A pop cherub gets his wings

Christian isn't wearing his angel wings when he shows up for our interview. But he does sport the outfit you see in the photo that accompanies this article, the one where he's clad entirely in white, with a close-fitting sweater pulled over a collared shirt, its pristine French cuffs folded over like gauntlets of fine china. His hair is tousled expensively. Some things have changed since local band Snowhite signed to Atlantic Records more than a year ago. But Christian's flair for the dramatic hasn't — the wings are probably in the back seat of his car.

Since the signing, Snowhite has become Love Arcade, and Christian is now officially known as "Snowhite, the Boy." It's all relative — he already proclaimed himself a member of the only-one-name-necessary fraternity, so adopting a moniker that sounds like a C.S. Lewis character really isn't that pretentious.

"I've always looked at musicians as figures," he says by way of explanation. "Like, not real people. Because when you see them on TV you're like, 'That's not a real person ... that's kind of like my imagination.'"

What hasn't changed since Metro Times' cover story on the band ("Teenarama," Aug. 31, 2005) is Christian's air of polite indifference toward his would-be emergence as a teen heartthrob. He's cooler than a polar bear's toenails as he sits in the gleaming sun outside a Cass Corridor coffee shop, talking about the album, its promotion, and Love Arcade's upcoming tour like they're only the latest developments in an effortless life. The music industry is flagging, challenged by digital technology on this side, a stingy entertainment dollar in the middle, and a glut of sound-alike competition on that side, particularly when it comes to Gen Y pop. But if Christian's worried about making an impression on the bright young masses, he isn't letting on.

He gives a quick update on what Love Arcade's been up to since the last interview. "I finished the record, and now it's coming out, and we did a little bit of touring, but not as much as we would've liked to. It's hard to find a tour these days; you gotta know somebody." This last statement is delivered with perfectly affected weariness, like a graying catalog artist discussing his latest tour of sheds.

Christian can't be a day over 21.

Love Arcade's lead single, "Keep it Coming," got some early, local love from 89x, and he says L.A. modern rock powerhouse KROQ has given it a few spins too. It makes sense — like the majority of Love Arcade, "Coming" is a squishy delight, with a happy singsong chorus and lyrics that espouse the virtues of young love even as they dismiss it with hammy self-awareness. "It's love I'm sure," Christian sings. "You I adore/Uh, let me think of a metaphor ..." and his words become a mumble under another bursting chorus. In Love Arcade's world, romance is just another word for fun.

The conversation turns to the Internet and, inevitably, MySpace, which the band has used to construct a respectable fan base of giggly young people. "The day of your CD release ... I have band camp," one writes in on their site. "LOL. It's terrible." Christian chats amiably about the experience — "We're on MySpace all the time; it's a real important part ..." — but it still seems like he's reiterating talking points, the things he needs to say to sell the record. And so what if he is? After all, he really does have to sell the record. But how does one kid get so much confidence?

"I have album No. 2 done already," he continues. "I have album three done too. And I'm still writing — I wrote one yesterday that I really liked. It's not the same stuff as the first record. I can't even explain it. It's like nothing I've ever done before. I'm using a lot of, like, choirs, and then putting them over hip-hop beats." He goes on to explain his love of hip hop ("I think rap music has the hits right now. That's why it's selling ..."), detailing recent purchases like Juelz Santana's What the Game's Been Missing!

"And T.I. too," he says. "He's sweet. I was thinking about on the second record, getting T.I. to lay down some stuff. I know that's out of the normal, but it'd be pretty cool."

The image of T.I. eating Twinkies and laying down tracks in Christian's cushy suburban Detroit digs materializes briefly, then fades faster than a teenager's attention span. But Christian's still chatting, returning to some of his pet influences — Radiohead, the Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots — before musing over the nature of fan base love in the 21st century, and how it inspires the artist. "I think if they [the fans] like the person, then they'll accept what they're going to do next. You know? It's all about them liking you. And if you like my music that I'm making right now, it really is me."

"I'm going to evolve," he says. "I'm not going to stay the same the whole time."

Whew. If this kid were a motivational speaker, everyone would be wearing angel wings.

It's time for him to go. The sun has shifted, and it's threatening the porcelain sheen of his complexion. Christian has bigger things to worry about — like Love Arcade's upcoming tour and promoting a record that's so clean and tidy it burps like Rubbermaid. But he probably isn't worrying about those things.

"It is just the beginning. Sometimes I forget that," Christian says. And then he glides off, his mind likely already turning with the concept of a sugary pop elegy featuring T.I., choirs and a symphony of fawning teenagers.


Friday, Aug. 11, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700. With New London Fire and Rediscover.

Johnny Loftus is the music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
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