Off the back of enthusiastic reception for his heartfelt single ‘Like I Don’t Know You’ across German stations Radio NRW, Radio Energy, NDR 2, SWR 3, and Big FM, the former small-town boy Chris de Sarandy – now settled in the country’s buzzing capital – kicks off 2023 with a deceptively simple yet catchy bedroom pop tune ‘That’s Life’. Evoking the lo-fi spirit of fellow zoomers Yellow House, infinite bisous, and Puma Blue while showing his trademark knack for classic pop sensibility, Chris looks life in the face with his down-to-earth vocals accompanied by no-frills instrumentation of upright piano, drum machine, and Mellotron plugin.
Written in just three hours, the work in the studio was a perfect illustration of Chris’s confidence and instinct. “The beauty of this one was that it came together so easily,” Chris reflects. “It just came flooding out. There wasn’t much doubting.” He points out an interesting analogy between the action-packed creative process and the end result. “I like the correlation between the idea of ‘That’s Life’, a simple approach on things, and the simplicity of writing the song.”
On the surface, ‘That’s Life’ revolves around the familiar moment when those rose-tinted spectacles come off, and the unfortunate fact that the sparks is gone for good becomes blindingly obvious. “You’re still this beautiful person that I’ve loved, but I’m not really seeing the full picture here, and it’s damaging,” Chris describes the thought-process. This realisation has been brought to life in the chorus by describing it from the first person point of view: “Your eyes are full of diamonds / I’m seeing cloudy skies / Aren’t always silver linings / I guess, I guess that’s life”.
Written amidst a period of profound doubt and instability following the end of his longest relationship, it took Chris years to come to terms with the break-up. “I think for me it was easier first and then it became harder, which is typically a bit more of a man thing,” Chris reckons. “From the female perspective it’s the opposite, and I think it was the case here.” The draining process prolonged by false hope has been captured at the end of second verse: “Darling, I’ve been holding onto this used cigarette / Not every light gets put out when it all comes to an end.”
At a deeper level, ‘That’s Life’ takes a look at how we react to challenges thrown at us. “What I really wanted to say was: life is change, and people change,” he explains. “And I think this song is really about accepting that life is not always made out to be what it is.” With a palpable sense of resignation verging on wry self-deprecation, it encourages us to embrace the touch by the cold hand of fate, a world view Chris inherited from his father. “I think the fate thing has been passed on from my dad. He instilled it in me from a young age. He’s a big believer in it,” Chris recalls. “And as I got older, when he realised I could actually understand it more, he would mention things like fate. And I guess over time I understood more what he was saying, and I followed in his path believing that.”
And yet the phrase ‘I guess’ repeated throughout the chorus suggests an element of ambiguity, a hunch that there is more to dealing with hardship in life than simply accepting your fate. “When I do have to deal with bad things in life, maybe the way I cope with it is like: ‘It’s fine, it wasn’t meant to be,’” Chris suspects. “Maybe it’s a good way of explaining that as a coping mechanism to the battles of life.” While circumstances will always be against us, downplaying free will not benefit us in the long run. If we want to continue learning from our mistakes and building resilience, hard work needs to be put in. “I love the idea of it being as simple and easy as ‘That’s life!” Chris admits.
“But really, deep down, there are still things that I’ve had to make sense of myself.”
Grown up in Southwest England, Chris de Sarandy started playing in an indie band when he was 14. Just before the start of university the band split and a desire of wanting to move towards a more ‘natural and mature’ sound caused Chris to start writing music on his own. Following his move to Berlin in the footsteps of famous songwriters such as Nick Cave and David Bowie, Chris got to know producers and fellow musicians, and start working on ideas that would later become his first singles ‘Good Girl, Sad Boy’ and ‘Like I Don’t Know You’. Soon after he was discovered by Berlin’s independent record company Embassy of Music who saw the artistic potential in Chris and decided to sign him. If there is one thing Chris has proven, it is this: if a young artist can pull the listener toward emotional truth, there’s no limit to what they can achieve.
‘Chris submerges his listeners into his conversational approach to lyricism.’ (Wonderland Magazine)
‘Palpable universal appeal.’ (Kane Wilkinson, Dusty Organ)
‘Chris de Sarandy’s vocal control is one in a million.’ (Kevin Rodriguez, Pop Passion Blog)