Last week I had the pleasure of chatting to Anchorage, Alaska’s Quinn Christopherson! He is one of my favourite new musicians and it was a really exciting thing to catch up with him (albeit virtually, over Skype). It was the deep impacting ‘Raedeen‘ single that put me onto his sound initially and I knew that this would be an insightful interview. It turned out that way!
Here is how it went:
Starting off, I suppose we better have a quick word about coronavirus and how you are doing and how you have been keeping busy during this weird time.
I have been cooking a lot, baking a lot. I actually think this lockdown came in with good timing for me actually. Right before it, I went to guitar centre and I stocked up (so to speak) on everything I needed for a home studio. You don’t need much these days to do it so it’s pretty cool. I wasn’t able to record myself before and didn’t have any experience with software until now. I used to go to my friend’s places and make demos and I asked a mate of mine recently to help me make one. He encouraged me to start making my own at home myself. He is a good friend and meant it in the best way – so that’s what I did. I got a computer, monitor, interface and the software. I’ve been busy watching tutorials and I’ve been making my own demos. I think I’ve made twelve demos since the virus started
Is it a case of waking up in the morning, walking into the new home studio room for the day and just seeing what comes out of it?
Yeah, I wake up and open all the blinds because we need sun here as we were running low on sun over here in Alaska but it’s starting to come back. This is now the time when we are all coming out of our winter depression – the snow has just melted in the yard over the last couple of days. It’s a beautiful day outside today and we only have a tiny bit of snow left out there. It’s kind of like watching paint dry but it’s awesome. So, after I wake up, I go out, check what’s happening outside and make some French press coffee. I used to make coffee for a living so I’m a little bit of a coffee snob yeno.
With only two tracks out on Spotify – I am always curious about the emotions artists feel upon releasing their first ever songs. What was it like for you?
I didn’t really have that huge emotional feeling about releasing my first songs. My first single was ‘Erase Me’ and I entered the NPR Tiny Desk Contest with the live version of that track. I think I uploaded the mixed version just for the people at NPR to see that I had material. I uploaded Raedeen, my other favourite track, shortly after just to show them that I have a range. But yeah that was the thought process I had.
All I’ve heard, thus far, are those two songs and another brilliant live track called ‘Mary Alee’, I cannot wait to hear what lies next when you get into the studio properly. They are going to be brilliant.
Making all of these demos and being in charge of my own sound and my own tone has really helped. Now I am getting everything ready to record in a real studio and make some work that I’m really proud of and want to put out. I’m excited for people to hear that.
I’m definitely looking forward to hearing it when it’s done. You have a very unique style and I’m curious to hear who has influenced you along the way? Are there any artists or things that have helped shape your sound?
I think what shaped my writing on ‘Erase Me’ and ‘Raedeen’, which was only like a year and a half ago, was that I only had a small sliver of time afforded to music. I worked a full time job and also had other hobbies, friends and relationships too. Those early songs which were heart-wrenching, painful songs, happened because I had that small amount of time to give to music and had to use the time well. Writing music acted like my own form of therapy and self-care. Since last June, when I quit my full time job and started doing music full time, I now have one hundred percent of my time to give to music and have lots of other emotions I can bring to my song-writing now. It’s been really eye-opening and special and I feel like that’s the biggest change for me.
I have never been to Anchorage, Alaska myself; it’s quite far away from Dublin, where I’m from. What is the music scene like there and have you been doing lots of gigging around your town in your life?
Yeahhh, It has a cool music music scene, a really good arts scene. I played like little art gigs and that kind of stuff. You know, I used to play in bars in my early twenties and did that kind of thing but pubs were probably not suited for my type of music.
I noticed you perform with another Anchorage songwriter, Nick Carpenter (Medium Build). How did you end up meeting him?
Nick is a really really good friend of mine and we met after he saw me playing a show at this nice little bar in town (that doesn’t exist anymore). We didn’t speak then and then a while later I saw him playing a show at this all ages venue (it also doesn’t exist anymore). I liked one of his songs and covered it. We did have some mutual friends also. He asked me if I wanted to play a house show with him for one of our friend’s birthday. The plan was to sit together and go song for song, that kind of thing. We decided to get together earlier that day, you can’t just play a show with someone and not really know them. We got coffee and chatted about how we are both sober of alcohol etc, it was really chill. We’ve been friends and making music together ever since. He is definitely someone who makes me better at my craft and it’s cool because he is going to be there recording the record with me too.
That’s a nice and organic way of meeting each other. As only a listener, I don’t have much insight into how music is made. I automatically think that when two people work brilliantly with each other (like you and Nick), that a record label has matched them together somewhere along the line. I don’t think that is a question but!
Oh Wow, that’s crazy, I’ve never heard that kind of thing before – you mean like One Direction or something!!! We are not nearly as good at dancing!
I’ve seen you have been covering a lot of ground in terms of touring the US recently, has Nick been with you and how have you found the touring lifestyle?
Yeah, Nick is on every tour and we were planning a European Tour. We were going to go to the UK, Germany and Poland etc but as how things are it’s not happening. Hopefully, ‘All Together Now’ festival in Ireland is still happening, it hasn’t been cancelled yet. I’ve only ever been to one festival in my life actually. In terms of going on the road, I had never even been on tour before we went on NPR’s tour. Right from there, we went on tour with ‘Portugal,The Man’ and ‘Courtney Barnett’. We kind of got thrown in.
A lot of musicians I’ve chatted to have different experiences of touring, some positive and some negative. How did you cope on the huge tours you did? What are the differences between headlining and supporting a tour, in terms of dynamic?
Oh yeah, a headline tour is kind of more stressful, just because you worry about people showing up. On a support run, you don’t have this worry as much. There are pros and cons to both. How you find a tour depends on the artist themselves. I’ve seen some musicians quite stressed and others like, Lucy Dacus, who has toured for how long and was so relaxed. I could tell that she knew how to do it well. I think everyone is super different and everyone’s crew is different too. It depends what you want to get out of touring. I think myself and Nick are similar in the way that we just thrive off playing our songs for people who are ready to feel and listen. The songs provided a service to me when I wrote them and made me feel better. It makes me feel better to share them with people too. We have learnt a lot so far. It’s harder for Nick because he is a great musician in his own right and was tasked with supporting me, on a support run.
How did you get around on your US and Canada tour? One of those big band buses? Car?
We went around the US and Canada in a Nissan rouge, it’s like a Honda CRV. It was burnt orange and awesome.
What was your favourite city to play on tour so far?
You know what; it’s hard to think of that because of how crazy touring is. You kind of have to digest the whole tour for like months to like, really think about what you appreciated about it. A few days ago, I was thinking about it and reminiscing. I ended up writing a song about a good night we had on tour, it’s called ‘Chicago’. I demo’d it so I guess I would say Chicago was like one of my favourite stops.
What is next for Quinn Christopherson? (In a musical sense and in general)
I think that I really just want to make a record and release it. Things just take time when you are trying to do it right. I suppose, I can’t speak to too much right now at the moment with all that’s going on. Who knows what will happen next. Today, I am going out rollerblading.
Check out last week’s interview with Billy Nomates here.
I caught up with New York’s Ollie Chanin recently too. He is fresh off a collaboration with Eminem. If you still have some reading left in your eyes, check that one here.
Interviews on the way – Callum Pitt / LANKS / Baiyou
About ‘The Sound Sniffer’
The Sound Sniffer is a music blog which is still only a baby – Founded and run by Kevin Coakley in early 2019. He is a music writer and ghostwriter. ‘The Sound Sniffer’ also runs gigs and showcases in London since Oct 2019. The showcases are picked from artists we find in our submissions inbox.