The Napa Valley is ripe with musicians of all styles, ages, and backgrounds. While many of the local venues cater to rock, jazz, reggae bands, and acoustic singer-songwriters, a genre that is incredibly popular nationwide and is yet noticeably marginalized locally is hip-hop. Chris Sanchez, also known by his stage name “Sanho The Indian,” has never let that stop him from pursuing his dreams.
Ever the energetic and charismatic performer, Sanchez has been selected to open up BottleRock 2018 on the Lagunitas Stage starting at noon on Friday. For Sanchez, this is a first-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I was beyond words,” Sanchez recalls when he heard the news. “I thought it was a joke. But Tom (Hoppa) called me and right then I knew I was doing something right on my path. I knew it was a starter kit to something great... It made me really feel good about myself when I realized that my music was actually making an impact on people.”
Sanchez has been making music and performing shows as Sanho The Indian for 10 years. He is proud of his Cherokee heritage and was given the nickname by his friend Blake Walker in 2008. Sanchez adopted the nickname as his stage name and has been using itsince. In addition to listing underground hip-hop artists Logic, Living Legends, Benefit, and Sunspot Jones as his musical influences, Sanchez says he is inspired by “literally anybody on the grind. I feed off all music, oldies music, everything. Other people’s passion is what influences me. The people around me keep me motivated.”
Sanho The Indian performs regularly around the Napa Valley and Bay Area, frequenting spots such as Eikos, Napkins, Napa Bowl, and Jamieson Ranch Winery. He has released five singles onto Spotify and Apple Music this year (under the name SANHOTHEINDIAN), and has many songs and videos available for streaming on YouTube.
Being a hip-hop artist on its own is a challenge in Napa, Sanchez said. “People hear that I’m a hip-hop artist and stereotype me. I think it’s frowned upon because people hear what’s on the radio and they associate it with bad behavior.”
Sanchez has been working on breaking that mold his entire career, most noticeably by not using any profanity in his music.
“I don’t feel the need to cuss in my music. It’s something that’s easy to perform in front of both older and younger crowds. I like clean music that you can still get down to. Some songs deserve it for emphasis, but for the most part it feels right not to use any profanity. The message is clear on its own.”
Sanchez adds with a smile, “After I perform in front of people they usually change their attitude.”
In addition to his surprise opportunity to perform at BottleRock, 2018 has been a big year for Sanchez. He and his fiancée, Jaime Krantz, gave birth to their first daughter, Remi, on April 6. Sanchez says that having a daughter has given him an entirely new perspective on his career as an artist. “It’s a different drive. It’s so new and I just want to show her everything. She keeps me motivated, and gives me more passion. She’s put a positive outlook on everything in my life.”
Sanchez also gives due credit to his fiancée, stating that she is both his partner in music as well as in life.
“She does all the photography and artwork. We’re definitely a team. She’s my biggest critic and my biggest supporter. She’s my producer, as well as another side of me.”
What seems to draw people to Sanchez even more than his music is his magnetically charming personality and his work ethic. While an opportunity like playing BottleRock might boost a performer’s ego, Sanchez tries to stay humble.
“I’m not chasing a check, I’m chasing the fun,” he says. “That’s what drives me. If there’s two people in front of me or 2,000 I still give it my all regardless.”
Sanho The Indian is set to perform at BottleRock Napa Valley 2018 on the Lagunitas Stage on Friday from noon to 1 p.m.. The festival is sold out.