Recently I had the distinct pleasure of being introduced to an up and coming guitarist and songwriter, Christopher Montrose. His first single, “Vital Rise”, is available on ITunes and Amazon. Links can be found at the bottom of this page. To my great pleasure, Christopher has taken some time away from working on his next songs to grant me an interview. He brought along the singer from “Vital Rise”, Cat Strickland. My questions/comments are in Green with his responses in Blue. Cat Strickland’s responses are in Pink.
First off, Thank you both for taking time to answer some questions for me. I really enjoyed Vital Rise and wanted to help promote your music by doing a little interview on my blog. Let’s start by having you tell us a little about yourself. How old are you? Any Siblings?
“Well, thank you for taking a listen to Vital Rise, and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m 15 years old, and I have 2 sisters. One of which is actually my twin sister, Elizabeth. The other one is Mary-Kate. She is 7 years old and has Hydrocephalus, Epilepsy and Cerebral Palsy.”
Two sisters. I cannot say that I envy you being outnumbered. How about you Cat?
I am 14 years old, my birthday is October 26.
Yes, I have an older brother who is 21.
What got you two started in music?
“I got started in music when I was 7 years old. We [the family] were visiting my grandparents house on my mom’s side of the family. Every time we would visit them, my grandpa would be sitting on the couch playing his guitar. I was fascinated by it. I don’t exactly remember what happened, but I want to say that I had told my parents that I wanted to play guitar like grandpa. My grandma just so happened to have an old Stella acoustic guitar in a closet that she decided to give to me. When she handed it to me, the first thing I did was play the first 6 notes of Jingle Bells. I didn’t actually know if those were the notes to Jingle Bells, but I come to find out later that they were the exact, first 6 notes of Jingle Bells. My mom had told me that when she was younger, her mom wouldn’t let her even touch that guitar, yet she was giving it to me.”
That must have been something to hear at that age. It seems to me that your grandma made the right choice in giving it to you as it has helped you get started on your path as a musician.
Cat, what prompted you to get involved in music?
I’ve always loved music ever since I was small. I would put on little concerts for my family and sing songs that I would make up or sing hymns! I remember every hotel I would go to, during breakfast I would find the nearest fireplace and start singing and the more people came the louder I sang! Around the age of 7 I decided I wanted to take up guitar lessons as well and that’s been quite fun as well.
Sounds like music has been a part of both of your lives from a very young age. That is great.
What inspires you and drives you to create music?
“The main thing that drives me to create music is the music itself. There’s nothing better than being able to sit back and listen to a song that you’ve made that you are proud of.”
Music is so amazing beyond anything I can put into words but I will absolutely try to! All around the world there is all of this rage and anger and madness…but there’s something about music that’s more powerful than any of the forces behind rage and war. A simple combination of notes can turn into something amazing and beautiful and influence so many thoughts! So, if I can make a difference in at least one person through my music – I would be the happiest person. I also think that writing music is a wonderful out for any frustration or sadness that you’re holding on and it’s much safer and effective than other “outs” that are used.
I can only imagine what that feels like. I think you both have a lot to be proud of. From listening to your work it is clear to me that there is a lot of talent for artists so young.
So who are your inspirations musically?
“Honestly, the main inspiration I’ve had is my grandpa. He’s the one that got me wanting to play in the first place. For the first few years of my playing, I played lots of Metallica, so I always had respect towards Kirk Hammet [the guitarist for Metallica], but he was never really an inspiration to me.”
My inspirations come a lot from the 60’s and 70’s such as the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones. But some Paramore and Coldplay has put an influence in my music as well.
Influences that span decades before you were born. Those are some good choices. You are lucky to be exposed to that kind of music.
If you could meet one artist, living or dead who would it be and why?
“That’s a tough one, but if I had to pick any one artist to meet, It would have to be Slash. It seems like it would be really cool to meet him just off of his famousness alone, and he has made such a great impact on music, and has inspired so many people to pick up a guitar.”
Slash is a heck of a guitarist. I would think he would have lots of advice and guidance for young guitarists. Not to mention the stories he could tell from his tours. How about you Cat?
If I could meet one artist I would love to meet John Lennon. I grew up listening to the Beatles but I think John had a such a unique and revolutionary way of writing. Along with his music, I think he was a beautiful, brilliant person and I’m heartbroken that he couldn’t do more with his music.
I don’t think there are many who would argue that he was taken from us way too soon.
Are either of you planning to pursue a career in music or is this a side hobby/job for you?
I do plan to pursue a career in music. Not for fame and fortune, but so that perhaps I can influence and bless at least one person in their lifetime. Also, it would be wonderful to be doing the thing I love most for my career!
“It will always be my side hobby, unless I get big enough in a band or just by myself to make it a career. Though my dream is for music to be my career.”
And, how do your parents feel about your musical aspirations?
“My parents are very supportive about my music, and will do anything within their reach to support and promote it.”
My parents are completely supportive of my musical aspirations! They pay for my lessons, they push me to try harder and to always do better. They’ve done so much for me and my music and I love and thank them for it!
It is great that your parents support your goals. Have either of you done any live performances? How did it go?
I’ve done quite a few live performances, yes. At first, I was so shy and awkward on stage! But, the more I performed the more comfortable I got onstage and I love it now! Even today I feel myself get better and better with each performance I do.
“I’ve performed lots of times between talent shows and playing with the Christian band I’m in called NewFoundLife. Most of them go pretty good, of course there are always gonna be a couple that could’ve gone a little more smoother but for the most part they go good.”
Could have gone smoother? Sounds like there is a story there. Nerves or technical difficulties?
“A good friend of mine, who is a phenomenal drummer, and I were playing Stairway to Heaven in the talent show at River Oaks Middle School. When we got on stage and started playing, my guitar was way out of tune. We played the song almost flawlessly, but you couldn’t tell. Later, we couldn’t do anything but laugh about it.”
That had to be pretty funny.
I entered the AMTC completion when I was 6 years old. I did acting as well as singing in the competition and I won child actor of the year.
Impressive. How about you Christopher?
“Honestly, I haven’t entered many contests. I submitted an instrumental to the John Lennon Song Competition. Looking back that was a mistake, the song I had entered was terrible, but at the time I thought it was great. I’m thinking about entering Vital Rise into that competition, and seeing how it far it goes. I think I would do much better with Vital Rise.
I would say go for it. What have you got to lose as long as it helps you grow as an artist. Feedback from those sources could be useful.
Where would you both like to see yourselves in 5 years? 10 years?
I have no idea what God has in store for me but I think I’m going to go wherever my music takes me.
“In 5 years I would like to see myself growing, promoting myself, that kind of thing. Which I’m already doing that now, but It will take lots of time to grow. Within 10 years, I hope to have some radio play by local radio stations, and hopefully be pretty well known to the state of South Carolina, branching out to other states.”
Thanks for taking this time with me Christopher and Cat. I wish you both the best of luck in your musical career. I look forward to hearing more from each of you. Below are a list of links where you can find more music from Christopher and Cat. I, for one, can’t wait for that next song to hit ITunes so I can add it to my playlist.