TBJ107: Christopher Bill
TBJ107: Christopher Bill, trombonist, singer, and multi-instrumentalist and internet sensation!
Christopher is a trombonist, singer, and multi-instrumentalist based outside of NYC, but it’s more accurate to say he’s based on the internet. He has been playing piano since he was 6 years old, trombone since he was 10, and he has been composing/arranging since he was 12.
Christopher has a Bachelor of Music for classical trombone performance from the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music in New York. While at the conservatory he studied with critically acclaimed trombonists Weston Sprott (Metropolitan Opera), Denson Paul-Pollard (Metropolitan Opera), John Fedchock (Grammy Nominated Jazz Trombonist), and the absolutely incomparable Timothy Albright.
Christopher is best known for his all-trombone arrangements of popular songs. His YouTube Channel has been gaining popularity since the spring of 2014 when a cover of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” where Christopher uses a looping station to compose the song on the spot went viral. His videos have amassed over 30 million views and a following of over 175,000 subscribers. In April of 2014, Christopher independently released his first cover album, Breakthrough, which was followed by his Christmas album, Smiling’s My Favorite. More recently, Christopher released an original pop album called Half Man, Half Machine which mixes acoustic sounds with electronic instruments. He is the Youth Workshop Coordinator of the International Trombone Festival and a marketing consultant for the International Trombone Association.
Christopher enjoys a busy schedule of performances, clinics, and masterclasses. In addition to producing a new video every Saturday for his YouTube Channel, he often performs at festivals such as the American Trombone Workshop, Midwest Clinic, Texas Bandmasters Association, Con Brio Festivals, Conn-Selmer Institute, Western International Band Clinic, and the International Trombone Festival.
In this fun and lively discussion, we cover:
Household name status (in Andrew's house)
Recording in Andrew's basement
Starting out exactly eight years ago as a freshman in college
When it stopped being so cringy
How his arranging chops have changed over time
Using homework for fun and profit
Using the arrangements to further develop as a musician
The impact of shirt color in his arrangements
How far he plans in advance
Taking yourself seriously
The importance of consistent uploads
He hasn't missed a week in four years
The Jerry Seinfeld of Trombone
Leave Christopher's Grandmother out of this
Two kinds of people: those who think they're cool and those who know they're not
The "Take on Me" pic, (worth it)
Cease and Desist
Living off Patreon and YouTube ad revenue
Exploring new platforms
Focusing on select existing programs
Figuring out what content works for your audience on the various platforms
Sticking with it for three years before gaining traction
The impact of the "Happy" video on his career
What to do for the next project after a viral hit
How much is too much for an audience
How to do a cover without getting sued
Meeting some of the folks who did the originals of the covers he's made
Dennis Deyoung busting his hump
Andrew's embouchure looks like he's eating a ham sandwich
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Expertly produced by Will Houchin with love, care, and enthusiasm.