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Author/Musician Christopher Hopper (Part 1)

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Christopher Hopper is a well known Christian author and musician. He has written the White Lion Chronicles and co-wrote The Berinfell Prophecies with Wayne Thomas Batson. The Christopher Hopper Band is currently hard at work on their 12th album.

I was recently given the opportunity to interview Mr. Hopper for Teen Ink. We spoke about his music, The Berinfell Prophecies and his upcoming projects.

Rachel – Tell us about yourself.

Christopher Hopper – Sure. Gosh. {laughs} That’s a very big question for me.

Well, I love Jesus a whole lot. That’s probably the most important thing I could say. He defines who I am and He’s everything I wanna be. I’ve been serving the Lord since I was a real little boy and have never looked back. It’s been the greatest adventure of my life.

Everything kind of gets encompassed in this one statement: Happily married to my beautiful wife, Jennifer, and we have four amazing children who are just wild, crazy adventurers and I love them all very much. [It’s] great to be a husband and a daddy. It’s a real privilege. That’s my most important job.

From there I get to be associate pastor for one of the largest churches in Northern New York called New Life Christian Church. I’m in charge of production and creative arts. So anything that’s visual or audio or video or drama, all that stuff kinda fits under my umbrella. So that’s [a] pretty awesome privilege to have.

Then, from there, everything really does fall under the category of ministry: Obviously, as you know, I’m an author, so I get to write books that hopefully touch people’s lives. Likewise, I’ve been a recording producer, singer/songwriter and worship leader for a very long time. I’m about to start work on my 12th record. So that’s cool!

Aside from writing and music, I have my hands in a lot of business endeavors as well. I’m owning restaurants and [I’m] partner of a marketing firm, as well as one of the executive producers for Sprig Records Recording Studio. So there’s a lot on my plate, you could say.

RH – How did you first become interested in music?

CH – Well, I have the distinct honor of being raised by a very artistic family. My dad has been a pastor for over 45 years and a recording engineer for over 55 years. So I was literally raised in recording studios growing up, as well as raised in, what I consider, really happening church. In other words, we had a rock band every Sunday and there was dancing and painting and photography and the arts. I never really knew Orthodox Christianity. I think, just being around the arts and being in recording studios, I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. {laughs} I was bound to love music! Dad was a drummer and piano player; Mom was a guitar player and a singer. I kind of got all those gifts wrapped up into one.

I first started playing drums at the age of four. Then started playing guitar and piano when I was ten. I wrote two songs every week, up until about age 20. I [was] very prolific and loved writing music, and eventually got the vision that I should be using this for Jesus. Since my parents were, so should I.

RH – How would you describe your music?

CH – Hmm. Well, I think the first word that comes to mind is eclectic. That’s probably because I love so many different styles of music. I never kind of got locked into one. I love listening to everything. That’s probably a product of the studio environment. My dad would record so many various bands from around the world.

Our worship projects obviously are focused on connecting people and the Lord, so [the songs] need to be sing-able and easily teachable. Also I think that Christian music should be the most creative music on the planet. I love incorporating that same sense of a lot of different styles, different orchestrations, different voicings into my work. So it’s not only what someone can sing to the Lord, but it’s also what they need to listen to from the Lord. So sometimes in those melodic pieces or just moments of silence, people are hearing and listening as much as they are singing and communicating themselves.

RH – What has been your favorite song to write and record?

CH – {laughs} You got good questions, girl! You’re all right!

RH – Thank you!

CH – My favorite song to write and record? I got to think about that for a second.

I’ll give you two!

One is called “Gates of Eden” and it was on the record Christopher Hopper and Money for the Poor. (That was the band name.) “Gates of Eden” was a collaboration of me and a keyboard player named Keith Hill. Keith and I locked ourselves away in this chapel one afternoon. I had come up with this riff and had some very poetic lyrics; very kind of off-beat lyrics, and I just started to play. As soon as I played, he started to put this keyboard track in it and the song just kind of exploded.

It’s very epic! I had a choir sing on it and even had some of the lyrics translated into Spanish just to kind of give this multi-national feel. But it was a great song to record! It’s probably one of my favorites.

More recently, on the Christopher Hopper Band’s latest record called Heaven Meets Earth, there’s a song called “Set Me Free.” It’s based off this really funky guitar line that’s just a lot of fun to play! As soon as I start it, I smile every time I play that song. {laughs} We recorded that song live, but even if I’m just hanging out with friends and I start that line, it’s got this groove to it that’s contagious and infectious. That was a lot of fun to record and I love to play that song live!

We also translated it into French for the French version of Heaven Meets Earth called Le Ciel Touche La Terre. That song is translated to Tu m'a libéré; “You Set Me Free.” So we’ve done that one now in Europe quite a bit. People really like it as well.

RH – So, do you speak any other languages?

CH – I am fluent in French. I took French for a lot of years. In Grade School, I was a terrible student. {laughs} Little known fact: I was a terrible French student! But I had a French teacher when I was 11 years old in my Christian school that said, “Christopher, the reason you need to learn French is because you never know when one day you might be called to speak in Paris to youth.” Who says that to an 11 year old first of all? {laughs} I remember thinking, I can barely understand how to conjugate a verb in English, let alone French. I thought she was nuts! But I think the Lord really used her prophetically to speak into my life because a decade later I would be called to Paris to speak at a national youth conference there with 2,000 young people. My life's never been the same since.

But, yeah, I do speak French and my wife speaks Spanish so we kind of have those two demographics covered when we travel.

RH – What do you hope people will take away from your music?

CH – I hope that they take away the fact that music and the Lord should be fun and exciting. Sometimes the church has gotten a bad rep of being boring or esoteric or nonrelevant. But if Jesus invented music, He should also be giving inspiration for the most creative music to be made.

So I hope when people hear our CD, they think, “Man, this is fun! It's exciting to listen to. It's psalmically [sic] exciting!”

But ties to that is the responsibility we have as Christians to declare life over our regions and our families and our cities and our business; [we have to] really get God's perspective for this whole thing called life and how it should work. If they can get a sense of that when they're listening to our CDs, then I think the mission was accomplished.

RH – On the other end of the spectrum, how did you first become interested in writing?

CH – {laughs} On the other end of the spectrum!

I always loved writing from a creative stand-point since I was probably in sixth or seventh grade. The interesting part is I hated reading. The reason for that is when I was really little—we're probably talking when you first learn to read—I was really slow at picking it up and therefore I was marked a slow reader. I always got terrible grades in school. That stigma kinda stuck and became a character trait. So where all my friends were whizzing through assignments, I could barely read the first page.

I really found no use for reading. I didn't know why my friends loved to read books when they could be outside building tree forts and riding around on a 4-Wheeler. {laughs} So I never read anything! I cringe even to say that...

(If young readers are reading this: Read all your homework assignments. Don't do what I did! That's wrong.)

I was always really, however, at listening to what the teachers were talking about. So I was able to pass my tests just by being attentive and proactive in my thought-process.

But I did love writing creative stories. I still remember my 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Sandquist, read a story. It was an alternate ending to the real-life story of the Alamo. I had written a fictional ending where the US forces actually won. I remember her looking at and [saying], “Christopher, that was a great story! You did a fantastic job.”

That so impacted me. I still can hear her voice to this day telling me how good it was. I got horrible grades! I didn't read any books except Lord of the Flies and 1984. But I remember thinking, “One day, I'd love to write a book.”

So, long story short, one of my best friends in school, Jordan—actually oddly enough (it's kind of interesting, Rachel), Jordan was Mrs. Sandquist's son. He was my best friend growing up! Jordan handed me book one of The Song of Albion trilogy by Stephen Lawhead. He said, “Dude, you've got to read this!” I was like, “Jordan, I don't read. You know I don't read!” He goes, “No, no, you gotta read this! He literally forced [the book] into my hands and walked out of the room. {laughs}

I was at work and I had some break time, so I pulled the book out and read the first page. [Then] I read the second page and read the third chapter and the 20th chapter... By the time a week had gone by, I'd read the whole book. That was epic for me! I couldn't even believe it.

I was so taken by the story. By the end of that month, I had read all three books. I had never done anything like that in my whole life. I had this thought go through my head which was, “Man, if I ever write a book, I want to write a book like Mr. Lawhead wrote.” Why was that thought in me? I think [it's] just the way the Lord's wired me. My DNA is to produce and create.

I took a stab at [writing]. I had actually had an idea for a book since I was 16. So that's kind of how I got into the world of writing.

RH – What inspired The White Lion Chronicles?

CH - A dream that my mom had. When I was sixteen, the idea for The White Lion Chronicles came. My mom woke up one day and around the breakfast table, she was telling us of this world that she had visited in her dreams.

In this world, she walked into [this] home and it was kind of primitive—beautiful, but still primitive; so non-technologically advanced. If you knew my mom, she's a very outspoken Christian. She loves Jesus, is a very charismatic lady. So, the first words out of her mouth when she walked into this home in this world in her dream was “Do you know Jesus?” {laughs} And they said, “Well, of course we know Jesus. Everybody knows Jesus.”

Upon further investigation, [my mom] realized that their understanding of Jesus was He was part of the Triune nature of God, He was the Son of God, but they never knew Jesus as Savior. In their world, their Adam and Eve never sinned.

I found that so interesting! Not only in that the world knew no sin, but also what that implicated with Satan. He failed. So I began to think through that if Satan had failed the first time to tempt Adam and Eve, would he have been back? Was it this instantaneous fall from grace? Or, as I wrote in the books, was it this kind of slow, drawn-out seduction of humanity? Ultimately [it was] proving that even perfect man is in need of a Saviour.

So that was kind of the impetus behind the story.

RH – So are there any more books to come in that series?

CH – No. I don't have any plans to revisit it. Not because there's more that couldn't be written. I think there's plenty of stories that could be written with sub-characters or sub-plots or prequels. But I have so many new ideas that I'm eager to write those and can hardly find time to do so. So I don't know that I'd ever revisit The White Lion Chronicles.

Who knows? Who knows what the Lord has in store? If there's enough demand and people want more, I'll consider it.



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