An Interview & Mini Review With The Promising Laid Back Singer-Songwriter, Carl Stokking
Posted On 27 Oct 2014
Tag: Above and Beyond, Albert King, Ayla, Bob Dylan, Bonnaroo, Born Under A Bad Sign, Bruce Springsteen, Carl Stokking, CarlSound, Close to Good, Corks Lounge, David Bowie, David Gilmour, Kirk Hammett, Knocking On Heaven's Door, Let's Dance, Megaman III, Metallica, Mustang Sally, Phish, Sherman Oaks, The Blockley Pourhouse, The New Deal, Trey Anastasio, Umphrey's McGee
On Thursday, October 16th, I had the pleasure of seeing the very promising singer-songwriter, Carl Stokking perform at the Sherman Oaks Corks Lounge. Stokking has only been in LA a very short time but he has already found his footing.
He entertained a small but mighty crowd with a few original numbers as well as several covers including Bob Dylan’s “Knocking On Heaven’s Door”.
There’s indeed something so lovely about a man who can sing, play the guitar and really own the stage. Not to mention that Carl is an incredibly kind and friendly guy. I am not sure if it was the casual atmosphere or not, but several times, he asked what the score was of the hockey game going on.
While I am a relatively new fan of Carl’s, I look forward to hearing him play again and following his promising career.
To learn more about Carl, check out the following All Access interview with him:
Can you remember the moment that you decided you wanted to be a musician?
Well I’m the son of 2 very impressive, classically trained cellists, so growing up, there was always tone in our home. I must say though that when my parents bought me my first guitar at age 10, I started having a lot of fun mimicking guitar solos of Kirk Hammett, Trey Anastasio and David Gilmour. So I suppose that would be the time I chose to be a musician, but looking back now I think really music must have chosen me, as corny as that may sound (haha). I was always really good at being able to listen to something and play it pretty quickly. It’s that genetic music-ear I’m told.
The fun really began however when I bought my first Jamman looper. I was able to momentarily record different layers of sound and after many hours, I would compose songs from it. An art I’ve found is the foundation to most of my favorite composed songs. I loop chords, basslines and beats and create kind of a one man band experience, to which I would solo on for hours, my favorite. My father is one of the greatest soloists in orchestral sound today, and I’m proud that we have that quality in common.
What are a few musicians that really influenced you to be a performer? Do those same artists still inspire you today?
Well, I never really left the music room too often, making music was always kind of my own secret, sideline hobby. I was busy playing jailbreak, hockey and getting in and out of trouble with friends throughout middle and high school. When I saw bands like Metallica and Phish perform live however, I felt a different sense of being alive, and could totally connect with thousands of people to that same sound, and that was really cool. I thought to myself, “so this is what you do with it, I can do that!!” One thing lead to another and I was booking shows, ultimately at the encouragement of friends of family. I started putting together pieces that I thought they might like to hear and that I knew I’d want to show them, and I think we all had a great time just hanging out doing our thing. This realization is constantly solidified with every live show I see. The epicness of my dream however didn’t truly come to vision until 2009. I took a road trip with friends in a winnebago to attend Bonnaroo. On the last night, we saw Phish rocking like they’ve never rocked before. Right before set break, Trey brought up his childhood idol, Bruce Springsteen, and they played “Mustang Sally”. I knew I was witnessing something legendary, but I also knew I was wasting time. Luckily for me, I was already in one of the greatest rock bands back in Philadelphia, Close To Good.
After college, you were in the band, Close To Good, in Philadelphia. Explain that experience. Why did that band ultimately dissolve?
Close To Good formed shortly after I moved to the city. It was originally a close friend of mine on bass, an outstanding drummer and myself on guitar. We played mostly my original songs but threw in some covers like David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and Albert King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign”. The bass player was replaced and a keyboard/synth player was added. We rocked venues all over Philly, making a home base at The Blockley Pourhouse and gained a pretty good following. We created and recorded 2 original albums and we also covered an entire Nintendo video game score, Megaman III. We were partly known for our vast video game covers and I still listen to them from time to time. The members in this band were some of the greatest musicians I’ve ever played with, there’s no measure for what they unknowingly taught me. When I made the choice to make music my life however, a lot of things had to change for me. Once I knew I wanted to travel the world while playing guitar, I left CTG.
Ultimately, I realized that the way in which I loved to make music differed quite a bit from the routine we as a foursome had fallen into, and because I knew I would be leaving home to seek adventure, I left quickly, so as not to hold any of us back.
Why was your trip to Hawaii so important to your musical career?
When I make music, it’s a direct reflection of my experiences with life. In my mind, I sit back and relax and enjoy the things I have seen and been privileged enough to be a part of, and let those feelings guide the music through me. I decided to dedicate the next chapter in my life to travel and sharing my music with as many as I could in the way I would find the most joy doing so. I wanted to go somewhere amazing and just live and experience people, sights and everything else available, a place obviously I had never been before. I wanted to see what it would do to me, how it would change my outlook on life, and hear what kind of music would come as a result of these changes. When I was in Oahu, I found love and adventure. I met complete strangers whom at the time I put all my faith into and vice-versa. I leaped from a plane 12,500 feet above the north shore. I swam with sea turtles in a tropical rain on Waikiki beach virtually alone. I had a conversation with a homeless man who referred to himself as “houseless”, because with the sky above, we all have a home. This great man also had one of the finest sense of humors I’ve ever seen, matched perfectly with experience and wisdom, a lot like my father. I also found out that I have a weird obsession with smelling wild flowers.
Most of the time, I felt like Aladdin just running around the island in my board shorts smelling flowers, jumping in and out of the ocean and seeing a lot of smiling faces, the only issue was that I just couldn’t find a quick-thinking monkey to snag apples for me. I also picked up the occasional pieces of trash and threw them away, because you must “be the change you want to see in the world”, and I saw others doing the same :). In just a few days, it felt like home. I made a choice to follow a new direction in life doing the thing that I love the most, and what many have told me is a natural gift. Exploring the wonders of my own existence in Hawaii as a guitarist and love seeker, I found I have never been happier, and that was enough confirmation for me to continue on this way, for now.
How do you think your particular sound is unique to everything else out there?
The sound I’m looking to create is very similar to trance music, but most of that music is created digitally. I’m looking to perform this type of music however with a full live band. I’m searching for a drummer who loves to play 4 to the floor dance beats for very long periods of time. A bass player to hold down the groove and explore the neck of the guitar discovering various types of lines. A keyboard and synth player with the imagination for beautiful atmospheric tones and melodies, and rhythmic comping. But most importantly, I’d prefer this music to be discovered through countless hours of playing. The melodies, riffs and solos that I intend to add to this canvas will make the sound very unique I believe. There is great music out there with this type of sound: Above and Beyond, The New Deal, Ayla, but I haven’t heard any other groups that have a guitar lead displaying an echo/distortion tone on top, there’s no trance “Trey”. I’d like to make a dance/trance jam band and join the fans of jam bands and club music in one place, so I figured it was either LA or NY, but LA has a beach and warm weather.
How has LA been treating you since you moved here?
Everybody in LA is very nice and definitely enthusiastic, not to mention accomodating. I’ve met some wonderful people so far, very committed to their careers, or dreams. With everyone that I meet, it seems they all know someone of great accomplishment, and they have a good standing relationship with them. It’s also pretty cool going to the grocery store and seeing famous actors who played characters in movies that I grew up with and love. I currently live with 2 great actors and I’ve occasionally lent a hand here and there with some production situations, recording and filming, and I’ve learned so much about what goes into the job it’s kind of blowing my mind. I have a new found respect for the work ethic they all display day after day, it’s inspiring as an artist.
Tell me about CarlSound. Why not just use your own name?
The name Carlsound is a name I chose to represent my new direction in life, driven by music. However with the launch of my new website Carlstokking.com, I think it will create a lot less confusion. It was just a way for me to make a statement to everyone including myself, that everything I did ultimately was going to go into my music, as inspiration, collaboration or performance.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something funny that’s taken place with you (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
My nephew had just recently been born, my first. I was holding him in my arms with my right hand holding up his head, and I was smiling at him, waiting for him to see me. When I noticed his eyes lock on to mine, and he smiled, and I knew that right then and there he was seeing me for the first time, I was overwhelmed with a newfound sense of love and joy. He is all smiles all the time, and I can’t wait to see him.
Living or dead, who would you love to work with and why?
There’s a Canadian trio called The New Deal and the music they make resembles very closely the same kind of sound I’m looking to combine with my guitar melodies and riffs. They’re exceptional musicians and I’ve spent many hours in the basement playing along to all their songs. It’s that dream that every musician has, “bring me up on stage to play with you, I brought my own pick”!! Umphrey’s McGee is another band I’d love to play with. Those guys have moments in their songs where they make some serious dance-rock and I’d love to shred with them.
Is there anything in particular that you’d like people to take away from listening to your music?
I want people to feel good about themselves in everything that they do. After listening to my music, I’d feel sublimely happy if they felt better than they did before, felt excited about what they were about to do next, that’s my dream. I want them to leave all their worries behind and have some fun. There are moments everyday that I feel a roller coaster of emotions and as a result I think my music has a lot of variety, which is why you might find it’s hard to pin me down to one genre currently. If my listeners can find joy with what I make, then ultimately I’ve “made it”.