Interview: 5 minutes with Chantitown

British singer-songwriter and producer Chantitown has been writing and experimenting with sound since an early age, realising her ever-ambitious true calling at just 13 years old. Chantitown grew up in a household filled with musical influence and received her first musical lesson whilst at still in school, whilst knowing that her passion for music was a “soul-connection that ran deep” , and vowing on this ever since.

So naturally, Chantitown took the time to research, and self-educate herself on the vast plethora of musical genres the world had to offer, including classical, folk, urban, rock, etc. But this is no limit – only until her introduction to poetry, did Chantitown truly find her place in ultimate expression, by contributing her own inward thoughts and words as sole influence to her songwriting capabilities. Chantitown shares Cause and the Cure”, the first single to be taken from her upcoming debut EP of the same title, released independently on the 13th July. The EP was co-produced and co-composed with Jim Huswuit (Universal Music, National Theatre, Almeida Theatre) who also holds credit as People’s Music Award Film and Music Composer.

We caught up with Chantitown on endless influence and determination:
(Be sure to stream Chantitown’s latest single ‘Cause and the Cure’ below!)

First off, take us through your songwriting process?

I often start writing a song as if I am writing a poem, which is where writing really started for me. I studied English Literature and Performing Arts (A Levels) out of pure love for writing and performing. Poetry was my passion and writing songs became a product of that. Through the writing process it somehow manifests into lyrics. This may sound odd, but I often come up with a melody almost immediately after writing the song and then bring the chords in to build on it. A bit backwards for some, but that’s the organic process for me.

Where do you seek inspiration and influence when writing?

Gosh, everything inspires me – even the smell of coffee! I love telling stories through music, it’s not always pretty but it has to be honest, something has to resonate or move me before I can pick up a pen and write about it. Walking down the street, staring out to the ocean, hearing real stories from everyday people, watching the news or a documentary, sitting on top of a mountain! Just life itself and all the emotions, experiences and lessons I’ve learnt and still learning. It all inspires me to write.

Which of your songs were written in the shower?

My entire album of course! Who writes in the shower?! I sing in the shower, daily, as if I am performing to 20,000 fans at Wembley! I feel bad for my neighbours and my only real fan who gets to witness this spectacle is the dog! I would say destination living room floor, in front of a fire, a busy café, sitting in a park, on a beach, on a plane, on my bed – nope, never written a single song in the shower! I may try it sometime.

Have you always had a passion for music? Who were some of your earliest influences?

I had such a passion for music and remember it vividly. In fact, it was an obsession. The more I listened, the more I became a dedicated student of sound. My earliest memories are listening to Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna on the radio. I remember looking forward to coming home after school to watch Top of the Pops! My mother was and still is a walking-radio with no ‘off’ button, she never stopped singing. She was our alarm in the morning to wake up for school, hearing her downstairs! Together we would annoy my dad who just wanted peace after a hard day’s work.

Is there any artist on the planet you’d like to collaborate with?

I have learnt so much from so many different artists. Throughout the years, sounds that have inspired me surface through my music. To answer your question, I would work with anyone who would want to work with me. It feels wrong to mention one person because there is not enough paper to list all those I would feel honoured to work with. Hence, message me if you’re interested!

Over the last decade, do you feel that technology changed the way you produce music?

For me, the actual process of writing songs, composing the melody, going to the studio and singing has pretty much remained the same. From a production point, a lot has changed like use of digital software, multi-track recording, loop pedals, MIDI etc.

Aside from music, you’re also involved in fashion and art. Where do you find the time, how do you stay inspired, and where do you get ideas?

I’m not really involved in the true sense, I am an admirer of fashion and appreciate the creativity of it. In my shoot I would come up with a hundred ideas based around colours, words, costumes, set. My photographer would have kittens trying to recreate the visions in my head! I love photography, I get super excited experimenting with different concepts.

Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

It has changed throughout various stages of my life, by the time I was in high school, my father upgraded us to Satellite TV. What a revolution for a 13-year-old! I was hooked on MTV and VH1, listening to absolutely everyone from Nirvana to Bjork. The million hours on Unplugged, watching The Cranberries, The Eagles, Alanis Morissette, Pearl Jam, etc – the list is endless! But I remember even back then, this is what I wanted to do. In terms of sognwriting, Tracy Chapman’s first self-titled album, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Carol King’s Tapestry to name a few, fuelled my hunger for writing songs that had substance and depth, it helped me refine my own style. I enjoyed music from totally different ends of the spectrum one day it would be Public Enemy and the next day it would be Nina Simone! In my late teens I was swept by the electronica/trip hop scene and listened to Massive Attack, Lamb, Portishead. Over the years that evolved to Temper Trap, Empire of the Sun, MGMT, M83, Flume. I love acoustics singer/songwriters like Jose Gonzáles, Bon Iver, Michael Kiwanuka and distinctive voices like Fever Ray, Lykke Li and Aurora. This morning I listened to Gershwin’s Porgy and Best, and this evening it will be Tibetan Buddhist Mantras whilst doing the downward dog! I am still a student of sound and there is not one single person responsible for my peculiar nerdy obsession for music.

What’s your outlook on the record industry today?

It seems clear the record industry is always undergoing change. The traditional formats seem to be down and streaming sector is popular and rising. I like to believe this suggests good things for artists who now have various platforms like Soundcloud, iTunes and Spotify, to get their music live and available instantly. These platforms allow new listeners from anywhere in the world to access your music in a way that could not have been possible without the invention of the internet/broadband and high-speed data transfer. I hope as a result, this can cast a light over those like me, helping us get our foot through the door.

What are your dreams and goals?

I am living it now as corny as it may sound! I feel blessed to be in this position where I am writing, composing, producing, singing, creating something that has only ever existed in my head. With determination and perseverance, I was committed to not let things get in the way of my goal. I am promoting this EP, just finished my second and writing my third. I have no expectations on where any of this will go. I want to continue making songs which are authentic and makes listeners feel something, even if they don’t like what they hear! You’ve got to feel something, that’s ok, and enough for me.  

Order ‘Cause and the Cure’ single by Chantitown via iTunes

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