Chris ‘Burris’ Hochkeppel | singer-songwriter & multi-instrumentalist based in New Orleans, LA

Star Sign: Scorpio
Currently reading: “The Crossing” from The Border Tribology by Cormac McCarthy
Hopes his last meal will be:The tastiest bowl of noodles ever created. Tangy, spicy, fishy goodness!

Christopher ‘Burris’ Hochkeppel, originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, prides himself on being a diverse freelance musician as well as a music educator and arts activist. The proudest moments in his career have been as a teacher! Watching his dedicated students achieving something new and performing on stage is always such a fulfilling moment. As an artist, one of his favorite moments thus far was playing Festival International de Louisiane, which is the international music festival in his hometown. He is also incredibly proud to be releasing his new album “Over You.” After 2 years in the making, he’s ready to have the music out and into the universe!

When did you first know that this was your calling?

When I was 15 I started my first rock band. Up until that point I had played French Horn and was a real band geek. (I still am a real band geek!) But I’ll never forget the first time we packed the house. It was at our local music venue, Artmosphere. The sheer white joy I felt on stage playing not only for but with all my friends, was the feeling that set me on the path to pursue music indefinitely.


How did you get your business off the ground?

It’s been a process and my career is still growing and changing. I’d say in college when I finally started dedicating myself to writing and performing popular music. I began playing at least once a week in some local bar/restaurant and learned some tricks of the trade concerning back end music business techniques. This allowed me to start making royalties and regular gig income. I think this was the main jumping-off point of my career.

Even if my personal life is crumbling, or my career is hitting a rut, when I pick up the guitar and play a few songs late at night all of that goes away. For those 3 minutes and 30 seconds of a good song, I’m at peace. I want to be able to do that every night for the rest of my life.

What makes your music unique?

As a classical musician, I’ve listened to and internalized all different styles of music. I’ve learned what it means to create music with nuance and expression and have done my best to translate that to my writing. Burris is also special because of the other members of the band. All the people I collaborate with are so unique and ridiculously talented. That brings a whole new level of improvisation and creativeness to my final sound.


What is the biggest challenge for you as an entrepreneur?

All the “NO”s … this industry is filled with the word no. For every booking email, management contact, demo pitch, or song submission there are 5 “no’s” to 1 “yes” … It can be disheartening but it’s important to remember that it’s part of the challenge to success.

What inspires you to continue?

The fact that I love what I’m creating. Even if my personal life is crumbling, or my career is hitting a rut, when I pick up the guitar and play a few songs late at night all of that goes away. For those 3 minutes and 30 seconds of a good song, I’m at peace. I want to be able to do that every night for the rest of my life.


What is your life motto / what mantra do you live?

“I am certain of nothing.” – this quote reminds me that the more you learn the less you know. That there is always more to absorb and internalize, whether it be when practicing music or learning about yourself and those around you. As small as it may make me feel it reminds me that the world keeps turning, regardless of my actions.


How do you ensure a good work-life balance?

I am a very social person. Only lately have I been embracing my independent side. So it can be a struggle when choosing between staying in and working or going out and seeing a show or hanging with friends. I often feel like I’m not doing enough work to better my career, however, I can find inspiration in all moments. Being out with my friends could be the catalyst for a new song or a cool poem. So in the end I try not to blame myself too much or put too much stress on, “achieving success.” I’m not on this earth to work myself into the dirt. I’m here to feel and be in the moment!

How has the Coronavirus affected your work?

I think like most musicians I lost all of my live shows. Though that’s been a big financial hit and has caused some tension in my career, I’ve found ways to be creative and use digital media as an outlet through live streams and videos. There have been a number of organizations that have helped financially, like the Recording Academy and the Jazz and Heritage Foundation, and because of that I now have more time to revisit some old demos, finish half-written songs, and explore New Orleans in a new light!


What can people do to support you and others in your field?

Listen, stream, share, and buy! Go to a local band’s website and buy a sticker or a button, share a band’s new release on your social media platforms, add music to playlists, and sign up for their Patreon or Ample page. There are tons of ways to help even just behind a phone screen!


What are your plans for the future?

I have a short-term goal to continue pushing my new record and creating a series of live videos and artistic visuals to pair with it. Long term, as soon as possible I’d like to tour nationally to spread the music, and I’d also like to spend 2 years or so compiling a list of new songs and demos to record for my next project!


Do you have tips for people who want to start a business (in this field)?

Don’t give up! It’s so cliché and easy to say, but it’s true. There will be so many moments that deter you from making music for a living, but it’s possible and if you truly love it, you’ll find a way to keep creating.

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