Musician/creative director Gatton has laid out the groundwork to embark on an ambitious endeavor: cultivate the concept that “we as human beings are more the same than we are different” in everything that he creates. To achieve this, the visionary is working tirelessly to bridge the gap between the conceptual visual realm and the music realm. This in part means Gatton features a fresh perspective on how the world could be viewed.
Over the past few years, Gatton has conducted interviews with people all around the country. His mission statement states: “Among many of life’s ironies, one of the greatest is the lie that physical or cultural difference among humans make unity impossible. As of now, my curiosity-driven life has allowed me to interview 74 people. Therapists, Influencers, Dancers, Homeless, Doctors, Singers, Students, Widows, and Professors are a few of the different people I interviewed. From keen observance of each of their stories, I recognized that the common theme was this: though we have different upbringings and traumas, goals and setbacks, appearances, and tendencies, we all long to love and to be loved and to belong. I believe when you can allow this concept to truly shift your perspective, it makes space for things like empathy and forgiveness and unity. I strive to reveal our shared humanity in everything that I create, journey with me.”
Through this, the musician has in part brought what he took from these sessions is his latest single, “Heroes, Hookers, Pastors, and Pilots.” Here’s Gatton on the track: “‘Heroes, Hookers, Pastors, and Pilots’ is an invitation to journey through my personal discovery of our shared humanity. In the first verse, the song starts with the recognition of how beneficial it was for me to be told I was not enough because it forced me to search deeper in the tendencies of the people that have hurt me and recognize a common theme… we all long for belonging. In the chorus, the song quickly transitions to become a letter written to ‘the heroes, hookers, pastors, pilots, murderers, and those who would never lie’ encouraging them to recognize that we are more the same than different because at the end of the day… everybody cries.”
What can you recall was your earliest memory of wanting to be a musician?
I remember binge-watching youtube videos of old legends performances. Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Dolly Parton. I was enamored with the idea that these people could stand confidently on a stage in front of thousands and captivate an audience. Their sureness of self and masterful way of executing their craft was fascinating to me.
What inspired you to go around the US and interview hundreds of people?
The inspiration behind interviewing all the people that I have stemmed from a season of great loss. I had lost many things that I tied my identity to and when that happened, it forced me to get really curious as to who I was and how to heal. Throughout the healing process created my EP “When Scars Become Art” and I began to observe all around me, recognizing that this concept is not authentic to me… many people cultivate artwork out of their scars, so I decided to get to know the ins and outs of those stories, and it changed the trajectory of my life.
What was one story that really stood out? A story that made a significant shift in your life?
One of the stories that stood out to me was this one girl who went to my school. She was gorgeous; she was incredibly kind, she was funny, she was popular, she had it all… seemingly. Come to find out she had a tumultuous upbringing. Her childhood was filled with heartache and loss; her sister committed suicide when she was younger, her father disowned her, and the list goes on. That was a pivotal interview for me because I became keenly aware that her joy and kindness were with great intention. She chose joy every day despite the devastating realities that she often faced, and she never wallowed, rose above her circumstances and created beauty from her pain.
When going around the US, did you discover various influences that you are incorporating within your writing?
Yes, many of the ways I write now have inspired my writing. My latest single, “Heroes, Hookers, Pastors & Pilots,” is solely inspired by my experience in these interviews. My biggest take away was how relevant our shared humanity is. Though we have different interests, goals, childhood traumas, and tendencies, we all long to love, be loved and belong. We are more the same than different, and I now long to portray everything that I create.
During this turbulent time, finding middle ground with people is rather limited. Did you see yourself struggling at times when you talked with people?
A few times, it was a bit hard to be empathetic of people’s situations, but here’s what I learned… I always prided myself on being an empathetic person when in reality I was only “empathetic” to those who had picture-perfect lives and who made it easy to be empathetic toward. Real empathy is saying, “Hey, I dont know what specifically it would feel like to go through this, but I do know the pain and therefore, I’m here to journey through this with you.”
After the interviews were conducted and you began writing your latest single, how fast did you see the lyrics come to you?
The lyrics were quite quick for this song. I felt so creatively inspired because I had so many new stories and faces and lessons to share with the world and fed my soul. I want people to know how extraordinary they are and that everyone has a story to tell and a lesson to teach.
What’s next for you?
For me, the next steps are growing in my artistry as a creative director and musician. I have stopped predicting exactly what this will look like for me because it has already been such an unpredictable journey, but I am just learning to embrace each season and recognize they all serve a purpose. My life is full of pinch-me moments, and I feel very aware of how blessed I am.
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