We had the good fortune of connecting with Christopher Hawley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christopher, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
Interview I’m a lifelong athlete, and I’ve always viewed playing the guitar and singing as a physical activity. I work daily to be fit, feel as good as I can, and to maintain my body so that I can make music that can help others feel good. That’s what my favorite music does for me. Besides consistently practicing and growing as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, my fitness and wellness habits are integral in helping me succeed. I try to eat a plant-based diet as much as possible, and once a week, I don’t eat for 24 hours to give my digestive system a break. It’s been a mind blowing practice for many reasons, one of which is the increased awareness of how little I actually need to consume. Fasting also has proven anti-aging benefits. My yoga “habit” of almost 25 years is a huge part of my wellness routine. I am grateful to be injury free, especially in my arms and fingers, after tens of thousands of hours of repeated motion with a guitar in my hands. I believe that my yoga practice counteracts and prevents things like repetitive strain injury and carpal tunnel syndrome, which are common ailments of guitarists. More so in years past when yoga studios were open, I was constantly sweating out toxins during heated yoga classes, thus neutralizing the effects of a rock n’ roll lifestyle. As a lover of music, I’m on a habitual search for sounds new to my ears and places new to my eyes. New melodies, rhythms, rhymes, and phrases inspire me when I put my fingers on the guitar strings, and new places and experiences inspire me when I put the pen to paper. My habit of choosing to find beauty, adventure, and especially gratitude in every moment, even those that are dark and dull, have helped me continue to move forward. My music is still being discovered, and I’m still building an audience. The pandemic has closed every venue. It’s been a sad time for musicians, most of whom have struggled to be heard. Long ago, I learned the benefits of choosing to make the best of a challenging situation, to find the silver lining in a dark cloud. It’s not easy to get in the habit of doing this, and I know that the music that I love and love to create has played a huge part in this philosophy.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m excited about the effects that the vibrations of music have on people, both mentally and physically. I’ve been a music lover for as long as I can remember. That’s what initially motivated me on my path of learning guitar. I love hearing new music, new chord progressions, new ways of putting together the 12 notes of Western music, and new combinations of the notes in between those 12 notes. I have a guitar that has 19 frets in an octave. When I play slide guitar or lap steel, the amount of available melodies is infinite. The possibilities are incredibly inspiring. I also love listening to all types of music, and reggae is my new favorite genre. I’ve always written reggae songs beginning with Waiting on Tanja and then Meander, up through my most recent single, Things Gotta Get Better, released in February. My next album will have mostly reggae tunes on it, and I’ve got a backlog of songs of many genres to record.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For a weeklong trip, I’d probably head up to Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, and Paso Robles. The Central Coast has always captured my imagination, so much so, that I created a music festival at a hot springs in Paso Robles called the Folk-n-Soak Music/Hot Springs/Yoga/Camping Festival, which happens three times a year, and will hopefully begin again this year. Perhaps the journey would begin in Ventura with a surf at C Street or another spot. I’d try to hit up either Corrales in Ventura or Romanti-ezer in Santa Barbara for a black bean avocado burrito. Around LA, I’d recommend Neighbor and Abbot’s Pizza on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. I also love Tocaya and Mao’s Kitchen. You can’t miss the two best dive bars in SoCal, Hinano and the the Prince o’ Whales.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my many teachers, besides my friends and family, of which I’ll name two. My first guitar instructor, Pat Hart, was a classically trained musician, very patient, encouraging, thorough, enthusiastic, and she was blind. She would put her hands on my hands to make sure that I had proper technique, and she shared her passion for the instrument and the repertoire when I was 12 years old. Another teacher I’m grateful for is Michael Gandolfi, who now chairs the composition department at the New England Conservatory of Music. I studied jazz and improvisation with him in high school, and I believe that he was integral in inspiring my dedication to songwriting and composing. I’m also grateful for all of my yoga teachers, Byran Kest, whom I did a teacher training with, Travis Eliot, Tracey Goldman, Dan Ward, Schuyler Grant, Rudy Mettia, Alanna Zabel, Vytas Baskauskas, to name just a few. We are so lucky to have such a strong community of yoga instructors and practitioners in LA and on the planet. I’ve also got to shoutout to the fans that keep me and the Rollers going- they know who they are, and I want them to know how grateful I am for them. I wish I could mention everyone who comes to our shows, streams our music, views our music videos, and connects via social media. It means so much when people consistently show up, especially online these days. Some folks have been so thoughtful as to line up shows like Seran Williams, Chris Cate, Brad Twigg, and Scott Kneeland, produce music videos like Daniela Ardizzone, Andre Enzensberger, Mario A. Signore, Robert Hanson, Eduardo Quintino, Olesia Saveleva, Antonio Lugo-Ponce, Tomislav Tadic, Teodor Vladimirov, Pete Pearce, and Cory Brandon Clay, help produce recordings like Randy Wooten, Steve Gallagher, and Will Sandalls, feed us like Andrea Turnoff and William Veilleux, and design graphics like lovemando., not to mention all of those who’ve offered a room over my head when I’m on the road. I couldn’t do this without you. I feel support and love from the other musicians I’ve had the pleasure of working with, especially those in the Hawley Rollers, including Joe Trevino, Ralph Rivers, John Reese, Raymond Roosevelt, Russell Lollis, Max Benson, Greg Friedman, Dan Reed, Marsha Bloom, Ron Reich, Nathan Bishop, Alfredo Lopez, James Hambleton, and also those whose projects I’ve been part of like Jewels and Johnny Nation, Cory Clay, Chris Hazard, and Will Hawkins, Carlos St. Juste, and so many others who’ve shared their gifts along my musical path. Just thinking about all of these people makes me feel the warmth of gratitude, and I know there are many other folks who have shown their love, for whom I’m grateful.
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