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Hamilton: Chris Power?

This self-titled hip hop band is the long-time passion project of Power himself.

Photo credits: Lorraine Postma

Chris Power is the front-man of the self-titled grunge hip hop band, Chris Power?

"I've been interested in music my whole life, though I wasn't active in it until my teens," said Power. "My first clear memory of any kind is hearing 'Paranoid' by Ozzy Osborne on the radio when I was like, four. For most of my childhood I didn't actually play any instruments, but I always loved having music on and would listen to things like my mom's Queen Greatest Hits CD for hours. Around 12 to 13 I started to play brass in school bands and do some very crappy lyric writing, but it was just for fun."

Photo credits: Lorraine Postma

School of Rock was a major inspiration for Power pursuing music.

"The clear defining moment for me when I actually began to see music as something that I could do with my life was around age 15 - the film 'School of Rock' had just came out and my friend and I saw it in theatres," said Power. "It feels silly to think about in retrospect, but for whatever reason that film left us hilariously inspired, and as soon as we left the theatre we agreed that clearly our only option was to start a rock band and become megastar heroes."

Power first picked the drums, but eventually learned the guitar as well.

"I wrote classic rock and prog rock for years, like pretty much every young southern Ontarian who grew up listening to Q107 every day," said Power. "Then as a late 20s adult made the only truly logical, mature choice I could make- begin a rapping career."

A young Power figured he'd make a living out of music, but was discouraged by the musical economy.

Photo credits: Jason Simons

"I was one of those dumb young kids who thought I'd be a multi-millionaire superstar by 25 type of thing, then go out all 27 style like all those other rockers," said Power. "These days, honestly? I'm just happy to be making music I'm proud of. If it does well now cool, if not then life goes on. I no longer have the entitlement to success I once did, and I'm glad, 'cause it's exhausting."

Power studied at Mohawk College, twice. The first time for general arts and sciences.

"I went to Mohawk College- twice actually," said Power. "First when I was 19 or 20 to get a student loan with which to write a record, then I'd just do well enough in the classes to keep my student loan coming each semester. It worked for 4 semesters, then school ended and that was that. It was a really dumb idea and I can't recommend doing so. Don't get me wrong, the classes were great and I learned a ton about life and myself, but like, if you're going to go to school, go to school. Don't be a cocky little shit like me about the whole thing. God, I could slap that dumb little punk."

The second time, Power enrolled in the vocals program, and decided to take it more seriously.

"Mohawk was awesome. It really was. I met so many great people, developed so much as an artist, and learned so much about myself. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything," said Power. "I'm still a shitty singer, but I'm WAY less shitty than I used to be, which is no fault of Mohawk's. There were just so many positive and driven people around me at all times, and for a perpetually pouting pessimist like me I really benefited from that positive environment. I'm grateful for the experience. And I met my current band mates there, so hey mission accomplished!"

Photo credits: Mike Sniderman

Power has a range of musical influences- from Zeppelin, to Tool, to Danny Brown.

"I started writing lyrics when I was 13, just like throwing ideas over Pink Floyd songs," said Power. "None of it was any good, and I didn't take it all that seriously. In my later teens I began making a concentrated effort on writing, and found a deep passion for it which I have to this day. I love it, I'm addicted to the feeling of creating new ideas and challenging myself to be a better artist." "Inspirations in my earlier days would have been all classic rock and prog rock type of stuff. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, King Crimson stuff like that," said Power. "One day I heard the album Black Star by Mos Def and Talib Kweli, and that was my hip hop awakening. I had listened to hip hop plenty growing up, my mom was a huge G-Unit fan, but I had never actively sought it out or given it a proper chance until that record. And it just blew me away, the word play, the flow. A lifetime of classic rock with boring-ass, lazy verses about nothing had left me utterly unprepared for music that actually had thoughtful, developed lyricism, and it appealed to me tremendously. From that point forward I dove head first into the history of hip hop, and took heavy influence from the dark, cynical sounds of groups like Mobb Deep and the industrial 'fuck it' slice of life style of music like Danny Brown."

Chris Power? started around mid-2017, with Power throwing verses on YouTube beats.

Photo credits: Lorraine Postma (Left to right; Luke Wood, Chris Power, Ryan Aho, Tim Houghton.)

"For my first hip hop record Trivial, I enlisted a friend of mine, producer and local musician Dervish Kucukovic, to handle the music side of things," said Power. "About six months or so after putting that record out I decided it would be best to try and put a band together to perform it. I put out an ad, some friends from school responded, and after a few personnel changes I now find myself with my buddy and old roommate Ryan Aho on guitar, and former schoolmates of mine Luke Wood on bass and Tim Houghton on drums. We've been playing my already written record, but we've recently begun working on new music that we're all creating together."

Power prefers to write about the darker side of life.

Photo credits: Lorraine Postma

"The sound we go for is, best I can describe it, sort of this industrial, disgust-laden sadness? I never want my audience being TOO comfortable, ya know?" said Power. "I try to write about the difficulties and absurdities we all face as a species caught in some stop, start pattern between fate and free will on a rock hurling meaninglessly through the void, and I try to have my music reflect all of that with a, 'I'm just along for the ride', sort of attitude. Hopefully our music and shows reflect that existential confusion, as well as celebrate the fact that a life without meaning allows one to make it mean whatever the hell they want."

As much as Power would love to see crowds of adoring fans, he says that creating art he believes in is more important than anything.

"My future goals are to continue writing and performing music we believe in, that's about it really," said Power. "I'm not driven by much else in music other than creating something I believe in. For as much as music has done for me in my life, how much beauty and entertainment and love it has brought into it, I owe it that much."

"I feel like each generation of artists inherits this responsibility to push the boundaries of what can be done artistically speaking, musically speaking whatever, and if I'm not putting out my best possible work then I'm not living up to that responsibility," said Power. "And if I fail, no one gives a shit and my music fades to obscurity as it almost surely will, then at least I tried."

Chris Power? are working on something new.

"My band and I are in the process of writing new music now, and I'm intensely excited about the process and what working with other musicians to create all of this can bring to the table," said Power. "Especially in regards to what writing with a live band can bring out of me, in what ways will it challenge me to be a better musician? How will their musical visions affect what I write about? I've only begun to find out, and that's the shit I live for, that not knowing what's coming next and the thrill of it."

Photo credits: Lorraine Postma

Although Power connects with his earlier dark themes, he's starting to work on some more positive projects.

"I'm in the process of writing a mix-tape of less emotionally draining, more flamboyant hip hop music that I intend to release sometime late 2020," said Power. "My usual music is so morose and topically very grim. While it is the music I had to write, and I'm sure I'll write more of it as it's what I felt when writing it, it's also music that took a strong emotional toll on me to write. I need a project right now that I can enjoy writing, that an audience can enjoy listening to, and that's what I want to write with this mix-tape."

You can follow Chris Power? on their social media linked below, and keep an eye out for a bunch of new music coming soon.

Upcoming gigs:

(Postponed due to COVID-19.)


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