Chris Koster, yet another wildly successful Kingston-bred rocker, is something of an enigma. Even with four records currently on the go and a continuous series of writing and production credits being added to his name, the smooth crooner still finds time to maintain a seemingly relentless performance schedule around town, with regular intimate gigs at The Mansion, Red House, and elsewhere. Here, we catch up with Koster about his influences, the year ahead, and why he hates (but also loves) technology.
1. You’ve been a fixture on the Kingston music scene for so long. What keeps you in this city instead of, say, Toronto or Montreal?
I love the diversity of the music scene here. Everyone’s free to do their own thing, so you end up with this amazingly wide array of sounds. As far as what cultivates that scene, it will always be people showing up to shows and sharing an experience.
2. Tell us about your music influences. Who inspires you?
I take inspiration from anywhere and anything. Even things I don’t like inspire me in that they show me what I don’t want to do. Some all time go-to artists for me are Prince, Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, the Beatles, and the single most important person alive making music today: Kanye West. He’s the villain.
3. What’s coming up in the short and long term for you? Any exciting plans to share?
Yes, I’m making four records this year to be released over the next couple years. I’ve also got some various projects on the go, but I can’t say too much about it. You’ll have to wait and see. I’m also doing some producing and writing for another local artist named Brielle LeBlanc. Her record will be released soon.
4. How do you describe your personal music style?
I don’t, really. I leave that to others. Everybody is free to his or her own perception in anything in life, but especially music. I feel like trying to explain art just confuses more than it enlightens. It’s like dancing about architecture, as they say.
5. You had a great line about not being able to hold mp3s in your hand or be able to roll a joint on one. Is the crushing advance of technology a help or a hindrance to the music industry?
It has completely destroyed the industry, which is a great thing. We’re in a post flush transitional phase right now where nobody knows what to do to make a living off of it so the emphasis gets back to what it was always supposed to be about: connection. The quality of the art goes way up because there’s way less emphasis on the commerce. Those two things never walked hand in hand happily; they were just thrust together by a system that only ever existed for 60 or so years, which is the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things.
6. Okay one more: Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
Beatles. They wrote the Bible. I like the danger of the Stones and all that, but when you look at the songs and what the Beatles accomplished in just seven years of recorded music, to me there’s no contest. Hopefully it will always be a relevant question though.