Swipe. Scroll. Stream. Repeat. To music consumers of all ages, this isn’t just a familiar process, it’s an extreme habit – better yet, it’s instinct. Today it’s easier than ever to get lost amidst the countless online waves of music that flood streaming platforms every day, whether you are the artist or the listener.
In the middle of this internet terrain of creation and consumption is upcoming singer and songwriter, Christian Ware-Berry. Born in Los Angeles, the former college basketball player and lifelong arts devotee – now known as “Linc” – is coming fresh off the release of his debut album, Kingdom Hearts, which dropped last month on April 13.
With his first EP as a full-fledged solo artist under his belt, Linc beholds a fresh mindset when it comes to the artistic process. It’s easy to empathize with his passion for creating. He’s tall, lanky and exudes a quiet humbleness that’s coupled with a relentless enthusiasm for putting his pen to the pad.
On his debut, he manifests his artistic drive into the realm of deep, moody R&B. Songs like “Falling For You” and “Lust” settle in over eerie melodies and booming bass, creating a rich and spacious atmosphere for Linc to wander through with compelling cadence. His textured vocal style reflects modern crooners like Bryson Tiller and PARTYNEXTDOOR, but within his stylistic demeanor, he maintains a sense of ambiguity and mystery. “I don’t really like saying the meaning of my songs,” he shrugs with a smile. “I just like to leave things open, man.”
As he looks ahead to gauge his next move, Linc is as positive and optimistic as ever. A recent college graduate, the young singer has his sights set on returning to Los Angeles and pursuing his music career in full force. In a recent conversation, we dove into the inspiration behind his new EP, experiencing Coachella for the first time, our favorite current artists and big aspirations for the near future. Read my interview with Christian below.
With balancing school and other stuff, when did you come to terms with the idea that you really wanted to start focusing on music, or do you think you’ve even reached that point yet?
Linc: Man, I’m definitely at that point right now. It was about junior year, right after our season ended with basketball. A lot of stuff was going on. My experience with the team wasn’t going well. Music was always something that helped me get away from dealing with the pressure and stuff like that. I did a lot of performing arts as a kid.
I was curious about that.
Linc: Yeah, I got away from that going into high school as I really started to take ball serious. That was pretty much my mission right there, play professional ball. I put the arts to the side and went head on. But during my freshman year at Vanguard, in dealing with struggles of not getting to play right away and stuff, music was something that I went to just to help me with all of it. I started writing more seriously at that point. To make a long story short, fast forward to now… I’m in a space where this is something I want to take serious and really go after.
Obviously then, music is something you’ve been invested in and tied to. Tell me about where that love for music came from. Was it your parents? The crowd you hung out with or the environment you were in?
Linc: Definitely an early influence came from my grandparents, riding in the car with them, playing a whole bunch of gospel music. That’s where I kind of got that love for music itself. They were really religious – there wasn’t rap being played in the car (laughs). I grew up as a little kid singing gospel and fake preaching at dinner tables and stuff.
Then, being in LA with my mom you know, she had me at a really young age – the people who were around her at the time, the influence was rap music. I was listening to Busta Rhymes and 50 Cent.
Early 2000s, all that bling era stuff.
Linc: All that stuff, man. In the family aspect, from gospel to hip-hop, I had that laid out at an early age. When I moved to the valley is when I started to develop a passion for rock music too. My mom’s ex-boyfriend was a musician himself and his style was Lenny Kravitz and Andre 3000.Refocusing on the project you just put out, it’s rooted in contemporary R&B sounds. It’s really moody, dark even. Do you feel like the project is more a result of your creative influences and the space you were in or were you pulling more from personal experience? Is it a balance of both?
Linc: I think it’s all a balance. When I’m writing, I try not to just pinpoint off of one thing or one experience, or even a sound. I just let my mind go free. When the beat comes on, I don’t just go ‘Okay, I’m going to write about this situation or this specific influence,’ and the words just come from there. Sometimes I don’t even know what’s gonna come out of the song.
The songs on this project actually, I wrote those three songs at completely different times. So I already had those songs in my book and stuff, some of them for over a year and some I recently wrote before I decided to even put out a project. They just kind of fit together in a perfect way.
Going into this EP, the themes your reflecting on, like “Lust” – the song title – the emotions of love, were they something you envisioned or that came naturally?
Linc: It’s funny, I don’t really like saying the meaning of my songs. Like that song has nothing to do with love or romantic love. I kind of like to let the listener make their own interpretation – what it’s about, how it relates to them specifically. Even though the song may not specifically be about this and that, if it relates to what you’re going through at the moment, that’s fine. I just like to leave things open, man.
You said you have some friends that produce, was there someone you worked closely with on this project?
Linc: One of the guys I worked with on the album actually goes to Vanguard, his name is Brandon. I found out he produced and did a lot of mixing and engineering. He produced “Falling For You.” I literally wrote that 5 months before the project was even thought of. I was with him and we were just cookin’ something up. I wrote something but never actually recorded it. I had it sitting there for months. Once I started working again, I recorded the song with my engineer and let him listen to it and he loved it.
I saw you recently went to Coachella? How was that?
Linc: Pshhh… Man, it’s like musical heaven. I had such a great time. Actually, I didn’t even know I was going until the Wednesday that week. My uncle and his buddy know people that work there and he had an extra VIP ticket. I got spoiled, ‘cause I definitely can’t do ‘GA’ again (laughs).
Who were some of your favorite acts? Any that stand out?
Linc: The Neighborhood fucking killed it. I got their shirt on right now. Also, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this group called They. My uncle put me on right before we went and those dudes killed it. Of course, Beyoncé too. That was like some goddess shit.
Out of curiosity, who else are you listening to right now? Who’s inspiring you?
Linc: Shit, I’ma pull out my phone! The music that’s coming out right now is so saturated, you forget who you’re listening to sometimes. One project I’ve really been enjoying is Saba’s. I’m really feeling that. I’ve been listening to a lot of old shit too, like Scarface, Styles P. That soul music.
It sounds like you’re constantly working on new stuff, writing a bunch. Do you have a vision for what you’re trying to accomplish next?
Linc: The goal right now is to keep creating and keep putting stuff out. I recently read a book called Linchpin. It talks about “shipping” – which means just getting your stuff out there. You know, you can’t just hold on until the right time. At a certain point, you gotta say ‘fuck it’ and put it out. However people receive it, they receive it. If you get stuck on one thing, you’re never going to excel to get to that next level.
At a certain point, you gotta say ‘fuck it’ and put it out. However people receive it, they receive it. If you get stuck on one thing, you’re never going to excel to get to that next level.
I want to be one of those guys that is a real student, that can play an instrument, mix and master my own shit, understand music theory. I’m pretty much going to school all over again. Now it’s just about putting in that work.
Follow Linc on social media to keep up with his latest music and stream his new project Kingdom Hearts on all platforms today.