Rapper, singer, producer, composer, and audio engineer Chris Borelli grew up below the poverty line in Boston, MA. His lyrics are raw and direct. His messages are confidently delivered. His content is pure, honest, and relatable. On November 18, 2022, he released his latest single, Pressure, on all digital streaming platforms. In this interview, we chat with Chris Borelli about his inspirations, his creative process, and more.
Who or what inspired you to start making music? And, when did you start?
I started making music out of necessity about 20 years ago. It was an outlet for me at a time when music could’ve ended up being drugs, gangs, violence, and all other kinds of bad things that could’ve ruined my life. I discovered music when I was placed in my 4th foster home in 1 week. Now, my adoptive family, The Borellis, had a piano in the house when I was first placed with them. I had never touched one before but I was entranced by the idea of being a musician as soon as I saw it. It was love at first sight, so to speak. So I began playing and teaching myself the piano at the age of 11. It became my obsession—my video game I couldn’t stop playing. Something I knew nothing about but clearly had a knack for it and lost myself in the process of learning—in the best way possible.
Piano then led to singing, which then led to playing and singing, which then led to writing, which led to performing the things I wrote. All in a span of 6-7 years. Then I began producing hip hop music when I got to college at Stonehill College in Easton MA. This is where I established the foundation of my artistry and began discovering my abilities as an engineer and performer. By the time I graduated college, I was being hired to perform across the state of MA. Colleges, venues, high schools, etc. I was officially a professional and it felt amazing.
I’m currently in the process of teaching myself guitar, drums, and DJ’ing in the same way I did piano. I’m excited to keep expanding as one of my ultimate goals as a musician is to become a multi-instrumentalist.
What’s your favorite project or single you have released?
My personal favorite project is my latest solo album, UNSAID, released in May of 2022. This album consists of some of my personal favorite songs of all time.
Who are your inspirations?
My #1 inspiration overall has always been Lupe Fiasco. His music set the foundation for what my earliest subject matter would be when I started. I learned the art of stage presence and performance from him as well. He was electric as a performer in his earlier days. This is when I was drawing the most inspiration from him.
My #1 inspiration from a producer’s POV has always been Ryan Leslie. I picked up countless tips and tricks and nuggets of inspiration from his presence in the industry years ago. His energy in the studio is infectious and empowering.
What artists or bands are you listening to?
My personal musical taste outside of what I create is ever-evolving. But currently listening to Marvin Gaye, Cleo Sol, Drake, Leon Thomas, Prince, Brandy, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Ab-Soul, JID, Nipsey Hussle, and Jimi Hendrixx, among many others.
What’s the process behind working on a song like?
This can vary for me. But typically I draw inspiration from other songs I hear. I’m really big on energy and how the overall vibe of a song makes me feel when I listen. Not just the lyrics or the music or the beat by itself. But what it makes me think about, what it makes me harken back to, how I would approach the same subject matter and reimagine it into something unique and true to me.
Once I hear something I’m inspired by, I identify within myself what exactly about it is setting me on fire. Usually, this leads to me identifying things like the bpm, the mix and master, the catchiness of the flow and delivery, and the chord progressions—the “ingredients” of the song as opposed to the song holistically. To me, this is different from just wanting to make a song like the one I’m loving right now. It’s more intricate than that as I can be inspired by the components of a song more than the song itself. I consider this a gift as it enables me to truly separate the song from what I end up drawing from it. They become separate entities in my creative brain which protects the integrity of the inspiration as well as whatever I come up with from it. Just about every time, when you A-B the inspiration vs the final original song, they’re nothing alike.
For writing, I tend to prefer writing over other producers’ beats before I start creating my own to record over. I’ve discovered that when I’m the architect of the entire record, so much energy gets put into every piece of it so much so that writing to my own beats is more of a challenge than not. I can hear every choice I made sonically as I’m writing – over and over again. As a result, I’m distracted and not able to let my mind be at ease enough about what I’m writing vs the beat I made that I’m trying to write to.
Once I finish writing, I then move into creating an original beat of my own to record to. Then I record, mix, and master all on my own as well.
Want more from Chris Borelli? Follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to stay up to date on everything that he’s up to. Tune in to his newest single Pressure, and the rest of his discography, on Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, YouTube, or wherever you stream music.