WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For 21st Century Media
Philly singer songwriter Christine Havrilla has been winning over audiences from coast to coast for more than a decade. With nearly a dozen studio albums and EP’s to her credit, her solo efforts and work with her band “3 Stories High,” Havrilla finds herself a highly respected seasoned veteran of the recording studio and the road.
Embarking on what may be her most ambitious creative journey with her “Gypsy Fuzz” project, Havrilla, who launched the project in 2011, is giving fans, old and new, the opportunity to hear live interpretations of songs from her music catalog as well as new material. Volume 1 “The Creamery Sessions” and Volume 2 “The Sunset Sessions” are currently available, with further releases coming in the New Year.
“I had this idea of gypsies,” said Havrilla from her Philadelphia-area home. “We’re travelers. We’re on a journey. Everyone’s a gypsy even when they say they’re not. It’s funny, when people hear the word gypsy, they think of something negative because of the old fashioned vagabonds.”
“I was trying to get away from the singer songwriter stuff because there are so many in that pile,” added Havrilla. “Not that I’m truly just a singer songwriter, because I do a little bit of everything. There was this new thing I was going for. It’s still me, but I was doing more of a bigger electric guitar approach, a little darker than some of my other stuff. So, for me it was a good creative project to just step outside my own box and shake it up a little bit.”
Recording in a variety of intimate settings, including Morningstar studios, her bass player’s living room, and Burlap and Bean Coffee, with plans to record in a church, Havrilla is capturing a raw unpredictable edge in her songs while showcasing her artistry as a vocalist and instrumentalist.
“None of the songs sound exactly like the album,” says Havrilla. “So, for me it’s an adventure. I love to be spontaneous, and my band is so talented they can follow me whether I turn to the left or turn to the right. They’re right there with me.”
“It’s nice, because you’re hearing the songs stripped down, and I think it shows the versatility of what I can do and what we can do,” added Havrilla. “Again, it’s getting back to not having all the bells and whistles. We’re not afraid to take risks, and we don’t play it the way it was recorded or arranged for the album. Sometimes things happen, and I have no idea where a song is going to go. That’s what I love. I like being on the edge and just kind of going for it. I’d rather go for it than hold back and be reserved in my performing. The studio is one thing, and it’s a whole different beast. I love recording, but I’m much more of a live player — having a live audience and being part of the live energy.”
To the delight of fans, Havrilla spent part of 2014 reconnecting with her former band mates, Gretchen Schultz and Christine Moll (3 Stories High).
“We’re doing this new project where, between the three of us — guitar, bass, percussion and drums — we are rotating instrument-wise, which shows the versatility of the girls, and we’re all taking turns singing lead and singing harmonies with each other,” says Havrilla. “We’re calling it ‘954.’ We got that number, because at one point we all lived in the same place and created music in the same house over the past 15 years. We thought that was pretty funny so we had to call ourselves 954.”
“It’s nice to have something different to do musically and creatively,” adds Havrilla. “We’ve been doing a bunch of reunion shows where I’m the bass player and back-up singer. It’s been a lot of fun hitting venues and getting old fans out. I respect Gretchen and Christine so much. They are so talented that it makes it so easy.”
Having recently relocated back to the Philadelphia region after spending time in Portland, Oregon, Havrilla is glad to return to her roots.
“The foundation of my band is here and, of course, my fan base and my family,” says Havrilla. “The northeast is so much easier to tour because it is so congested. There are so many more markets. So, I was coming back east once a season, four times a year, just to work a little more and try to keep up with the fans back here. I spent ten years here building a foundation. It’s hard to start over.”
“I love what I do,” added Havrilla. “I’m doing something that’s striking a chord with somebody somewhere. The songs are landing where they need to. People come to shows. I have an amazing band right now, and they are so talented that they make me better, and I learn from them. I’m always trying to better myself and learn and write better and play better. I want people to know how much they are appreciated when coming to shows and buying music. That’s really important to me.”
IF YOU GO
What: Join Christine Havrilla, Gretchen Schultz and Christine Moll In the ‘Round
Where: Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge St., Phoenixville.
When: Doors open at 9 p.m. with show following at 10 on Wednesday, Dec. 31.
Admission: Tickets can be purchased by calling (610) 933-4043 or online at www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com.
Info.: To stay up to date with Christine Havrilla visit www.christinehavrilla.com.