Christie Connor-Vernal (CCV)

In my own opinion CCV has probably one of the greatest performers I have ever had the pleasure of seeing perform live. Still a relatively fresh face in the industry Christie Connor-Vernal is the kind of talent I’d like to see go far and play to a sold out crowd at the Royal Albert Hall.

Recently Christie (CCV) was kind enough to take a little bit of time to chat with us at RockFusion to tell us a bit about who she is, what she’s about and of course what we can expect from CCV in the next few months.

How did you initially get involved with music and at which point did you decided you wanted to make a career of it?

Well it’s something that I’ve been around from a very young age. I grew up in a musical family, so it was everywhere and I was introduced to a lot of cool stuff as a kid and spent a lot of time watching gigs from the wings. I mean, I was listening to Hot Chocolate and Steely Dan rather than chart stuff, I loved that! I took up various instruments in school too, which I enjoyed and was pretty good at, but none of them ever really ‘did’ it for me, so I would get lazy. Looking back though, I wish I’d stuck ‘em all out, one of my biggest regrets is never learning to play piano properly… That’s my next step though! (laughs)

Anyway, I remember being like 13 and listening to Aerosmith and just knowing. That was it! It was music that could change my emotions in a heartbeat and lyrics that gave me goosebumps every time, I had NO idea music could do that. From then on, it’s been my mission. I only started teaching myself guitar 3 years ago though, I was a little slow on the uptake!

Who would you call your musical influences?

There are so many that I wouldn’t even know where to start! I love Blues, Metal, Funk, Jazz, Rock N’ Roll, Folk, Soul, you name it. I reckon I take a little bit of influence from all of ‘em. It’s important to know what you like, but to me it’s also really important to seek out new & different music, regardless of genre. There’s nothing worse than a closed-minded musician! My main influences though would be Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, New York Dolls, The Darkness, Tom Waits, Prince, T.Rex and Queen.

How do you keep your voice in shape as it’s probably your most important instrument?

To be perfectly honest, I should be looking after it a lot better than I do. I definitely wanna build it up, rather than weaken it as I grow older…. so I’m working on that! If I’m recording or gigging though, I’ll make sure to avoid Dairy products that day – it really messes up my voice! I make sure to drink plenty liquids and if I’ve got a niggling pain or a head-cold though, I swear by Fisherman’s Friend liquirice, it always sorts me out! Little exercises have really strengthened by voice, noticeably so in the past few years, especially with songs I’d cover and struggle with, nailing them now just feels great. Simple techniques can’t be underestimated!

How do you approach writing new songs?

I never have a scheduled agenda in my head, so I don’t wake up and go ‘today I’m gonna write a song about “X’. For me, the songs that come easiest are the best ones. I know it’s been said a million times, but the most important thing is to write from a true perspective. Write what you really feel and if it’s genuine, it’ll translate.

Although known mainly as a guitar player, you’ve also played the cello on the Attica Rage album “Road Dog”. How did that come about?

Well I started playing cello as a kid (I was 9 I think) and kept it up for about 6 or 7 years. I was in competitions, performed solo recitals at a national level and was even in Baroque Orchestras. I got crazy into it for a bit! When I left school though, I let it totally fall behind. To be honest, I was kinda relieved and it felt good taking a break from it. So, learning stuff for the Attica album was almost alien! My boyfriend’s in the band and to be fair, there aren’t too many cello players in the Glasgow ‘scene’ so it just kind of fell into place especially as the guys wanted a real recording, rather than a synth creation. It was a cool experience and I’m really glad I was a part of it, even though my playing wasn’t quite how it used to be!

Apart from the amazing vocal ability, the guitar playing and the cello work, what other talents does CCV have?

Well I’m an okay(ish) drummer, that’s how I started off in bands. I also love cooking and I reckon I’m pretty good too! I’ve also always had a thing for writing (novels short, stories etc) and one of my poems was published a few years ago, so I’d like to work a little more on that! I wish I could dance though but I really, really can’t.

Can you provide any tips for budding singer / songwriter types out there?

I’m hardly a voice of wisdom, but as long as you stay true to what you love then that’s all that matters. The most crucial aspect is believing in what you do. If you’ve got that in you, then go for it. As cheesy as it sounds, my ethos is: If you have a dream, work your ass off for it and you can make it come true. Who’s to say it won’t happen for you? Nobody can predict the future. I’m still really new to this game, I’m only in my second year of gigging, which in the big picture, isn’t much. Nothing’s gonna happen overnight, but if you’ve got that drive, things DO begin to happen and it feels amazing!

You’ve recently started your own YouTube channel, it’s a brilliant medium to get out there to the world. What can we expect from that going forward?

Definitely, I agree! I’ve always been a little apprehensive about it though, which is why it’s taken me so long to get round to actually doing it. The reason for that is ’cause I didn’t want YouTube and the internet to be my key demographic, you know? There are people who aim for exactly that which is awesome if that’s that’s what you want – I just couldn’t live without playing gigs. Over time though, I realised that having a YouTube Channel or whatever really isn’t going to hinder me in any way and it’s not gonna change my career path!

Maybe I was just biased because I panicwhen the word ‘technology’ is even mentioned ha! It’s giving me a means of connecting with people when I’m not out gigging. I’ll be including news, dates, info in my Episodes as well as little video recordings of live songs. The songs will be a mixture of my own, covers, suggestions, ideas etc It’s a means of being interactive with fans and it also lets them see what I’m working on whilst taking time out to write/record.

I don’t wanna give too much away though, because there are 2 things that you should never know how they’re made: Hot Dogs and a record… I’d like to maintain a slight air of mystique!

You’ve just recorded a song with Pete McCoy from Afterlife, are you spending a lot of time in the studio these days?

That was just a little bit of fun, the song was an idea we’d been toying with for a while before we decided to do a wee demo of it. We just recorded it over at his place and neither of us are exactly sound engineers haha. We’ll be working together more often and officially though, as well as doing our own thing, so watch this space!

As for studio work, I’ve not actually been in since earlier in the year when I recorded my Demos. I’ll be in VERY soon though and I can’t wait!

Can we expect an EP or even an album anytime soon?

I’ll be recording a 4/5 song EP in the very near future. That’ll be my first big recording project and it’s about time too. Expect it before the end of 2012! Depending on the success of the EP, I reckon a CCV album for 2013 is on the cards too.

Is there any upcoming gigs planned over the next couple of months?

Yeah actually, I’ve got one biggie that I’m still waiting to announce. It’s irritating that I can’t right now, but I know that’s just how it goes! Shame, ’cause it’s a blinder as well… Then, after the EP’s been recorded, I’ll have a launch gig followed by a wee handful of Scottish dates. Oh, and on a side note, I’ll be playing a gig with Pete on September 1st!

What’s your opinion on shows like X-Factor and Britains Got Talent and the impact they’re having on the industry right now? And would you ever consider going on one?

To be honest, if I really started on this subject, I wouldn’t stop. I’m firmly against them personally, and on a few levels. These shows are money-making organisations, first and foremost. Maybe people don’t like to think about it, but they’re just as much about wheeling out the bewildered in preliminary ’rounds’ to be laughed at and mocked by both the public and the multimillionaire creators. I guess the days of Victorian Freak Shows aren’t over, because that’s what a lot of it is. It can’t be covered up as ‘Music’, yet these shows will continue to be made because it’s ‘what the public want’.

They’re rose-tinted with heart-warming stories about the contestants and their lives, to make people call in and vote, generating more profit! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that some contestants aren’t gifted and wonderfully talented. I’m also not ruling out that they could have worked hard and do deserve a ‘break’, but this kind of TV won’t give them that. You’ll be famous, yes but only until someone more headline-worthy comes along. Don’t let a table of 3 or 4 celebrities decide for you whether or not you’ve got it. I bet they would have turned down a young David Bowie or Frank Zappa.

It must be an incredible compliment to have young girls come up to you and tell you that they want to be just like CCV when they grow up. If any of them are reading this now, is there anything you’d like to say?

It’s not often that spoken sentences make me really stop and think, so that was truly humbling. It had never even crossed my mind that I would ever influence anyone, in any way. I just set out to do what I loved, so that was amazing! I guess I’d just say – do what makes you happy, because when it comes down to it, that’s all that matters. Oh, and don’t go on the X Factor! (laughs)

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