Need To Know: Chris Willis
By Gregory Miller
I was surprised to learn you had worked with both Dolly Parton and Brooks & Dunn. How did you get involved in country music?
A lot of it is just proximity. I lived in Nashville for 12 years. I moved there to do gospel music and my career was kind of up and down in the gospel genre. So to supplement my income, I did a lot of session work, session singing. I sang on a lot of gospel work. And some of those same singers I was working with were heavily involved with Wynonna Judd and a lot of other country [singers]. So they would call me in on session and that's pretty much how I got involved in singing on country albums. Because there's a lot of country music coming out of Nashville, so it was a great asset.
Are there any music genres you don't dabble in?
I'm an across-the-board kind of guy. I really appreciate every artistic expression. I'm not as huge a fan of this kind of thrash metal where there's a lot of screaming and shouting, but I definitely understand people that get into it -- it's just not for me.
When are we going to see a solo album from you?
Hopefully soon. It's no secret -- I am dying -- have been dying -- to do a solo album for years. So, I'm hoping that the success of this album with David and the increased visibility will make my album make sense.
What are your plans for the near future?
For now, definitely publicity [David's] album. The fourth album with David has been a great blessing -- to be on the album with Akon, Kelly Rowland, and all these other great artists. And to continue to explore the dance music genre. I'm still pretty much a newbie in the genre, but I've enjoyed some really great success. And to continue writing. I love to write music, and I love to write and collaborate with other artists and other producers and other DJs. I love to explore production. I love to play piano and arrange music. One of my dreams is to get involved in film and television. And I'm a closet painter/artist, so I'm taking my time whenever I can to create new work. And to continue to be creative as long as people are interested in what I have to create.
Do you find that you have a gay following?
That's a very good question. I tend not to focus specifically on whether people are gay or straight. I like to think that everybody that loves the music -- no matter where they're from, no matter what they do, as long as they believe in love -- that's what I'm singing my songs about. I think the gay market has always been a great support for the dance music genre, and that's been an asset for the work I've done with David and certainly for my work. I like to think that there's a huge gay following, and hopefully we'll discover that in the future and explore that more and more.
When I spoke with David last month, I asked him who his man-crush would be if he weren't married, and he wouldn't give me a name, but said probably a singer. What kind of a guy do you crush on?
[Laughs] Oh boy, that's a very good question. It could definitely be a DJ.
David Guetta's new album, One Love, featuring Chris Willis, is now available in stores.