Being part of the queer community, a small community at that, means that I meet many folks, especially queer artists, at Nashville’s lesbian bar, The Lipstick Lounge. This is true not only for Laura Valk of Skout, who was featured on the column in July, but also for Chris Housman. Chris’s friend, Nell Maynard (who co-wrote their song “Blueneck”), was playing at Lipstick Lounge in 2021. This was my first view into Chris’ music. “Blueneck” was blowing up, gaining nearly three million views on TikTok and charting #1 on the iTunes Country chart. Chris has since collaborated with other LGBTQ+ artists in Nashville, including Mercy Bell, and Cali Willson, who was featured in Out Now last month.
We are excited to share this conversation about Chris’ writing process, insights into his life, and his experiences as a queer musician. AND we can’t wait for Chris Housman’s live performance at our Queerfest/BGS special event at AmericanaFest at SoHo House this Saturday, September 23, from 3-6 p.m. The event is RSVP only. You can do so here.
What’s your ideal vision for your future?
Chris Housman: My ideal vision for my future is to not have a vision for my future. I promise I don’t mean this to be a copout answer, but I’ve been thinking a whole lot about how much “the future” and planning for it is instilled in us from a young age and how much anxiety and disappointment that’s probably caused us. I wrote a very country song about this recently with the hook, “We’re so busy dreaming ’bout tomorrow that we’re sleeping on today.” Of course, we all have to think about the future to some extent and plan things – it would be irresponsible not to. But if I can get to a point where I’m just in a whole bunch of constant “now’s” – how liberating. That’s the ideal vision for my future.
What is your greatest fear?
The strongest fear I’ve encountered so far in life is the fear of not being liked/accepted. I think the best way to get over fears and monsters is to sit with them, not run away from them. I’ve been sitting with that fear a lot in the last few years and I truly believe that my writing and music has also helped me work toward overcoming that.
Why do you create music? What’s more satisfying to you, the process or the outcome?
I create music because I truly can’t imagine doing anything else. Even in the brief time I wasn’t focusing on music, I was still creating it in some way or another.
Maybe a hot take here, but I think the outcome of creating music is more satisfying than the process. If I’m being honest, the process is often messy, muddy, rough, stressful, beautiful and sometimes… incomplete. I love the process more. But the outcome of having finished creating something that started with a thought in your head and resulted in some sounds that you’re extremely proud of? That’s probably about as satisfying as it gets.
Do you create music primarily for yourself or for others?
The way I see it, if you create music for yourself, it can be for others. If you create music for others, it can’t be for yourself.
Who are your favorite LGBTQ+ artists and bands?
Gah, there are so many I couldn’t possibly get them all in – but right now I’m absolutely obsessed, on a fan and friend level, with new releases from Brooke Eden, Adam Mac, Kentucky Gentlemen, and Adeem the Artist. Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally are some of my biggest songwriting influences. Cali Wilson, Jett Holden and Mercy Bell are some of my favorite voices and humans. And I’ve probably listened to Amythyst Kiah’s album Wary + Strange more than anything in the last two years.
What does it mean to you to be an LGBTQ+ musician? What are your release and touring plans for the next year?
Being an LGBTQ+ musician automatically means resilience, to me. It means someone that’s willing to vulnerably and artistically share all of the beautiful parts of themselves despite being told in some capacity they shouldn’t.
As of now, I’m planning on releasing my next single this fall, followed by my debut full-length album toward the top of 2024! That record really represents my life’s work up to this point and I am so ridiculously excited to finish and share it. I have a few random shows and Pride events lined up for next year, but am also just putting it out there that I think it would be so lovely to land a cheeky tour opening slot or something. 😉
What was the process of writing, recording and promoting “Blueneck?” What was it like for you to see it take off like it did?
Wow, it was WILD! To be completely honest, the idea to write a song about being a liberal redneck called “Blueneck” came to me while on a mushroom trip toward the end of 2020. I then moved it to my ongoing note of ideas where it sat for a few months, until I was in a Zoom co-writing session with (fellow queer songwriter) Nell Maynard and Tommy Kratzert. Tommy played a track idea he had that sounded SO commercial country, like something Florida Georgia Line would do. Hearing that track and knowing I was writing with like-minded friends I trusted and felt comfortable with, I said something along the lines of, “Hey guys, I have this crazy idea – hear me out.”
We wrote just the chorus that day and I posted it to all of my 72 followers on TikTok at the time. It started blowing up, we finished writing it a couple days later, recorded it a few days after that, somehow managed to release it less than a month after starting to write the song, and with the help of over 4 million collective views of the song on TikTok, it debuted as the #1 song on the iTunes Country chart, #4 iTunes all-genre, and the #16 on the Billboard Digital Country Sales chart. This still doesn’t even seem real as I say this, haha!
To have ANY song take off like “Blueneck” did is obviously incredible, validating of all the work I’ve put in thus far, exciting, mind-blowing, inspiring. But for it to be not just any song, but “Blueneck” that is essentially just a telling of my life and my values as a queer person that grew up on a farm and wants everybody to feel seen and worthy of a seat at the table – that’s like life mission accomplished stuff right there. It’s like oh yeah this is so much bigger than just chasing a dream because I love music. And as awesome as it is that so many folks felt seen by the song, I also felt tremendously seen by the audience; I found my people!
You’ve done a lot of collaborating with other LGBTQ+ artists – including Cali Wilson, Mercy Bell and Nell Maynard. Could you tell us about your experiences working with other queer artists and growing your careers together?
I absolutely looooove working with other queer artists/songwriters/creatives! Even just entering the writing room (or other creative space) with fellow queers, there is a secret understood alliance of sorts. You’ve gone through similar struggles just to get into that space together, so there’s no need to be unauthentic and put more obstacles in your own way – which leads to REAL songs. Another one of my favorite parts about creating with other LGBTQ+ and other marginalized artists is that the feeling of competition completely goes out the window. We’re on the same team, so why would I view someone on my team succeeding as a bad thing? It brings us all up. And then we win!
Photo Credit: Ford Fairchild