The Musician Spotlight Series shines a light on up-and-coming bands and solo acts creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their music, their collaborators, and why they do what they do.

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Chris Ning

“Chris Ning is an alternative pop artist from Mississauga/Toronto who has been singing, writing and performing for the last 15 years. He is recognized for powerful and raw vocal expression, which mixed with opera training at Western University has created a unique sound. He released his first album, Losing My Faith in 2007 with a single by the same name played on Canadian mainstream radio and featured in a television placement.

Chris’ latest project is about codependency and the extreme outcomes and circumstances of being reliant on external influence. The album is about facing the demons that we all live with and saying that it’s okay to be lost or unsure: to give into a moment, and be unapologetically you. Chris’ new single, “Dinosaurs,” is a danceable, upbeat pop track juxtaposed with dark lyrics. “

When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
I had always tried copying singers growing up and only for fun and I was just a baby in reality but I can pinpoint when I wanted to do nothing else. I was around 4 or 5. My parents had just rented movies for us to watch together that night. Beauty and the Beast was great, all the things a kid could want but the second film was Batman Returns and I still get chills thinking about it. From the moment the WB logo disappeared to reveal this eerie gate, my ears started freaking out. The low drone under these brilliant haunting vocals. I was obsessed and then the transformation of Catwoman literally changed the trajectory of my whole life. Danny Elfman was now my king. And because my father was a trained musician, he was all too happy to help me understand what I was hearing by explaining what keys on the piano would make the music I had heard.

Are you trained? How did you develop your skills? 
I grew up just copying singers. My family played everything imaginable in our home. Patsy Cline, Stevie Wonder, Céline Dion, Whitney Houston, The Bee Gees, Monica, Aaliyah, etc. I used to sing albums from front to back. Mostly the Céline Dion album Falling Into You. I started singing at school talent shows and then High School was around the corner and I auditioned for an arts-focused school called Cawthra Park. I got in and started my first official vocal lessons there. That is also where I was introduced to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Ozzy, and a ton of rock music I didn’t grow up hearing. I also learned Opera, Jazz, Musical Theatre, and eventually went to Western University for Classical Vocal Music and Popular Music composition but never finished my studies.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
This is such an always evolving answer. The music that got my blood flowing for this album came from Grimes, Nine Inch Nails, Danny Elfman, Gustav Holst, Panic! At the Disco!, Björk, My Chemical Romance, Lady Gaga, Sufjan Stevens, David Bowie, Prince. I could go on. I love extremely atmospheric music mixed with pop.

How would you describe your sound?
Pop Industrial, being diverse and mercurial with variant vocal textures. Playing with what my physical instrument can do has always interested me. Everything can affect a vocal tone. Age, water intake, environment, physical health, emotions. Fun.

What’s your favourite tune in your repertoire and why?
Currently, it’s a song I wrote in Sarnia during an overnight songwriting experience at the home of an incredible songwriter/producer (Shaeman) who is friends with my producer (Dajaun Martineau). It is an unreleased track called, “Medicine” and it always stands out to me as building that atmosphere I love. I can see the space in my head as it plays back. The story of that song is not muted to me in any way and that makes me get excited. I truly love the album I have made and am so excited to share that story in the future.

What can audiences expect from one of your live shows?
You can expect intense raw expression, drama, some choreo, a lot of sweat, storytelling, connection, safe hand lasers (still working on that). A sense of community. And I will give you all I have and leave it on the floor. The most alive I feel is when I get to perform.

Where can we find your music?
Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, and my Website. My music is on most streaming and music purchasing services.