Artist: Christopher Paul Stelling
Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina (lately)
Latest album: Best of Luck (February 7, 2020 on Anti-)
Personal nicknames (or rejected band names): Chris, CP, CPS, CP Stelling, Dude
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
Proposing to my partner Julia at the end of my Newport Folk Fest set in 2015, that was wild. So much love at NPFF.
What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc — inform your music?
I really rely on the other art forms sometimes more than music for my inspiration, so I’m glad you asked… all of the above, really. I try to read as much as possible. I see all creative pursuits as having more in common than not.
What rituals do you have, either in the studio or before a show?
I have rituals when I write. Less so in the studio or before a show, but since writing is what takes me to the studio or the show, I think it’s fair to answer this way… I just make myself available, try to turn off my defenses, try to be honest, and try to listen. It’s a feeling, the process, it’s less methodical than maybe one might expect, but for me I just try to show up, be honest, play my instrument, and sing words improvisationally, and then work those raw materials into something when I find a thread. I’m no expert, but I’m certain that there’s no right or wrong way to write a song.
If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?
Keep going. I’ve kept going. I just gotta keep going. It’s not always easy. Sometimes it gets really difficult. Sometimes it’s the most natural thing in all the world. I’m so lucky to even be able to make a living at this — that I owe it to my luck to keep it up.
How often do you hide behind a character in a song or use “you” when it’s actually “me”?
Typically not characters (with names) per se, but “you” and “me” are almost always interchangeable. I try my best not to hide in songs. I try to find the similarities in things… friends/enemy, good/bad, ugly/beautiful, maybe I’m at odds with duality and concerned with mending differences — I hadn’t really considered that before. Thanks for asking.
Photo credit: Chris Phelps