Daily Discovery: Saint Christopher Christens His Own Pop on “Crashing,” Debut

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Frontman Christopher Kalil had just left his band of seven years, the Los Angeles-based Arms Akimbo, made his first attempt at being sober and moved back home after losing his job during the pandemic. Music was beginning to be an afterthought, something the artist, who goes by the religious moniker Saint Christopher, considered leaving behind.

“I was feeling just about ready to call it quits on music entirely, but I decided to give it one more real shot,” says Kalil, who had released a few mix tapes— Always Feel The Same, I Learned To Kill My Brother, and When Heaven Calls I Won’t Be Home—he believes were not up to par in production quality, though collectively earned nearly one million streams worldwide. “This time the goal wouldn’t be to find success or attention, it would just be to find the joy and passion of exploring and expressing myself again.”

Named after the patron saint of travelers in Catholicism, Saint Christopher is a fitting epithet for Kalil, who managed to create new music during one of the most transformative times of his life, and wrote the 11 tracks of his debut album Pop Shit, out Oct. 7. Not so much a derogatory term toward the musical genre, per se, Pop Shit corners more superficial, “surface-level” art. Written by Kalil and recorded with producer Martin Cooke at Kingsize Sound Labs in Eagle Rock, California, Pop Shit is Kalil’s personal sermon, an experimental capsule blending soul and folk, emo, and yes, pop.

On the uptempo “Crashing,” a dance-y homily on the trials of getting ahead of oneself and celebrating vulnerability, Kalil sings—I lost the race / And I missed the ending / Tripping on the finish line / I’m full of shit and out of time. “Falling for someone is great, until it’s not,” says Kalil of the track. One day you’re riding the high into the clouds and the next you’re headed face-first for the pavement, but choosing to be vulnerable despite the risks is worth celebrating.”

He adds, “We’re all looking to find a bit of ourselves in everyone, and, if you embrace the chaos of love, you just might find it. … So, keep at it. Vulnerability is the greatest strength we have.”

Kalil, Saint Christopher, talked to American Songwriter about the making of his first album, why art needs to be truth and the daunting glory of vulnerability and risk. 

American Songwriter: This album was a two-year journey for you. When and how did all the songs start coming together for Pop Shit?

Christopher Kalil: This record came out of a time when I had torn my life to the ground in a lot of ways. I had quit the band [Arms Akimbo] I had been a part of for seven years, moved back home after losing my job during the pandemic, and started what would be my first real attempt to get sober, and I had no clue what to do next. When I was a kid I had these dreams of what a music career would be like and I had accomplished a lot of those things— touring the country, opening for some of my favorite artists—but I felt just as miserable as I always had.

So, I made my life as small as possible and committed to putting every last financial, musical, and emotional resource I had into creating these songs and making something that was honest, vulnerable, and totally authentic to who I am. I’m happy to report that the process worked and helped to heal a lot of the parts of myself that I thought would be broken for good. 

AS: You’ve had some time to sit with some of the tracks. Have they shifted at all in meaning since they were written?

CK: All of these songs, besides the title track, “Pop Shit,” were written and recorded between 2020 and 2021. I tend to write quite a bit, so I would consider these older songs, but they still resonate deeply with me. When you write what you feel, those words are still true, even if your feelings change. Working with someone as professional, talented, and kind as Martin helped me rebuild my musical confidence and repair my relationship with creative collaboration and I can’t say enough about how much that process meant to me.

AS: Is there a common thread, or threads, between “Crashing” and the remainder of the songs on Pop Shit?

CK: While “Crashing” is one of the more upbeat, dance-y songs, it definitely follows the theme and message of the record. I wanted to use the form of expansive, high-production value musicality and pop sensibility to tell small and specific stories of vulnerability and genuine attempts at living honestly. “Crashing” is all about getting ahead of yourself, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, taking a big swing and missing, and failing with the best intentions. Being vulnerable is a risk worth celebrating, and why not celebrate that risk with a dance track?

AS: So how do you really feel about pop music? What is the greater meaning behind the album title Pop Shit?

CK: The album is named after the sixth song on the record, a song that I wrote many years ago but still means a lot to me. The song and the album are really an expression of frustration with surface-level art, conversation, and people. I’m fighting back by opening myself up and speaking as much truth as I can. I find that the most important art takes a personal risk and has to be willing to put skin in the game. Artists have a responsibility to tell the truth and I wanted to honor that by giving it my best attempt.

I realize that talking about things like that can come off as wildly pretentious, so I also just thought it would be a silly goose move to make a bunch of very vulnerable songs and call them Pop Shit

AS: Sonically, do you feel like you accomplished what you wanted on Pop Shit?

CK: At the start of this Saint Christopher project in 2020, I had a lot of music I needed to get off my chest and very little resources to do so. This led to three self-produced mix tapes that year that I still hold very dear to my heart, but because of my own limitations they were lacking in production value. I knew I had to give these songs a fighting chance and that would require a real producer and a larger scope in arrangement. That choice opened a lot of doors creatively for me and granted me permission to experiment and explore in a way I have never had access to. There are a ton of different instruments and musical styles across this record and it’s sort of a sample platter of my favorite genres. 

Looking back on the entire process, I feel very proud of what I was able to accomplish with this song and this record. I always want to keep growing as a musician and songwriter, and I always want my newest song to be my best song, but it’s also important to appreciate the steps you take and the progress you make along the way.

Pop Shit – TRACKLISTING

1. Fire Season
2. Winners
3. Rushes
4. Kennedy
5. Colina
6. Pop Shit
7. Crashing
8. Hume Lake
9. Serious
10. Calvary
11. Next 2 U

Photo: Courtesy Tell All Your Friends PR

Leave a Reply

Bananarama Sustains the Magic on New Album ‘Masquerade’

Here’s What to Expect From the CMA Fest Television Special