Edmonton favourite Christian Hansen unveils his new solo project Baby Drayton
The name Christian Hansen still means something in the Edmonton music scene. During the fall of 2009, the dance-pop group Christian Hansen & The Autistics’ Power Leopard dominated the radio and every teenager’s MP3 device. In 2012, Hansen moved the band to Toronto in hopes to reach a bigger audience, but he eventually stopped performing altogether and has now put the Christian Hansen project on an “indefinite hiatus.” Currently, he is focusing on his new acoustic roots-folk project, Baby Drayton.
“I basically got burnt out man, from doing the music thing,” Hansen says from his Toronto home.
“I was focusing on other stuff, but then all of a sudden I had these songs that were coming out. I picked up the guitar and started writing and a few months later I had a collection of these sparse acoustic songs. It reminded me of the stuff before Christian Hansen & the Autistics when I was back in Edmonton doing the folk thing.”
The new Baby Drayton material immediately presents a more serene sound for Hansen. Songs like “The Hessian,” begin with a laid-back acoustic flair until being greeted by Hansen’s resonant voice. The lyrics are clear and welcome a listener’s reflection on each track.
“A lot of the Baby Drayton stuff is about strength, weakness, and riding the line on being good and bad, being lost,” Hansen says.
The project’s name comes from Molly Flood’s (Hansen’s wife and bandmate) family horse of the same name.
“They had two horses and they both passed away because they were life companions,” Hansen says. “Horses are incredible animals and I just felt like it was the right name. Baby was a pseudo-nickname for a while and there’s no better name than an homage to a dead horse.”
One of the most popular and perhaps most curious songs is “Shia LaBeouf,” a three-and-a-half-minute song where Hansen ruminates about his thoughts on the Hollywood actor and performance artist.
“I don’t know why, but for whatever reason, I’ve always been intrigued by him as an actor, but also for his personality,” Hansen says. “He’s part of the whole Hollywood thing, but yet, he does all these other things that are outside of the box. He has this performance art collective that he does where he does the ‘I’m not famous’ thing with the bag on his head.”
For Hansen, Labeouf is also the embodiment of riding the line and taking situations to the extreme.
“He has all this weird stuff with the law like getting drunk in public or getting arrested for some other crazy stuff,” Hansen says. “He’s kind of just like a loose cannon, but he seems to be a thoughtful guy deep down who has just been on the edge for too long.”
Hansen’s comment makes sense when you look at Labeouf’s quick jump into fame.
His breakout out role was in the Even Stevens, which went on to be one of the most watched television series on the Disney Channel. Then he starred in Holes, Disturbia and Transformers, three of the highest grossing films of their years. Labeouf became a famous Hollywood movie star very quickly as a teenager.
It’s something Hansen can relate to. Right around the time Power Leopard came out, Hansen became “Edmonton famous,” known for his high-energy shows that featured crowd surfing, stage flips, and a whole lot of sweat.
“I guess I have the tendency to identify with Shia LaBeouf,” Hansen says. “When you kind of ride the line between going too far and not far enough—I feel like he embodies that. When you go too far you get in trouble, but if you’re not prepared to go that far, you’ll never be able to achieve the possible. Personally, that has been my life for the past couple years.”
The music video for the song also features Shia Labeouf on the red carpet during the Toronto International Film Festival.
“We reached out to his people and asked if he wanted to be in the music video,” Hansen says. “Someone got back and said he would be way too busy with the movie, but because Molly (Hansen’s wife) is fearless, her and her friend kind of conned their way into the VIP section of the red carpet. She just blurted, ‘I wrote a song about you’ and being the guy he is, he said sing it to me.”
Hansen is beyond excited to share his new sound with Edmonton and also has plans to record a full Baby Drayton album in 2018 with an undecided release date.
“We’re doing videos for every song, but I wanna take my time with this and I’m at the point where I want people to like it, but I’m doing this for myself,” Hansen says.
So is the Christian Hansen project dead? That’s up to him alone.
“That’s not to say I’ll never make a Christian Hansen record again, but it just needed to be put on pause for a while,” he says. “At the show, I might play some classic Christian Hansen songs, but they will be Baby Drayton-ified.”