The Sweet Sounds of Spring with Cris August!

If you haven’t heard the sweet sounds of contemporary pop singer Cris August, you are seriously missing out! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some great guys in the last few months due to being more visible in the community, but I am so pleased that this guy has the talent and personality to match the confidence and charm that many transmen seem to gain post-transition.

His smooth, crisp voice and handsome dark features work hand-in-hand to create the perfect up and coming male pop star. Cris is no factory-fueled pop singer though; this guy has real talent and has more in common with you and I then your resident Backstreet Boys.

Head on over to itunes now and download Cris’ EP “Drag Me Down”  . You won’t be disappointed! This charming crooner took the time to answer some questions I had after coming across his music here .

Welcome to the We Happy Trans family, Cris, and thanks for being a positive inspiration for trans* musicians everywhere!

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  • 1. What is your name, Artist name, Age and how do you identify?Hi! My Name is Cristopher August Arrañaga. August is obviously my middle name, but I chose to use it as my stage name. Let’s just say my last name has always been butchered, so I decided to just keep it simple. I go by Cristopher (or Cris) AugustI’m 27 years old.A lot of people tend to not notice that my name is spelled without an “h.” It is pretty important. There’s a gazillion “Chris'” out there, so you won’t find me if you put an “h” in there.Oh! and I’m FTM. But I simply identify as male.

     

    2. What does the saying “We, Happy Trans” mean to you and do you consider yourself happy in your transition?

    I’ve only recently stumbled upon “We, Happy Trans” and I’m really glad I did.

    I feel “We,Happy Trans” is a positive resource for the “T” community and it’s allies. It allows people to see that many trans people are embracing their individuality and who we are. We live and go about our lives as people (just like everyone else), who happen to be trans.

    Transition is a tough journey, some more difficult than others. To see trans individuals thriving in their daily lives, is always a wonderful thing to see. We should absolutely keep shining a light on that!

    I cannot imagine my life having not transitioned. I have never regretted it for one second.
    Generally speaking I am happy with my transition, but I still have some steps to go. So I can’t say with 110% certainty that my life couldn’t get any better, haha. It can, and it will.
    3. At what age did you start singing? Did you always aspire to be a performing/recording artist?


    Music and singing has been in my blood for as far back as I can remember. I was not confident about singing in front of my family, but I had a little more courage in front of friends. I sang at school on the playground (especially to try and impress girls), outside of classrooms, you name it. But when I got home, it was off to my bedroom to dream behind closed doors. I practiced and lived in my fantasy world of putting on elaborate stage shows. I was just in my element during those moments.
    I wanted to be a pop star. Not a lawyer, an astronaut or the President.
    Not much has changed, haha.

    I’m still a dreamer.

    4. At what age did you discover your trans* identity? How did that intersect with your singing career aspirations?


    This is always a difficult question to answer. I was fortunate as a kid that I was able to be more androgynous. So because I wasn’t really forced to wear or do thing’s I didn’t want, being in a state of androgyny (pre-puberty) was “live-able” for me. It still didn’t quite fit, but it was enough for the time being.

    Not to mention, I hadn’t any idea of how to express or even acknowledge my desire to be more masculine. I just wanted to play with action figures,sing, play with friends and be a kid! That’s why I would gladly say I would go back to being a kid in a heartbeat. I just got to be a “kid,” you know? Now, puberty is a different story. That’s when the dysphoria really set in. I know that much. It was tough.

    In my adolescence, it was perfectly natural for me to see myself as a “backstreet boy.” Or Just like Elvis.

    It just fit. Again, creeping into my teens I really struggled with finally acknowledging that I wasn’t just like a “backstreet boy.” It sucked!

    Seriously, my dreams were shattered! haha

    Clearly, none of that stopped me :-)

     

    5. Who are your musical inspirations and why? Do you know any other trans* musicians?

    Elvis Presley.

    He changed my life hearing him for the first time on the radio at around 7/8 years old.
    20 years later, there is nothing that I see with his face or voice, that does not make me admire and still be in awe of him. His mere presence on a tv screen has me captivated….still.

    That voice. There will never be another Elvis. In another 100 years, people will know Elvis.
    I don’t think I will ever fully understand why that man has captivated me since early childhood.
    There’s a reason for it, and I embrace it. He is a permanent fixture in my life.

    My earliest inspirations are all over the map generally. I was always into the oldies (50’s, 60’s, etc).
    Male vocal groups of a variety of era’s stand out for me.  People may poke fun at me for it, but I own it 100% Frankly, I don’t think they get enough credit. The Temptations, Boyz II Men, ‘N sync, Backstreet Boys, Jackson 5.

     

    You know, I just love pop music.

     

    More contemporary artists that I follow today are Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Westlife, Maroon 5, OneRepublic, Daniel Bedingfield, Lady Gaga. What I think all these artists have in common, is that dramatic pop song appeal. Emotional, dramatic, and song’s with great pop hooks. I live for a dramatic pop ballad/song which is why I can also appreciate a good Celine Dion concert ;-)

    All those artists have all taught me something through the years. They spoke to me.

    I’m not interested in which artists people think are “cool” or not. My influences are my own and I can’t imagine having not had them to look up to.

    As far as other trans musicians are concerned, I know they are out there! I’ve known the acquaintance of a few, but nothing beyond that.  It would be really cool to work with another trans artist.

     

    6. What kind of changes did you go through with your voice when you started your hormone therapy? Where these changes positively or negatively affecting your singing?

     

    The biggest thing that held me back from beginning HRT was the fear of how it would affect my voice. There, unfortunately, isn’t a definite answer for this. Our bodies, especially our voices, are all unique to each of us as individuals. It was scary to not know how HRT would affect my voice and vibrato. There was definitely an awkward phase where my vocal chords were getting thicker, but I think I eased into it pretty smoothly. I just went with the flow. In fact, I pretty much tried to prepare myself for the worst so if something negative were to happen, I would be ready and just have to accept it.

    I don’t think I would have been “ready” though. I would have been devastated. Singing is such a huge aspect of my life. HRT, was priority though. I knew HRT was the right choice, but I still thought long and hard about it.

    The changes have pros and cons. I was used to a certain range for so long. It’s just a matter of adjusting.

    I didn’t lose my vibrato. I can hit a lower register now, but I’ve had to re-learn how to hit higher octaves. I’m still adjusting, and hope to continue to grow. The last thing I want to do is cause damage, so I have to be careful.


    7. Are you involved in any sort of activism and/or outreach within the community? What sort of causes are important to you at this time in your life?

    I can’t proclaim myself to be an activist. I’m a vocalist who happens to be trans.

    However, I like to think that I can provide some education through my daily interactions and through my personal life. I think one on one interaction/education is a great way to enlighten somebody. It’s been the best way for me. As people have gotten to know me, they typically walk away with the “Hey, it’s not that big of a deal” kind of attitude. Not implying that anyone discounts our struggles, but the fact that they see I’m just another person. The novelty wears off.

     

    I’m naturally a pretty private person. But I have decided to step out of my comfort zone and will soon begin speaking engagements at various colleges/universities.

    I can only speak for myself and my experiences, but I hope to be able to shed some light on the topic and provide a little education.

    I’m kind of looking forward to getting out there :-)
    8. I love your song “Drag Me Down”. What is the inspiration behind the song?

     

    Thank You! That really means a lot.

    “Drag Me Down” is my baby.

    It was my first original song that I wrote. To watch it grow from a simple piano concept, to what it is now is really fulfilling for me. I’d never written a song in my life.

     

    “Drag Me Down” was very personal, and it just poured out of me. In a way, it was my way of grieving the end to something I invested so much time and love into. It’s inspired by a relationship where I gave someone too much power. One day I was her everything, the next she was “over it.” Her sudden change of commitment and emotion created a whirlwind of frustration in my life. I had allowed that person to maintain that kind of power over me.
    So the song was sort of my process of “freeing” myself from her hold on me. Realizing that I am only responsible for ME. I could no longer hold myself responsible for somebody else’s behavior or emotions.

    The most useful thing I have learned in my life is “to never take anything personally.”

     

    I will never let somebody “Drag Me Down”

     

    (had to throw that in there haha)

     

    9. Do you feel that your trans* identity makes it harder for you to earn respect within the industry? What obstacles have you encountered (if any) as an artist who happens to be trans*?

     

    My biggest fear has always been that I would be cast off, or never given a chance due to somebody’s ignorance or judgement. There are people I have worked with whom I’ve NEVER had the conversation with. Not because I feared they wouldn’t accept me, but more along the lines of “Why do I HAVE to disclose anything?”

     

    I’m just here to sing, and they are working with me because hopefully they see potential in me. Why should it matter?

    But I’ll be honest, I juggle it back and forth. I really just want people to see me as Cris. And I think that’s how people see me. It does linger in the back of my mind sometimes and can be a distraction if somebody doesn’t know. But sometimes I just want to say it and move on haha.

    My first Engineer/mentor I worked with, I was just beginning HRT. So I wanted to be up front about it.

    I expressed my concerns about the industry not accepting me and he told me  “If you’re gonna be who you are in any industry, the music business is the place to do it. I wouldn’t worry about it.” Maybe he was trying to make me feel better, but his words had an impact and gave me confidence to move forward.

     

    When my trans status is known or disclosed, it has not affected me negatively…at least not directly.

    I walk into everything not planning on disclosing that I’m trans. I go into it as any other person would. As who they are.

    And I’m just Cris August

    Hopefully that’s what matters :-)

     

    10. What is your advice for musicians and singers who are looking to get started with a career in the music industry?

     

    I’ve just begun my journey into a very intimidating industry. I have so much to learn. I will stress PATIENCE. Hard Work. There is a 1 in a billion chance that anyone will become an overnight sensation. There isn’t a 4 year plan to being a successful pop artist (or any music artist).

    Work Hard, do what you love. I put faith into the notion that we can achieve anything we want.

    This is what I want.

    And I’ll climb any obstacle and keep working to do what I love.

     

    11. Your pop/contemporary EP “Drag Me Down” is available on itunes currently. So what is next for Christopher August?

     

    Yeah, the “Drag Me Down” EP can be found on itunes, amazon, emusic, etc.
    Next on the list is a music video. I’m juggling which song I want to do for the video. “Drag Me Down” and “Drive” are neck and neck with fan votes.

    I’m always ready for the next recording opportunity. While “Drag Me Down” is settling in,writing and brainstorming for new projects are always in motion. I’ve got some great gigs coming up. I’ll be posting upcoming shows on my social network pages. I’m excited to get out there and showcase more of what I do and hopefully pick up some new fans along the way :-)

     

     12. For those We Happy Trans readers who’ve yet to experience your music, give us 3 words that describe your sound…

    Smooth, Dynamic, and Deep

    I’m open to alternatives :-)


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