Interview Series: 5 Questions with Christian James Hand - DJ / Producer / Music Excavator

Christian James Hand Photo Courtesy thesessiononair.com

Ok I can't even begin to contain my excitement about this interview. Christian graciously agreed to being questioned by a complete stranger, and one gushing like a fangirl at that. See, what Christian does with individual songs, is something I have been doing in my head with only the music and a pair of headphones (and a healthy rewind button) since I was a small child. This may come as something of a surprise to some of you, being that my brief foray into podcasting was so short-lived. Well, that's because I lack the technical knowledge and equipment to produce such things, but I digress....

Back in the late 90's, I went to school to become a media producer. I was the only female in a sea of male audio nerds, and I didn't possess the coconut sized balls I felt I needed to continue with the classes. Besides, I'm not a traditional musician. My ear is my instrument, and that didn't get you very far back then. Perhaps it still doesn't.

Anywho. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I listened to the ShockWaves Podcast featuring Christian James Hand. He was dissecting Tubular Bells (which most know to be the theme from The Exorcist) and I thought it would be really interesting...



Well interesting doesn't even begin to cover it. I was GLUED to my phone the entire length of the podcast because I SPEAK HIS LANGUAGE. What does that mean? Well the best way to describe it is, he focuses on sometimes the slightest nuance of a part of a song, which makes you hear it completely differently than ever before. And I'm saying that you can have played a song 1000 times, and I guarantee you will never hear it the same way after you've heard Christian piece it out for you.

See? I'm gushing again. I can't help it. I've just never heard another human being do what I have done most all my life and I am THRILLED to, even in some small way, bring any amount of awareness to the magic he creates. So let's hear Christian's part, it's infinitely more interesting than mine....


1. First off, I have to know the history behind what you do. How did you come to this particular place in your career, and more specifically, how did you come to dissect songs? Please correct my verbiage "dissect" if you have a better term for what it is you do, I'm sure that you do.

HA! No, that's as good a word for it as any. The whole thing started when I was on Sirius/XM. I would routinely go in and simply do vocal tracks. One day I tried a full song and my co-host couldn't handle it. Which was fine. Upon leaving SXM I started with Mark Thompson in the mornings on The Sound doing a complete song as is heard today. That was also the launch-pad for the live show. I started by just inviting listeners but after about 3 months, I could sell tickets and now the shows sell-out months in advance, which is pretty friggin' awesome!

2. You are jokingly open and honest about your Asperger's (Didja know Gary Numan has it too?) and OCD diagnoses. Do you feel these afflictions help or hinder your process?

I did know about Gary's diagnosis. Weirdly enough when I was a kid in the U.K. he was one of the first artists that resonated with me deeply. "Are Friends Electric?" was a song that "spoke to me" in a way music hadn't before. He was the first musician that I felt I could "claim" as my own. Kindred spirits perhaps?

Does Asperger's help me? I'm not sure. I'm confident that it has something to do with it. The process of doing a 2 hour long live show that is entirely made-up on the spot is one that has convinced me that my mind works VERY fast and I think that that, along with the OCD of SO much useless music trivia, definitely puts me at an advantage when it comes to "performing" The Sessions and is something that can be pinned on the Asperger's. The places where I really feel the "hindrance" of it, and its liabilities, are in the area of inter-personal relationships and navigating the complexities of a World that appears to run entirely on entropy. THAT shit will wear you the funk out!


Tracks Breakdown Photo Courtesy of sessiononair.com

3. DYING to know your favorite part of your process.

My fave part of the "process"? Two-fold. I love discovering the secrets. Whether it be the cellos in "Jeremy" or the acoustic guitar in "Take On Me", when the little nuances that make such a HUGE difference reveal themselves to me in the quiet of my studio it is entirely thrilling. But, without a doubt, the live show is my fave part. Getting to make people laugh, cry, rejoice, all the while showing them the magic in these songs is an experience unlike any other I have ever had as a music fan OR music creator. It's a beautiful, rewarding, humbling, thing to be allowed to do for a living. I am VERY grateful.

4. What motivates you as an artist? Sub question:  I know that you focus on your own personal favorite songs, but how do you choose which songs you will do?

My motivation as an "artist"? Well, I find it difficult to use that term for what I do. I prefer to consider myself a "teacher", in a way. The motivation is to try and get people to remember that music IS ART!! It has value. It is magic. And spells. And friendship. I want people to re-engage in these incredible songs that have been devalued and forgotten about or, sometimes, with something like "Take On Me", never truly valued to begin with.

I would like the audience to see INTO the songs and feel the process as it reveals itself to them. To get them to fall in love again, or for the first time, with songs and artists that they've stopped LISTENING to because they only now HEAR them. The songs are entirely chosen randomly and on a whim. Unless we are paying our respects to someone who has passed, obviously. And those are VERY difficult. After the Tom Petty one I sat in my car in the parking lot and cried. I feel an immense responsibility to "do right" by those artists, and hope to not let them, their bandmates, family, and/or fans, down.


5. Assuming you have to get clearance for the "stems" (I think you called it) for each song. Is that the most challenging part of the dissection process? ALSO: You've said that after doing 'Rio' by Duran Duran, the band invited you to a performance they were doing. Um, just HOW FREAKING AMAZING WAS THAT???!!

I'll leave this one for the lawyers. And, yeah, it was AWESOME to have John Taylor of DD reach out to us and invite us to the show. They were so very flattered by the attention. And he was STOKED to be highlighted as the friggin' GENIUS bass-player that he is. My hope is that all bands will eventually be wondering why I haven't done a Session with them. And consider it an honour to be chosen for one.

Special Extra Credit Question: What magical piece of machinery is it that you bring into the studios when you do the radio show and/or podcast?

The "magical piece of machinery" in question is a 2011 Mac Book Pro using an ancient version of Pro Tools and covered in stickers. Not that fucking sexy...is it?


Merch Stickers Photo Courtesy of thesessiononair.com

Please tell the readers where they can find/follow you:

@kingtrut on IG

The Session On Air on FB


www.thesessiononair.com

Christian James Hand on FB


Finally, I just have to tell you THANK YOU for not only agreeing to this "interview", but for doing what you do. Music lovers everywhere need to know about the magic that you create, because they will be the better for it. And I for one, will scream it from the rooftops.

I hope you've enjoyed this personal favorite interview, please listen to any of the shows Christian has available, I promise you will be amazed, fascinated and thoroughly HOOKED. Stay tuned for my next victim next week!

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