The Force Behind Christine Anderson

Brian Lewis Has Eye For Talent And Ear For Songs

Blue eyes gleam beneath a wild mop of goldilocks curls as Christine Anderson takes the stage. The pink billows of her Victorian petticoat swirl around her like something from a Jean-Honore Fragonard painting. In the glow of a single spotlight, she walks to the Yamaha S80 digital piano and takes her place behind it, standing not sitting, and reaches out to pull the microphone close to her lips.

This is a song about Corporate America," she says with a grin. "It's called Smash It To Pieces." A loud cheer rises up from the audience as the dark stage suddenly illuminates, revealing an electric blue drum kit, as Brian Lewis strikes his sticks together and the duo explode into strains of march and melody.

"Wake up, you can't sleep in
It's ten to seven once again
You got to put your suit and tie on
Get out in your SUV
Grab a latte, extra shot please
It's time to dream a little dream

Build up your credit
Build up your self esteem
Build up your bank account
Moving up in the scene
Everyone's living the American Dream
So we can build up an Army
And smash it to pieces!"

Brian Lewis keeps the beat for Los Angeles Music Award winner Christine Anderson at The Joint on June 20, 2006.

It is nothing short of amazing what two people can do with a shared dream and a little time. Not even a year ago, Brian Lewis had never even sat down at a drum kit, much less played a live gig, but he had always secretly wished he could play rock n roll. From the time he was a child, he would have a recurring dream that he was up on a stage, holding an instrument, and thousands of screaming fans were cheering him on. He remembers wondering how in the world he had learned to play the instrument, and then suddenly, he would wake up.

Like most people with a secret dream, Brian Lewis chose a career that took him as close as possible to his dream, without obligating him to live it for himself. That is actually how he became a talent buyer. As both an in-house and freelance talent buyer (the old school term was "booker"), Lewis spent eight years working for the top clubs in Los Angeles, hiring the biggest national and international headlining acts in the world to perform at his venues, and giving unknown local bands their shot at a big break by booking them in the prime opening slots. With over 1500 live concerts to his credit, Lewis was one of a small but powerful core of local promoters who helped to jump start the careers of many Southern California based bands by booking the shows that got them noticed. No Doubt, Linkin Park, Yellowcard, Papa Roach, Hoobastank, 311, and Jurassic 5 -- to name a few -- were popularized on the Los Angeles music scene by concerts Brian Lewis booked and promoted.

Over the years, Lewis has worked with thousands of top names in both live concert settings and music video production. Here are a few more names you might recognize:

David Bowie, Aerosmith, Guns N Roses, Greenday, Maroon 5, Ice Cube, KRS One, Tribe Called Quest, George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic All Stars, Marilyn Manson, Phish, The Killers, Dead Kennedys, Tool, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Mudvayne, Skinny Puppy, Kottonmouth Kings, Melissa Etheridge, Yellowman, Method Man, The Marley Brothers, Bon Jovi, Ricky Martin, Scorpions, Kansas, Thin Lizzy, Gregg Karukas, Stanley Jordan, BB King... and hundreds more, literally.

"You can't be freaked out by the big name acts," Lewis advised aspiring artists in a Music Connection article on breaking into the LA music scene, "or you'll never get to play with them. The bottom line is, someone's going to be opening for these acts when their tour brings them through Los Angeles... why shouldn't it be your band? In most cases, I will start you off on a local show with other local bands as a way for you to prove to me what you're made of. This is the same way Linkin Park, No Doubt, Papa Roach, Yellowcard, Maroon 5, etc. got their start. If you've got what it takes, I can put you on bigger and better shows with national headliners."

Lewis showed a marked and genuine passion for helping hard working local bands, and went out of his way to treat local acts with the same respect and attention national acts received. This earned him a significant reputation on the local scene as the "booker who cares." Whether his show featured the #1 act in the country, or a few up and coming bands nobody had ever heard of (yet), Brian Lewis was always present at the band's sound check, and he wouldn't let an act go on until he knew they were comfortable with the way their music was coming across.

"I've always believed that whether it's a local show or a national show, the goal is always the same: throwing a great concert," says Lewis. "Every act needs lots of love and attention, especially the young nervous bands who have never played a big show before. These local kids don't have management companies, publicity agents, advertising budgets and organized street teams like the big national acts do. The famous bands just show up and play their show. But these local kids have to do everything themselves, and then after all the work is done, they still have to get up there and give a killer performance. I think that kind of dedication should be rewarded. The least I can do is make sure they have good sound and that they're treated with respect."

It was this respectful attitude, and undeniable passion, that made Brian Lewis the guy every band in Los Angeles wanted to know, evidenced by the daily intake of 75+ phone calls, hundreds of emails, and dozens of press kits from record label A&R and hungry local up-and-comers, all looking for the same lucky booking.

Pianist Envy

One day, a CD came across Lewis' desk by a beautiful, young piano prodigy named Christine Anderson. It was titled Pianist Envy, and Lewis was immediately struck by the artist's outstanding songwriting, brilliant lyrics, and overall "outside-the-box" creativity. He listened to the record in his car on continuous repeat, and hired Christine Anderson to open for John Waite at The Malibu Inn the following week.

Christine Anderson live @ The Cat Club in Hollywood.

In person, Christine Anderson was a stunning young woman, overflowing with charisma and exploding with talent. When Lewis watched her perform live in Malibu, he knew this was an artist with the potential to change the face of the music scene. Her voice was strong and pure, yet bittersweet and somehow tragically heartbreaking. Her fingers could fly across the piano keys with incredible speed and finesse, and she could thunder up and down them in octaves with awesome power and command. This wasn't Vanessa Carlton diddling around on the piano; Christine Anderson played like someone possessed by Mozart.

"As an artist, she was like nothing I had ever seen before," Lewis told RockDogs Magazine of their early encounters. " She played this 10 minute impromptu piano solo, and by impromptu, I mean she literally made it up on the fly, all of it, right on the spot for the audience. She blew everyone away. There was no doubt in my mind that this girl was it, the kind of artist I had been hoping to meet my whole career. Her talent was overwhelming, and her approach was totally fresh and unique. I could hear hints of Beethoven, The Beatles, Bowie, and even Broadway. And yet this wasn't some crafted sound, synthesized in a studio with producers. I could tell this was her soul we were hearing, and I knew right away this was the beginning of something big!"

Christine Anderson's striking creativity as both a lyricist and composer was a welcome change for Lewis, who had grown bored of booking acts that already fit a pre-existing mold. "The majority of the CDs I receive from up and coming artists sound more or less like whatever established act they happen to be copying. Piano girls usually sound like wannabe Tori Amoses. Even though they write their own songs, it's just like, okay here's another girl who sings really high over the same two chords, and carries on just like Tori Amos. That's boring. If you really want to make it in this business, and not be a flash in the pan, you've got to do something different. You've got to create something unique. From what I've seen, most musicians can't, or don't, do that. They regurgitate the music they listen to, but most of them don't innovate on their own. That's when you know you're listening to something really special, when it doesn't sound like anybody else. That's what I immediately saw in Christine Anderson. A true original."

Little did Lewis know just how original his new discovery would turn out to be. Home schooled as a child and forbidden to watch TV or listen to pop radio, Christine Anderson had grown up in seclusion with only two short term friendships outside her immediate family. A musical savant, she sat down to a piano for the very first time at the age of nine, and inexplicably knew how to play it. A year later she was soloing with her first symphony and winning competitions with her animated and technically flawless executions of the classical masterpieces. But Anderson's true passion lie in composing. Music was playing constantly in her head, and in the absence of any pop music influences whatsoever, she became a songwriter.

"She knew absolutely zero cultural references that should have connected her to her peer group," said Lewis, who also happens to have his Masters Degree in psychology counselling. "She had lived her whole life as an outsider, and she was still an outsider, which was what made her music so original. I realized what I loved so much about Christine was that she hadn't been tainted by mainstream music or pop culture and media. It wasn't that she was naive, it's just that everything coming out of her musically and lyrically was 100% original and real."

But something was bothering Lewis. For as creative as Anderson's Pianist Envy demo was, it didn't capture the essence of the artist he saw perform live.

When Lewis realized Christine Anderson had never been exposed to other artists, he stopped taking work with other bands, so he could focus 100% of his attention on educating his new discovery.

Live Summer Session 2005

It's like she has a whole team of hit songwriters in her head, and a million dollar voice that is one of the most distinctive in music today. I've been a talent buyer for eight years, and I've seen just about everything. Christine Anderson is a true original. Freddie Mercury would have gone straight for her!"

Late one summer day in August 2005, under the direction of Brian Lewis, Christine Anderson put up a simple microphone in front of the piano in her living room and recorded an entire album, LIVE, in a single take. It was as raw and real as music gets: an hour of improvising, composing songs impromptu, and succumbing completely to the inspiration as it consumed her. She called it "Live Summer Session 2005" and posted four of the tracks on MySpace, an internet portal 65 million members strong.

Anderson and Lewis didn't have to wait long for a reaction. The music was an instant hit, and it was only a matter of time before radio deejays were spinning "Hollywood Trainwreck" and "Over Now", and the phone was ringing off the hook with producers, agents, publishers, and managers, all wanting a piece. Lewis had to bring on two interns just to deal with Anderson's fan mail alone!

Live Summer Session 2006?

Nine months after first debuting on the internet, [Fast forward nine months.] With a live, home-recorded album that has become the biggest surprise hit of the indie music year, Los Angeles Music Award winner and Music Connection's "hot new artist to watch," Christine Anderson, exploded onto the scene in August 2005, after being discovered by Brian Lewis, a veteran talent buyer for top Los Angeles venues, like the Key Club, House of Blues, and Vault 350.

Unsigned and independent, Anderson has built a red hot street buzz on the sheer power of talent alone, landing live on-air interviews, magazine cover stories, and even special features on MTV and Canada's MuchMusic. This summer, Anderson's bittersweet piano driven anthem, Hollywood Trainwreck, is racking up spins at a growing number of FM radio stations across the US, including Clear Channel's KISS FM, giving the young singer-songwriter and Lewis, her mentor turned drummer, their first taste of crossover success.

Lauded for her "creative brilliance" by Europe's Mouvement Nouveau, Anderson is ammassing a passionate cult following with her soulful voice, heartbreaking songwriting, and downright thrilling piano playing. As the summer of 2006 dawns, Anderson's critically acclaimed live solo album, Live Summer Session 2005, is selling by the thousands on her official website, Behind the scenes, work continues on Anderson's debut studio effort, Poetic Rock N Roll, featuring production and percussion by Brian Lewis. Live Summer Session 2005 continues to generate rave reviews in respected music magazines and newspapers across The United States and Europe, and Anderson's fan club, The Army Of Dreamers, now stretches all the way around the world.

SEW-HYP Interviews

Q. Who or what sparked your passion for music?

Christine Anderson: My answer.

Brian Lewis: All of those great records my sister would be playing on her stereo turntable. The Stones, The Beatles, and those funky "K-tel" compliation records that would fill the upstars rooms of my parents' house. I couldn't get enough of those sounds, and I believe it was the passion I had back then that contines to fuel my love for music to this day.

Q. How do you come to write a song?

Christine Anderson: In a nutshell, I come up with the ideas, I build the basic song, and When I used to write all my own songs myself (like I did for Live Summer Session 2005), I'd feel a strong initial burst of inspiration and then whatever came out was The Song. Now I give my songs more time to gestate. They mature and evolve over time, and Brian has a chance to throw in his two cents. These days, I write about 95% and Brian adds his touch. Even though they may seem small, his ideas often have the power to change the entire shape of my songs. His idea might even become the hook of the whole song, so in that respect, he's become invluable to my songwriting process.

Brian Lewis:

Q. Who or what inspires you the most?

Christine Anderson: My answer.

Brian Lewis: Christine is my inspiration. I mean, without her, I... you know, I wouldn't be playing music, I wouldn't be doing this interview right now, and I wouldn't be enjoying my life to the fullest, the way I am now. It's difficult not to feel inspired when you wake up every morning to the sound of a beautiful piano and an angelic voice coming from the other room. We should all be so lucky to wake up like that! Besides that, I'm inspired by the level of success we're achieving. It's awesome to have a fan club that stretches around the world. It's great to be getting to much attention in the press. It's really encouraging to us.

Q. Where do you want your music to take you?

Christine Anderson:

Brian Lewis: That's the great thing about music for me. Al this point, it's all still a big unknown. I have no idea what heights we can reach musically, but if you're asking me on the most basic level, I want to contine playing with Christine, and pay the bills that way. I'd love hit songs and a loyal following. But I would hope that our following would consist of people who have a good ear for "real" music. I don't buy into the mainstream bubblegum pop, and in fact it is the antithesis of what we are musically.

Q. What record label are you with and why did you choose it?

Christine Anderson:

Brian Lewis: Although Christine has been offered multiple deals with labels, she hasn't signed anything yet. There's a lot of interest right now and we are looking at a few options, but at this point we haven't been offered The Deal we want. But we look forward to that day coming!

Q. With your music, do you plan to have a mission in supporting a cause, such as books to give to children in the hospital, flighting cancer, or helping young musicians achieve their dreams?

Christine Anderson:

Brian Lewis: Absolutely! Both Christine and I come from family backgrounds that weren't ideal, so we have a built in desire to support certain causes. We strongly believe that music is one of the best platforms for having your voice heard and speaking out politically. Like Bono from U2 has been so politically active. He'll have saved or at least helped millions of lives bedfore he calls it quits. Even now, Christine and I are both advocates of PETA. We're big into quantum physics, so we created The Army of Dreamers to help everyday people connect with their inner artists. It's very rewarding.

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