Chris Borelli - Part A

Chris grew up below the poverty line in Framingham, MA. At the age of 11, he was placed into the custody of social services along with his sister and two brothers. Later adopted at 14 by his long time foster family – the Borelli’s, Chris began to interpret his life from an entirely different perspective. With the Borelli’s, he discovered his love for music by practicing piano and singing on a regular basis. Supported by a loving adoptive family, Chris decided that music was his calling. 

For all of his adolescent and teen years, Chris was solely a singer-songwriter. His piano and singing skills were sharp at a young age. He performed original songs, sang in choirs, and participated in local singing competitions.

It wasn’t until he was 18 when Chris discovered his abilities in hip hop. He began writing verses and simultaneously building his production skills as an undergrad at Stonehill College. It was in college where Chris discovered his voice in rap music and crafted his energetic stage presence. His abilities strengthened quickly as he was able to apply his classical knowledge of music into his style of rap. 

His lyrics are raw and direct. His messages are confidently delivered. His content is pure, honest and relatable.

Chris has performed on various stages among several different platforms. He’s been invited to the Vans Warped Tour in the summer of 2012 – invited back the following year. Performed for college audiences such as UMass, Boston College, Northeastern University and many others. He’s opened for T-Pain, Joyner Lucas, Waka Flocka, Andy Grammer, Cobra Starship, George Watsky, Hermitude, TroyBoi and several others. 

 

At 27, Chris has acquired a moderate fan base and continues to perform and release various projects. His latest EP, “Lucid,” is now available on all major streaming platforms. 

Click to Read Transcript

 Pamela Bardhi 

Welcome back to Underdog. I’m your host, Pamela Bardhi. And today, I’m super excited to introduce my next guest to you. Chris Borrelli. Chris grew up below the poverty line in Boston, Massachusetts. At the age of 11, he was placed into the custody of social services along with his three siblings. Later adopted at 14 by his longtime foster family, the Borellis, Chris began to interpret his life from an entirely different perspective. With the rallies, he discovered his love for music by practicing piano and singing on a regular basis. Supported by a loving adoptive family, Chris decided that music was his calling. For all of his adolescent and teenage years, Chris was solely a singer and songwriter. His piano and singing skills were sharp at a young age. He performed original songs, sang in choirs, and participated in local singing competitions. It wasn’t until he was 18 when Chris discovered his abilities in hip hop. He began writing verses and simultaneously, building his production skills as an undergrad in college. It was here where Chris discovered his voice in rap music and crafted his energetic stage presence. His ability strengthened quickly as he was able to apply his classical knowledge of music into his style of rap. Chris has performed on several stages among different platforms, both in Boston and New York City. He’s been invited to the Vans Warped Tour in the summer of 2012 and invited back the following year. Performed for college audiences such as UMass, Boston College, Northeastern University, and many others. He’s opened up for T-pain. Joyner Lucas Waka Flocka, Andy Grammer, Cobra Starship, George Watsky, Herma tude, Troyboy and several others. He’s also played keys with White cliff Shawn in New York City. At 27, Chris has acquired a moderate fan base and continues to perform and release various projects. His latest EP, Lucid is now available on all major streaming platforms. Today, we welcome Chris. Chris, what’s up?

 

Chris Borelli 

What’s good, what’s good, Pam. Good to see you what up, Underdog. Love y’all. What’s going on?

 

Pamela Bardhi 

How you doing?

 

Chris Borelli 

I’m good. I’m good. It’s been crazy. I’m good. I’m living life. Happy to be here. Oh, good.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

So happy to have you. So happy to have you. So Chris, we go back to like, Stone hills.  We were just saying like 11 years. Something like that. Yeah, it’s been a good long time. You know, what’s crazy is like, at that point in time, we both kind of sat down and like you had your set visions, and I had my set visions, and we were just both kind of like, I’ll see you there.

 

Chris Borelli 

Yeah, yes, exactly. That’s exactly what it was. And I feel like that kind of energy has stayed with me ever since. And you’re one of those people that I always kind of just look to and admire and always have, you know, I mean, from a distance, whatever the case may be just, you know, always staying humble, staying hungry. And I feel like you were somebody that I shared in that energy in terms of being hungry and having that vision like you said. And I needed that more than I ever even realized when we were in college. I just like, I was just so taken by that energy. I loved it. And it just made me want to keep going and keep pushing, you know.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s amazing. You got to give credit to yourself that you went out there. And you started doing it, though, because your first performance was that Stone Hill. Yeah?

 

Chris Borelli 

That’s correct. My first performance was at Stone Hill. It was a coffee house situation. And your boy was rocking shades on stage with like, jeans. And I don’t know what was going on. Like I was trying to figure it out. It was clearly my first performance. But it was good. It went really well. It was cool. And, you know, obviously, I’ve grown a lot since then. And I like to think that I definitely have sharpened the blade. You know, being at Stone hill, I really figured out who I was as an artist or at least started to establish, you know, some stage presence and performance techniques and things like that. It really was just like my training grounds to just like figure it out. But at the time it was also just like Stone Hill was my whole world as you probably can relate. Stone Hill was the whole world. So you know, in Stone Hill, I felt like a celebrity.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Yeah. Oh my God. And they’re lining up for you. They’re like, Oh, Chris is performing. What? W got to go, we’re out, you know. And I’m like, Yeah, right, you’re gonna go to that show, I remember you just kept elevating and elevating. And it was like, and I remember talking to him saying, like, please don’t ever give up on this, because I know you’re gonna make it big, right. Like, and I see that. And I continue to see that in you. So I’m like, so excited to talk about all this today, sort of where you are with the music, how you got there, and sort of where you’re going. So, what inspired you in the music world in the first place? Like, how did you get to be like, Alright, I’m going to perform at this coffee house, you know?

 

Chris Borelli 

Word. I mean so music, the story for me, like it really goes back to when I was like 11 years old. And as you may or may not know, I was adopted when I was 14. And so before I was adopted, I was a foster child. And for about three years before that, and it was in that time when I met the obviously came across the Borelli family. And they had a piano in their home. And I had never touched an instrument before that time. And I remember just sitting down 11 years old, just started plucking away at the piano, and just being like, yo, I kind of like this. And I made it a thing. And I just, I kind of just basically established this really natural sort of love and obsession for it really. Over time, I just basically started playing the piano and teaching myself how to play basically, I played it like a video game like that was my video game was the piano, I couldn’t stop. And it was just as much about learning the piano as it was discovering my love for music. Like that’s really what it was at that point in time. And I like to say that music sort of saved my life in that way. Because I was coming from a pretty tough situation back at home, with my family and whatnot. And there’s just a lot of drugs and alcohol abuse and things like that. And a lot of things that my family has recovered from since then in a very beautiful way. But at the time, it was a struggle. It was tough. And so piano and music was my outlet, and it was my only way through it. And that was my introduction to music. So, you take that energy, and you carry that through, it never changed. So, in terms of why, and how it became a thing for me, it literally saved my life, I could have ended up in so many different places. If it wasn’t piano, it could have been a whole number of different things that could have been complete to my detriment. I had clearly energy towards something, you know what I mean? Like I had a lot of love and energy to give to something and I didn’t know what it was at the time. And it just so happened to be music. And it started with piano. So yeah, it’s you know, fast forward to college, basically, you know, I had taken some lessons for a couple of years, but I’m mostly self-taught. And then it was college when I basically started to learn how to produce and write hip hop songs and mix and master and all that stuff. It all sort of came to me at Stone hill College. Yeah, I recorded my first rap song in college, I wrote my first verse in college, I did all that.  College is really when it all went down.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s so insane because you’re you listen to your music, and you’re like, they’re like, he made this beat. And he’s also singing and rapping on this beat. And it’s like, dude, we’ve lost you. You went to Berkeley?

 

Chris Borelli 

Yeah, actually. Yeah, I get that every now and then.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

You know, what I think is so amazing about that is like, you took that energy and you just kind of did it. You kind of didn’t be like, Oh, well, I don’t have an audio degree. I didn’t do audio production, like any of that. But like, you just went and learned it. You’re like, I’m just gonna figure out if I learned how to play the piano. I’m just gonna learn how to figure that out.  Like, it’s like you have this fearless energy about you. Is that like, how your mindset was at the time that you’re like, how did I get that? You know what I mean?

 

Chris Borelli 

I kind of feel like it was like that. I feel like it was exactly that it was just a lot of like, just believing in myself and not knowing exactly why or how what I was doing was going to work. But I knew that I needed to do something and just like sharing that energy and find a way to express myself really, in my mind piano was exactly what that was slash music in general. And as I sort of grew and progressed through college, and was producing more and all that stuff, I basically, you know, just found new ways to express myself, express my thoughts and feelings, tell my story, speak on my past, speak on my future, you know, speak on my ambitions and really kind of just develop this persona that I didn’t even know existed until I started really diving into it. You know what I mean?

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Yeah. So besides, besides the music, what was your biggest sort of motivation, like growing up? I know music has a lot to do with it.

 

Chris Borelli 

Well, I mentioned that you know, I come from a pretty tough, you know, family background with, you know, being in foster care I had, you know, I have three, four siblings, and we were all sort of going through it together. And if anything, it really was just a matter of wanting to better our situation, better my situation and just like see a better life for everybody around me that I hold close, you know. And that included, you know, a lot of close friends as well. And really just learning from the struggles that I sort of watched my parents kind of go through, together and individually. And just knowing that I guess we’re all sort of going through our own struggles, for sure. And being young and watching them go through theirs, having grown up and understanding more how all that works, and how and why certain things went down. I would say back at the time, yeah, like I just wanted a way out of the danger and the craziness and just the sadness of everything that was going on. I would say that that was definitely a big inspiration just to see a better life overall. And not being sure how that would look. But knowing that I had to do something, you know, I had a fire in me and something needed to happen. And I fell on music. And that’s just what it was, you know.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

So macho is always music, you were just like, that’s it. That’s the escape. That’s the way out. That’s the way.

 

Chris Borelli 

Yeah, that’s what it was. And even before the piano was a thing like music is such a big part of just like my family background in general. I grew up on Marvin Gaye and Princeton, and Barry Gordy and all that stuff. Barry White too even, like a lot of the classics. My parents were very big into music. And, you know, they weren’t necessarily musicians themselves, or artists or anything, but we always had a jam bumping in the apartment all the time. And so music has always just kind of been flowing through me in different ways. And I would say that it really has sort of helped even before I sort of picked it up myself, it was great to just always have music a part of me in some way, you know? Yeah.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s so dope because music’s a huge part of me too. And I mean, that’s how you and I met in the first place was hip hop. Like, at Stone Hill. And it’s like, everyone’s like, you know, Pam, why don’t you join like the Frisbee club or, like, do this and do that, and I’m like, I would rather die. But besides the point, to me, it was like, in music, you just find so much solace, solace, yeah, solace. You know, and it’s like, for me, it was always like, within, like, the stressful times of my life, what I do, and even to this day, and I don’t care how many millions I get to, if I get to billionaires, I don’t care what it is. You will see me in my car windows down music blasting, you know what I mean? It’s just music has a way of sort of releasing so much. And not only that but like the way that it can connect you with people. Like you don’t even have to know what they’re saying. America was reggaeton for example. They had no idea what’s being said, but they’re, like, still rocking the, with the vibes, you know.

 

Chris Borelli 

Yeah.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

I feel you when you say that, you know, and it’s like, so what was like your earliest memory in the music world? Because like, for me, I have this picture that my mom has a man I literally look like a boy. My hat backward. And I have these headphones on. And I’m like, two years old, just like sitting on that. And I showed him like, yeah, this is me when I was little. And everyone’s like, Oh, that looks like a boy. But okay, you know, what I didn’t know. It was like, my mom told me that it when I was in her stomach that she used to put headphones on her belly. And I never knew that. And I was like, that’s crazy. No wonder I have an affinity for music. Because I just like, that’s my escape. Like, that’s my stress level people like how to use baseball. Like, that’s literally the thing I just blast and I just, I don’t know, the whole world just kind of go silent. And I feel like you’ve got that kind of suit.

 

Chris Borelli 

Absolutely. Yeah, it’s a similar, it’s similar sort of sentiment from my end. Yeah, I mean, my earliest memories, I would say are, I’d say back in like Framingham right outside of Boston living in apartment on to rally terrorists. And my mom, like I was saying very big into prints. And Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson was a big one as well, I would say those three, I’m pretty sure she had like, VCR videos of like, you know, they used to do like the music video runs those movies, where it’s basically like, it was basically a movie, but it was just a string of music videos from like your most famous popular artists kind of thing. So, my mom had like the Michael Jackson tape, and like the Marvin Gaye tape and like, would be bumping those like, every day, every morning, all night, all day. And just like singing to it and just like we always were just kind of there soaking it in, whether we liked it or not. And then my dad was always a, you know, he was a big Tupac fan and hip hop and was just way more in that sort of world. So, between the two, is just like, it’s everything that I sort of am today. I’m just gonna say that.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

I’m like, are like, like the Tupac energy, but then you also got like the smooth classic energy at the same time, like combined into one. So now it all makes sense.

 

Chris Borelli 

I am actually just realizing that as we speak.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s crazy, you know. And it’s crazy. As a child-like things, and your identity can develop, and you just never know, like, it literally has shaped your music career and what you do, which is amazing. Oh, my God, actually getting into the music and all this stuff. I know, you mentioned that we’ve been through a lot of things, a lot of different struggles and stuff like that. So, what was like the one thing was it that sort of kept you going? Besides music? Was it like inspiration? You know, because there’s always people listening that everyone’s going through something, right. And it’s like, how in your experience, can you guide them to get past like the hump of one grown-up center? You mentioned that was a tough part for you. Right? Just never know who’s listening and might be going through the same thing or know somebody who is, you know?

 

Chris Borelli 

Yeah, no, absolutely. Honestly. Yeah, I have to give a lot of credit to the Ron Burton Training Village and the Burton family. I don’t know how much you and I spoke about this when we were in college, probably not a whole lot. But basically, the Ron Burton Training Village is a really special place. In short, it’s a camp, a sports camp, but it’s so much more than that. It’s basically like a five-week overnight program run by an incredible, incredible, beautiful family. And basically, they take in inner-city kids, from all over the country really for about a month, like I was saying, and basically nurture us and mentor us physically, spiritually, mentally, it’s unlike anything most people have ever really heard. It is incredible. It is incredible. It’s the actual facility is out in western Massachusetts. Hubbardston mass. And when I talk about my upbringing, when I talk about, you know, my inspirations or just how I powered through things, and whatever else I have to give credit to the Ron Burton Training Village. Yeah, you know, every single day we were getting up at 4:30 in the morning. We were running seven miles. Our whole day consisted of various drills and activities. There was music, I was the co-music director for a long time when I was there, and it was all basically one big homage slash, you know, fulfilling the dream of Ron Burton senior who started the camp back in 1985. And he was a running back on the Patriots in the 60s. And long story short, he wanted to start a camp for inner-city kids to get better and just better themselves, because that’s who he was. He grew up in Ohio. His nickname was Nothing. That was literally what they used to call him. He wasn’t fast. He was he wasn’t, couldn’t really figure things out on the field. Football was his game. No one gave him a chance. But then one day somebody did. And long story short, he ended up you know, being on the Patriots became, you know, quite the businessman, and really just changed a whole lot of lives. So his camp was basically his way of giving back everything that he had ever sort of received on his end. He passed away in 2003, rest in peace. But since then, his five kids have, you know, taken the torch a long way. And even before that, and the camp is still going strong today, despite all the circumstances. But yeah, shout out to the Burton family shout out to the Ron Burton Training Village. They have absolutely had a huge hand in making me who I am today. So it’s all to answer your question when it comes to just tough times, and things like that, like every summer, I’d be at the camp. And you know, it was also a very religious camp as well. So we were very into the Bible, and scriptures and things like that. And a lot of that stuff, you know, whether you were religious or not, it just was inspirational and motivational. And I learned so much about how to just power through things because we were going through so much being at the camp. It was a struggle in its own way, but it was on purpose. And it was run by really loving, nurturing, just beautiful people. But it was difficult on purpose. And we all came out as brothers in a way that, you know. I don’t know if anybody’s ever heard of anything like it. Yeah, I have to credit A lot of it to that I have to anybody from the camp watching, listening, you know, the vibes.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Amazing. That’s just like taking back to what I was in high school, it was like the transformational trips that I took. And you never think that service trips like really make this much of an impact. But like honest to God, they do. You know those groups that they take, like, service trips that I went to dr was building houses there and saw, like, a family of 12 sleeping on a full-size bed and still being the happiest people in the whole wide world. And then you come here and like everyone’s complaining because their Wi-Fi like doesn’t work. It puts life in perspective in such a way that like, hold it like you’re blessed. You know, you’re through it’s like these. So, these experiences like these that kind of take you out of your regular element. And they challenge you. So, I just think it’s fascinating. I think that’s fascinating. And it seems like you’re still involved because I know you’ve posted about it because now that you said the name, I know you’ve posted about it in the past. You volunteered there a few times too.

 

Chris Borelli 

Basically, when I got to like college years, I was sort of just like working there during the summers as like staff, basically. And I was compensated for it. Since then, since I graduated college. I haven’t been back for any volunteer work or anything like that, because I’ve just been working full time now. And you know how it is. Yeah. But I’m very much affiliated still in the sense that I, you know, I’m still, you know, close with the Burton family. And I consider them you know, fathers to me is there are four boys, one girl.  They’re incredible people, just incredible people. So I am still affiliated for sure.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s awesome. So, like, what’s like the number one takeaway that you had from that camp?

 

Chris Borelli 

Oh, wow. I mean, after what, 11, 12, 13 years of camp, because you know, a lot of it. There was always like a theme every single summer that they would go by. And the one theme that has always resonated with me ever since every single summary was always different. But the one thing that always resonated with me was not without a struggle. And that was a theme that Paul Burton pieced together. Paul Burton is a newscaster journalist, WBC in Boston. And he’s also a Reverend, and ordained, like Reverend. And he was very responsible for like Bible studies and things like that, and was, you know, extremely motivational and inspirational in that way. And he kind of led sort of the Bible teachings of the Scriptures and things like that, among others, as well. But that one theme that he presented to us that one year, I feel like is the one that stuck out to me, you know, over a decade later, it still works. It still applies to this day, not without a struggle. It’s if anything, that’s a mantra that I’ve been able to sort of subconsciously internalize just to get me through, whatever, you know what I mean? Because Yeah, like any kind of greatness, any kind of success comes not without a struggle, you know, at least in my life, that’s how it’s gone. But when you can internalize that, and just like keep that in your heart and in your mind at all times. For me, it’s just been extremely motivational. It’s been that little boost of energy to keep me going. It’s supposed to be hard, you know, I mean, it’s supposed to not be easy. But there’s always like blessings on the other side. You know what I mean? That makes it all worth it, you know?

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Oh 1,000%, I completely agree with that. No struggle. No progress. That’s what it is. Right.  That was Henry Thevenin.

 

Chris Borelli 

Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Yes. Yes. The homie. The homie.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

No struggle, no progress. And God bless him up there. But it’s so true, though. You know what I mean? And it’s like people, when they face struggle, they feel like they shut down. I’m just like, Nah, this is like part of the process. The best quote I ever read that really helped me throughout my years has been, diamonds are not built without pressure. They’re created from pressure. So, you want to be like some random, ugly cement rocker or you want to be a diamond? How do you want to? Well, so I just think it’s fascinating how also to science as a way of kind of speaking to us through their different things like that. So it’s like, well, as you were saying, struggle, I’m like, yeah, it means pressure. It’s all these things but those things are what make you great, right. So speaking of greatness, because I’m in the almighty greatness right now of Chris Borelli. I’ve been so now we talked about the struggles and leave that sort of in the past, you are just blowing up, first off, and I can see you continuing to rise higher and higher. And just stepping in your power more and more as we’ve seen throughout the years. Like I’ve said before, we’ve always seen each other right, even as men seven years out of college, we’ve always just been like, it’s been like the hat off to each other everybody in social media like I know, you know what I mean, you know, and it’s like, oh, happy to see you keep going and like keep crushing and just taking your skills to like a whole new level. And like moving to New York. Now. I think that’s a huge thing for you. I mean, you’ve been there three years. All right. I can’t believe that. So, what has been in your career, what have been some of your biggest aha moments or your favorite moments in your career? Because you started at Stone Hill in the coffee house, and you’ve done pretty amazing things. I know you’re humble. This is why I’m asking you because you would never talk about it, I know.

 

Chris Borelli 

I know. I know. You know how to get it out of me. There’s been a couple of really good highlights. I mean, I think shortly after college, shortly after I graduated, Stone Hill had me back to open for t pain and Waka Flocka, which was wild. That was crazy.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That was crazy.

 

So that’s it for part A of my interview with Chris

Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with the one and only Chris Borelli!