see if he could base entire songs upon these moody and melodic leanings.

 Inspired by the classic and neo-soul voices of artists like Stevie Wonder and Cody Chesnutt, Chris began studying opera with a former opera star who sought to impart his knowledge, after his own career had faltered. Under his tutelage, Chris was finally able to set his vision in motion, pairing the soulful vocals with the melodic instincts underexploited in hardcore.

 Black Ink tastefully marries prog rock and ripe soul, tearing down typecasts of the indie mold. Alternating between melancholy moods and entrancing electronica, the record has an ornate lulling effect, gracefully snapping listeners back from hypnosis with his commanding, and most basic instrument, his lauded voice.

 Loyal to all parts of the production process, Chris named the album Black Ink, a reference to the defensive ink a squid produces when it's under siege, and since this is Chris Zurich's debut release, the imagery is a metaphor for the exposition and struggle of willfully revealing aspects of yourself to those around you for the first time.

 His equality-focused Quaker upbringing paired with parenting by an ethics professor deemed one of the most dangerous minds in America, quickly forged radical ideals and world conscious perception in the themes of the encrypted lyrics on Black Ink. Chriss expansive mind and open door policy of human connection has complemented his art both musically and conceptually, delivering a new kind of artist to the musical landscape, an inclusionary one.