Before the jump
Music has always set the tempo for 25-year-old composer Eric Christian’s busy life, although that’s just one of the arts he devotes his time to. He’s played piano since age four (“I honestly don't have memories of a time I didn’t play,” he says), and went on to study the intersection of film and music at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Now, based in New York, he fuses his interests, creating scores for indie films and major brands alike.
In recent years, Christian’s added a third art form to the mix: photography. “As a musician, you spend all your hours tucked away in a dark practice room or a studio, and I found it hard to be inspired there. I started exploring and photographing Boston, so that when I returned, I’d have a clear mind.” Christian’s 167,000 Instagram followers prove that photography has indeed become more than a side project.
In partnership with Hugo Boss, we spent a day with Christian to get a feel for how the modern renaissance man juggles it all, and how his favorite fragrance keeps him confident and inspired through and through.
After showering and dressing in his East Village apartment, Christian applies his go-to fragrance, Hugo Boss’s The Scent. It’s a ritual he starts each day with, and it’s strategic. “Confidence comes from feeling good about yourself, whether that’s how you look, how you feel, or how you smell. My fragrance gives me that added layer of confidence everywhere I go and in every facet of my life – from my profession to my love life,” he says.
From there, he heads to a cafe to catch up on emails. Today, his primary business is with a producer in Nashville, checking in on the progress of a few current musical projects.
Christian meets a fellow musician for lunch at an intimate Lower East Side cocktail and oyster establishment.
The light’s just right, so it’s time to start shooting. “I usually put on a soundtrack from a favorite film to get me in the right mood,” Christian explains as he dons headphones. He takes to the streets of Soho, one of his favorite neighborhoods architecturally with its concentration of 1870s-era cast-iron facades. Feeling inspired, he walks to the Brooklyn Bridge to get some more shots.
With the evening’s onset, it’s studio time. “Writing and performing are two completely separate mindsets for me,” Christian explains. Today happens to be a performance day. “I’m returning to my roots as a classical musician and putting together some repertoire of my favorite composers, pianists, and conductors to inspire the recording of my album,” he says.
Later in the week, he’ll work on composing projects, including a score for a South African director’s documentary on the refugee crisis.
Christian’s studio setup is critical to his process in more ways than you’d expect. “For me, ambiance and atmosphere play a huge role in music. Inspiration is not something that occurs on its own. Sounds, smells, and sight all play a huge role,” he says. “For example, my Hugo Boss fragrance gets the wheels turning,” he says. He continues, imagining The Scent as a concerto:
“The top notes of ginger evoke a higher range. I immediately thought of woodwinds — flutes and piccolos — with some added percussion: cymbals and triangles. Then, you're hit with an infusion of Maninka fruit. Musically, I interpret that as a warmer tone, so the key signature has changed to major and the tempo slowly builds. Finally, the base notes of leather are our strings. The bass and the cello enter as violin and viola take over the woodwinds’ previous melody, and the key changes back to minor. It's an overall romantic mood, set similar to the style of the late 19th century. The contrasting notes of the fragrance relate quite well to each part of an orchestra.”
“I’ve read that smell over sight is more powerful in the role of attraction, which I believe to be completely true,” says Christian as he applies his fragrance once more before heading out the door. A late dinner at a favorite spot — in this case, a Parisian-style cafe in the West Village — is much needed after his busy day. A friend in town from Paris joins him, and the meal is business-meets-pleasure as they plan a shoot for her new clothing line.
Christian’s a bit of a night owl, and the city’s an enabler. “In New York, there’s always something going on to fit whatever my mood may be,” he says. Tonight, he meets friends near Times Square for drinks and live jazz.
Christian steps into his apartment. It’s time for relaxation, but also creative reflection. “If I’m composing, now is when I’d look back on the work I did previously in the day to listen with fresh ears.” Tonight, he puts on some music as he edits the photos he’d taken earlier.
“The best part about the New York music scene is how diverse it is. You can literally find anything you want.” he muses. “Here, anything and everything goes.”