The hottest biweekly LGBT party in the San Jose, Crave – hosted at Motif Lounge – invited up-and-coming artist from YouTube fame Chris Cole to perform Thursday, August 5th.
Before hitting the stage shortly after midnight, the self dubbed “military brat” born In South Carolina who has performed in Los Angeles recently at Tangier Lounge, the Roxy, the Highland Grounds and the Hollywood Palladium spoke with me about his career – then and now – and his future plans.
While backstage, Cole said, “I grew-up all over the world. I’ve lived in the Philippines and Japan. My family ended-up settling in Southern California by the time I was 14. I moved to the bay 4-5 years ago and then moved back to LA to pursue music.”
For aspiring musicals on the West Coast, Los Angeles (L.A) is thought of as the place to be but “L.A. is extremely competitive” Cole said. “I don’t really see L.A. as a huge opportunity because when you’re in L.A. everyone is trying to do the exact same thing as you. I think it’s important to reach for people who are supporting you in all other areas and hopefully that it will all add-up to something bigger.”
YouTube was not where Cole’s career started but it has helped him establish a following. “My career has ended-up with YouTube which is weird. I’ve been doing music since I was about 13 or 14. I was signed to Sony at 14 under a boy band. We ended-up being shelved and never released. After that, I did a film called Fighting Temptations which started Beyonce Knowles and Cuba Gooding Jr.”
The cast from the 2003 film was amazing and though Cole is a gifted musician, his star did not burn as brightly as cast members including Knowles, Faith Evans, Angie Stone, and gospel great Ann Nesby.
Continuing, Cole said, “I did a show called Lyricist Lounge on MTV. About two years ago, someone suggested to me to start posting things on YouTube because that’s just the way the industry was going, so I started doing that. Ever since I’ve been doing it, it’s given me a much broader audience.”
Cole’s YouTube channel is mostly a collection of requested covers by his fans from varying genres. “If you look at my YouTube, you’ll see that I don’t follow one genre. I’ll perform a Coldplay song and the next week I’ll do a Ne-Yo song. I don’t think of myself as one genre, which I think has kind of worked against me in a lot of ways. If people can’t pigeon hole you into one thing then they don’t know how to relate to you. If it’s a great song, I’ll do it. It doesn’t matter if it’s Country, R&B, Pop, it doesn’t matter.”
At Crave, Cole wanted to “keep it familiar and do a couple covers.” He performed Keri Hilson’s “Knock You Down” and Drake’s “Find Your Love” while putting “my own little spin on it” Cole said smiling. “We’re in a club and I want to keep it up-tempo and I want to keep it familiar. It’s important to relate and connect to the audience that you’re in front of. I’d rather do that.”
During both songs, the small crowd sung along, but Cole displayed his control and beautiful upper register after the second verse in Knock You Down.
At the end of 2008, he was a member of the Kumbia Kings. He said, “I was with them for almost a year touring in Mexico. They were in-between albums and it didn’t work out; it wasn’t the right fit for me.”
Currently, Cole is working with a couple of producers in L.A. “There is an up-and-coming producer named Chris Styles. He’s a DJ and has been doing a lot of remixes for people. He and I have a really different take on things which I am really excited about.”
Cole’s tastes in music are eclectic. He said he would listen to Coldplay, to Mariah Carey, then Ne-Yo. “It was really important for me to be able to merge all these genre’s that I like as fan into something cohesive and I think we’ve managed to do that. It’s a fusion of R&B and Easy Alternative.”
Cole told me that he has teamed-up with a couple of other really popular YouTube personalities so expect posting real soon. Also in the works is a website but until then, “I encourage everyone to add me on facebook.”
The humble singer said, “I don’t have a facebook fan page, I think that’s ridiculous. I am always down to chat with people; I want to be accessible. I think it’s weird when people refer to themselves as fans of mine because I can’t wrap my brain around that. That’s out of this world to me.
If you want to keep up with Chris Cole check him out
YouTube – www.youtube.com/chriscole6
Twitter – www.twitter.com/chriscoleonline