By Heath Fenton
VANCOUVER – Passion, perseverance, and positivity — If you speak to Vancouver axe slinger Kris Schulz for even a brief moment it will become evident that he bleeds all of these qualities. Schulz is a busy dude. He plays in three bands, two of those are touring bands. He also has an acoustic fingerstyle solo project. Two years ago he released his debut album, While the City Sleeps, and last month he graced fans with a follow-up, Chasing the Light. Schulz hosted his release party at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre’s Planetarium Star Theatre, with distinguished guest musicians Antoine Dufour and Sean de Burca flown in for the event. It was sold out, well celebrated, and the musicians took full advantage of the theatre’s state of the art visuals that project from the ceiling of the venue. It was a true experience for Schulz and his fans to say the least, something fuelled by passion and hard work.
“The album release was both a chance to celebrate the end of a challenging chapter in my life as well as a chance to thank my friends, family and fans with an audio visual spectacle,” Schulz says about the show. “There’s a tremendous amount of time and energy that goes into producing a show like that. I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out and I look forward to presenting more like it in the future.”
The challenging chapter in his life he speaks of is another story in itself. Early in 2017 Schulz was diagnosed with a neurological condition called focal dystonia which created an involuntary extension of his right hand fingers while playing. He could no longer play even the easiest of fingerstyle guitar songs without strict focus and great difficulty. As a result he had to basically relearn new techniques and a style that fit for him, this making the release of his sophomore album a true test in perseverance.
“As the condition worsened I slipped into a very dark place. My mind raced with worry that something was seriously wrong in my brain,” Schulz divulges. “There is no known cure so that brought up many fears about my musical future. I’m happy to say I’m in a much healthier place with it now and even look at it as a blessing. It’s helped me to become more grateful for the things in my life that bring me joy.”
Reinforcing that positivity, as well as more of the aforementioned passion, Schulz has started the Horizon School of Music, an educational tool that intends to tear down the obstacles that stand in the way for aspiring musicians trying to achieve musical satisfaction. The school yearns to create the opportunity to a more fulfilling life though the learning of the language of music. An example of such would be the school’s free music day last March where seven of the staff’s guitar teachers descended into the streets to offer free guitar lessons for anyone who was interested. There was more 50 participants from all walks of life.
“It really was a spectacular day and and we look forward to doing many more events like it in the future. I’ve been a successful guitar instructor for over 28 years and I’m at a point in my life where I want to give back. The most obvious barrier standing in the way of someone looking to learn an instrument is cost or disability. We will continue to look for creative solutions that ensure everyone has an equal chance to experience the gift of music.”
The Horizon School of Music is also kickstarting a non-profit organization called Empowermusic. With the ultimate goal to provide those less fortunate with the instruments and lessons they believe will enhance people’s lives in a positive way. They will be collecting money through fundraising as well as collecting unused instruments to distribute to those in need.
To understand Schulz’s true passion, perseverance and positivity, pick up a copy of his new album. It’s an amazing and flawless musical excursion. All online purchases will go into the “empowermusic” movement. Old Schulzy is a true inspiration to everyone who is interested in music — the one language we can all understand.
Chasing The Light Is Available Now.