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Exclusive Interview: Chris Rene of 'X Factor' talks new album 'I'm Right Here'

X Factor
October 16, 2012
By: Belinda Thomas

Chris Rene is best known from Season 1 of the X Factor USA. He finished in third place and now has a deal with Epic Records. His first single "Young Homie" is produced by JR Rotem, is a new studio version and is a fresh take on the original song penned by Chris and performed on The X Factor. Becoming a fan favorite throughout the show’s debut season, his audition and performance footage became the most watched out of all The X Factor contestants and has since seen over 25 million views on YouTube. Rarely has an original song ever led to a spot on a talent competition show.

Chris Rene has released his debut album from a major label with " I'm Right Here" on Epic Records. I spoke with Chris Rene about his time of the X Factor and his new release. Here is what he had to say.

Belinda: What made you originally decide to try out for the show The X Factor?.

Chris Rene: My whole life people have been asking me Why aren't you famous, your music is really good?. Why aren't you on the radio? You should go on one of those singing shows. You should go on American Idol.

I was like no way I am going to do it on my own and then finally, I basically said look I am going to do this because I saw James Durbin from American Idol in the newspaper in my town where we are both from Santa Cruz. I was like damn what If he can do it then I can do it. Plus my own good friend.... it is about time the world to see what I can do.

A few weeks later, my sister got an email from the X Factor and that was it.

Belinda: Now we have to talk about the song "Young Homier". How did you come up with the concept for the song when you wrote it?

Chris Rene: The song is just about me, about life, about the opposite whatever any one basically on the radio or anyone out there just talking about the exact opposite of what they are talking about. {Laughs}

I was just like hmm especially when it comes to with these lyrics:
"Open up my mind with these spoken words", I am trying to be heal right now then it goes "Let this music heal like an overture" that is like the sympathies back in the day, like Beethoven and when I say "she's the only one, one", it is funny because in R &B,Rap and in Pop, you don't hear much about one girl you hear about five couple of different girls which is real, super real.
I was just trying to manifest how I thought life should be.
When I say "she is the only one. Yeah Yeah".. Everybody heads turns.

My concept for the music video was in the club everybody is dancing
And right when I say that then everyone looks at me really weird.
And then I go "yeah yeah, so I roll with her", and then they are like ooh,
Then the next lyric is "That's how it's supposed to be, "Living life with the ones close to me".

It is the way everyone wants life to be so I was just manifesting that and
telling my story of what I seen and what I feel.

Belinda: When you were on the show, what was the best advice that any of the judges gave you that helped you with your career now?

Chris Rene: Be Yourself. Just do you. Paula Abdul said Don't lose yourself in it. It is a wild game, people try and change you. They see you a certain way and they kind of want to want to mold you to that. Paula Abdul said just be yourself that is it right there. The smartest, best words I could have ever heard.

Belinda: You were a big success on the show and now you are starting your career. You have a record deal on Epic Records. How did your time on the show prepare you for how your life is today?

Chris Rene: It prepared me a lot. All the different interviews, talking to all these people asking all these questions. That was a big preparation for my life today.

Doing the live shows in front of all kinds of people being live on television was basically crazy cause you got all these people watching, you never know. You have Will Smith and his kids watching, Bruno Mars at his hotel watching.
It is crazy that was a good way to get me prepared for shows. It has been a crazy 7-8 months. It has been really fun and I have been playing a lot and doing a lot of different things.

Belinda: Your new single "Trouble" received one million views on YouTube the first week it was released. I want to find out about the song. I know the song was written with Busbee and Alex Lambert who was a contestant on American Idol. How did you connect with them and prepare the song.?

Chris Rene: Straight up it was just one of the A&R guys for Epic said check this song out, we like it, we think it a good look. Check it out. I listened to it and thought it is kind of poppy. Kind of not like a song I would personally write. It sounded interesting. So what I did was that I went and sang it. They picked it for the Cd and that is it. I wrote one word on that song, one word "mama". I did not write that song. It is a good song. I love the song. I have fun with it. Everybody can relate with it. It is a great song.

Belinda: Do you think you will do more work with Alex Lambert and Busbee on any other future work?

Chris Rene: Sure, I think that there is alot of stuff that I haven't even touch yet. I am sure that there will be a lot more collaborations guaranteed.

Belinda: You have a new Cd out "I'm Right Here". I noticed that the cover was a sort of throw back and black & white. Was that intentionally and something you planned with the art department?

Chris Rene: There was a 10 hour photo shoot, we got all these different pictures. They selected the first couple and said what do you think of these. It went on for about two weeks and I picked my favorite ones and my favorite of all of them was that one.

Belinda: How would you describe the sound for the album?

Chris Rene: It definitely soulful, pop and there is some hip hop in their too. Those three genres. I ring out it. I rap, sing on it. It is called ringing. I do my ring on there.
Some of the songs, the ones that I was collaborating one are the one with the most meaning .They took a piece of my life and put it in there. Some of the songs are about the females, they are really catchy, beautiful.
This album is very special and I am just glad to be doing it at this time and this era in 2012 and that it is coming out.

Belinda: How many songs did you co write on the album?

Chris Rene: 5 out of 8
Chains, I Made It, Going to Be Ok, Young Homie, Tidal Wave. There are a few extras songs when you order it on Itunes.

Belinda: That is a good amount to co write for a debut album. You worked with some heavy hitters. It is not every day people work with Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony. What was it like working with Claude and Chuck.?

Chris Rene: Those guys are the shit. I love those guys. Claude Kelly I met on the show. He was super down to earth and I connected with him instantly.
Then I met his homie Chuck Harmony. We went to the studio and just had fun and we laid it down. We did a whole bunch of different songs. Working with them, it was like working with my friends.

Belinda: You have a show here at the Roxy here in LA on October 18, but do you have any other tour dates coming up

Chris Rene: There are a couple different things lined up, sometimes I don't know until about 2 weeks out. The Roxy is the main focus right now. It is my first concert debut headlining show and that what is up. I hope you are coming.

Belinda: I have been interviewing a lot of the contestants from The X Factor this year, and a lot of them have been mentioning you as influence as why they want to try out. How do you feel that you are now being recognized and mentioned as an influence?

Chris Rene: That is so rad, oh I love that. So rad. That is amazing. That is a big honor to have people looking up and going I want to do what he did. That is so rad.

Belinda: Do you have any dream collaborations that you would like to work with in the future?

Chris Rene: It would be good to do a song with Wiz Khalifa he is tight, Pink would be awesome, B.o.B that would be good.

Belinda: Thanks for taking the time out to do the interview.

Chris Rene live in concert:

Thursday, October 18

The Roxy Theatre

9009 West Sunset Blvd

West Hollywood, CA

8 p.m.

For more information on Chris Rene: