February 5, 2023

Chris Gatton: successful musical artist and Capital graduate

Chris Gatton is a singer songwriter who lives in Columbus, Ohio and who describes his musical style as “whimsical, but deadly serious” (a phrase that is also in his Instagram bio). 

According to Gatton, that phrase is his “own attempt to capture the playfulness of the writing, but also the heaviness of the content.” He tries to “evoke that edge between playful imagination and real depth.” 

When asked what sort of genre his music would fall under, Gatton replied: “I have struggled with the question of genre, but I think it would be fit to call it something like indie pop, indie alternative or jazz.” 

Chris Gatton graduated in 2010 from Capital University with a Bachelor of Arts and Music (guitar focused) and a minor in Creative Writing. He directly credits three Capital University professors as partial contributors to his current success in the music industry. 

Stan Smith is a guitar professor for the Conservatory of Music, and Gatton described how: “Stan was able to identify both my strengths and the areas that I needed to grow as a guitarist and as a musician, and he did it in a way that still made me feel encouraged and supported. I felt like he could see my potential, and he taught me with that in mind.”

Dr. Dina Lentsner is a music composition and theory professor for the Conservatory of Music whom Gatton also considered to be a mentor: “She was able to reframe a lot of my musical and artistic interests into a different context. Her background came from this long European legacy of pedagogy that also worked its way into 20th century art and music, and then into more modern music. That really influenced my aesthetic as well.”

Dr. Kevin Griffith is a creative writing and poetry professor in the English department, and Gatton describes him as: “incredibly sharp and very intelligent. Kevin could always just meet me where I was at and help me get to the next level in my writing, and that really shaped me as a writer. Kevin also introduced me to a lot of my poetic influences, like William Stafford and James Wright.” 

After graduating from Capital University, Gatton partook in various different career pathways, including teaching guitar, audio production, applying to graduate school and film composing before finally deciding to fully pursue a career as a singer songwriter: “I think I was 32 and still doing a little bit of [film composing], but I was just unsure as to how I was going to start [writing songs again].” 

Then, in the summer of 2020, he met Dave King (drummer and founding member of The Bad Plus). Gatton sang for him the song “Adelai,” which was written nine years earlier. Dave was really enthusiastic about Gatton’s voice, writing and guitar playing. He encouraged Gatton to keep writing songs; and in the fall of 2020, after hearing the new songs Gatton had written, Dave suggested making an album with him at the production helm and behind the drum set along with his collaborators in Minneapolis.

“My Favorite Razor’s Edge” is Chris Gatton’s debut album. Photo by Nick Fancher and edited by Huckle Buck Design.

Gatton’s debut album, called “My Favorite Razor’s Edge,” is available on Apple Music, Spotify, as a digital album or on vinyl. According to Chris Gatton’s website, the album was recorded and mixed by Brett Bullion, mastered by Huntley Miller, and features producer and drummer Dave King (from The Bad Plus) and bassist Erik Fratzke (Happy Apple).

“My Favorite Razor’s Edge” includes eleven songs, with the two most popular songs being “Little Dragon Girl” and “Ghost Boy.” The title for the album came from the lyrics to “Little Dragon Girl,” which is a very poetic song (as are all of the other songs in the album). 

Gatton wrote two of the songs on the album, “Baby, My Baby” and “Bundle Up, My Little Darling,” for his two daughters before they were born. Both of those songs, alongside “Aldelai” and “Boy In The Clouds,” make up the older songs included on the album. The oldest piece of writing on the album is the chorus for “Cares,” which Gatton actually wrote during his time at Capital University.

Even though the album is a mix of both old and new, all of the songs have a consistent, unique sound that beautifully ties them all together. 

Make sure to check out Chris Gatton’s debut album and follow him on social media for more updates on his upcoming performances and music releases. 

  • Trinity is a senior English Literature, Creative Writing and Spanish triple-major. She enjoys all things humanities and loves to learn about different cultures.

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