The finest of pleasures for music fans combing through the independent ranks is stumbling upon that hidden gem. Chris Slaten, the man behind Son of Laughter, offers an undiscovered treasure this summer with the sweet yet substantive melodies on his new EP, The Mantis and the Moon.
CCM: Where does the Son of Laughter moniker come from?
Chris Slaten: One reason I chose it is that it can be taken so many different ways. Son of Laughter is a reference to Isaac, whom God graced Abraham and Sarah with even when they had openly laughed at His promise. These songs have been given to me in spite of my worst cynicism, impatience and doubt. It is a name that frees me to be human in my writing while still looking to God.
CCM: Can you tell me about your own musical highlights and influences? What are some artists and albums you find compelling?
Chris: That is an overwhelming question. I owe my sound to hundreds of teachers. I think listening and reading should be any songwriter’s first job. Lyrically, I have learned the most from great craftsmen such as Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, Bill Mallonee, Tom Waits, Joe Henry, Josh Ritter and The Decemberists.
Melodically, I am influenced by more eccentric writers like Romantic Era, 20th Century, and modern film composers, Nick Drake, Django Reinhardt, Jerry Reed, The Books, Les Baxter, Tortoise, Radiohead, My Brightest Diamond, Gustavo Santaolalla, Tin Hat Trio and world music.
I am still learning how to write about faith in a way that is fresh and genuine from songwriters like Bill Malonee, Pierce Pettis, The Innocence Mission, Andrew Peterson and Ben Shive. Chase the Buffalo by Pierce Pettis is one of many albums that I continually find inspiring.
CCM: There are more songs coming after this. Correct? What are the hopes there?
Chris: Yes. Last fall my wife challenged me to finish one song a week, and so the next set of songs came very quickly. Many of them were inspired by the American literature curriculum I am currently teaching. Ben and I have already starting talking about the next set. Once I’ve sold enough of these, we will be ready to start. Whether or not it will be a full-length album or another EP will depend on the success of this recording.