Quinn Christopherson on his lyrical storytelling and selling out his first Brooklyn show


by Jake Goldbas

On Tuesday, June 25th Quinn Christopherson will headline at Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Baby’s All Right is a music venue bar at South 6th Street, near Bedford Ave. Williamsburg is hosting the large-scale Beyond the Streets Art Fair – based on graffiti –  and the vibe is a bustling center of hipsters and styles that will set trends for a long time.

“We are very excited to have Quinn on Tuesday,” said Tom Moore, Head of Production at Baby’s All Right. “It’s our first time doing the Tiny Desk Concert. We think it’s going to be busy and a lot of fun.”

Christopherson won the NPR Tiny Desk Contest for 2019 and hails from Anchorage, Alaska. His singles, including “Erase Me,” and “Mary Alee,” are passionate lyrical stories about people in his life, and often have a slow build. In his Tiny Desk Concert, Christopherson played, “You Told Me,” about a friend, and “Glenn,” about his father. The music shows leadership in its originality—none of his released tracks have drums or autotuned vocals. His Native Alaskan heritage lends heartfelt authenticity. In parallel, Christopherson represents the burgeoning Anchorage music scene and was years ahead of a sobriety movement now picking up national attention.

When asked about his ancestry, Quinn said: “I am indigenous, that’s my heritage. I am Ahtna Athabaskan and Inupiaq. My father is Inupiaq. I grew up listening to my grandmother being a storyteller. And so that’s where my songwriting comes from. I’m a songwriter because I learned from her storytelling.”

Sparse arrangements and Christopherson’s accent, from Alaska, sounds something like Conor Oberst, also known as Bright Eyes. Christopherson’s blues-inflected guitar music and lyrics have deep benthic melancholy. They sound a bit like indie darlings Alt J or the Antlers, such as Alt J’s song, “Breezeblocks,” which talks about losing a loved one. The idea is these indie songs can access a greater, truer emotional palette than mainstream popular music. “You Told Me,” sounds like a song about a friend who overdoses on drugs or alcohol, maybe the opiates crisis. This intimacy of lyrics extends to his hometown, as Anchorage, has a lending culture that’s so open, Christopherson didn’t need to buy a guitar until going on tour. Finally, Christopherson’s charisma means he has a smile matching his sense of humor, which makes strange ovals, grimaces, and contortions when he hits all of the right notes.

The video for the song, “Erase Me,” was filmed at the Anchorage Museum and has 193 thousand views on YouTube. “Erase Me,” tells how the artist transitioned and deals with the problems of sexism, misogyny, and homophobia. The song is liberating and powerful in its howl and is certain to be an inspiration to hundreds of thousands. 

Christopherson’s Fender Telecaster guitar is played with reverb and has surf rock lineage. Christopherson uses his lead guitar player Nick Carpenter to double vocals on choruses, which gives emphasis and spice to the proceedings. “I met Nick at one of our mutual friend’s listening parties, at her house. Ever since then we’ve been playing together,” said Christopherson. The songs are not afraid of minor chords. Instead of using these chords for anxiety as in dance music, he uses the chords to express depression and menace. Over the bridge, which in pop music can be spoken over, Christopherson sometimes breaks the fourth wall to talk to the audience, which is cool.

In dealing with dark themes for dark times, Christopherson has a courageous, straightforward, and honest perspective, with a wry sense of humor, representing an outsider’s hopeful look at alienation and depression. When asked about this, the artist just laughs and says, “Oh yeah, Alaska is cold and dark!” When he always comes out on top, at the end of the song and the story, the listener feels the same way. When Christopherson sings, the tragedies and transgressions are somehow bearable in their realism. He brings fresh water and breathable air.

When asked about Alaska’s affinity for Canada, where QUIP Magazine is headquartered, Christopherson’s warm-hearted sincerity was on full display. “Yeah, we drive through Canada all the time! How else are we going to get anywhere? We need a passport for sure. I’m heading to Toronto on tour later this summer, and I’m looking forward to making new memories there.” QUIP will be there for that success when he does.

Photo Credit: Ash Adams

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