Chris Stylez never imagined that he would be a singer. While he had his feet in music early on, the Ottawa, Canada native had his eyes set on standing behind the turntables.
“It’s funny to me because I never thought to become a singer,” he tells The Boombox. “I always wanted to be a DJ, but I sucked as a DJ. So I moved on from that. I was always good at picking music, and I wanted to be in control of picking music. But actually DJing or mixing was just never my thing. So I feel out of that quick.”
And it looks like he made the right decision. The singer, songwriter and producer released a remixed Kryptogram version of his song, “Who Is.” It garnered more than 50 million plays on on Vine and was used over 10,000 times in various videos. The track was also picked up by the American Music Awards, Buzzfeed and Denver Broncos.
“It’s cool and humbling, especially because it’s something that I never expected,” he says unsure how so many people managed to find his song. “I don’t know how they discovered it. I think it’s just by exploring. There was a small selection of songs on there, but there were other artists who were really large. People just discovered it and liked the beat, the track and used it for their vines. And then I started to notifications telling me that everyone from the American Music Awards to Vogue to Buzzfeed and all of these big Vine stars. Then all these things just started to steamroll.
“Initially, we just wanted to put the song out there and be part of this launch. And [Vine] just let it do what it did by itself, and it happened organically. I think it’s still happening. It’s still getting a lot of traction and loops because Vine still has a main song on the app.”
Some people — famous and not — view the use of social media for one’s brand with skepticism; Stylez, however, is a big fan of it.
“It’s exciting,” he says. “Before there wasn’t a time when I can just speak to people right after my performance, who might have taken a liking to music or follow me on Snapchat. I can’t respond to everyone, but when I do, I can tell them when I’m going to their city. It’s cool that you’re developing relationships, and they feel like they’re getting closer to you. So I think it’s bridging the gap. If social media is used properly, I think it’s very instrumental.”
While some artists grow tired of performing their more popular hits and are drawn to the deeper cuts, Stylez actually enjoys doing the tune live — if it’s the version he originally wrote.
“A lot of people don’t realize that I play keys and guitar, and I write a lot of times,” he says. “For me it’s really important to perform and to have an instrument or what not. So I like to perform ‘Who Is’ because I get to do my own thing. I don’t focus on a band or anything. It’s just me and a keyboard. That’s probably my favorite song to perform.”
By performing the original rendition of “Who Is,” he hopes people will get to know the different sides of him as a musical artist.
“When people hear “Who Is,” there’s an immediate perception of me,” he says. “There’s just a thing that goes with that. But then when you see the video, you’ll see another aspect. The other thing is I can’t really control how people will receive it. I’m trying to let people get to know me more organically. That’s the only way they’re going to get to know the music I’m doing and my direction.”
With the release of Stylez’s EP Who Is, he is ready to take the next step and perform live.
“I want to do these exclusive shows in different markets and in cities that are supportive of me in the beginning,” he says. “So New York City is one of my main markets, and we’re hoping to do Los Angeles, Toronto and London as well. Basically, I want to start by doing small shows where I can really introduce people to more music that’s more than just the EP. I have a lot of stuff coming out, but I want to slowly introduce it to people. But then the next phase, I want to get on a tour with someone, somewhere this summer.”
Although Stylez has gained some success with his song, he hopes that it’s not a means to an end.
“I want to be a consistent artist,” he explains. “I want to be putting out music and just consistently growing. I feel like I contribute. There are so many people who’ve come before who’ve created great music and content. But for me, I’m just growing and trying. So for me, I want to eventually make a significant impact.”