After releasing a great soul/folk debut album earlier this year, Chloe Charles speaks about her music with a lot of sensibility... Here's an interview with a true artist...
Your biography says that your music was influenced by your childhood in the Canadian countryside, could you tell us a few words about that place to start ?
Chloe Charles : My grandfather was an artist and he built an art school in the forest. That's pretty cool ! So when i was seven my Mom wanted to leave the city because that was too stressfull. So my grandfather invited us to live there and he turned the place into houses and apartements. It was really a creative place. He build it by hand, there was a gallery and a pool in the middle of the forest. It was very special with ponds and frogs everywhere. I was just hanging around in the middle of the night and i was never scared. It was really kind of magical for a little kid.
You started to play guitar quite late, what was the starting point ?
CC : I chose the guitar for two reasons. I grew up on my Mom playing songs and they were very beautiful. Also my mom was playing classical guitar with her sister and at every family gathering there was some playing going on. It just seem like a really natural instrument to pick up. It was also very convenient. I love the piano but it's really hard to bring it to forest or to play at dark in the cottage. I like to be very mobile. And i love the classical guitar.
I've heard that on your album, the influence of classical music on your songwriting, the way you use the strings...
CC (smiling) : Strings hhhuummm !!! (laughs)
Was it hard to find your singing voice ?
CC : I had a year, back when i was in the university in 2006, when i was singing songs other people were writing for me. At that point i kind of didn't know what my singing voice really was. But at the end of that year i was really sure what my voice wasn't. So afterwards i spent time to write without any judgment. Just no idea what i was doing. That's when i learned the guitar. I think that just by doing that, sitting by myself and not listenning to what other people had to say that i really find my voice. It just become more and more natural.
How does it feel when you sing ?
CC : Emotions, sentiments, that really. Otherwise that would be boring (laughs) !!!!
Your mom played a big part on your musical uprising ?
CC : Yeah. She was writing songs and that was very special. Those beautiful Joni Mitchell like folk songs that she wrote. Then also the music she was playing and listenning to was very ecclectic so i brought up on very different music styles. She was always playing music and she's very passionate when she's hearing things that she loves. She's very reacting, dancing to them (laughs).
How does she react to your music ?
CC : Oh my gosh !!! She is my biggest fan it is so cute (laughs) !!! Everytime i call her, in the background i can always hear me singing. She is always playing my music (laughs) !!! She has every single song i've ever written. All the roughs recordings. She has something like 10 different versions of each song. Something like 200 songs, on loop !!! (laughs). It can be things that i found horrible and she loves them (laughs) !!! And when she comes to my concert she is always in the audience singing along (laughs) !!! It is so cute !! It makes me tickle ! All my friends loves her to death, she's always there and she's great ! (laughs)
Your dad is married to Cynthia Lennon (ex John Lennon's wife and Julian's Mother). Did it gave you a special inside look on fame ?
CC : It just made me not really care about fame. It's not that interesting. I'm not like those artists that are going after gold and fame. My goal is to be challenged and to enjoy what i'm doing first. And reach people. I don't think that fame should be something that is your goal first. That should be something that comes from talent. From doing what you want. And hopefully that follows. Or it doesn't (laughs) ! It was grounding anyway.
Is it somewhat scary, being famous ?
CC : Yes it is. It defineiely is. People are getting different and treat famous people differently and suddenly you're not able to trust anybody. People become a little bit cautious about their friends, especially new friends. It's a strange world. It's definitely an odd world to be into. It's not the most amazing thing in the world.
Tell me about the album cover. Your face is half painted in black. And that's the way i felt about your music, divided in-between things...
CC : Yeah exactly.
And what would be those things ?
CC : Everything. There is always different sides and opposing forces and emotions. It's never completely balanced, it is always moving up and down. It's really beautiful accepting that and watch it happening.
I think of your music as half-breed. Would you agree ?
CC : Yes sure (laughs) !
What would be your definition ?
CC : It's never a conscious effort. If you're open to everything, then everything is going to influence you. And then you're mixing it together. That is the way i've always been. When people ask me what do i like to listen to i said everything that i like. Whatever, it doesn't matter how it sounds like or what genre it is.
Reviewing albums made me listen to a lot of different kind of music and i came to think that finally i wasn't really listening music but feelings and emotions...
CC : Yes it touches you somehow. And it's really hard to explain. It is very special and magical. Music that doesn't make me feel anything is not interesting at all. It can be perfect and the musicians could be amazingly talented but if i don't hear anything it's pointless.
You told me earlier that your goal is to be challenged what could it be ?
CC : Just trying new things, experimenting with sounds. Writing differently, with others. Experimenting with genres. My favorite part of being a musician is working with other musicians and creating new things. Developping your ideas, making them bigger than they were. That's really hard too. Sometimes you clash. But everytime you clash, you learn a lot about yourself.
Is there a song you wish you wrote ?
CC : (thinking) humm...
Tricky part is to choose one song...
CC (silence) : Humm... Well right now i'm kind of obsessed by this composer who writes music for films. The titles are kind of like, part A, part B... I'm trying to think about a song. The guy is called Max Richter. I love film music. The idea to support the emotion of what is going on. It's not something that you necesseraly listen to but that can change the whole story.
Something that i like is to listen to music and then make my own movie, in my head...
CC : Oh yeah, that is cool (laughs). That's funny i was reharsing the other day and a friend of my pianist was there, sitting in the back of the room and she said something like that. Your music makes me space to create a new world. That is cool ! That is awesome ! But it's true sometimes you go to a concert and you just disappear somewhere else. So one song, oh my God. I can give you an album : « The blue notebooks » (from Max Richter).
Which time would be perfect to play your record ?
CC : Night time i think so. When people are more calm. Day time nowadays it's just like you're busy and most of the time you're stressed. At night, people just takes the time to slow down. I think my album is meant to be listen as opposed to be just some background music.
Which season to listen your album ?
CC : (thinking in silence) humm...
I would say spring but that's me...
CC : Yeah i like that.
Or maybe the fall. Not too hot, not too cold, just in-between...
CC : Yeah, yeah (laughs). I love spring, it's my favorite season. Maybe the fall is too dark. I feel when i writing sometimes it's heavy but there is always this hopefull that takes beauty out of the dark. Looking at these heavy things and making them pretty as well. To me that's what the spring is, reflecting on the end of a season that is very dark. Like a rebirth.
What color is your music ?
CC : Indigo (laughs)!