Interview With Chris Boerner

M: First, we would like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us! Tell us a little
bit about how you got into the music industry; was it something you kind of just knew was going to
happen?

Boerner: I’ve played guitar since I was 12 years old but went to college as a physics major. That changed
pretty quickly as gigs started to get in the way of school. In a way, I feel like music chose me at that
point. It really just made sense that this was an immediate way I could make a living. It didn’t hurt that it
was exactly where my heart was.

M: What was the first instrument you learned to play?

Boerner: alto saxophone

M: Most recent?

Boerner: 8-string guitar

M: What made you want to pick up the 8-string guitar for classical and fusion influenced music?

Boerner: I had played 7-string for nearly 10 years when I ordered my 8-string. Always been a fan of
Charlie Hunter and luckily my friend Wes Lambe builds incredible 8-strings nearby in Chapel Hill. At the
time I felt my writing and creativity for my own music was a little stale. The 8-string was the perfect
solution for me. I got the guitar, started writing music and then started my group The Hot at Nights. I
really forced myself to start performing on it within months of getting it. It’s been really fresh and a lot
of fun. It continues to kick my ass on a daily basis.

M: If you had to pick (trust me, I know it’s hard) what is your favorite go –to axe?

Boerner: For bass: P-bass without a doubt. For guitar: I go back and forth between a strat and tele. I love
a tele for it’s rawness and a strat for it’s subtlety and range of tones.

M: What record have you been listening to over and over lately?

Boerner: Honestly ,this Jeanne Jolly record that I’m producing. I spend a lot of time in the studio
producing, mixing and mastering. Not only my stuff but for a lot of other artists and labels. Obviously
it requires a ton of listening. But for pleasure I’m attracted to records with a lot of good sounds, on the
instruments as well as general production. Most recently I’ve enjoyed the latest St. Vincent record and
latest Feist record. Love the way those albums sound.

M: You’re musical career seems to have taken you in many directions at this point. What types of
unique challenges are associated with genre hopping?

Boerner: It’s funny, I was on the road with Jeanne Jolly recently out west. She’s a singer-songwriter with
some country leanings. We’re at a festival in the middle of nowhere Montana playing with Emmylou
Harris, Billy Jo Shaver, Mary Chapin Carpenter and all these big names in that scene. I had just finished
mastering a pretty big hip-hop record with some heavy names on it. I kept thinking to myself how far

apart those two worlds are. I love that I get to be a part of both. The challenges really lie in knowing the
genres well. I think to do a certain type of music justice, you really need to be up on what happened
historically as well as what is happening currently. I’m speaking from the standpoint of a musician and a
recording engineer. Hip-hop records from ’92 don’t sound the way they do now and neither do country
records. Things change, trends change, attitudes change and I think for me it really helps to be up on
what’s happening. I try to as much as I can. I’m always surrounded by great musicians on the road that
all have drastically different tastes in music. I try to pay attention to what all my friends are listening to
as well. This can only help me be better. I’m very much of the jazz mentality of constant evolution. In
everything I do, I’m always asking myself how I can make it better next time. One major way we evolve
as musicians is by listening to new stuff. This is huge for me.

M: The Foreign Exchange is a really cool music project, how did you get involved with R&B and hip hop?

Boerner: Sort of fell into that one. Phonte, the singer/MC from the group called me in 2004 to play on
something he was producing. We hit it off and eventually I ended up playing on a song on 2008’s Leave
It All Behind and subsequently on a great deal of Authenticiity in 2010. At that point I got to join the
band on the road more permanently. I’m really lucky because Phonte is one of the greatest MC’s alive
and Nicolay (their producer) has one of the most unique production sounds of anyone in that genre. His
production is almost like some guitar players you only need to hear one note from to tell who they are.
You hear half a bar from Nicolay and you know who it is.

M: Are there any genres of music you have yet to explore that you find interesting?

Boerner: I wish I could play bluegrass. Seems fun. Might be hard for me at this point.

M: you are going to be presenting a clinic at SEGAS this year, what types of things can we expect to learn
from you?

Boerner: I’d like to present some of the challenges of the 8-string guitar and relate it to some concepts
that all guitar players, 8-string or not, can learn from. Specifically playing basslines and comping at the
same time. Ways of developing independence between these parts. Going to talk a lot about rhythm.
Basically want to let folks into my practicing session. I think there will be a lot to be learned for a lot of
different level of player.

M:Do you do many of these clinics?

Boerner: Occasionally. I teach guitar when I’m in town. The Hot at Nights have done group master
classes at colleges with jazz programs.

M: What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Boerner: Currently, the Jeanne Jolly record I just produced with be out on Oct. 2. That means a lot of
touring over the next year. The Hot at Nights will have two releases next year: our second full length
album and a full length collaboration with Nicolay. Got to write some more tunes!!!! I’m pretty sure a
new Foreign Exchange album will be out next year as well, probably late 2013.

August 23, 2012 in News | Comments (0)