Natural-born performer: Colton Christensen
By ERIC WAIER
Special to This Week in the Flathead
Growing up with 13 siblings (and being number 11 out of the 14 kids), local singer-songwriter Colton Christensen is used to having to fight for attention in the musical household, a house full of performers. The busy household would serve as the training grounds for young Christensen, who was a destined natural-born performer.
Christensen was homeschooled with his 13 siblings.
“I feel I was born outside the box because we weren’t forced to do seven hours of school work a day,” Christensen said. “I loved the freedom of just being able to create and discover and learn anything from the world around you.”
Christensen said he believes home schooling and that “outside the box” mentality helped him see music differently. “Being homeschooled, it helps me be more alternative and interesting in my music I think.”
Having 13 siblings did have its benefits, too, Christensen said. “It was amazing, I got a bunch of CD collections and tape collections from my older brothers and sisters who enjoyed everything since the ’70s, so it was really cool to just absorb all that music,” he said. Christensen explained that he grew up in a very musical family and playfully added that, “there’s only two tone-deaf ones; the rest are musically inclined.” Growing up in a talented family made Christmas and Thanksgiving “amazing.”
“We all get around and we’ll sing acapella four-part harmonies,” he said. Christensen’s older sister Katie sings with the Glacier Symphony Chorale, further adding to the family’s resume of talented musicians. Christensen’s first instrument was the piano, with his mother as his teacher. “My mom had developed this piano teaching technique that can get you playing easy song books in two weeks,” he said. Christensen eventually picked up and fell in love with the guitar in 2007, the instrument at which he feels he’s most skilled. He credits good friend Tyler Rounds, who was the lead guitarist in his first band “Cartoon Neighborhood,” as helping push him musically. “He and I clicked really well musically.”
Colton also credits Brach Thomson, the Company Manager and Music Director for Bigfork Playhouse Children’s Theater, for helping him improve vocally. Christensen sang in the Playhouse Children’s Theater choir for five years under Thomson’s direction and described Thompson as a mentor, adding, “I really learned how to sing through him.”
In addition to being a talented musician, Christensen is also a busy actor who recently snagged the lead part in a local production called “The Forlorned,” a horror film based off a novel written by local author Angela Townsend and filmed by local production company Good Outlaw Studios. Colton describes how he first got involved with the production company after seeing a poster in Bigfork for auditions for another film called “Treasure State,” a family film in which Colton also landed an acting part.
Christensen explained that he didn’t need to audition for “The Forlorned” as the director and owner of Good Outlaw Studios, Andrew Wiest, had Christensen in mind when he started developing the screenplay and writing the part for his character, who is the main protagonist in the film.
Christensen talked about filming process, which took nearly a month.
“I ended up spending 25 days in this old abandoned mansion up in Creston last winter … it was like 15 below,” Christensen said.
The film also features local musician Luke Dowler, who was the music director as well as having an acting role in the film. Christensen said. “The Forlorned” will be distributed around the northwest in about a year.
Additionally, if you think you may recognize Christensen, but aren’t sure where from, think about some local TV commercials as he has acted in a handful, but we’ll let you figure out which ones.
Although Christensen enjoys and has had some success acting, his main passion is writing and performing music.
“With acting I feel like you’re playing different person, with my music I feel like I can be myself and share my personal stories and soul,” he said.
Christensen is currently working on recording his first album — which he has more than 100 songs written for — so he is working to narrow it down to the best 14 for his debut album, tentatively titled “Antidote.” Christensen plans to self-record the album and hopes to release it this summer.
If you would like to hear Christensen live, he performs regularly at the 406 Grill in Kalispell as well as various other venues around the valley. His next performances are at 406 Grill on Friday, Jan. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m., and Friday, Jan. 22, at the same time.
Eric Waier is the station manager at Whitefish Community Radio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.