Singer-songwriter Ryan Chatelain’s music is a catchy and emotional blend of pop, rock and country influences.
“When I write a song, I want it to have character,” the New Orleans native says. “I want it to make you laugh or think or even bum you out. But above all else, I want it to stick with you for a while. That's my goal anyway.”
Chatelain began writing music in high school. By college, songwriting was a personal outlet for him, a form of therapy or a way to entertain college friends while sitting around drinking beer. But with a collection of songs mounting, Chatelain soon set out for the stage, first hitting New Orleans’ open mic scene.
“I grew tired of singing to my walls,” Chatelain says. “I had no aspirations of becoming famous. I just wanted to be heard.”
Before long, he was playing at some of the city’s most famous venues, including Tipitina’s, the Howlin’ Wolf and Carrollton Station, to name a few. His songs received radio air play in Louisiana, and he performed on TV in New Orleans.
Chatelain eventually moved to New York City and performed at top clubs such as the Knitting Factory and Pianos.
The stories on Chatelain’s debut album, “Public School, Fast Food and Blue Jeans,” include a little of everything. The opening track, “Poor Man,” speaks about the different worlds of an affluent woman and a man of modest income seen through their relationship. “The Boy I Used to Be” addresses in a somber tone the loss of childlike innocence and joy that accompanies adulthood.
Chatelain’s own musical transition from a kid who started playing guitar in junior high to an adult has included more than a few changes.
“Before, when I was writing, I would try to write songs to fit a certain genre,” says Chatelain, who lists Ryan Adams and the Old 97’s among his biggest influences. “Now my attitude is that I’ll just write whatever comes out. I’m not so much concerned what people classify it as.”
Chatelain is currently working on his second album.