Chris Pureka is an internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter based in Portland, Oregon. Her elegant vocals and her flair as a lyricist have garnered her favorable comparisons to Chan Marshall, Bruce Springsteen, and Patty Griffin. Over the past several years, she has shared the stage with such diverse and esteemed artists as The Lumineers, Gregory Alan Isakov, The Cowboy Junkies, Haley Heynderickx, and Ani DiFranco. Her songs also have been featured on such television shows as Brothers and Sisters and Shameless.
After a five year recording hiatus, Pureka returns with a collection of tender and hopeful songs. The Longest Year, the new seven track EP, was written and recorded during the last two years of pandemic life and touches on themes of hope and acceptance. While Pureka has always been known for a heart-on-sleeve candidness, there is a deeper vulnerable quality to these songs, as well as a more stripped down intimate production, that harkens back to the songwriter’s earliest material.
The Longest Year is out now on Sad Rabbit Records and available on all streaming platforms.
1. How long have you been creating your art?
If we are getting granular, I technically started writing songs when I was about eight years old. I would bang around on our out of tune piano and I first tried playing guitar then too. But I got a steel string when I turned 16 and that is when things started to be more visceral and intentional. I recorded my first EP in 2001 and my first studio full length in 2004.
2. Where are you from? How does that influence your art?
I grew up in the suburbs in Connecticut but was surrounded by nature a lot as a kid. I spent my childhood poking around the river and the woods near my childhood home, and I was always drawn towards nature and the natural world. Natural imagery creeps into my songs quite a bit and I am drawn to the earthier, more folky spectrum of instruments and sounds.
3. What are you currently working on or recently finished?
I just released an EP titled The Longest Year that I recorded this past summer. It is a tender and hopeful collection of seven songs that are meant to be a bit of a balm in pandemic times. The single, Sky Spinning, came out a few weeks earlier and is a song about the complexities of relationships and how the needs of a person and the needs of a couple might diverge over time.
4. What is your inspiration? And why?
I write largely from my own experience and perspective. I came to music as an outlet for so much unheard and unprocessed emotion – so that is how I tend to write. I identify as a “highly sensitive person” and that is something that is reflected in my writing. Most of my songs are emotional and tap into interpersonal relationship dynamics. Lyrics are very important to me and I try to offer poetry as well as songs.
5. Why is music important to the queer community?
I certainly cannot speak for the queer community at large and there are obviously so many beautiful ways that art has been a boon and a beacon for us. But from my own experience, music coming from alternative voices has always been like a pressure relief valve on a stifled and unheard heart. I think that there is so much power and validation and relief in seeing and hearing someone with a similar gender identity and similar lived experience. It can be very lonely especially as a young person not seeing or hearing yourself represented in the mainstream. And additionally being able to cultivate our own queer culture is empowering and builds much needed community.
6. What do you hope to achieve as an artist?
I aim to keep writing songs that are true to myself. I hope to expand my horizons musically and continue to offer the thing that I have to offer.
7. Top 3 Major Influences.
I’m actually not consuming a lot of music right now, so I’m going to go with: 1. Every break up I’ve ever gone through, 2. The weather and the seasons, and 3. The sufi poet, Hafiz. Historically I would say Patty Griffin, Ryan Adams, and Gillian Welch.
8. How can we all support your work, talent, and gift?
The best way to support me is to buy the records – they are available in digital, CD, and vinyl formats. I also have merch for sale at www.chrispureka.com/store. It is also awesome if you check out the tour dates and come out to support the live show or live stream. And one of the best things you can do to support is to spread the word – send the songs to your friend, bring your bestie to a show, let people know about the music.