Chicago-based Scottish music legend Chris Connelly has released new album 'Eulogy to Christa: A Tribute to the Music & Mystique of Nico', an exceptional 20-track collection pays tribute to the iconic muse of The Velvet Underground and one of the most unique, tragic and misunderstood female artists in the history of modern music. Here, Connelly purposefully adopt the personas of Nico, Lou Reed, John Cale and even Andy Warhol. In four decades of making music, since his days with Fini Tribe in Edinburgh, Chris Connelly has over twenty solo releases and frequently collaborates with other musicians, including Ministry, The Revolting Cocks and Pigface. He has also published four books (poetry, autobiographical and fictional narrative). Initially planned as an album of ten Nico covers, Connelly ended up writing additional compositions spanning her life, from her first Jimmy Page-composed single, The Velvet Underground years and her intense and unique solo recordings until her death. Connelly follows her from Berlin to New York via Paris, Ibiza, and Rome, then back through Paris, London, Edinburgh, Manchester and up to her tragic and needless death in Ibiza. We had the opportunity to speak with Chris Connelly this past weekend and can finally share this conversation with you.
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
You released “Eulogy to Christa” a few months ago. How do you feel now that this new album is released? Are you satisfied with the response of the media and fans to date?
I am very, very humbled at the response, I don’t take it for granted, and to be honest, I don’t ever expect much feedback, you always start from a place of doing it purely for yourself (at least that’s what I do) and if others find something in it that resonates with them, that’s great!
Why did you decide to pay this tribute to Nico? How important is Nico and her music for you?
Her presence and music has been felt in our lives for so long, I felt she has a story worth telling, it’s sad, there was never much redemption for her, except for the important fact that her music, her spirit, was so unique and singular, I have always loved her music , and something about her spirit has always resonated with me, I think it was a compulsion, I felt like I had to do it.
How easy or difficult was it for you to make this tribute album? To what things did you pay special attention while working on this album?
The hardest part of doing this was to be able to be respectful and differential to her spirit, it’s easy to cover or copy someone’s song, and it’s a lot of fun too! But to look inside a song, to try and feel the person who made it, that’s the hard, and most rewarding part, to me it is like meditating or praying, to try and feel her presence beside me , it’s a mental and physical thing.
How did you compose the songs of this tribute album? Did you begin with the lyrics or the music?
Both and neither: composition, for me is not a rational or even physical trajectory, which is why I can never remember honestly how I do it, take for example the song “OH JIM II” which is about the duality of Jim Morrison & Jim Osterberg (Iggy Pop) in her life. When I try and remember writing that, all I see is sand and snow- desert & tundra, that’s what the song is, that’s what I think I created, the science and logic of it is unimportant.
Describe the recording sessions and the production process of “Eulogy to Christa”.
All my sessions happen between the hours of 4 a.m. & 7 a.m., right when I wake up, that’s when I have dreamt, and I wake up with a purpose and I follow my hands, it does not take long at all, I sort of plan out the sessions in my dream time, and I am always alone.
You are also quite famous for your industrial/alternative rock works in the 80s/90s. What are some of the things you remember most strongly about the music scene from these days (the good and the bad)?
As you say, 80s and 90s . It was a long time ago, and I made some great friends who are still close to me now. I am proud of what I did , but it was shrouded in this awful toxic energy and I am so far away from that now, I don’t particularly like going back to that place, I am grateful that people got something out of it though. But it nearly killed me
You have released numerous solo albums. Of them all, which ones are your favorites? Which one would you consider your ‘breakthrough’ album?
I am not sure what you mean, I guess it’s fair to say I DO NOT make records if I don’t have something specific to do, once I am done with a record, it is the best record I have made until I make the next one, The success of my records, at its heart, is how much I enjoyed writing them, after that, recording is fun, but it’s not nearly as transcendent for me as writing…and after that, if people like what I did, great!
You have collaborated with Revolting Cocks, Ministry and Pigface. How do you feel now about each of these respective collaborations?
It is something I did, like anything you do when you are younger, it has good bits and bad bits, I don’t think about it too much, I don’t want it to define me, but that’s not really my choice to make.
Apart from a musician, you are also an author. How would you describe your bibliography to a fan, who has not yet read your books and writing in general?
Well, I have a couple of books of poetry, an autobiography that I would describe as comical (it’s supposed to be funny) and one novel that is supposed to be a psychological thriller.
Did the Covid-19 pandemic affect you as an artist?
I wrote a lot, it was a very productive time, it brought a new focus to my writing that I did not have before
Can you share some thoughts about Russia’s war on Ukraine?
It’s brutal and heartbreaking and Putin is an evil man, like Trump.
Which feelings of your do you try to express through your creations?
That is hard to answer, I think the only thing I can say is that my writing comes through me, I do not follow any earthly formulas for writing (though I readily admit to my influences) I personally feel like I have to leave myself open to what comes out of my fingers, I am uneasy about the word “spiritual” because I think it’s too easy of a word to throw around, but what I do certainly comes from the spirit.
What might the next year or two hold for Chris Connelly and his creative output (or even live performances)?
I am finishing a new album right now which I can’t talk about yet, but it has a LOT in common with “Eulogy to Christa” …as far as live performances go, I don’t know, I am sure I will, but I have grown to really dislike playing live, sadly.
Can you share a message with your listeners and our readers?
If you listen to my music and get something out of it for yourself, then I am so grateful!