You may remember me chatting with Chris Watts about a month ago, but if you don’t, I suggest you check out that interview and learn a bit about this amazingly talented musician’s backstory. When we sat down at Frothy on 8th a few weeks ago, we talked a little bit more in depth about his life as an artist, what his music means to him and his future goals.
I always love doing follow-up interviews because they’re like desperately needed sequels to movies that have open-ended endings. I try and conclude all of my interview posts with enough information for you to not only know what the artist is up to next, but to keep up-to-date with them on your own if you’re captivated by their music. That being said, life gets busy and other things take precedence, so follow-ups are a great way for me to remind you of an artist you may have wanted to learn more about and do more than just scratch the surface of their story.
“I think the most challenging thing about juggling my career and family is definitely time management,” Chris explained. “I still work a day job, luckily with a very lenient and understanding company when I’m not on the road. So trying to balance my music career, my full-time job forty hours a week and being a half-ass decent husband all requires a sort of juggling act,” he laughed.
Chris went on to say that without his wife, Kelsey and her patience, he wouldn’t be able to do any of what he does. Working as his own agent, manager, promoter and financial advisor, he wears many hats in addition to the fedora you can always spot him wearing.
Everyone faces obstacles they have to overcome, but musicians especially seem to face new ones all the time. I asked Chris if he had one that when he looks back now, seems so distant.
“It seems like there’s a new hurdle every day,” he laughed, “but seriously, the biggest one was definitely when Kelsey was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t know if I’d ever play music again and for the next six to eight months after that, I really took a break from it.”
I was able to see an entirely different side of Chris when we were talking about that time in his life. His usual carefree spirit seemed to hide behind a reflective curtain. When you love someone there’s never enough time you can spend with them and while it’s clear Chris’ love for music is strong, it was easy to see that his love for his wife prevails over everything else.
“The good thing about the time I off I took to spend with her is that I was productive during it and did a lot of writing. The songs weren’t even necessarily about what we were going through, but I was inspired to be reflective and channel my feelings, which was a personal record because I dug so deep.”
You know how they say “America runs on Dunkin?” Well, Nashville runs on co-writes and the last time Chris and I spoke, he recounted how it was very “un-Nashville” of him to have never done one yet. So I wanted to know if that had happened since our last interview.
“It hasn’t happened yet,” he laughed. “I just got back from the Songwriter’s Festival in Key West and Nashville sort of invades the island because it’s sponsored by BMI. I met a ton of people there and that’s obviously what you say when you go your separate ways. Like, ‘yeah we should write together sometime’ but there are people that get off on co-writing simply for what it is and I’m just not one of those people.” I appreciated the realness. “I want to find the right people if I’m ever going to write with someone. It’s such a personal experience. It’s like, you wouldn’t want someone else to paint a portrait of your mom. You know her best. I guess that’s the greatest way I can explain it.” And I got it. I understood and respected that Chris felt so personally about his art he didn’t just want to share the process of creating it with anyone.
Chris recently had a birthday/ album release party here in town that he says opened up some doors for booking, which means you may have the chance to catch him live a whole lot more.
“To say you packed City Winery holds a lot of weight,” he said. “All venues just care about the type of audience you can bring. There’s also been a lot more attention on the album and lots of good press.”
The most rewarding part of making music for Chris though, doesn’t have to do with the press or attention, it’s about writing such a personal song that means so much to him and seeing at least one other person connect with it.
“It’s the effect you can see your music have on someone. The connection between your creation of art and someone else. That’s what’s most rewarding to me.”
As for the future, I asked Chris where he hopes to be in two years:
“Alive,” he answered. “Seriously, to just be alive and surrounded by family, friendships, my wife; relationships mean so much more to me than anything else. Music could end tomorrow for me, because of any circumstance, and if it does I want to be surrounded by what and who really makes me happy.”