LA-based singer Chris Wills took the plunge into songwriting after moving to LA and opting to solely focus on creativity. Emerging from a phase of feeling like he had plateaued, the move felt like an entry point towards a new life – one that embraced making music and taking on challenges, as brave as jumping from a plane. In his new song, “Pyro,” Wills reflects on the experience of looking back, playing with fire, and dealing with a sensitive situation.
“It seems like my subconscious mind picks up all these things throughout the day,” Chris shared, “eventually spits it out in song form, then I listen back and go, ‘Ohhh that’s what was going on. That’s why I’ve felt that way for the past 9 months.'”
Chris Wills chatted to LadyGunn and spoke about embracing music, the thrill of skydiving and his humble beginnings as a 12 year old musician.
What was your inspiration behind the song ‘Pyro’?
A fireman friend of mine sent me a video of a school’s dumpster on fire. This was happening to different schools all over town and they suspected it was the same kid – someone who obviously had pyromania. Simultaneously I just moved into my own apartment and a girl I was trying to get over texted me asking if I could come over and help her with some things. My friend Louie Diller, who produced this track and co-wrote the song with me, gave me all this great advice about the situation with this girl and I would have felt like such a jerk if I went back to her place. I knew I should’ve said no but I kept thinking of this pyro kid, sympathized with him, answered her text, then the lyrics wrote themselves pretty quickly.
What was the process of creating your first body of music like?
I wouldn’t call this my first body of music because, like a lot of musicians, I’ve been writing and recording songs for my imaginary albums since I was 12 and performing them for an imaginary audience in my room. But as far as moving to a city where people make real records and getting to make a real record with others, yes this is my first time. It felt like the experiences before this were leading up to this record. And it’s an absolute dream hearing the songs back the way I imagined them.
How has the experience of creating music made you grow as a person?
If I pick up the guitar and it’s not happening, it’s usually a sign that I have to go for a walk and get my head right. Writing is also interesting. It seems like my subconscious mind picks up all these things throughout the day, eventually spits it out in song form, then I listen back and go, “Ohhh that’s what was going on. That’s why I’ve felt that way for the past 9 months.”
You mentioned that you moved to LA after your life ‘plateaued’. Can you tell us a bit more about this period and why LA felt like the right place for you to go?
I actually have another single coming out soon that gets more into ‘why LA specifically,’ but I was at a point in my life where I was either going to do it or I wasn’t. The thought of not doing it made me sick. I started doing challenging things to get in the habit of being uncomfortable, such as skydiving. Which was so horrifying for me that I passed out as soon as I jumped out of the plane. As I was free falling, the instructor was slapping my face trying to wake me up. But I wanted to reinforce how to shut my mind off and do it. Ultimately moving to LA felt like the right thing to do so I did it.
How did you come to start accepting yourself and feel brave enough to make a record?
Is there another option? I sort of stopped caring. Who has time to care what others think? Making records, that’s what I do. I don’t have time to be someone else.
Do you have any habits or activities that stimulate your creativity?
I like to close my eyes and remember what it feels like to be a kid without homework on the weekend. When I let go of the extraneous stuff, relax, and enjoy life, creativity it is always there.
Is there anything in your daily routine that you can’t live without?
I remind myself that I’m alive, on the planet, breathing air. I think of how the earth looks from space. Periodically throughout the day I like to take a moment to feel my heart beat and focus on how my pulse feels in my finger tips. Then enjoy the weight of my body. Even if I only have this space for a few minutes a day, nothing beats it.
CONNECT WITH CHRIS WILLS
photos / Mallory Turner
story /Abi Buller