Christie Lenée, the 2017 International Fingerstyle Guitar Champion has been wowing audiences with her guitar wizardry. Through the use of harmonics and tapping, Lenée’s infectious style utilizes all parts of the guitar and combines elements of folk, rock and pop into one tasty and eclectic musical stew.
Lenée’s brand new video, a cover of Ed Sheeran’s hit, “Castle On The Hill” showcases the guitarist at her finest.
AXS recently spoke with Lenée about her new video and more in this exclusive interview.
AXS: What made you decide to do a version of Ed Sheeran’s “Castle On The Hill”?
Christie Lenée: I don’t do covers very often, but that song really hits home for me. It’s one of those songs I wish that I had written. Throughout high school, you grow up in different crowds. Some people become doctors; get into music, or find themselves becoming stars on Broadway, while others die at a young age from going down the wrong roads. There’s a feeling of freedom and hope and remembering the good times in that song. I love the symbolism and thinking about what could’ve been or what might have happened if you went down another road. It can be interpreted in a lot of different ways.
AXS: How do you approach taking the original version of the song and transposing it into your style of playing?
CL: I’ll start out by first learning the song the original way. Next, I’ll listen to the bass and other instruments to hear what everything in the song is doing. Then, I’ll figure out things to emulate what I’m hearing, using open strings and tunings that fill in the bassline and chords. The biggest challenge is often figuring out what key to sing it in, especially if it’s a male voice. In this case, Ed sings in a lower octave and then in the chorus, he sings it up high.
Click here to listen to Lenée's version of "Castle On The Hill".
AXS: How would you describe your style of music?
CL: I’ve always described it as what it would be like if Joni Mitchell, Michael Hedges and Dave Matthews had a child [laughs]. They’ve all been a huge influence on me. My favorite thing to do is combining the tapping style into contemporary music and seeing how they can work together. I’m constantly working toward integrating those sounds together.
AXS: Is this song part of a large project you’re working on?
CL: This is the beginning of a series of songs I’m putting out that will eventually lead up to an entire album. Each song will have a video to go along with it, and when everyone is familiar with them, I’ll release an album along with a few other surprises!
AXS: Was being a guitarist something you always aspired to do?
CL: When I was a kid, I really wanted to be an actress, and I did a lot of musicals and plays. I really enjoyed the feeling of self-expression. While I was doing that, I also started playing piano, but I didn't connect to it in the same way as being on stage. Then, when I was eleven, I heard my half-brother [who was an unbelievable guitar player] playing this solo for “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd and I asked him to tell me the notes, so I could figure it out on piano. He looked at me like I was crazy [laughs]. But there was an incredible connection I had with the music I love and the music I wanted to play. I was driven to guitar because it was something I could easily pick up and use for self-expression. I completely fell in love with it and it took over my life.
AXS: Where do you draw your inspiration for songwriting?
CL: It can come from anywhere. Everything from being out on a hike to having a conversation with a friend. A lot of times, just sitting down with the guitar and feeling the connection or practicing a certain technique will spark something.
AXS: What’s next for you?
CL: I’ve recently kicked off a new tour. I'll be in the Northeast and then parts of the Carolinas. I also have some dates on the West Coast and a Midwest trip as well. I’ll be working on the album every moment in between.
Click here to listen to more of Christie Lenée on Spotify.