Jessica Simpson, her sister Ashlee Simpson-Wentz, Ashlee's ex, Ryan Cabrera... We are all familiar with the stable of stars managed by the girls' now-famous father, Joe Simpson. Now meet another: Singer/songwriter/producer, Chris August, who just launched his latest album, No Far Away, in August, got his start after he was signed by "Papa Joe."
UsMagazine.com: Your new single, "Starry Night" is #1 on the Christian Charts. Is your core audience mostly Christian?
Chris August: For the most part. I just try to write songs about whatever I'm going through at the moment. Because I'm Christian, some of my songs have Christian influences, but other songs will be about relationships and just about life. I think that those are definitely things that anyone can relate to no matter what their faith is.
US: You got your start thanks to Joe Simpson, who was a preacher. How did you get involved with him?
CA: Ryan Cabrera heard my original CD from back in 2004, and he showed it to Joe. They liked it and flew me to New York and L.A. for meetings, and shortly after that Joe became my manager! One minute I was standing in line to register for classes at community college, and then the next minute I was signing to a major label!
US: Do you talk to him often?
CA: Yes. I text and e-mail him here and there, but he isn't my manager anymore. He took me under his wing when I moved to L.A. and when I signed the deal, he was actually the first person to congratulate me. Even though he's not my manager anymore, he was definitely a huge part of building my career and getting me to where I am now.
US: You worked with both of his daughters, Jessica and Ashlee. How was that?
CA: It was awesome! I played keyboard with Ashlee for about a year and opened for her at the same time. It was cool because I got to go around and see everything. I wasn't on the first SNL with her when the whole lip synching incident happened, but I was on the second one. Just to do SNL and David Letterman and all of these things and to see behind the scenes, it's definitely helped me to know what I'm getting myself into. The Simpsons are such hard workers, so it was definitely cool. And then with Jessica, I was mostly just in the studio with her and got to do some vocal production and sing some background. They were always super nice.
US: Is Jessica a secret party girl like everyone is saying?
CA: Oh no. She is obviously incredibly beautiful, but I think what people definitely don't realize is just how down to earth she is. She was always so supportive of my music, and I appreciated it so much. She's definitely funny, down to earth and a typical Texas girl.
US: There were some rumors out there that her new boyfriend, Eric Johnson, is using her for her fame.
CA: I doubt that. Jessica is a smart girl. She's strong and independent. I don't think she'd let any of that go down. But if it doesn't work out, she can always call me up! Just kidding.
US: What do you make of the criticism she gets for her weight?
CA: That stuff is just silly to me. She really is a beautiful girl and from the times I've been around her, I've found her to be a very confident woman. You can feel that confidence right when she walks into the room. We never really talk about stuff in the press, though. I just hope it doesn't get to her at all because she's just gorgeous.
US: Do you think Ashlee will go back and do music?
CA: I don't know. I think her child is her main focus right now. She definitely has talent, a passion and big love for music, so I'm sure we'll see something from her in the near future.
US: Yeah, absolutely. And are you starting to think about your second album? Have you started writing?
CA: Without a doubt! I think that's the curse of being a songwriter. While you're making your first album, you're already thinking, 'ok, what's my next album going to be?' I'm always writing, so when it's time to start the second record I'll probably have about 100 more songs to choose from.
US: Will you still stay in touch with Joe throughout your tour and into your next album? Ask him for advice?
CA: Oh, of course! I'm always one to shoot him an email or text and it's great to have people like that who have been in the business for awhile and have had some ups and downs -- to let you know what it's going to be like when nothing is going right and what to do when it all does go right.
US: That's great. And he's always helpful and responsive to you when you need him?
CA: Yeah definitely. He's definitely been a big help. In fact, I saw that he even Tweeted about my record coming out, and that made me really happy!