A Few Minutes With...Christian Hansen

Ever wondered who local singer Christian Hansen's man crush was, or perhaps what his guiltiest of guilty pleasures is? Me neither, but you're about to find out...

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN

Christian Hansen, who in 2009 won an award for 
Support Worker of the Year from the Autism Society of Edmonton. 
Hansen was selected for his work with and awareness for
autism and other diseases
"I'M glad to see they responded to the obvious shortage by opening a donair shop where Megatunes used to be." That was the first Twitter update I read when I clicked the "Follow" button on Christian Hansen & the Autistics' page. In those 20 words I got a pretty good sense of what kind of guy Hansen, smirk and all, is. Well, the 20 questions he answered for 'IE' below kinda helped, too.

Hansen, frontman and one third of the local "dazzle of disco mixed with the immediacy of punk rock" musicianship, seems to have his nose to the ground when it comes to the know of local music, and he has a genuine adoration for it, and an appreciation for our support of it. Hence his disfavour over local music institution Megatunes closing its doors to make room for a place that most likely sells Falafel. Or maybe I don't know what the hell I'm talking about?!

"We owe everything to Etown's music scene," Hansen tells us. "It's open, diverse, passionate, and accepting. It's filled with a bunch of people who do whatever the fuck they want, without regard to the music industry, trends, etc., and that always makes a vibrant scene." I couldn't have said it better, or more bluntly, myself.

"It all culminated with some guy in the audience calling us faggots. He was picking my microphone out of his forehead for the next week."

Hansen speaks from experience, soaking in all the love we Edmontonians have shown him and his cohorts--keyboardists Ava Jane Markus and wife Molly Flood--since they released their 3-song EP, Power Leopard, just three years ago. Since then CHATA (that's an acronym, btw) was chosen as Sonic 102.9's Band of the Month (February 2009), earned a Best New Artist nod from XM Radio, were voted one of Edmonton's Favourite Bands by SEE magazine readers, and the Edmonton Journal selected their "Cocaine Trade" as Song of the Year (2008).

Christian Hansen & the Autistics, which includes 
keyboardist Molly Flood. Hansen and Flood met at the University
of Alberta, and were married September 5, 2009
The Autistics, who all (including former bassist Scott Shpeley) met while studying acting at the University of Alberta, used a $10,000 development grant from Rawlco Radio to stretch out that 3-song EP into their 11-song (including a Matthew Skopyk remix of their indie radio hit "Cocaine Trade") LP, also christened Power Leopard (March 2009).

The Journal bragged that the record is "giddy electro pop with biting, risque lyrics," while Vue Weekly boasted about how they assembled "deceptively simplistic, playfully layered dance music that harkens back to the supremely cheeseball house of late '80s/early '90s." In other words, it be good!

That's why I had to ask Hansen himself--the namesake of one of the most gloriously devilish-pop testimonies to indie scene liberation in and around town--some questions about himself, that name, and the music that will surely someday garner attention beyond the border. It has to!

Now, read on as I scarf down my Falafel!

Part I:

IE/ What are three words that you would use to describe Christian Hansen & the Autistics?

CH/ Better than most.

IE/ Did the Autistics all meet at the U of A, or were any of you acquainted with each other prior?

CH/ Basically we all met through U of A. I met Molly, who is also my wife, there. We met Ava through Scott. We all have degrees in Acting.

CHATA on the cover of SEE magazine, readers 
of which voted them one of their Favourite
Local Acts last year
IE/ I realize that the band's name is a tribute to those who suffer from autism, but have you ever gotten slack or hate mail from folks who thought otherwise?

CH/ Sometimes people react in a negative way to the name, but once they realize the context for the name, they seem to get it. The name is designed to be provocative, to create a surprise and to make people think. Just like good rock 'n' roll and good art.

IE/ Were there any other band names you had seriously considered?

CH/ We didn't consider any other band names.

IE/ What do you have to say about Edmonton's own music community and our support of it?

CH/ We owe everything to Etown's music scene. It's open, diverse, passionate, and accepting. It's filled with a bunch of people who do whatever the fuck they want, without regard to the music industry, trends, etc., and that always makes for a vibrant scene.

IE/ How did you get the beautiful Bridget Ryan to direct your video for "Cocaine Trade"?

CH/ Bridget's husband directed Molly and I in a play for the Edmonton Fringe Fest. She was a fan and was looking to do the first vid for her production company. I'm not sure how it worked out so amazingly, but she is a talented, professional lady that we were blessed to work with.

IE/ Would you say choreography is an important part of your music, or it just something that simply comes with the whole package?

CH/ You have to honour your impulses, as long as they're not telling you to kill people. For us, the impulse is to dance and move, so we just listen to the impulse. So many bands just stand and play their instruments; we want to do something different.

IE/ Tell us about your worst experience so far, in terms of recording, touring, or performing.

CH/ Worst experience was playing in Kamloops. Half the audience loved us and the other half wanted to string us up. It all culminated with some guy in the audience calling us faggots. He was picking my microphone out of his forehead for the next week.

IE/ And the best?

CH/ The best was selling out the Starlite in Edmonton. So much hometown love.

IE/ What can you tell us about a sophomore full-length album?

CH/ The next full-length is way different than Power Leopard. Much more rock 'n' roll. It's sadder. It's badder. It's better. Still lots of great beats and synths, but more guitar and more rock.

Part II/ Quick Q's:

IE/ First concert you attended?
CH/ Lenny Kravitz and Blind Melon in Vancouver.

IE/ Last CD you bought?
CH/ UGK, Best of UGK.

The Autistics' premiere full-length album Power Leopard (2009), 
which was followed in 2010 by a 4-song EP called Swans
IE/ Favourite movie of all time?
CH/ A toss up between Stand By Me and Pulp Fiction.

IE/ Favourite album of all time?
CH/ Is This It, The Strokes.

IE/ PC or Mac?
CH/ Mac, because I don't learn it, it learns me.

IE/ Celebrity crush?
CH/ Ben Affleck

IE/ TV show you don't miss?
CH/ We don't have a TV, we watch everything online: Breaking Bad. Mad Men. Heavy.

IE/ Best book you've read?
CH/ The Great Gatsby.

IE/ Dream vacation destination?
CH/ New York for two months. Sept. and Oct.

IE/ Most embarrassing guilty pleasure?
CH/ I have many...but probably binging on wine gums from Bulk Barn. I eat my feelings. It's a problem.

Thanks, Christian!

Christian Hansen & the Autistics' next show will be at The Marquee Room in Calgary, on Thursday, July 7. Click here to follow the band on Facebook.

Below is the official video for Christian Hansen & the Autistics' "Cocaine Trade," directed by Bridget Ryan, shot & edited by Jason Carter. 

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