When Chris Wills sings the first chorus of “Carry You Home”, the protagonist of our blockbuster romance is walking away from the security bag check line. Passing by strangers at the airport, wondering if any have felt the heartache they’re feeling, lugging their baggage across the cold decorative flooring.
But then Doe Paoro, renown singer and shape-shifting LA artist, enters the scene on the second verse, adapting her signature sultriness to earnest yearning. With no time to second guess, our protagonist quickens his pace to a slow jog back into the direction of the lover he left behind moments earlier. All that independence via self-discovery hoopla can wait, for by the time Wills and Doe Paoro join each other on the second chorus, the two lovers in our movie are smiling through tears and running full speed into one another’s arms.
Now here is the reason why songs that make us feel this way are important, especially now, aka the year that can break up any happy couple. For these few moments, while the stacked acoustic guitars and belting promises of “Carry You Home” spin these two lovers inches off the ground, be it Cupid’s arrows on wires or the centrifugal force of their embrace, we get to neglect the dregs of life as we know it in 2020.
Why? Because Chris Wills chooses love. (Albeit for a brief 2:43 seconds)
And because Wills chooses love, we get to believe in magic. The magic that replaces our pesky sciatica with the kind of Chris Hemsworth strength needed to spin our lovers off the ground for the extent of a chorus/bridge/chorus. Mind you, I’m well aware through this saccharine sentiment it will all inevitably end in divorce and multiple holidays for the kids, but for now, for the 2:43 seconds we blast “Carry You Home” from our designated quarantine-pout-pads, we can spin like happy little love tops sparkling in PG-13 magic.
We caught up with Chris to learn more about his big move and the magic of the small world that is recording music in Los Angeles…
“Carry You Home” has a wonderfully triumphant feel to it. The kind of song that gets played at the end of a good romance movie. Did you set out to write that kind of tune from the get-go or did the production evolve into that?
I think everything just evolved into that. I didn’t set out to write any song intentionally. It just sort of happened. I think the triumphant feeling comes through because before I wrote this song I felt really disconnected from myself but then I had a realization that realigned me. So I did feel triumphant in the sense that I felt I lost my way then came back stronger and with a new understanding and perspective. And it’s funny that you mention triumphant because I think production wise, Louie Diller is such a musical guy, he gets all these things without us always having to use words to describe them. He just gets on the song’s wavelength. I’ve never seen that before. Also didn’t know that was entirely possible. So again, there was no plan, it just happened as it happens. As it wants to be and we were receptive to it. And hey, if any music supervisors need some good end of the movie romance music, I’m your guy!
You have another song where you speak of coming to LA with nowhere to land. Can you elaborate on this journey?
Sure! I had essentially had enough of pretending to be someone I wasn’t. So I left, I packed up my car, and drove from NJ to L.A.. I didn’t do any research, all I knew is that people who make real records live there and I wanted to make a real record. Which is why I didn’t care about dropping out of school, not having a job or a credit card. I didn’t know anyone and I lived in my car, my only real work experience was painting houses, but I just wanted to see who I was, double down on myself and make a record for the joy of making music. I never made a real record before and I wanted to see what I could do once I convinced some people to go into the studio with me.
How has LA influenced your songwriting compared to the place you left?
I don’t know if it has in any direct way that would be different from anywhere else that I lived. The songs come from within first as a result of my observation and experience. But these observations and experiences can come from any location because they are just life things that happen everywhere on the planet. If anything, I think being in L.A. has given me the confidence to go deeper and be myself. It’s also inspired and motivated me to really refine and put my whole heart and soul into every note of music. Seeing some of the artists and acts up close who do this and having developed friendships with people who make amazing art, it just makes me want to go deeper within my own self and life. They’ve also inspired me to look at the whole picture, not just musically but visually too.
Tell us about how the collaboration with Doe Paoro came about?
I’m just a fan of Doe Paoro’s. Been for years, seen her live and all that. When I was tracking the song, I realized if we placed this song in the context of a duet, a romantic relationship, it may be more impactful. Putting your trust in yourself, connecting with one’s self, I feel a lot of that gets sussed in romantic relationships but it applies to any context. Those themes resonated with me in some of Doe Paoro’s music so I thought, “Hey, I love her music, her voice, I think she may be down so why not ask?” So I just emailed her with the song, explained all of this, and she very graciously was down. I’ve never heard anyone else sing a song of mine which was a trip, especially that it was hers and she’s so cool as a musician and a person. She also knew some of the same people as the producer Louie Diller, so, small world in the music community once again!
How has your motivation to create been affected in 2020?
Yeah that’s a good question! It’s definitely brought to the forefront a lot of unaddressed concerns! I’m a young man so maybe I’ll blame some of my naiveté on that. But you always expect things to go as planned or as expected especially when you put in the work. But this shows that maybe that’s not the case, you can’t really expect anything. With that in mind, you may ask yourself, “Why do anything then? I may not be rewarded or live out my expectations.” So this stumped me for a while! But I’m just focusing on doing things because they are what I like to do and they bring enjoyment to my life and others. Regardless of all that other stuff.
Any tools you’ve used to keep the fires burning for yourself in these uncertain times?
I’m not going to pretend the fire is always burning! The tides rise and fall again. The moon waxes and wanes. Winter and spring. I accept these things. So it’s cool if it’s out or burning bright. What helps is when I take the pressure off of myself and go do something I like. Maybe that’s to write a song or not. Maybe I’ll hit a tennis ball or go to the skatepark. I just do something I like to do for no other reason than that.
What has been the biggest inspiration during this time? If you had to quarantine with this artist, what would you ask them?
Ex-NBA coach Phil Jackson! I read his book ‘Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success’ and man, that’s the river I want to drink from and live next to. “Chop wood carry water,” so inspiring to hear. I like how he talked about playing team basketball, playing the game with love and playing the game the correct way. Being in the moment and that winning happens as a natural result of all these things. Putting your ego aside, the media, money, etc. I don’t know what I would ask him but I think Rick Rubin should do the asking on his Broken Record podcast. But more related to the question, the band Lo Moon has been hitting me in a certain kind of way lately. Looking forward to their album #2 whenever they see fit!
CONNECT WITH CHRIS WILLS
photos / courtesy of the artist
story / Chris Hess