"When I write, I think of how music affects someone's soul and calms them down," says Chris Kittrell, a.k.a. Baby Alpaca, whose ethereal melodies are as soft and fuzzy as his namesake. "So much music can seem bombastic and out of touch. I appreciate music that's really there with you, downplayed and organic."
Kittrell grew up in a musical family in Ohio, and traded a college psychology track for autoharp and poetry classes. Before finding mentors in Christopher Owens (formerly of the band Girls) and JD Samson (who signed him to her label, Atlas Chair), he spent years making demos and barely staying solvent in New York City, crashing on pals' couches. The plus side: "One of the great things about making music is that you're a constant traveler," says Kittrell.
And constantly in search of new perspective. He also studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute before interning with Marc Jacobs and the Olsen twins' fashion brand, The Row.
"It was cool to see someone so creatively vibrant and self-expressive through art," recalls Kittrell. "It made me say, 'I can't do this working-for-other-people thing.' "
Today, in addition to prepping the release of his debut album, Under Water, Kittrell dabbles in graphic design, directs videos, and oversees his own hand-painted knitwear line, Beautiful Dreamers X Baby Alpaca, which was featured in The New York Times. "I basically do it all constantly,"says Kittrell, who now splits his time between the east and west coasts. "Videos, fashion, and design are things I do with my friends, so they're my social outlet." And his music? "That's my alone time."