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ISSUE 116 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/4/2002

Making It Big: Christianson breaks through with new sound

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 4, 2002

Making music at St. Olaf is definitely not out of the ordinary. But Paul Christianson 05 is attempting to rise above campus recognition to see how far his musical talents will take him. Early Beginning Christianson spent much of his childhood surrounded by music. At the age of six he took his first small step into the world of music by tickling the ivories. Christianson continued his musical pursuits by learning to play the trombone and string bass. By junior high school, encouraged by his parents Christmas present, Christianson began playing the instrument that was the catalyst for his musical ventures thus far; the bass guitar. Eventually he learned to play the acoustic guitar, which currently lends itself to his unique sound. With only 220 students graduating in his high school class, Christianson feels the benefits of growing up in a small town included "a lot of opportunities to diversify your activities." He took full advantage by playing sports as well as music. "I was really active, and subconsciously I think it helps with writing because your mind is stimulated in lots of different fashions." Christianson did not have far to travel when looking for musical inspiration; his mom, a former member of the St. Olaf Choir, heads Marshall High Schools music department. "She mainly influenced me because she forced me to be in choir. It was not always hip to be in choir," Christianson reflected. "It took some pushing, but after a while I matured and began to accept and even like it, which eventually grew into an appreciation for music." Christianson experimented with different sounds during high school, forming a band called 7th Hour. The bands repertoire was comprised mainly of Top 40s songs. "High school was more about getting familiar with playing on stage," Christianson said. Although 7th Hour focused on playing covers, Christianson pursued songwriting on his own. By graduation Christianson had laid down two acoustic studio CDs that included original songs. The first, entitled "The Clock is Ticking," went over well with area listeners in Christiansons hometown. This fueled the second CD, On Air and Ode, which included nine more original songs. Campana After graduation Christianson began focusing on his music as he began to play outside of Marshall, Minn. That summer he played in coffee shops and bars, working mainly on stage presence. Christianson formed a band called "Campana." The band has featured a variety of percussionists, saxophonists, and guitarists. Campana played a couple times a month, usually at bars. Christianson hit the road playing in a variety of venues in Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Iowa. "It was an extremely fun group to play with, however, I felt that the only way to get better shows and more exposure was to start playing more with musicians such as Anton Kreisl and Brit Rice," Christianson said. College Christianson entered St. Olaf still considering his songwriting and singing a hobby, but today he is working towards making a future using his musical talents. Trying to balance school and rehearsals can be challenging, but "its all about time management," Christianson said. He spent one day during the week and once during the weekend practicing during his first year. He also continued working on songwriting, setting aside time to work on songs. "I listen to as much music as I can from different areas, grabbing aspects to create my own sound," Christianson said. He looks to the Beatles as musical role models because they "pushed the envelope, creating new sounds and songs." "My fear is that Im so into one individual that Im emulating them too much" Christianson said, but fellow classmates such as Chris Johnson and Charles Manning both 05 have followed Christiansons music believe he has what it takes to make it to the next level. Venues To gain exposure and name recognition, Christianson has worked to play at many different sites. This summer he opened for over 500 people at the Leep 27 at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis, and at the Ritz, over the Fourth of July weekend in Arnolds Park, Iowa. Christianson has also made it to area colleges, including the University of St. Thomas and Gustavus Adolphus College this fall. "In the cities people are just there. It is easier to make an impression because there is no expectation," Christianson said. He has appeared at St. Olaf as well, most recently at the Pause last Friday night where he opened for Tim Mahoney with Kreisl on bass, Rice on drums. Mark Noseworth, a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music, played lead guitar and Case Peterson contributed with back-up vocals and guitar. "The first couple of songs, I felt like I was in the spotlight, because people who had never seen me, but had heard about me through a friend were there," Christianson said, "Its a test every time you go on." CD / Music Video: In order to market himself, Christianson worked this summer to pursue a solo project recording a full band demo of original work. Carrying seven tracks, "Spilling My Weakness" was produced and arranged by Anton Kreisl 04 at Integral Studio in St. Paul, Minn. Christianson collaborated with John Chadbourn 05, an aspiring filmmaker, to produce a music video of the title track "Information." The two worked to create a recording that could be used to show visuals of Christianson to interested parties. "Half of the video is a true story about Pauls current girlfriend," Chadbourn recalled. The song describes how the two confessed their feelings for each other, at the end of high school. Chadbourn believes that Christianson has what it takes to make it mainstream, "Everyone can relate to what Paul writes about, Chadbourn said. He could make it pretty big if signed and marketed right." Future Christianson is currently majoring in English and Economics, but is focusing much of his attention on music. "This year it is no longer a hobby. Now there are people calling, and meetings to go to. I have to keep my mind focused," Christianson said as he reflected on the changes in his commitment to his music. "Were pushing for something big right now. If the opportunity arises Im not going to hesitate to grab it."

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