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Chris Maier on crafting instrumental album “Sleeping in the Hall”

Chris Maier’s instrumental album, Sleeping in the Hall, creates effortlessly lush soundscapes that meet the ear with ease. Instrumental albums—let alone classical instrumental albums—are incredibly rare, but that only makes discoveries like Sleeping in the Hall feel all the more special. Here, Maier shares what went into bringing the album to life, the growth that transpired, and how creating an instrumental album differed from his existing body of work.

What were your primary creative focal points when bringing Sleeping in the Hall to fruition?

I went through a phase in college where I was pretty much exclusively listening to classical music and thought it’d be interesting to try to bring that music into my janky indie pop bedroom studio. I was a bit burnt out on trying to write songs with words and there was something really appealing about making instrumental music. It’s more free and there’s less pressure. A lot of the process was about trying to fill that void of not having vocals in other ways.

How would you articulate the artistic growth you experienced while crafting Sleeping in the Hall?

I feel more confident trusting my gut and letting it guide me. I don’t doubt myself as much. One of the biggest challenges in making stuff is feeling confident in your decisions. You want to feel like everything’s coming from a real place, a value system, and that it will all add up to something in the end that makes sense and rings true. I think once you figure out what that world looks like the music writes itself. Taking this project from start to finish helped me realize a version of that and sorta strengthened this belief that it’s all about following your own compass and shutting everything else out, which takes real effort.

Did your approach to composing instrumentals for Sleeping in the Hall differ from that for your work with Cutouts knowing that, in this case, they would be standing alone without vocals?

Cutouts is a collaborative project so it’s different in that respect, but it’s also very different because it’s focused on the vocals. We’re really adamant these days about wanting every song to be built on top of a lyrical concept, like a weird constraining rule that informs the words or a scene in an imaginary movie. I love the challenges around lyrics but it’s nice to have a project that’s free from all of that, where the instrumentation is the main thing and there doesn’t need to be these conscious ideas attached. It can just communicate a raw feeling.
How did you come to select the album artwork for Sleeping in the Hall, and what does it mean or represent to you?
It’s a sweet image. The warmth of the mother and the somewhat lost little ducky. It’s so simple but there’s something interesting and elegant about it. It feels purposefully imperfect.
Which movies do you think Sleeping in the Hall could be the soundtrack for?

I think a lot of the music is about trying to recount childhood feelings, these fuzzy dreamy memories, my first encounters with joy, melancholy etc. Before I had language to describe those things…so maybe a coming of age film? I was really inspired by Jon Brion’s work on Magnolia and Eternal Sunshine. It’d be a dream to find a home for my music in a film one day.

You can find Chris Maier on Bandcamp, Spotify, and Apple Music

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