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The 99% Episode #7 With Chris Borelli

Chris Borelli, a Hip-Hop artist, is a gentleman you would want to get to know. He was adopted at a young age which led him to have a distinctive vision of life. When he started singing and learned how to play the piano, he discovered his passion for music. Grabbing more experiencing and polishing his skills, he sang in choirs and was apart of singing competitions. After the age of 18, he discovered his likes in Hip-Hop and quickly became a professional artist. He has grasped major attention since he’s been invited to the Vans Warped Tour in 2012 and opened for acts like Waka Flocka, T-Pain, Hermitude, and many more. Listen in to one of our interviews in the first ten episodes on the 99% Podcast with Chris Borelli at #07.

Listen To Chris Borelli 99 Percent Podcast Interview Below:

[00:00]Sean: Hey, what’s up guys you’re tuned into another 99% Podcast. Here at 99%, we love to hear the stories of amazing, talented emerging independent artists. Today we have Chris Borelli, out of Boston, Massachusetts. Welcome! What was it like growing up in Boston, and how did music influence your upbringing?

Chris Borelli:

I was born in Salem, Massachusetts, right outside the city. I was basically raised all around Boston my entire life, for the most part. I was adopted when I was fourteen, but before that I listened to a lot of the music my biological parents were listening to. A lot of Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and The Temptations. Music was always a big part of my life. It wasn’t until was put into foster care when I was eleven that I picked up piano, started singing and understood the art of songwriting and composing in general. It saved my life in a way, and became the foundation for a lot of the music that I create now. I started out as a very classical, traditional piano player and took a few lessons here and there, but mostly it was self-taught. Then I started singing and became that John Legend homie in high school; writing the ballads and singing the songs. It wasn’t until I got to college that I started rapping and producing and recording. It was a really gradual progression as life’s experiences were thrown at me, which influenced my musical experience in a lot of different ways. It was great coming up in the city of Boston, I think specifically with hip hop there isn’t as much of a scene as I’d like to see out there so I’m trying to carry the flag and be another representative for the east coast in that sense.

Sean: You mentioned that Boston is not necessarily known for its hip-hop scene. Tell me about your relationship with the hip-hop community in Boston, and how would you want to see that community grow?

Chris Borelli:

My dad was a huge influence on me when it comes to hip-hop. He was very heavy into all the popular stuff back in the nineties; big Tupac fan, Biggie, whatever was on the radio. He was always blasting things in the house, and that’s how I started to internalize the general culture of hip-hop and what it meant to me. That was before I really started recording or writing or anything like. I think that Boston has a handful of people that have done their thing, but no one that recently really stands out in the way that Boston deserves to be standing out. I think there’s so much undiscovered talent out there; so many people underground, just hustling, writing, trying to make it happen. All these people are really talented, and some of them are good friends of mine, and I think that Boston just needs the spotlight in the proper ways to give these artists a launchpad to really shoot for the stars and give them some exposure. I think there really cool things being done to change that and I think people are becoming more hip to the drought and that spotlight. It’s a gradual process, but I’m trying to keep one foot in there and influence people as much as I can and stay connected. It’s ongoing but progressing.

Sean: I always like to say that music is the soundtrack of our lives; we can listen to a song and think back to a moment in a memory that we’ve had in the past. You had a unique upbringing and unique circumstances, so tell us a little bit more about that and how music played a part in that as you were working through adolescence and working towards adulthood.

Chris Borelli:

I was adopted when I was fourteen, between the ages of eleven and fourteen I was in foster care kind along with my younger sister and two older brothers. I was in four homes in a week, four foster homes in one week and the fourth was the Borelli’s which is where I started to pick up music in general. That’s where the whole piano thing started; that’s where all that began. I had never touched an instrument before that, so I started just picking it up on my own accord. I loved it. I started playing the piano like it was a video game, and that was my thing. It was really kind of saved my life, in a way, because there were a lot of different paths that I could have gone down, given where I was coming from. My biological parents had an alcoholic thing going on, a lot of drug abuse and a lot of mental disability so overall it’s kind of a messy situation. There are a lot of negative outlets that people can latch on to when things get hard, and I could have easily done that. A lot of people that I came up with ended up doing that kind of stuff, unfortunately, but the music came about unexpectedly, and it saved my life. I think that that’s always been the foundation. That’s what I’m rooted in, and that’s what music has always meant to me. That’s how it began, so that really comes forward in a lot of my topics and my tones and my sounds. And you know my general concepts and in what I’m trying to get across in all my songs.

Sean:

What are your thoughts of this D.I.Y. movement we have? I think it’s cool that there are a lot of platforms out there for emerging artist to get their music heard, so what are your overall thoughts of what it is to be an independent artist personally and what you think about the overall landscape?

Chris Borelli:

All I know is being an independent artist. I’ve never been signed to a label or anything like that. I kind of have management that I’m working with right now, but continuously looking for new avenues and ways to push things out and get things off the ground. I think that’s the beauty of it, in terms of being an independent artist and not being tied too much. The world is your oyster, and you can really pick and choose how you want to do things. If you really want to see something be successful, you just have to be persistent and consistent. Push it forward and believe in it fully; otherwise no one else will. I feel like the world is one big blank canvas when it comes to how you want to put yourself out there. There is no right or wrong anymore; you just have to stay persistent. I have my downfalls at times, and I can definitely be a little slower than I should be based on how things are going in life, but the drive to create and to spread a message has never left me or waivered. That’s kind of my personal experience with it; a consistent discovery process of finding new ways to do things. Maybe things that make me uncomfortable because I feel like growth and comfort don’t go together. I’m really trying to establish this mindset of getting uncomfortable with what I’m doing in order to see it through really. Consistency, hustle, and the drive to just be successful and believe in your stuff wholeheartedly is the recipe.

Chris Borelli Performing In New York City via Facebook

Sean:
I want to talk about a song that is my personal favorite. ACCOLADES. It was a part of our pilot program, and I remember I put accolades in lowercase letters and I got a swift email back saying no, fam, this is all caps. It’s certainly an all-caps song. Tell me about the feelings you had when you were making that song and the projects around it.

Chris Borelli:

It was definitely a stream of consciousness when it came to the writing process for it. There wasn’t a lot of premeditated thinking behind it all. It was one sit down moment thinking about how am I feeling right now, this is what I’m thinking, and let’s expand it from there. I just had to talk my shit out and let people know. That song was a moment of healthy frustration, really wanting to see things through. One of those moments where you slam your hands on the table thinking, why isn’t this happening yet? What is the problem? I got the talent; I know that I have to be consistent, etc. I think that that kind of thing can definitely take over if you let it, in a negative way. You just have to stay true to the process and trust the process as long as consistency is driving it. That’s track number two of the selfish project that I dropped a couple of months ago back in the fall of twenty-seventeen. That was more of a rigid sound than people are used to. I’m definitely one for the melodic vibes, but this was me just talking for three-four minutes. That’s what that whole project was, called Selfish, and it was really a transition point for myself. The cover art itself is a silhouette of me and inside that is an image of a tombstone, and on the tombstone, there’s an angel, and it’s dying. The symbolism is the angel in me is dying. This album was a message saying that whatever happens next, it’ll be a transition point for my sounds, my overall persona, and everything else about my material and Chris Borelli as an artist. It was a really important track as well as the project overall. I kind of went dark after that for a little while, and it was all on purpose. I’ve put out a lot of music out over the years; there’s a lot of material out there so I really just wanted to flip the script and go back into hiding and reinvent myself. That album was the message of, “hey after this it’s going to be different.”

Sean:
Tell us about how Chris Borelli used to be, and who he is now.

Chris Borelli:

I had a really humble beginning with it all when it comes to the story about how it saves my life and how it all started with piano and singing. It was a very wholesome way to be introduced to the music world, prior to hip hop. I started getting into hip-hop for the very first time when I was eighteen, which is when I wrote my first rap. I had a very Will Smith kind of vibe. In my first year or two, people really compared me to Will Smith back in the ninety’s when he was rapping. He had a purity to him that I also had until I dropped this Selfish album. I just wanted to push the envelop and go a little harder and dig a little deeper with my content. So Chris Borelli now; I’m actually dropping my first single as a solo artist May 4th, Doing Alright, it’s my first drop twenty eighteen. Really pushing the envelopes in all ways.

Sean:

I wanted to get your thoughts on music and technology in general. How do you feel about how technology has allowed musicians to get their music all across the globe, faster than ever?

Chris Borelli:

I think it’s great for not just independent artists but everybody who creates music and wants to put it out. It’s incredible how many avenues and platforms you can do it on. It’s great that it’s not that hard to put a single and have it be on all these mainstream services. I think it’s really great and I love the fact that it’s continuing to expand and that people are latching on to it. I continue to find new ways to get stuff out there on all these streaming platforms. Investing more time and money into promotion really makes a difference for getting it out there, and that’s something that can be unfortunate in my mind, but it’s just the nature of this beast we call the music industry. It’s crazy, but I think it’s incredible that there are so many ways to put your stuff out. I think that hopefully that continues to expand and I’d love to continue to work with that and grow with it too.

Sean:
What artists are you listening to now and which artists are you inspired by, both past and present?

Chris Borelli:

Post Malone just dropped a fire album. I’m inspired by any and all kinds of sounds and vibes; that’s album has been spinning for me for sure. The one he dropped before that is pretty dope too. I’m also listening to this cat, Joyner Lucas, out of Worchester, Massachusetts. He’s popping right now with Chris Brown, doing all these cool things with videos and whatnot. He’s an extremely talented rapper who was on the come up for a long time and just dropped his debut album a couple of months ago. Post, Joyner, always Drake fan, of course. I definitely pull from him as well. I think that’s like the present for sure. I’m also on sound cloud trying to find undiscovered people. There’s this homie Anders, out of Toronto, and he’s on that wavy melodic rapping kind of vibe that feels good to listen to. I can pull from any and all types of vibes. That’s the right now. Previously, I grew up listening to Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, that feels good, old-school R&B. I do like to really pull in inspiration from old stuff and mix it with the new stuff, and sprinkle in your own personal little vibe. I think that’s the recipe.

Sean:

When someone hears you for the first time what would you like them to feel?

Chris Borelli:

Somebody who had just heard my music for the first time told me that there is this undertone of sadness and anger, in a healthy and artful way that comes out in even the more upbeat songs. I wouldn’t say that that’s what I want people to get on first listen. I’m a conscious dude, I’m very insightful, very introspective, I have a lot to say about a lot of things. I will admit that I don’t know much, but what I do know things about I know a good amount on. I like to stress the importance of creativity and individuality, and not being afraid to test the limits. Say some things that are just true and honest, even if it raises some eyebrows and upsets some people. Just setting the bar and aspiring to do that for everything.

Sean:

Music to me is…

Chris Borelli:

Life. The most important way we can communicate; the most powerful form of communication. It’s life-changing, it’s inspiring, it can move nations, it’s extremely powerful in every way.

Sean:

Who is Chris Borelli?

Chris Borelli:

I’m just a creative dude who is just completely enveloped in music and who likes pay homage to the craft itself in everything that he does. Hopefully, that comes through in the sound. I’m a musician first before I say that I’m anything else; before a rapper, producer, engineer, I’m a musician. I have the knowledge and the theory; I have all that in my background and all of that is applied to everything.

Listen to ‘No Faces’ by Chris Borelli:

Editor In Chief of The Pulse; A creative gal living in the City of Angels conquering the world with inspired writing about music.