Interview – Cory Paul Hill

By: Jordyn Meade-Baxter

Cory Paul Hill has been playing music since he was only 9 years old. He’s studied music at St. Francis Xavier University and NSCAD University. Now living in Fredericton, he has been writing his own music. Recently, Cory released his debut album “Where We Live” that is a compilation of stories from his life. We had a chance to interview Cory to find out what is next.

What first inspired you to become interested in music?

CPH: I can remember being five years old, watching “Wayne’s World” on my mom’s VHS player – I watched that movie so many times that I actually had the dialog memorized even though I didn’t know what they were talking about most of the time! Watching Wayne and Garth jam out in their basement with their independent television station – idealizing bands and guitars really left me a lasting impression on music and musicians. Add that up to the fact that every Friday night my parents would blast the 80s and 90s music over a few drinks to unwind, watching me and my siblings dance like little fools – music and musicians held a high degree of respect in my childhood – and who doesn’t dream of becoming like the people they look up to right?!

What was your first instrument you learned how to play?

CPH: Guitars are huge in my family – when I was five years old my biological dad bought an acoustic guitar, and bought me a smaller guitar. Unfortunately – the guitar ended up being treated like a bench by my older friend – and that dream was shattered. After my mother remarried, my parents (now in their biking phase) went through a major guitar buying phase, my mom bought me my first adult guitar for $50 – I learned my first chords from my grandmother and she enrolled me into private lessons.

What usually goes first when you are writing your own music- the sound or the lyrics?

CPH: I’ve had a few awesome experiences where songs I’ve written came to me in my sleep – I’d typically stumble out of bed in the middle of the night to record the idea on my cell phone or write it in my notebook before I forgot – believe me there were plenty of times I thought “I’ll remember that when I get up” and didn’t. But usually (when I’m awake) a song starts off as some cool sounding riff I discover when playing around on the guitar, I tend to write the chords around the riff. The melody and lyrics are typically shaped by the rhythms of the chord progression – and for some strange reason the finished product ends up being about something or someone in my life at the moment. It’s taken me anywhere from a half hour to a year to finish a song.

What was it like to watch your own little creations grow to a complete album?

CPH: The material on the album dates back as far as 2006, there were a ton of songs to sort through. I can confidently look at the work now and say it’s the truest representation of myself as an artist and musician – there were a lot of moments of self-doubt, doing everything yourself means an overwhelming amount of things to learn and do – and at times it felt as though it would never be finished. If I hadn’t of planned ahead enough and set deadlines it would have never been done. For me, everything is deeply personal until it is finished – which means barely anyone heard the material on my album – and to be honest I had a moment after the album was complete that I debated whether I should release it – thankfully a good friend talked some sense into me, “You did this for a reason, it’s time to let it go out into the world now”.

What was your biggest inspiration for “Where We Live”?

CPH: The album cover was designed with the inspiration of Greek sculpture in mind – the Greeks carried with them the idea of the goodness of nature. Growing up I was deeply influenced by Christian Fundamentalism – and had a lot of questions about the inherent nature of people – I wanted to believe in an unconditional loving power but felt conflicted with the concept that this loving power also had hatred for parts of me that were “unnatural”. I became increasingly attracted to the idea that the majority of interior and exterior conflicts we experience in life has to do with our unwillingness to accept ourselves as we are, whole and complete lacking nothing. Where We Live has much to do with acceptance, both of the self and life occurrences – I suppose my entire process of songwriting is actually a process of acceptance. Sharing this music is my way of reaching out to others in the same way that other musicians had reached out to me as a teenager.

On your website you posted a map of places of those who looked at your website and was involved in listened/bought the album. Some of these places have gone as far as BC and some of the US. What is that feeling like?

CPH: After keeping the entire project to myself for over a year, it’s amazing to see how quickly something so private can become public. I see recurring visits from various provinces and states every day and it’s very encouraging to see.

What other things do you do besides making music?

CPH: I love photography, I have a passion for education and teaching. I love to read all sorts of books about philosophy, psychology, art, music, science.

What are your future goals in the music industry?

CPH: Aside from the promotion of this album, I am currently working on two separate recording projects – I’m more open now to the idea of collaborating with other artists, and ultimately I feel it’s just time to enjoy my life and do what I love to do!

If you could accomplish one thing in your life what would it be?

CPH: To bring respect back to the practice of music education as a necessity of human development and a healthy society – and to open a foundation which enforces this respect.

Do you have any shows coming up?

CPH: Any shows that have been confirmed can be found at http://www.corypaulhill.com/shows I’m still in the early stages of confirming times and places. The best way to keep up to date is to follow me on Facebook or twitter!

If someone hadn’t heard your music before, how would you describe it to them? What song would you suggest they listen to first?

CPH: My personal favorite would be “Waiting For You” – it’s very hard for me to describe my style because I tend to do what’s best for the song – and that doesn’t always fit a specific genre.

The next few questions are just for fun, we like to throw them in for the fans.

What would be something most people would be surprised to know about you?

CPH: I have a strange phobia of Moose – they’re just eerie with those antlers and black eyes….

Which band/artist would be your dream to open for?

CPH: Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace. Without a doubt.

What is your favorite lyric ever written and why is it your favorite? It doesn’t have to be by you, it could be by anyone.

CPH: Not a lyric, but a poem, The Three Passions of Bertrand Russell:

“In the union of love I have seen

In a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision

Of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined.”

Is there anything else that you would like to say to your fans?

Thank you for being a part of my life!

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