Interview Series: Chris Richardson from American Idol to Ca$h Money


Chris Richardson began formally following his dream when he appeared on the 2007 season of American Idol. With an inimitable presence and soulful delivery, he landed in the show’s top five and captured the hearts of audiences everywhere during the “American Idols” tour. He didn’t stop after Idol though. He spent four years perfecting his craft and writing. In 2010, Richardson signed to Cash Money …Records to build to their already successful pop roster. Now, he’s begun tenaciously working on what will become his full-length debut for the label. In the meantime, he’s lending his vibrant, vivacious vocals to Tyga’s single “Far Away” and collaborating with other chart-topping acts. Richardson’s dream is only just beginning to come true.

For Richardson, making records requires a delicate balance of soul, rock, and R&B. While growing up the son of a military dad in Virginia Beach, he immersed himself in everything from Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder to The Eagles and Aerosmith. Along the way—from singing into his trash can at five-years-old to auditioning on Idolat 23—Richardson built his own style. He sums up the sound best saying, “It’s blue-eyed soul, but there’s an organic feel to the music. I love to mix the soulful and rock sides.”

Entering the Cash Money Records family, he has come to create and push boundaries by collaborating with a myriad of artists.

Recently Chris spoke to Aries from about his upcoming debut album, his current single “Joy & Pain,” signing with Ca$h Money, his disappointment with the after-math of American Idol and much more!

UrbanBridgez: Let’s start by talking about this debut album you’re currently finishing, tell us what we can expect?
Chris Richardson: Man this has been a collective album for the last ten years of my life. We have a lot of different producers on the album and some have more songs than others. This album is a roller coaster, it’s a mixture of music that I love. It blends some hard hitting urban drums in with the organic live stuff that I like. It’s a pop album, it takes you into a lot of different journey’s I’ve went through, being that I’m a songwriter. I’ve been through a lot of stuff so hopefully it comes across on the album.

UrbanBridgez: Nice! The joint you have out now with Tyga “Joy & Pain” is doing good, what made you go with that for the lead single?
Chris Richardson: That was more of a collective talk with me and the label. We thought it had a good concept and a great melody structure and story behind it. Of course Tyga returned the favor for me doing Far Away with him last year. So it’s kind of cool that he jumped on this one and it’s always good to have a different angle and different light to add on to a song. There’s not a lot of stuff being played like Joy & Pain, it’s really open. It’s cool to have the beats and everything like that, but it’s also great to showcase the story and what we’re actually talking about through the music.

UrbanBridgez: What else you have coming up before the albums release?
Chris Richardson: I just want to get the voice out there and get people to attach a whole to the artistry and who I am as an artist. I’m lucky I have a really cool label to push me out there. I’m blessed because it’s really hard to make it as a solo artist. It really is about getting with the right people to put your music on the big scale. Independent labels and artists have seem to have taken over the last ten years, but at the same time you still need a push and a major push behind you. And people that are going to actually believe in your product. I’m just trying to ride this train and get this music out there. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, that makes me sound old but at the same time I started young you know. With songwriting and of course trying to make it in the business. Being on American Idol and the loop with that, I thought more was going to come from that situation and it didn’t. I just worked my ass off after the show was done and found my way over to a label that I felt could really push the product. I’m mature now and of course with knowledge, so I think it’s the perfect time for me to be getting ready to finally be putting out my first record. I hold a lot of pride to the album.

UrbanBridgez: Speaking of your label, what made you decide to sign with Ca$h Money?
Chris Richardson: Just from when I went down there for the first time and they introduced them to my music. Just the excitement, the energy to the work ethic. I knew it was a place for me because a lot of solo artists are very unorthodox, we’re out there creating ourselves that we want someone to be behind us to be like yeah we see what you’re talking about. That doesn’t happen often, specially immediately going into the situation and them being like we’re behind you. It’s almost like a complete selling point, it’s like you go in and you’re buying a car and they only have to say one word…man this thing is fast and you’re like sold! I went in there and they were like you’re great, you’re going to be a star and I was sold from there. For them to be behind the project before even getting to know everything about me, I think that’s a lot to be said with this label. That’s ultimately what made me sign with the label. It’s a label that I grew up to and I seen them branching out to be open about their artistry. They’re a business, they’re smart. They’re doing different kinds of music like now they’re venturing into Country. It’s cool because they’re excited to get new things started so that means they’re excited to get me started as well.

UrbanBridgez: You mentioned not getting as much out of American Idol as you thought you would, what was the biggest lesson you learned from that experience?
Chris Richardson: I tell everybody this man, that whole American Idol journey is like a quick 101 to the entertainment business. It throws you into the feeding pit, in front of cameras, on red carpets, interviews and if you’ve never done those before, you’re just kind of sitting there with a spooked face. You’re sitting there trying to learn, I know from being thrown into those scenarios, over and over and over again. Forced to ask questions and stuff like that, it’s defiantly helped me to be more comfortable in those situations. Just to get to see things on a bigger scale, I mean we went on a 60 city tour that literally sold-out everywhere we went. We were out there performing like we were the Rolling Stones, and we were just the top 10 on American Idol. There was so much involved with it that we didn’t get to see because all we were doing every week was just showing up on the stage & singing a song followed by a few press things. It’s given me structure to be able to hold conversations, answer questions, play to the cameras and not be nervous. So it was a good tool in this whole learning process, I’ll give it that. However what they did for me after that, they didn’t really do to much for me. I just took the experience for what they did for me more than anything else.

UrbanBridgez: Who are some artists right now that you’re feeling outside of your label-mates?
Chris Richardson: I’m really into Miguel, I love his stuff. I’m always a Maroon 5 supporter, the Chilli Peppers, even though they haven’t put out stuff in awhile. I like Big Sean and his craft, Cher Lloyd is kind of slick. I met her in person and she’s cool, I like her vibe.

UrbanBridgez: Outside of music is there anything else you’re working on?
Chris Richardson: Everything, you name it! I got a hat line called Stateline that will be out 2013. It’s been put together for awhile now, I’m really into hats and have always collected them. I’m into extreme sports, from skydiving, racing, boating, bikes, you name it. I just love that whole extreme living on the edge…cliché Y.O.L.O. (both laugh). I just like enjoying life and I’m always being creative from like video editing, to pictures. My hat line is basically all based off of hand drawn pictures. They’re one of a kind, original designs, of course they will be reproduced being hats but they started from the actual mind instead of just graphics. I also plan to venture into some other things once my career progresses, I just like to keep my hands in different pots.

UrbanBridgez: That’s great to hear! Do you have anything you want to leave with your fans before we wrap up?
Chris Richardson: Just check out my latest single Joy & Pain, my site, follow me on Twitter and look for some new music to drop! Either features or another single. Stay tuned!

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