Christopher Paul Stelling

An interview with singer-songwriter, Christopher Paul Stelling
by Mike Huberty
June 2013

Christopher Paul Stelling Live

Christopher Paul Stelling Live

A fingerpicking folk troubadour from Florida, Christopher Paul Stelling has been touring the country on his latest album, False Cities, released in May. He appears as part of the Shitty Barn Sessions in Spring Green, Wisconsin, on July 17th.

MI: So, what inspired you to start playing in the first place?
CPS: Honestly, Kurt (Cobain). Before that, as a kid, guitar culture was already everywhere, obviously, The Beatles, Beach Boys, and 70s singer songwriters, but they were all boring, and seemed inauthentic to a young me. So that started it, but then everything associated with that seemed an imitation as well…and so I got into old country blues, and folk music, not “folk music”, but ya know, old stuff. And not as something just to imitate, everyone in that world had their own style within the genre… I like things a little feral, with mange and teeth.

MI: Who were some of the artists that got you into music in the first place?
CPS: I had a tape of Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild”. I listened to that a lot. I grew up in Daytona Beach and there were lots of motorcycles there.

MI: What was the thing that struck you the most about religious and mythological imagery and finding a way to put it into folk music?
CPS: I didn’t really find a way to make this happen. It wasn’t a plan, or a method. I grew up around these things, this language… This way of trying to make sense of our world, and it found its way back out.

MI: What would you recommend as the song to listen to for people who are listening to your album for the first time?
CPS: I think any random one might be just fine… start with track one, It’s called “Brick x Brick”.

MI: What inspired that song and why do you think it’s perfect for people to listen to for their first Christopher Paul Stelling experience?
CPS: I think “the experience” takes more than one song, honestly. If I didn’t think so there would be no point in writing more!

MI: Do you see a difference between coffeehouse and festival crowds?
CPS: I don’t know that I’ve played many stereotypical festivals or coffee houses. After of hundreds and hundreds of shows I know better than to make assumptions on the way things might go. Often times one can find the best audience in the place they least expect to and the worst where they would expect to find the bes so many variables go into connecting with your audience. I’m just glad when people are trying to listen.

MI: What inspired the title of the new record?
CPS: It’s called False Cities. I’m still figuring all that out.

MI: What song do you think best represents you from the new album?
CPS:: “Every Last Extremist”.  That’s up to you though, give it a spin.  It just kind of happened, that’s how the good things happen.

MI: What’s been your favorite show so far?
CPS: I had a great show recently in Belgium, the first that comes to mind in a town called Moorslede. The other was in Middleburg, Holland. It was my first time in Europe, and these were both exceptional shows,  great times. I guess you had to be there.

MI: What are your plans into the Fall?
CPS: I’ve got a fairly dense schedule until then and I’m going to take some time off in August to do some recording and recovering. Drop out for a few weeks, but try to keep busy. Then, I think I’ll have some shows in the fall. I tend to keep busy, at least I hope to.

MI: A lot of your press talks about your live show being where you shine, how would you describe it?
CPS: I’m just doing my best to get lost in it.  It’s somewhat exhausting, and I love that.  I think I scare people at times but, that’s a nice filter.

MI: Any parting shots?
CPS: Look into the music, if you like it, order a vinyl or something. I’ll package it up myself and send it right to your door. I’ll be so grateful you did.

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