As a hugely experienced British jazz session artist who is hugely respected, we find out more about Chris Weeks and swim deeper inside his much-awaited debut 5-track EP set for release on the 1st of July 2023, To Be Frank.
Inspired immensely by the all-time late great American singer and actor Frank Sinatra while telling us incredible stories about his well-travelled career, we are treated to a proper interview with real substance.
Hello there Chris. We appreciate you having a quick chat with us. Firstly, what exhilarates you most about making music and performing live?
Chris: Hello there! No problem at all, it’s a pleasure. For me, my favourite thing is being in the moment with a song. When you aren’t really thinking and you’re just sort of transmitting the story and the feeling of what you’re singing. Your concentration can’t be anywhere else and I find that just electrifying, whether it’s on stage or in the studio. I love that. It’s pure.
How delighted are you about your upcoming 5-track debut EP To Be Frank? We love it and feel like you have really honoured Frank Sinatra in the best way possible.
Chris: Thank you very much! Frank has been an idol of mine throughout my life and I am SO excited to be releasing this record. It’s something I meant to do years ago, but looking back now I’m glad it’s taken me this long…I did an awful lot of recording over the Covid-19 pandemic which gave me a chance to really grow as a singer and the record really benefits as a result.
In terms of the players and production team as well, it’s real champagne stuff. Cody Moss, Mark Fincham, Matt Skelton, Larry Judson…they’re all wonderful, tasteful, intensely classy players and they created a beautiful canvas for me. I’d done bits and pieces with them before, but never like this. It was a huge pleasure to be able to get those boys into a room and the results are magical.
Then to have Claire Martin and James McMillan producing was fantastic. Claire’s one of the best jazz singers in the world and James has got jazz awards coming out of his ears, as well as all his Grammy noms. They were able to add detail and direction that I don’t think anybody else could. So yes, VERY excited!!
Please tell us more about the connection with YouTuber OR30 and your hugely successful song called 100 Years.
Chris: ‘100 Years’ was a project I sang on over lockdown, when I was working as a remote session singer. OR30 found me on a freelancing site and we connected. I could never have predicted the level of success that song has had, but it’s a testament to her beautiful writing and to her fans! It’s still one of my favourite songs that I’ve worked on!
Is there a particular live music venue or festival you have your eye on for the future?
Chris: I’d love to play at Ronnie Scott’s here in London. I’ve played at various other jazz venues around the city, but that one’s still on my list. Aside from that, I’d love to play at Cheltenham Jazz Festival!
Why do you think Frank Sinatra has such a massive influence on your music and what do you love the most about his timeless creations?
Chris: I was introduced to Sinatra at an early age and the first thing to hit me was the noise of the band behind him on songs like ‘New York, New York’. All that brass was huge and sounded super cool to my young ears.
Then, as I started to sing properly, I noticed how easily and classily he phrased passages with the groove. He’s intensely rhythmical, even if most of the time he’s restrained with how he phrases things. I trained as an actor in my twenties and then started to notice how he can fill each vowel sound with emotion and ground it all in the same way that actors have done since the days of Shakespeare. He’s the perfect combination of instinct and refinement. The perfect singer!
What is the best piece of advice you keep deep in your memory when the chips are down?
Chris: One is from Sinatra himself: ‘The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything’. Easier said than done sometimes, but a good one to live by! My other big one is ‘Nothing can come from nothing’. So if I have an opportunity, I always try to take advantage of it because if I don’t, I know guaranteed that nothing will happen. Whereas if I do it, even if it doesn’t work out the way I’d planned, something good will come out of it.
Lastly, what do you have lined up for the rest of 2023 and where can we see you live next?
Chris: I’m actually currently playing the lead in a theatre tour here in the UK – I’m playing Buddy Holly in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. The tour runs til October and after that, I’ll be playing a series of gigs in support of this EP, which I’m very much looking forward to and to which you’ll certainly be invited!
Be sure to bookmark the 1st of July and follow Chris on his IG for more updates.
Interview by Llewelyn Screen