Music by VICE

Chris LaRocca's "Roses" Video Chronicles a Dreary, Transformative Year

We talk to the rising Toronto R&B star about his DIY punk rock past and feeling detached.

by Dragan Maricic
Oct 18 2017, 3:00pm

Photo by Paul Duck

Change is inevitable and sometimes that universal inevitability is a daunting thing to go through. It could come in the form of a shift in lifestyle, the company you keep, and what interests you have. It could also mean abandoning something you have worked hard towards only to start again and on an entirely different playing field.

Chris LaRocca is no stranger to change. The 26-year-old R&B singer from Kleinburg, Ontario recently released his debut EP Voila and while this marks the beginning of a new chapter in his life, to get to this point Chris has had to go through many different projects. Indie/math rock hybrid Elos Arma, its hardcore predecessor Breakfast, and his first solo foray as sextape are all projects LaRocca had to explore before pulling the curtain back to offer up his most personal work to date.

Noisey caught up with Chris LaRocca before his show at The Drake Hotel on October 4th to talk about his experience with his past projects and how things are looking now that he is being himself. Watch the "Roses" video below and read our interview afterwards.

Noisey: How have the changes you went through influenced you in what you're doing now?
Chris LaRocca: They've helped a lot. Doing the whole DIY shit was the total opposite to what we're doing now. We have a much more elaborate set up now whereas before it was more like you just have to take what you can get. If little things go wrong now they're hardly noticeable, but back then it was much more easy to see when things weren't going as planned. Also, playing those really intimate and chaotic shows teaches you how to work a crowd. It definitely helped in preparing me for playing live and dealing with pressure.

You mentioned playing in DIY venues, one of those being Soybomb.
Yeah man, that place was the spot. Honestly, one of the best shows I played in my life was at Soybomb when I was in Breakfast. We played in the half-pipe. People were falling over and running into our gear. I just remember feeling like I'll never be that close to an audience; the only thing between us was a microphone stand. I loved Soybomb for that reason and the people that ran the place were always so great. They'd have food and drinks for the bands and it was always such a good time. I'm really stoked to be playing these bigger venues but there's something about those DIY vibes. It was really personal and you felt like you were a part of something bigger, part of a community.

What can you tell me about the video for "Roses?"
It's like a film noir. It's black and white and there really isn't a story to it. I describe it as visualizing a detachment from the world. It's cold, and if I look back at the year [2016] I had writing the EP I would look at that entire year in black and white. It was a really black and white kind of year, very dreary and heavy.

Is it harder or easier now that you've gained more attention in the last few months?
I think it's easier now. I have my team, my crew, I feel a little more attached to the world because of them. It was really when we were writing these songs where it was the hardest. It was just me and my friend Herag spending all of our time together, locking ourselves in a room and just obsessing over the songs. When you spend all of your time invested into this one thing you start asking questions like 'is this good enough,' or 'does this suck?' We were constantly adding and subtracting ideas to the material and flipping things around. When you're spending so much time alone going through a process like that there are points where it feels like nothing's right because there's nothing you can use to benchmark it against. It was a tough time, I was definitely anxious and overwhelmed for a lot of that time. I was working a bunch of different jobs and this would always be in the back of my mind. I just couldn't focus on anything else. Chilling with my girlfriend was hard because I couldn't be as emotionally present or caring as I wanted to be. My head was always thinking about sessions we'd have in the studio and thinking 'fuck, should we take that shit out?' which then turns to 'what is this all for, are people actually going to care about this music?'

What's the point?
Exactly! Honestly, that's exactly how it was sometimes. We'd look at each other and ask each other 'what are we doing?' We should just get normal jobs and it would probably be a lot less stressful. At that time you're not playing shows or putting music out. Everyone is putting out music and performing besides you. The world keeps spinning around and you would be chilling at the same spot. It was definitely a challenge to be patient.

You can stream Voila now on all streaming platforms and you can catch Chris at the Great Hall on October 19 with Majid Jordan as part of the 3 Days in Toronto festival presented by Red Bull Sound Select.

Dragan Maricic is a musician and journalism student from Misssissauga. He's on Twitter.

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