Interview: Chris Boomer

Interview: Chris Boomer

There’s a big sound coming out of the tiny South Pacific island of Guam. I Am Who I Am, the debut release from island native Chris Boomer, sounds as serene as twilight on the beach, flashing shots of warm island flavor with splashes of melodic pop sensibilities. Featuring Jacob Hemphill on production and several members of SOJA contributing throughout the album, I Am Who I Am carries a comfortably familiar sound driving the introduction of a new voice to the international reggae music community.

Chris Boomer Unchangco was “discovered” so to speak by Jacob Hemphill of SOJA while the band was touring the island. After hearing Boomer play at a bar, Hemphill introduced himself and the two struck up a fast friendship. Together Boomer and Hemphill co-wrote You and Me for Soja’s album Born in Babylon, which ultimately became one of the most downloaded songs of 2009. Afterward, Boomer began production on I Am Who I Am. The album’s breezy riddims and Hemphill’s traditionalist production technique create an ornate backdrop for Chris Boomer’s thick, soulful voice.

Chris Boomer was kind enough to take a moment to speak with The Pier, allowing us to shed a little light on a great new voice in modern reggae music.

The Pier: Growing up in Guam, what kind of music were you surrounded by?
Chris Boomer: I was surrounded by a lot of old school because of my dad. Stuff like C&K and UB40 were always my favorites, so I guess whenever I heard those guys that’s all I ever wanted to hear. But pretty much all kinds of music. REAL MUSIC, though.

The Pier: Were there any particular artists or sounds that had a real effect on you?
Chris Boomer: I would have to say Lucky Dube just because he sings the truth and real life day to day living, and not to mention he has over 30 albums if not more.

The Pier: How did you get the nickname Boomer?
Chris Boomer: Well, my nickname is originally BOOM because my dad rode Harleys and I would get on his and pretend like I was riding it while saying boom boom boom, you know like an engine. But boomer actually came from my fiancé. She has this habit of giving people her own little nick names and being that they called me ‘Boom’ she just started calling me Boomer and it just stuck.

The Pier: From meeting Jacob Hemphill of SOJA at a bar in Guam to writing/recording all this new music, what can you tell us about the album through your experience, and what should fans expect from your debut release as a result?
Chris Boomer: It was a really awesome experience because before I knew the boys on a personal level I was just a really big fan. Still up until this day everything feels surreal. I can’t really say what they can expect except the fact that Jake and I and every one who helped out really put our blood, sweat, and hard work into every minute of every track so I hope people like it because we worked really hard on this project.

The Pier:There’s a pretty large amount of political content on the album. Are you politically active in Guam?
Chris Boomer: I wouldn’t say I’m politically active, but every land everywhere has their political issues, and I just think the people who don’t see what’s going on need to be informed, that’s all.

The Pier: How is Reggae-Rock embraced in Guam? How would you say it compares to the US?
Chris Boomer: Oh music is big on Guam. You can go almost everywhere and there’s someone playing music or listening to music, and not just one genre, all kinds. The musicians here are very open minded so bands learn a little bit of everything just so everyone’s happy that they heard their favorite genre. I think the difference between the US and Guam is the way people react. On the island, it’s so small that everyone knows who you are, so they kind of know what they want to hear from you. But in the U.S. when you come from somewhere like Guam, I think it keeps people guessing.

The Pier: As an artist and musician, what do you hope people take away from your music and your performances?
Chris Boomer: I just hope that when they leave the show, they feel like there taking a little part of Guam with them and they’ll be like Damn that Guam dude is alright. We should go to Guam and see what its all about! That would be good feedback. But really, I just want put on a great show for everyone.

The Pier: You’ve now been featured on 2 songs with Jacob Hemphill of SOJA. You made your debut on the SOJA track, You & Me and then Jacob was featured on your song I Am Who I Am. Are there any other artists out there you’d like to collaborate with?
Chris Boomer: Oh yeah, lots of them like Ashes of Babylon, Dezz Fya…the list can go on and on. But maybe somewhere down the line if Elliott (my manager) says we need a collab, then that’s what we’re going to do.

The Pier: SOJA’s You & Me track was one of the most downloaded songs on SOJA’s latest album Born in Babylon. It wasn’t long after that you were featured in the music video for the song. What can you tell us about the production of the video to seeing yourself featured in a music video with SOJA?
Chris Boomer: It was insane, especially for me, because I’d never been in a music video before in my life, so I was kind of bugging Jake during the shoot. I kept saying, Man, is this really happening? I just couldn’t believe it and the bonus was I got to hang out with Resination and Rebelution, and I was star struck because coming from a small island we just hear these guys on the radio, and to actually hang out with them and see what great people they are outside of music was one hell of an experience.

The Pier: What’s a day in the life of Chris Boomer like? Any interesting hobbies outside of music?
Chris Boomer: A day in the life of Chris Boomer…uh, I get to wake up every morning to my fiancé, my kids and pretty much chill. Maybe I’ll go catch a surf session or go play some basketball. It all depends on how I feel that day. I’m a very family oriented person. I love being around my family because they’re the best entertainment in the world. It’s like my own personal sitcom hahaha. It keeps me sane.

New Album I Am Who I Am is now available for purchase inside The Pier Store!

Chris Boomer Links:
Chris Boomer Website
Chris Boomer Facebook
Purchase Album

– Interview by: Chris Castro
[Read Chris Castro’s album review of I Am Who I Am by clicking HERE]