Chris Ho
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Chris Ho

Band Rock Singer/Songwriter

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Interviews with Chris Ho and Crissi Cochrane. Done in Toronto for NXNE. - CKCU 93.1 (Ottawa)


There are enough roots, alt-country, folk-pop and Americana acts at this year’s NXNE to populate a sizable folk fest. Whether you’re partial to a few tears in your whisky or on the lookout for the next Mumford & Sonsy bar band, the fest’s got you covered....Victoria’s Chris Ho plays shimmery, conversational folk-pop (Tranzac, Saturday, June 15, 8 pm, $10; Monarch Tavern, Saturday, June 15, midnight, $12) - NOW Magazine


It's rare that you encounter a musician who puts thoughts and emotion into words so ably in song and in person (or via chat). That musician is Chris Ho. His second CD "City of Dust" was released in January 2013 and shortly after he won the “Island Songwriter of the Year” at the Vancouver Island Music Awards. Currently on tour, and with a NXNE festival appearance coming up in June, he scheduled in an interview with Examiner.com. - Examiner.com (Toronto)


There are two new songs debuting on the chart, including one in the Top 3, and a former #1 returns to the top spot AGAIN! Also, the song that’s been on the chart the longest also got the most love in your votes. - CBC Music


It’s hard to believe that Chris Ho’s City of Dust is his debut full length record. In a mix of poise and obvious talent, there’s something about Ho’s song making that causes it to feel more experienced than it actually is.

As one of the winners of CBC and Green Couch Productions’ cross-Canada trip of music and documentary making “Tracks on Tracks,” the buzz surrounding Ho’s brand of charming folk-pop songs is about to get a whole lot louder.

(If you’ll pardon the English major in me): In Archibald Lampman’s poem “The City of the End of Things,” he speaks of the changing industrialization of cities and the diminishing feelings of human connections writing, “And moving at unheard commands,/The abysses and vast fires between,/Flit figures that, with clanking hands,/Obey a hideous routine.” With Ho’s City of Dust treading on similar themes as Lampman’s, urban decay and the modernity of society being the major ones, listening to City of Dust I couldn’t help think about Lampman’s poem.

[...] Despite a varying mixture of genres, with Chris Ho’s narrative voice proving to be powerful one and musical talents apparent, City of Dust is a debut record that’s one to hear for 2013. - Grayowl Point (Toronto)


City Of Dust envisions a post apocalyptic world where harmony has been washed away by the rise of technology and the weight of loneliness…. - Verb Magazine (Saskatchewan)


Chris Ho’s music career begun as a simple passion for music. He made music in his Victoria, B.C., home and gave it away for free to anyone who was willing to listen. As time went by a following begun to form in Ho’s home town, eventually driving him to play live around the University of Victoria campus.

In April 2011 Ho released his first official EP Answers, and almost two years later, in January 2013, his Debut-LP City of Dust. The third track on the album “Story of the Flood” got quite a bit of radio traction resulting in Ho being acknowledged with the “Island Song Writer of the Year Award” at the Vancouver Island Music Awards.

I recently had a chance to chat with the man himself about his latest LP and future plans..... - Quip Magazine (Toronto)


Victoria is cramped with acoustic guitar players. If you can’t play Harvest, Pink Moon, or Skinny Love, there are at least a dozen people in the same room who can. But for all the six-string troubadours in the capital city, there is only a handful with real pop-music sensibility, who can write a hook and sing it with conviction. One of those people is Chris Ho, who releases the first single and title track off his album, No Connection, this Wednesday, April 11.

Ho is short and sweetly disheveled; the shelf of dark curls that crowns his head tappers gently into jaw-hugging scruff. He talks the way a singer talks: with perfect volume and enunciation. He seems hyper-conscious of the recorder on the table in front of him. But maybe that’s what happens where you write emotionally charged songs in the first person, then record and release them to the world. - The Martlet


Vancouver-raised, Island-based singer-songwriter Chris Ho has come a long way from his “reclusive years” writing and recording music at home and handing it out to friends.

With an EP under his belt and his first LP on the horizon, 2013 could be a time of harvest for Ho.

City of Dust is a 12-track collection of songs by a confident Ho, taking charge and taking chances with a more complete sound.

Ho released the single “No Connection” months ago, but don’t let its upbeat folk-pop sensibility fool you — it’s not an album full of pop songs. “No Connection” is a more mature follow-up to “Depending on the Day” and his Answers EP (April 2011), with bleak lyrics matched with a sense of sunny optimism. I was singing along halfway through my first listen.

The album also offers a wide range of melody-rich genres and sincere depth of verse (some of which are available to read at chrishomusic.com). - Monday Magazine


Sometimes all you need is a good story. Victoria singer-songwriter Chris Ho clearly knows this, as he’s got the whole storytelling bit down to an art, as shown throughout his newest record which was released January 18th. City of Dust has twelve songs, and each of them are carried by Chris’ smooth narrating voice and the heart to go along with it. Many people can play the guitar, but it’s music like Chris’ that shines through the masses. In terms of musical arrangement, some pieces are minimal while others soar with group whistling and trumpets, everything from pure folk to genre-bending pop. They are built cohesively to model after the idea that trouble in nature equals trouble everywhere else. Whether you believe this philosophy or not, City of Dust is an album to be heard. - Sound Vat


[...] If his musical genesis was one of despondency and isolation from the greater musical community, the recent events in Ho’s life are representative of an exodus from this mindset and a journey towards musical success.

Upon listening to City of Dust, one is immediately struck by the folk-indie hybrid compositional style found among such West Coast artists as Aidan Knight, whose albums, according to Ho, “you can’t help but be somewhat inspired by.” Ho credits other B.C. artists like Dan Mangan and The Zolas as major influences on his craft. As a graduate of UVic’s English Department, Ho had many opportunities to dig his well of lyrical inspiration even deeper. He cites modern and postmodern poets from T.S. Eliot to Kevin Young as influences. “I never got a cap and gown,” says Ho. “Tracks on Tracks fell at the same time.”

In his lyrics, Ho displays a sense of the consequences of the ways that human beings and nature interact: “When winter hums her tune/ the heart of man chooses not to listen even though he will regret/ the way the water freezes over with his debt.” This theme runs through the entire album in the form of topic and imagery, flowing throughout the more familiar pop territories of love and love lost. - The Martlet


Singer-songwriter Chris Ho is like a character out of a Wes Anderson film: quirky, deliberate, a full deck of hearts tucked up his sleeve. In advance of our interview, the 23-year-old offers to call me so that CBC doesn’t incur the long-distance charges for our phone call. He’s polite and mannered, serious but funny, and describes himself as “obsessive” with regards to the making of his debut album, City of Dust, streaming exclusively on CBC Music until its release on Jan. 18. - CBC Music


Chris Ho is an artist proficient in two distinct classes. Like a college student who painstakingly trudges through a double-major program, so does Ho in his musical ability. The joining factor of his duality is his relative genre-ambiguity. At its core, his music is best described as poetry set to acoustic rock. You get the impression that he could very well be a 21st century Paul Simon crossed with John Lennon.

His guitar expresses an array of emotions and paints the settings for his tales of love and loves lost. And throughout the album, various accoutrements (like violin on "Where it Ended", the lone trumpet on the title track, and the besprinkling of poignant synth effects) add color and depth to his songwriting, adding brightness to bleak lyrics and density to fervent emotional outcry. - Music Emissions


For Chris Ho it is about connection.

Despite the title of his newly released, full-length album City of Dust, and its lead single No Connection, the affable 23-year-old singer and songwriter’s narrative may be more adept at making a connection than his lyrics let on.

“(Chris) balances a very artistic, true, unapologetic creative voice and a really cut-to-the-chase strong pop sound simultaneously,” said album co-producer Sam Weber. “It was (about) the tunes. … Making a record where we really didn’t want to compromise anything from a creative means.”

Weber, a fellow solo artist and member of local band River, met Ho only a year ago but made an instant bond with the young songwriter before coming on as a recording engineer for Ho’s first full-length album. One year later, he is proud and excited not only for the album release, but for audiences to enjoy a precision and honesty that shines both on the stage and in the studio.

“If you go to a live show without knowing the tunes, a (musician) has a long way to go to win you over,” Weber said. “But Chris is able to. (He) makes everyone feel comfortable on an artistic level and an entertaining level. It is without compromise, it is not cheap. He can really grab your attention and maintain it.”

Despite recent success, his rise through the ranks has been a methodical one. Sparked with home recordings shared mostly with friends as a 15-year old, to now having his music streamed on CBC, a spot on an upcoming music documentary Tracks on Tracks, and appearances in popular events from the Tall Tree Festival in Port Renfrew to North by Northeast in Toronto, he defers credit to the songs, rather than himself.

“I think what stands out is that music becomes something that is bigger than yourself,” Ho said. “It very much comes out of an unconscious process where you are suddenly compelled to write a song and you don’t know what it is going to be about. You almost discover a song rather than write it.”

It may be that selflessness that helps audiences connect with the University of Victoria graduate who feels solace in finally having his 12-song album out there, out of his system and open for interpretation.

“There is a strong feeling of relief because it does feel like you are getting something off your chest a little. … It is kind of like keeping an emotion bottled up. The release of the album (is) the moment you release,” the Saanich resident said. “It is basically (about) having the ability to share a part of yourself. (People) hear it and say your album really helped me get through this. … Or it came at a perfect time in my life because I was going through something similar. It is the magic of how everyone can interpret a song differently and have that be relatable.” - Victoria News


At first, nearly every song Chris Ho wrote, recorded and performed was done privately, in the comfort of his family’s Vancouver home.

Over the course of two years, Ho kept mostly to himself as a musician, recording in his bedroom on either his computer or old-school four-track recorder. As his catalogue of songs grew, so did his confidence. The singer-songwriter eventually found a comfort level in sharing his art with the public once he enrolled in the University of Victoria.

“I started burning CDs for people at UVic and eventually people followed up on what I would later on be doing — which is playing more shows,” Ho said. “Slowly, I developed a fan base that way.”

The soft-spoken 23-year-old moved here five years ago to attend UVic, where he received a degree in English. He was surprised to learn that the Garden City wasn’t simply flowers and an afternoon tea. Sleepy it isn’t, Ho says. In fact, he maintains that Victoria is more active on the music front than his hometown of Surrey.

“I had a good upbringing,” he said. “It was a little suburban, and there was not much going on over there. Things started happening when I moved here, interestingly enough. Other people consider Victoria to be pretty small and there’s not much happening, but as far as art goes, I’ve found a it’s a really great scene going on here.”

Ho has made a name for himself in Victoria with his upbeat indie folk-rock, a combination that sounds better than ever on his debut full-length, City of Dust. Ho will celebrate its release with a concert Friday at Victoria Event Centre, with help from guests Good For Grapes and Towers and Trees.

A career in music almost didn’t happen for Ho. While at UVic, he dabbled in theatre at the Phoenix Theatre, and worked on projects at two consecutive Fringe festivals. He imagined a future in theatre at one point, but he knew giving up music to do so wasn’t in the cards.

“I kind of put my foot in the door for that, a little bit, but I basically concentrated on music instead.”

The decision sort of took care of itself, Ho remembers. He mentions a gig at the Fort Street Café in September 2010, shortly after he had returned from a summer of working away from his adopted hometown, as the turning point.

“I went through a series of epiphanies and realized that it was something that I was going to perform,” he said. “I was away all summer, came back, and then suddenly friends and fans had shown up to this show. I was really surprised. I didn’t promote it that hard, and yet people came out. That was so amazing.” - Times Colonist


Discography

1. City Of Dust [LP] - (Streamed via CBC Radio 3 one week before its release; Third track "Story Of The Flood" put on rotation on CBC Radio 3, reached #2 on Top 30; Title track charted on CJSW; Interviewed by CTV Victoria, followed by airplay through CFAX 1070)
2. No Connection [Single] - (Airplay through CBC Radio 1 & 3)
3. Answers [EP] - (Released April 2011)

Photos

Bio

In his reclusive years, Chris Ho spent his time writing and recording at his home in Victoria, BC. Performing live on only the rarest occasions, Chris never hesitated to hand out his music to friends and strangers. He continued this pattern until a faithful fan base began to emerge with signed CDs and eager ears, forcing him out of a shell and onto a stage.

And so he did.

The traditionally introverted singer-songwriter began to grow an exhibitionist streak. Ho started making casual appearances around Victoria, performing around the University of Victoria campus and around Victoria’s Cadboro Bay, catching the ear of passers by.

“One time someone was walking by and they left me a note. It just said, ‘Your music made me stop and just enjoy the moment. It’s beautiful. Thank you.’ They didn’t say anything else, and walked away. I still have that note.”

For Ho, this was just the affirmation he needed to know that his music has a way of getting through to people. He had now established two sides to himself - the recluse and the exhibitionist. This new identity began to permeate his life and music, allowing him to challenge the traditional notion of the singer-songwriter mechanic.

The fresh dichotomy lead Ho through a new adaptive process, writing songs that are both subdued and hard-hitting, but also upbeat and danceable. This flexibility has given him the capacity to cater his live performances to the tone of a specific lineup, allowing him to share stages with bands of varying styles, including Hey Ocean!, Pickwick, and Aidan Knight.

Chris Ho released his first official EP, Answers in April 2011. This was followed by the release of his first music video for the track “Depending on the Day,” which received extensive airplay through CBC Music after he won a spot on "Tracks On Tracks" - a cross-Canada train tour sponsored by Green Couch Productions and CBC Radio 3.

Ho released the stand-alone single, “No Connection,” in April 2012 as precursor to his to-be released debut LP, City of Dust. The track introduces the album’s themes that relate to modernity and urban decay, establishing the thematic concern about societal and technological advancements which force us into situations where we are simultaneously more connected and alienated than ever before.

City of Dust was independently released on January 18, 2013, receiving attention from Canadian media outlets across the country. Shortly after, Chris won an award for "Island Songwriter of the Year" in the Vancouver Island Music Awards, and charted at #2 in CBC Radio 3's weekly Top Canadian Indie Tracks, after receiving regular rotation for "Story Of The Flood." To further support the successful release of the album, the young singer-songwriter embarked on his first Western Canadian Tour this spring.