On The Block: Chris Sandoe
Chris Sandoe’s new EP “The Left Side: So. Cal Vibes” is available now on all digital music outlets. In celebration of the latest project, I interviewed Chris to discuss the EP and the creative process behind it.
Q: What makes Southern California so special?
A: I was born and raised in So. Cal so I’m way biased but I think the weather is definitely one of the top things that make this a special place. People come here because they have dreams of being rich and famous too but besides that we have amazing beaches all up and down the coast, I have beautiful mountain views just a few miles away from my home actually. At some times of the year you could surf, ski or snowboard, and if you wanted to take a four wheeler to the desert all in the same day. I love it here man it’s amazing. You get a lot of different feels here. Some people like the suburbs and some want the fast big city life. There is a lot of flavor here and it’s been this way all my life.
Q: How long have you resided on the left side?
A: All my life. I have never lived outside of Cali. I have been to many beautiful places but I don’t think I could ever willfully leave California to live somewhere else. No diss to anywhere else haha.
Q: Have you ever held residence anywhere else in the country?
A: Naw, Just visited other states for short periods. I’ve been to Mexico, and Belize outside of the country.
Q: Why did you decide to release an EP instead of a full LP?
A: I was actually planning on releasing a full length album but I got a hold of some tracks from Wontel and D. Steele and the music just started to take me in a different direction. I decided I would just give people some insight to where I’m from and how my experiences here have shaped me as a person. So I still have tracks for a future full length release that I’m working on with some production by Dav D, Wontel and D.Steele as well as myself.
Q: Production on The Left Side was handled by the likes of yourself, Daniel Steele, & Wontel. How was the production duties divided between the three of y’all?
A: I am a huge fan of both Daniel Steele and Wontel so to have tracks from them was an amazing experience. I remember hearing the track that would become my song “Family Matters” by Daniel and I just couldn’t stop writing. It really just poured out of me one night. It’s not really your standard song structure of verse/chorus/verse etc. and I didn’t want to make it fit in to that box, I just let it do what it did. So D. Steele has one track on this project # 5, three tracks were done by me # 3, 4, & 6 and Wontel handled two # 1 & 2. Mannn, I’m so excited for people to hear this.
Q: Were there any reservations on your behalf about having any outside production on your EP?
A: I have been been producing for a while now. A lot of people don’t know this but I am friends with Snoop Dogg’s brother Bing. I used to play basketball with Bing at Snoop’s house and was on a team with both of them in a men’s league in Diamond Bar. Anyway, Bing started to follow in his brother’s foot steps and began to make music. He was in a group called “Lifestyle” and I remember being in the studio with them and seeing producers build tracks from scratch. I would sing a hook for something sometimes but I was very interested in how the producers made the tracks so I would just pay attention when it was in front of me. I learned the basic song structure and what bars were and I would buy music just to hear what producers were doing, what effects they were using, the drums sounds that were popular etc. My friend gave me this software called fruity loops and I began making beats. All the beats were trash in the beginning but as time went on and I got better I would show Bing and some of the other artist’s in the camp and they would tell me what tracks were dope and what tracks they wanted to use. The next thing I knew Daz Dillinger of The Dogg Pound (who has actually produced tracks for Tupac and Snoop himself) was on one of my beats and I got a call from Daz the same day my first son was born that he would be using that for an Album. From there I had the chance to work with some other artist’s around Snoop Dogg’s camp (Kokane, Coniyak of Doggy’s Angels, Goldie Loc) and had the chance to submit tracks to Sisqo, Bobby Valentino, Memphis Bleek and the Young Guns etc. Around this time period is actually when I first met Sevin and I did some tracks for him also. Even though I was doing all this stuff, things were not good in my personal life and Praise be to Jesus that he used this broken period in my life for my eternal good. He took me out of this arena and brought me to a relationship with Him and I never been the same. So as for when it comes to my beats I usually like to do the bulk of my tracks but it was really dope to be inspired by Wontel and D.Steele’s creativity because they are pretty amazing at what they do. Fun Fact: The beat for my title track “The Left Side” was originally made for John Givez and I think you could totally hear that from the jazzy vibe Wontel gave it. I’m glad it’s mine though haha I love how the song came out.
Q: Flash Flood features some weighty content matter in reference to the current conditions of the world we live in. Did you initially know who would be featured on this song, let alone the album?
A: Some of it just happened over time. I was actually sitting on this track for a little while. I had the track ready and I wasn’t sure if I was going to use it for one of my projects. I decided to write a verse for it and it was about all this stuff I had been seeing on the news and throughout popular culture and I thought it would be dope to get a perspective from some of my favorite CHH artists. I reached out to Alex Faith first and he really loved the track. Then Alex and Dre Murray came out to do a tour stop in Long Beach, California so I went because I wanted to chop it up with Dre and then there was this dude singing and I was like yo I gotta get at that cat to do this song. Wontel told me his name was Jordan Nitchoff and that was his people. So it was refreshing that he was just super humble and willing to be a part of it. I reached out to B.Cooper who was fresh off releasing “Squad” with Deraj and I also hit up Leaf. Now, when I got the verses from all of these dudes I was like mannn, these dudes went in. So you know I had to rewrite my verse hahahaha. Especially because of Beleaf, that dude is so dope and under rated to me. I really count it an honor to have a piece of art with those dudes.
Q: How much growth has transpired since 2014’s Beautiful Battlefield?
A: I think I have steadily been growing as an artist. I have been blessed to have conversations with Eshon Burgundy, Dre Murray, Ruslan, J Givens and it has helped me a lot. I am so appreciative to have had the opportunity for them to pour a little wisdom into me. I have listened to their suggestions and words of wisdom and applied it to my process and “The Left Side” is a result of that. I want to inspire and cause people to think and feel things. I really just want to rep my Lord well.
Q: How does The Left Side: So Cal Vibes differ from your last project?
A: I think I just approached this in a way as to build a relationship with the listener. I want them to know a little more about me and who I am and why it is that I do what I do. This project is also for the listener to escape where they are at and take a ride through So. Cal with me for about 30 minutes. I always appreciate the great music coming out of the East or the South but If you are from So. Cal, especially the I.E., then this one is for you most definitely. I was blessed to be a part of a documentary about the I.E. Hip Hop scene and what is coming out of here is a lot of party music. I want to show that we are good for more than that. We can make art that has substance. My music is always going to have that but it is also going to point either the believer or non believer to my hope in Jesus Christ.
Q: Where was The Left Side recorded?
A: I have always made my beats at home and then went to a recording studio to do vocals. Most of the time it was at my good friend Anthony Salerno’s studio in West Covina, California. Shout out to Propaganda and all of the other 626’ers hahaha. In 2014 God blessed my wife and I to be able to purchase a home and we have enough space to have a studio where I can record and my wife can paint. She is an amazing painter by the way. So this time around I did the bulk of my recording at home. This was a big help because I have a 3 year old and a 10 month old running around all day. Ohhh big shout out to Beleaf in Fatherhood. My daughter Zairah loves watching that vlog haha.
Q: How many songs did you record during the recording process? Was it difficult deciding which songs would make the cut?
A: I started recording for an album I titled “Welcome To The Resistance” in the same vein as “Beautiful Battlefield” but I veered off and made this EP. In all, I think I have one other finished song and four partial songs that I was intending to be on the album. So probably 11 to answer the question. The six song’s that are on “The Left Side: So. Cal Vibes” just felt like a dope cohesive unit.
Q: What role does the Left Side play in your artistry & ministry?
A: This new EP is a glimpse into my approach of ministry. Jesus went to places where people were cussing and treating each other wrong, He went to the sick in this world. He built relationships with the fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, homeless, terminally sick…He loved on these people, He spent time with them, He told them the truth of who they are and what they were called to be. Sometimes you have to go out and get dirty and build relationships with people. You have to connect. Everyone doesn’t understand “church talk” or “Christianese”. The want people to be real with them. I appreciate support from the church and I know the church is necessary. The church does beautiful things but Jesus had a lot of hard critiques of the way the church or religious leaders were handling people at the time He walked the earth. I think the approach C.S. Lewis took through his artistic writings were a great way to reach people in a way that they didn’t automatically shut it out. I’m not against making music for the people in the church at all but I do want to be able to reach those who don’t know all of our rules and regulations that we seem to have. I want to be real with people because they are going through real things, they have real questions, they need real answers, and they need real love.