One of the more unknown acts in the city of Pittsburgh, but known nationally, is local musician Wise Blood, a.k.a. Chris Laufman. Chris is only 22 years of age, yet has made his mark on the scene signing to major label Dovecote Records. He also has celebrity admirers including Ellen Paige, who posted his video on her Facebook page, and Drew Barrymore (which we will get to). His performance name comes from a book written by Flannery O’Connor, which is one of his favorites. He is a self-described devoted Catholic, but sometimes contradicts this.
Chris composes sample based pop, soul, hip-hop, heavy beats into electro-gospel tracks. He likes to call it ‘future music’ which isn’t far off. His first EP entitled ‘+’ was given away for free via his bandcamp site and quickly gained plenty of praise from such publishers as Fader to Pitchfork as an ‘artist to watch’. With the national exposure labels soon came calling trying to sign Chris. He chose major label Dovecote Records this past year and is scheduled to release his first EP in August.
While the former Central Catholic High School grad composes music on his own, he fleshes out his sound in a live setting using two other musicians. Watching Chris play live is something to behold. He feverishly attacks his lyrics in a delivery best described as rapping. A live drummer plays the intense beats while a mixer brings in the samples. Chris is in constant motion often affronting the crowd by jumping into the audience and pulling his shirt over his head. It’s a performance that you wouldn’t expect when listening to his music, but just blows your mind when actually attending.
I sat down with Chris this past week to outline his meteoritic ride this past year. He didn’t agree with that assertion stating he has been frustrated with the process of putting out his first record. He has learned a lot about the industry and management, where before he was admittedly naïve. “It’s great that I have continued to rise and not fallen off the map like other artists.” I asked how he felt he was able to do this. “My live show reputation has really blown up. I have great attendance anywhere I go.” He told me how Drew Barrymore came out to his show in Los Angeles this past week. “I knew she was going to be at the show but I didn’t see her. So, I gave her a shout before our set was over. She was upstairs and came backstage afterwards. We hung out the rest of the night.”
The one thing that really strikes you about Chris is how grounded he is at such a young age. I ask him if he sees himself doing this the rest of his life. “If I am going to make a lot of money I think music is going to do it. My first LP is either going to allow me to do this or break me. If it’s successful, I can see my name gaining recognition so I am able to produce others. I feel fit for it.” I ask when his first LP is coming out. He says probably not until next year. His first EP for Devote Records entitle These Wings was released early this month. He sounds frustrated at the length of time it took to release, but understands this is part of the business. Next up for Chris is a month long European tour supported by XL Records, his Euro label.
Chris has performed locally twice since breaking out onto the scene at Stage AE and the Southside. He is scheduling some local dates in the coming months.
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Daniel Cooper has resided in Pittsburgh for over 10 years. He enjoys a wide variety of music and arts. On most weekends he can be found enjoying the public parks of the county.