Interview by Jamison Harvey
Name, Location, What You Do.
Chris Lujan. Pittsburg, CA. The Far East Bay Area. Musician, producer, songwriter, and all that goes with that.
How did you hook up with Funk Night Records?
My band, The M-Tet, wanted to grab the attention of Charles Wright. We knew he was on Facebook/Instagram. So, we set out to do a cover of his “Express Yourself” with the sole hope that he might see it. Well, it grabbed the attention of Frank Raines, head honcho over at Funk Night, and he reached out to us. We recorded it for real and it came out as our first single for them. We’ve now done five 45s and an LP for Funk Night.
Tell us what you've been up to during the pandemic. Have you been working on many projects?
First let me say that it’s unfortunate what’s going on right now with everyone losing work and not knowing when the world is going to open up again.
But, for me, it was kind of heaven sent. I’ve got a dayjob as an orthodontic technician. To put it plainly, I make retainers. So, with all of the dentists and orthodontists closed, there was zero work for us.
I’ve complained for years that this dayjob was holding me back and that all I wanted to do was music. So, I took full advantage of my time off.
I’ve got a home studio here with drums, basses, guitars, a Hammond Organ, Fender Rhodes, and various percussion instruments. I’ve also got a Tascam 388 tape machine. So, I threw everything into my music. I’ve been writing and recording and, for the most part, playing all of the instruments myself. Once I got rolling, it was full speed ahead. I ended up giving myself the goal of writing and recording a new song every week. And, I did just that. In fact, I think I even bested that by doing two a week a couple times. A lot of this stuff is just waiting for vocals or horns.
I’ve made a little bit of money doing this from home. The goal is to be able to do this full time.
Tell us about your relationship with coffee. How do you make it, how do you like to have your coffee, and is it a daily ritual for you like it is for a lot of us?
I used to be a creamer guy. But, not anymore. I’ve weaned myself back to black coffee. I will delight in a vanilla latte now and again when I’m out though.
I used to use a regular ol’ drip coffee maker. But, now, I’ve gone full French Press. We even trashed our coffee maker and got ourselves an electric kettle.
I grind my own beans that we get from a roaster one city over called Big House Beans. My wife and I were in Austin, TX last year and hit up a great spot called Once Over. It was spectacular. Amazing coffee. When we got back home to the Bay Area, we knew there had to be better coffee around us besides your typical burnt Starbucks/Peet’s. My wife looked around and discovered Big House Beans. We’ve been going there ever since. They’ve got a cafe. But, they’ve also got their roasters. We buy the beans and grind them at home ourselves.
What have you been listening to while you were stuck inside?
I’ve been checking out a lot of the Lamp Records catalog. It’s all about the sweet soul for me right now. I’ve also listened to the new Penrose compilation a bunch. “Can I Call You Rose?” by Thee Sacred Souls is my favorite song right now. So, that’s been on steady repeat.
What is coming up next with your music?
Mostly, I’ve been working on my solo project. It started off as a mostly instrumental thing. But, as I’ve started working with vocalists, it’s heading more in that direction, which is great. It’ll have some special guests on it and I can’t wait to wrap it up once we go back to “normal” and I could get some horn players over here.
I’ve also got some collaborations coming up. Since we’re all stuck at home, I reached out to a few people who were all game. No one knows when the gigs will start up again. So, now’s the time to reach out.
I’ve got a real nice double-sider coming up with Trish Toledo that already has a home on the Mango Hill label. I wrote all of the music and played all of the instruments on that one. So, I’m super excited about it and can’t wait to see people get their hands/ears on it. Trish has been sharing little snippets of it here and there and the response has been crazy good.
For the past year, I’ve been working with Gene Washington & The Sweet Sounds. We were on the way to getting ready to record. But, this shelter in place order pretty much put that all to a halt until further notice.
The M-Tet has a release coming up that will be put out by Raza Del Soul. That one features Dee Dee Simon on lead with Ben Pirani and Zee from the Jack Moves singing backup. So, that’s pretty exciting.
I’ve also got a 45 coming out on my label, Lugnut Brand Records, by Chicago band, The Heavy Sounds. So, that should be coming out soon.
Buy records. Drink coffee.
You can find my stuff at lugnutbrandrecords.com
I’m on Instagram as @crlujan