Band: Christopher Kulkusky, 27, aka Jasper the Tourist

Are you originally from this area? I grew up in Baltimore and then I lived in Hanover for few years in my early 20s. Then, (my girlfriend) and I moved to Norfolk, Va., and then the Outer Banks, N.C., and now we're back.

Have you always been into music? I started playing in high school, just kind of goofing around in basements with a couple friends. I picked up the bass first, but I actually didn't teach myself guitar until 2009, I believe. I've been doing my solo project - Jasper the Tourist - not too long after I picked up the guitar.

How did you come up with the name for your project? We have two Cairn terriers and one of (their) names is Jasper. He's kind of gotten away on a few occasions. It's kind of an inside joke. He's been known to run, and he likes going for rides and on adventures and whatnot. One night, we were just joking around as to what we were going to dress him up (as) for Halloween, and we came up with the idea for a tourist outfit. I just kind of liked the ring to that and it kind of suited my music. (My other dog's name is) Zoey.

Describe your sound and style. I just kind of label it as folk music. There (are) quite a variety of influences. I base everything around the acoustic guitar, but it doesn't always necessarily mean that each song could be labeled as a folk song. I have a lot of punk-rock and jazz influences. I kind of incorporate little pieces of that into my albums.

What musicians have influenced you? Probably my favorite musician . . . is kind of well known in the indie scenes around here. This guy Mike Kinsella has a project called Owen. It's kind of got real tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic lyrics. He's just an outstanding musician as well. I'm a big Bruce Springsteen fan. Those are probably my two favorite artists of all time. A lot of times I look for other indie and underground artists online just because I'm bored with the mainstream.

It seems like the process of finding new music has changed a lot. How do you find it? I'm on, like, 10 different websites right now in addition to the standards like Facebook and ReverbNation. Those sites are good just to start networking on. You find other musicians that way. I just got on this new site . . . called, and it seems to be really littered with people who actually want to take the time to listen to some new music. I found a lot of really good stuff on there.

Is there a network of musicians off line in this area? I've started going to some of the open mikes at Bistro 19 and First (Capitol Dispensing Co.) and I've met a few of the local guys. I might see if I can start jumping in on the jam sessions.

Are you looking to book gigs soon? Absolutely. I do all this by myself and I work full time, too. I'm not really good with the whole marketing and PR and management parts of this. I'm good at writing, recording and co-producing and all that stuff. I'm trying to use the online thing to my advantage. It would be easier if I had a full band, but that's just not the case right now. I'm certainly not opposed to that if I meet the right people along the way, and they kind of wanted to join in. That would be cool. I've done the band thing in the past. (Right now), I kind of like flying solo (and) having creative control.

Did you release an album recently? I just officially released it last month. I recorded it in the Outer Banks before we moved, and I just kind of put the finishing touches on it the past two months. It's called "Disenchanted." For the most part, the songs on the record are pretty personal. There (are) a few story songs where I just made up characters but still kind of . . . had a connection to them. It's a record that expresses a lot of kind of disappointment (of) a lost mid-20 something.

What are your goals for the next few months? I definitely want to be playing out more. I started making some videos, and I want to try to release one live video a week. I do want to release an official music video or two. I'd like to try to do at least a small U.S. tour within the next year. I have pretty much this area all they way down to North Carolina covered. I know musicians in each state now, and there (are) people who will let me crash on their couches.

- Erin McCracken, FlipSide staff


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