Christian Chavarria is a talented jazz musician, and former UNT Jazz student, who has become so tireless in his trek to grow, produce and expose young artists he's had to backburner his own projects for now. Chavarria has been working under vocal coach Linda Septien (Jessica Simpson, Selena Gomez) at her school in North Dallas, crafting and developing young budding vocal talent, and helping them to train up for the jungle of the music world proper. Now, he's on to two new projects: Createvation, and Latin Artists of Dallas.
You've been devoting so much time to helping kids with music that you've had to backburner your own musical projects entirely for the time being. Difficult sacrifice?
In "artist sculpting" there is are several gratifications. I always had trouble as a young artist in developing my personal style. One, I never had guidance and two I love all music and all genres. I didn't really want to be stuck in just one ever. As a producer and artist developer, I get to touch all genres, from pop to country. The other side is, when your students get good, people reach out to you from all areas of the world to connect with you and do business. Your network grows effortlessly, because of your artist relationships. Usually, they are my biggest fans, and I theirs!
Your new endeavor is "latin artists of dallas"...and again, as has been your forte, it focuses on educating kids, right?
Not necessarily just kids. In the case of LAOD, we are focusing on latin artists in general. A large part of the latin community in Dallas is out there doing things all on their own with no type of direction. Many of them come not only from Mexico, but other countries. In LAOD we have Colombians, Venezuelans, Hondurans among others. Many people see brown and automatically think - Mexico. However, within our Latino community we have many countries represented, they all need guidance, education, and most of all a network. We are currently working on a project where we all come together for songwriting. We are producing an album that features each local artists and the LAOD songs of collaboration. We're seeking sponsorship, by the way! We're building a network to further the Dallas Latino music scene. Also to to work on Latino artist business, network and educational training.
I know you through your involvement at Septien....teaching kids music.
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Septien is a machine of its own kind. Linda is a woman cut with a different knife and I have learned so much from her about the music business. She was able to be part of several launches such as Jessica Simpson, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez. It takes a different approach with kid performers, in that younger artists can't really ride the Deep Ellum music scene. I like that Linda has kept on top of the times in that her school is cutting edge on teaching young artists the power of social marketing and media. Being in the Septien environment I was able to learn things about the music business world that I would never have learned in college. I've been on artist runs with Linda to shop artist in LA. I was able to connect with people in the music industry that definitely make things happen on large scales. One example is Kidz Bop. One of Septien's largest clients from NYC, that usually debuts every album top 5 on iTunes in sales the first week of releasing their yearly compilation albums. They fly all their kid artists to train at Septien from all over the nation. I have been their sound designer for the past 2 years. I was able to work on their featured track that was used on last year's Macy's Day Parade and their current tour. I like to see that Dallas has the talent to attract clients out of NYC, and I'm blessed to be part of that movement/team.
And now, you're moving on from Septien to a new position, but still educating local kids about music?
Yes. I am taking on the Chief Operations Officer's position at a school in Frisco called Createvation. It is currently housed inside a religious organization called Elevate Life Church. Our stage is state of the art. We have three full blown HD Pro Tools recording studios on campus accessible to our new artists and their development. At the moment Createvation has been teachers giving lessons. I'm really joining the team to push the lines, enhance marketing, and propel the development of the music academy.
What's your goal at Createvation? Love the name, by the way!
My goal is to make a mark on the world through the quality artists we launch by teaching them not only the technical theoretical side of music, but also keeping them "head healthy". Equipping them to make educated decisions in the music world. We have lost way too many great musicians. People that I would have loved to enjoy to my old age. Artists like Amy Winehouse.
Do you believe a program like this, and your methods, might have helped an artist like Amy Winehouse?
I believe that if I would have had a chance to be involved in her artistic development, we wouldn't have lost her. I say this because artistic development starts at a young age, I am VERY tight with my students. I know their "good, bad, pretty & ugly" sides. I also have the ability to influence them to a positive mindset in hopes of making right decisions from business, to image, to relationships, and personal choices. Createvation is that school. We will build leaders in the music industry from performance & music production in the studio, to branding and social media.
On top of all this, you help teach kids at Frisco High School as well?
Yea! I've been actively involved in mentoring high school students for the ISM (Independent Study & Mentorship) program of Frisco. Specifically Frisco High. The program collaborates with field experts in Dallas to expose young leaders to explore their interests in a career of their choice. The student I was working with this year just received a full paid scholarship to a University in Nashville to study Music Business. I believe that programs like this can impact the music industry with innovative young minds pushing the creative lines to find and create new avenues of business in our community. That is why I like investing in them. Hey! Who knows maybe he will hire me in the future, and I'm just creating job security.
How about you as a kid? What kind of a learner were you? Where did your penchant for the arts start?
My main influences were my uncles. I grew up in Del Rio, Texas, which is a border town. If you know anything about border towns and the Latino culture, you know they like parties. My uncles were and still are the town musicians in Del Rio! They have a Tejano band & a mariachi band. They play by ear but they're really good. They literally practiced out of their garage and have played at most city events. They are on almost every Alamo movie out of Hollywood that would film in the area. They were and are the best at what they do in the area that they do it in. At 6 years old I learned guitar however I wanted more. I joined orchestra in 4th grade and played classical violin until I graduated. My orchestra teacher was a huge influence on my life and musical career. The patience that he had with me was incomprehensible. I was annoying, bad and never practiced, yet my musicality alone always took me to first and second chair in the orchestra even at the regional level in high school that includes kids from 4 states of competition. Mr. Brown always said, "Christian, if only you focused a little you could get scholarships to any University." He was a great man. He taught me from 4th grade up to my senior year. This is why I'm big on mentorship. Whether he knew it or not, the fact that I had ONE stable person in my life in the area that I was interested in was very impacting.
Did anyone else in your family study music, or was it just you?
I am the only one in my family that went to college for music and everyone thought i was crazy. Now they read my Facebook posts and cheer me on. If I can pursue and wake up to music every morning as a career, anyone can. Is it easy? By no means, it requires a lot of discipline; but it is attainable.
Later, you studied Jazz an UTA. Great program? What was the creative braintrust like?
I studied Jazz at UTA mainly under a great instructor by the name of Dan Cavanagh. He is an extremely talented composer in the area and I learned so much by just being around him. I studied, oddly enough, as a vocalist. The instructors there did NOT let me slide any less, in expectations of development and accuracy, than they would their best trumpet player. That chiseled my disciplines, my listening skills, and my writing/producing. Jazz is a genre that is passed on to students almost like an heirloom. The art is highly protected and very exclusive in the sense of circles and names. This taught me a whole new level of respect for music and the intelligence behind Jazz Studies. To this day I have friends that are touring and performing with great artist. The University is definitely key to creating a solid network.
Who do you enjoy live from the area?
I love live music. I lean to the Jazz side for enjoyment. People in the local scene that I LOVE are Rosana Eckert. I try to catch as many of her shows as I can. She is AMAZING. Freddie Jones is a great trumpet player that I try to see often.
In our indie scene, Ishi has got to be mentioned on my list. I listen to all kinds of music and JT Mudd always has great musical offerings. My friend Philip Creamer's band, Dovetail, is on that list. When former Dallas' artist, that now lives in Austin, David Ramirez is in town, I try to clear my schedule. He is a great lyricist.
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And working on a personal level with artists like Jes Spires that create a lot of movement in our singer/songwriter scene within Deep Ellum.
I'm familiar with Jes Spires, and have given his band, Quiver, a little airplay in my local radio days of yore.
Jes has great talent! He knows how to entertain many different crowds and is always very professional on all levels and Intake is also a project i'm heavily involved in with my business partner at C-Factory Productions, Jonathan Camacho. He is a musical productions beast with a composition major from UNT. Everything he touches musically turns to gold and I love his work. Great bands to catch even if I weren't involved Jes and Intake are great all on their own.
I could go on and on with LAOD about local artists. I have been blessed to be able to know, serve and serve with Dallas' Finest. It's very humbling and a long way from my violin years in Del Rio!