Christopher Holland has made a name for himself as a much sought-after keyboardist in his native UK. And as it turns out, he's just as keyboard-crazed as his older brother Jools, the famed BBC Later host and former member of Squeeze. Get to know our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week.
NAME: Christopher Holland
HOMETOWN: Greenwich, London, UK
MUSICAL TRAINING: I studied piano lessons at The Conservatoire in Blackheath, London from age 7 up to Grade 4. From then on I was self- taught. I also toured with the school choir.
FIRST GIGS: The first gig I can remember attending was probably Skyco in mid '70s in South East London at St. James Church Hall, just up the road from our house. That's where they used to rehearse. Soon after, they changed their name to Squeeze and the rest is history. The first gig I played apart from the piano in local pubs for pints was The Tramshed in Woolwich and Albany Empire in Deptford with my first band The B Sharps at age 15.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Andrew Gold, Todd Rundgren, Billy Preston, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Brian Wilson, Oscar Peterson, Jimmy Hendrix, Judee Sill, Dr John, Alan Toussaint, Squeeze, Elton John, Billy Joel, Traffic, Prince, and my big brother Jools, to name but a few.
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Rough mixes of the new album I'm currently working on. Also Christopher Rainbow, Linus Of Hollywood, Carl Wilson.
MY BIG BREAK: My first big break came after building a small local following with the The B Sharps in the early '80s and being spotted to perform on a Kids TV show. We were subsequently signed to Miles Copeland’s IRS records a few years later.
LATEST PROJECTS: I'm currently putting the finishing touches on a new solo record in between touring and playing organ with the Jools Holland Rhythm and Blues Orchestra and recording a new album with Marc Almond.
FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? My favorite current keyboard is probably my newly acquired student model Wurlitzer 206 electric piano, which I’ve utilised quite a bit on the latest recordings. It sounds ace especially with a phase/tremolo pedal. The most expressive keyboard to write on is still maybe the Clavinet D6, especially for guitar style arpeggiated chords, and the Moog for background effects and solos which there seem to be a lot of on this new record, along with a Memotron, Fender Rhodes, RMI-Electra Piano, Hammond organ and Melodica. My favorite live piano is the Yamaha CP4, which I’ve owned for about a year now and I'm very pleased with it.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? I'm finishing mixing and releasing a new solo album, which apart from drums and bass, I've pretty much recorded and written everything on my own over the last few years in between gigging. It features some wonderful guest vocalists too which really bring the songs to life.
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: Play what you love and love what you play. Be true to yourself, follow your heart and don’t give up on your dream. Stay focused and follow your passion.
Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/ChristopherHollandOfficial/