It’s been 12 years since Chris Turner moved to New York to study music. Since then he’s toured the world, played with award-winning artists such as Bilal and Esperanza Spalding, and become a father twice over. But he still has his 510 area code.

“Been here 12 years; I’m not getting rid of it. My parents still live in the same house I was raised in. Besides coming back to perform, that’s still my home. I wish I could come back more.”

Chris — along with Jesse Boykins III, who performed at the Oakland Music Festival this past October, and Mara Hruby, who also played OMF and performed with Chris at Yoshi’s on November 11th — is part of a collective of artists called the Romantic Movement.

While Chris, Jesse, and Mara are all musicians who share an R&B and soul sensibility, the Romantic Movement goes well beyond music and musicians.

“The Romantic Movement is anyone who is an artist that gets inspired by other artists, and not only gets inspired, but supports his or her fellow artists. We happen to be friends and all different kinds of artists from visionaries, songwriters, and photographers. It’s definitely based around love. Mara holds it down for us in the Bay Area, being the only one [there] right now.”

CT promo (smiles)The beginnings of the Romantic Movement stem from the admiration of another artistic collective, Soulquarians, which included Common, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Bilal, and Questlove.

“It started from learning about Soulquarians. Me and Jesse, we grew up together. We met when we were 16 and went to college together at 17 here in New York. We always looked up to D’Angelo, and Bilal, and Erykah, and the whole movement that supported each other.”

As Chris and Mara both work on new albums, they find time to support each other on stage and on each other’s projects.

“I just love making great music, especially singing with awesome talents. Like singing with Mara, that’s my sister, and I love her spirit and her voice, and when we share the stage together, it’s always magic.

“We definitely collaborate on either other’s work, even if it’s just letting each other hear the demos and giving advice or feedback. We really are like a family. That’s the cool part having people you respect: they let you know if you’re going in the right direction.”

The Romantic Movement is not only about finding inspiration from artists present and past, but also about experimenting to find and create your own personal styles. Even if that means using methods that are unexpected.

“I just recorded a song for the first time. I had to auto-tune it, and I swear everyone in my house was looking at me like, “WHAT?” My manager was like, “You can’t do that, you can’t do that.” But I know the history of where people got the thought of using auto-tune that way. I love Zapp & Roger. It’s one of my favorite bands ever. So I look at it as, if you can do it the right way, then it can be cool. I’m definitely not trying to hide my voice.”

Along with working on his new album and collaborating with other artists on their projects, Chris is the father to two young children, a role he sees as important on multiple levels.

“I moved to the city as a young male. I’m also of color. Just a young male who is excited and happy to be a father, knowing that you could be an artist and and pursue your dream and still have a family… I want to show people that it can be done.”

Asked if he’s trying or able to influence his children’s tastes in music, he responded:

“It’s not possible at all. I only had one shot. When they were in the tummy, all I played for them was Prince and James Brown. I think I just wanted to feel them kick. As the dad, you’re not carrying them and you don’t know what the mom is feeling. But when I played that music, I got them going. So they both love music that has that funk to it. But their favorite song right now is probably ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen.”

And who can blame them? It’s a catchy song.

“It is. And you know, I like it.”

About The Author

Katie is the Music Editor at OL. She's a music geek, culture junkie, massive A's fan, and Oakland native. When she was six, she stood for five minutes with a felt pennant stuck under Chris Mullin’s armpit. Check out her Oakland music listings at www.oakampd.com, follow on twitter/instagram as @craziesthawk, or contact at katies@oaklandlocal.com

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