On Part 4 of #NewBlackHistoryMusic we spoke to Chloe Charles, a soothing Canadian musician in the genre of Orchestra Soul Pop who bares all in her music and effortlessly emotes our deepest fears and desires. We linked up and got talking about who she is and how she contributes to the New Black History Music.
She is a hair-splitter of a musician, singer as well as a self-taught guitarist. Born in Toronto and raised in Uxbridge Township, the tender songstress had a very colourful and creative upbringing and an even more vibrant lineage. Granddaughter to John Richmond who is a renowned Canadian visual artist, her mother Victoria Richmond who is a writer and her late father Noel Charles a Trinidadian who was the owner of the famous Alexandre Nightclub in Stockholm, Sweden and Bridgetown, Barbados as well as husband to John Lennon’s first wife.
What’s the most interesting aspect of your childhood and how did that build you?
I grew up with my mom. My dad left when I was really young and we started living in the city of Toronto where my mom realised that she was working too hard to make a living and spend enough time with me, so we moved to the country where my grandad had this beautiful property which used be an art school. He planted every single tree on 30 acres of land and built up this beautiful art school. When we eventually moved there he turned it into houses. Sort of like communes, with artsy creative people. Growing up there was inspiring and special and it allowed me to do my own thing. I’m an only child so I had a lot of time alone and I’d run around in the woods and take walks at night because I was never afraid to be alone; I love nature and it gave me the space to be creative and find my own voice. My family was very supportive when it comes to being an individual. My mom was a closet writer and she’d always be sitting somewhere writing poetry or stories and this of course contributed to the creative and supportive atmosphere I grew up in.
So there was no way you were going to end up on a different career path?
I was really scared to go that route, for one I watched my grandad and the lifestyle he led, in the end it worked out and he found his own way but I observered his struggle and how he was sometimes angry at the masses for not actively searching for fulfillment that stimulated them more than just for entertainment purposes. In watching him I realized that just because you are doing something that you love doesn’t mean that everyone else will love it.
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What is the general mood about Black History Month amongst fellow Canadians of mixed race? Does being of mixed race affect how you perceive and celebrate black history month?
It does, I think I have celebrated it as an insider as well as an outsider. My dad is from Trinidad; he had a very little connection to his culture. I think he felt a shame when he was younger and probably experienced lots of racism and had to adapt by putting on a persona to survive in London England. My mom and her family on the other hand are white from Ireland and England. I have a cousin who is also mixed but I feel like here in Toronto especially because we are so multicultural Black History Month becomes important for everybody. It’s not only limited to black people of African descent. February in Canada is special. In the States there’s much more of a divide between white and black but in Canada it’s really quite integrated,. You see it everywhere and it makes me proud of my other half, especially because I don’t know much about my history from my dad’s side. I only know it as far back as my grandparents and so there are a lot of events that go on that teach me about our history, a history that my father never spoke about.
Is there an influence from your black history that comes out in your music?
(Laughs) that’s interesting. Honestly I don’t think I could say that my black descent specifically influences my music but it influences me, just like everything in my life. It’s part of my existence, my history, the way I’ve been treated over the years and therefore developed. Being of mixed race I have had strange experiences in both directions; I’ve felt racism from both black and white people. It naturally comes into my songs because most of my songs are autobiographical.
Tell us about your latest offering “With Blind folds on” what inspired the title?
Well, the title is a line from one of the songs on the album called “Clover”. It speaks about love and finding it when you least expect it. For me however, it’s somewhat of a motto. Life is so cluttered with rules and norms and other people’s opinions and emotions, external ideas of success, the “shoulds” and judgments to an extant that it becomes hard to hear your inner voice. Sometimes you need to shield yourself from the over-stimulation of modern life in order to listen to your own intuition, find your own path and make decisions based on what is important to you and not the external world. In North America and many other countries, people are so driven by achievement. The pressure of having to succeed is so great that it can overshadow what is good for you or what you really love or what would be considered a personal success. If you can just stop and remember that the world wont end if you stop achievling, take the time to listen to your intuition then I believe you will be much less anxious, appreciate your own personal successes and find your own path. I had to do it constantly, stop over thinking, over analysing and stop being overly logical all the time and just feel my way through life.
I picked that up in your previous album, there was a lot of questioning of direction, How to feel, what to think. How was the process with this album from beginning to end?
It was a really long process. For the past few years I’ve spent my time living between Europe and Canada so I have two separate bands, and they have somewhat separate sounds and I wanted to mix this album up and work with people that I play with all the time, so I brought in my violinist from Italy, my pianist from Germany, and some of my fellow Canadian musicians with me here. So instead of having to tell everybody what to do and having a lot of people go into studio with a tight schedule I was lucky that the Canadian government supports the arts and thus I was able to have longer studio sessions. This allowed us to literally try everything. I had a policy that you can never say no to an idea. It was such an amazing experience to take all the sounds out of my head and actualise them. When I write a song, I so much in my head, the orchestra or all the harmonies, so I have a pretty clear idea of what I want. In the past I worked with producers and when you do that you end up adopting some of their style. I mean when you’re young and working on your first Ep or album I feel that you are a little bit more impressionable and not yet confident in your ideas. However, with this album I decided to trust myself and go ahead and self produce with the aid of the amazing musicians I trust and respect. I’m really proud of the end product.
It was recorded in Toronto, mixed it in Berlin and one song was done in New York, so it became an international project. That had its benefits as well downfalls. What was new to me and got quite complicated what was that the technical practices differed from country to country and because style and tastes are quite different so it took longer than expected but it was worth it.
Were there any musical influences that guided towards the sound that you finally achieved?
To be honest when I think about influences I think about life in general. The sounds that influence me are often very dramatic provoking strong emotional responses in me. I pick and choose from various places, for instance choirs, or string quartets or thunder and rain. It’s more of a collection of sounds that you pick up in life, these sounds have an impact and live inside of you.
At one point we ended up accidentally using the sound of mallets on the wood in the inside of the grand piano. We used it as a percussion instrument because it made a thunderous, crackling sound mixed with the resonance from the keys. It was pretty cool.
Any particular end goal, is there a legacy?
My career is for two reasons, when I write I try to push the boundaries genre, judgments and expectations as well as push personal boundaries of honesty. I try to expose more more of myself to help accept myself and my imperfections. I’m pretty hard on myself and I can be critical and through writing I find a way to see that I am just human.
On the other side,I hope that me being honest about my flaws and struggles helps people to be kinder to themselves and realise we all go through the same things, and that our imperfections are what make us all unique and beautiful. When I am on stage I hope to connect with my audience and share the experience of humanity.
Speaking about connecting with your audience, there’s a song on your album called fans, I found it quite interesting but I would like to hear from you; what is it really about?
(Laughs) That song, of course that one (Laughs). This one actually has nothing to do with my audience or fans. There’s another one that does, “Take Me Naked”, but this one is actually talking about a fuelling fan. It’s the story of the end of a relationship when you know it’s over and are faced with the choice to fake it and pretend that everything is fine because it’s comfortable and familiar or end it. It could be the most horrible and volatile relationship ever and you’d find yourself comfortable with the insanity. It describes a moment when you are in bed with your partner looking up at the fan and thinking to yourself if you will continue to fake it and put on a mask or take that terrifying leap and end it.
Wow, I had it completely wrong. I thought it was about you getting on stage and having to put on this facade for your fans to connect to you. Knowing very well that when you get off the stage you are someone totally different. I thought it was about what you want the fans to perceive and feel.
I like that, I should say that. It’s funny because the song “Take Me Naked” is actually about what you are talking about. You were close (laughs). I have one song about that.
Is there any particular song that you like a little bit more than the others?
Yes, My personal favourites are usually not what the masses enjoy, “Hold Me”,“Wool Sweater” and “Tulip”
I actually like the last two.
With “Hold Me”, it feels like there’s a push and pull, you want this person to stay yet you want them to go, as a guy I would be very confused if I someone said/did that to me, what’s the vibe there, what’s going on?
(Laughs) That’s generally how I am in relationships. I am probably the worst person to get into a relationship with these days. It’s actually more of an inner dialog saying, you want this person there who lets you know that it will be okay, while at the same time you know that the only one who can fix your issues is you.
Are we going to see you South Africa?
I would love that, I have no connections so far but I would love to. It would be amazing! I have no idea what this year has to offer.
Are you excited about what ever may come?
I am, I find it interesting how you have no clue what life has to offer, you can make plans but shit happens. Or you can look back and never have imagined that you could have met people or had experiences that change your life.
Written By: Lethabo Ngakane
La Soülchyld on Flipping R&B/Soul, Dropping an album and making #NewBlackHistoryMusic
Who is La Soülchyld, for those who do not know you?
I am a 22-year-old producer who likes to create music that invades the soul and give my listeners an exciting experience while listening to my work. I was born in Rwanda but I am also Ugandan.
Let’s get down to it, the music. Your sound is ecstatic and elemental (with an African tribal touch), where did it all start and why this line of sound?
I started finding my own sound around 3 years ago when I created the name La Soülchyld. It began with me flipping R&B/Soul songs like “I Can Love You” by Mary J. Blige, “You’re Makin Me High” by Toni Braxton and such. Along the way, I kept growing thanks to the amazing collaborations I did with artists like RIVR, Kalo and a long list of other amazing producers whom I learned from. After a few years of producing, I found myself with a sound that I could start experimenting with and that’s when I started infusing Latin/African percussion into my work. The reason I chose that line of sound is that I wanted to represent my continent and give my (mostly US) listeners a chance to fall in love with the sounds of Africa.
3 December 2018, you blessed us with Endless which you worked with Zuks. Please share a bit more about that joint.
s/o to the homie Zuks, he is very talented. At first, he sent me that idea almost finished but I remember at the time he was not feeling the 808s he put. So after receiving the stems, I started working on the build-up to get a sense of the direction it was heading and when I felt the percussive elements were right I just let loose. Messed around with my drums and tried creating an 808 line that I felt was addictive and simple then gave it a structure
…and when it came to putting them all together it almost felt like a missing puzzle piece, it just made sense.
I always spent time experimenting and in the early days when I started as La Soülchyld I found myself focusing on certain aspects of my beats, that being my 808s and my percussion. Once I noticed that. I took time to learn about 808s and listened to more world music that had different percussive elements and when it came to putting them all together it almost felt like a missing puzzle piece, it just made sense. Another contributor that helped me with fusing these elements is my knowledge with the platform I use to make music, Logic Pro X. I have been working with Logic Pro X for 5 years and I am very comfortable with the system.
With so much saturation in music (especially on the net), how do you keep your head above waters and remain fresh and authentic?
The best way I try to do that is by focusing on myself and not worrying about what’s happening online. I take my time with my production and try to find what’s the best way to approach each piece and really move at my own time. By focusing on the quality it helps with my authenticity and brings the right fans to my music. Luckily I am still quite quick when it comes to making ideas and I am able to release a song every month so that helps with keeping above waters.
Speaking on authenticity how’s the vibe like during black history month in your town/city?
Sadly I wouldn’t know. I am currently living in Canada focusing on my Masters in Production. However, I do still read about the amazing things young Ugandans & Rwandans are doing for their country and its always inspiring.
What is the name of your new project?
My new project is titled LSCHYLD III. LSCHYLD obviously is my short way for writing La Soülchyld. I started this series after my first EP called Chapters of Soül. I released all my best work under the LSCHYLD series and wanted to continue that however instead of making it an EP like the previous 2 I turned it to an album. I felt all the work going into the project was worthy to be on my first album and I’m very happy with it and the amazing features I got on.
What is the most memorable experience with regards to putting together this work?
There were two moments I won’t forget. One was when Michael Akhari sent me back the stems for his guitar part. I have always said he is a beast when it comes to slick guitar work and creating memorable melodies that haunt your mind. So getting back the stems for track 2 I was at a loss for words because I never expected him to exceed the high expectations I already had. The second one was when I found the sample for Moonlight II. The album was already done and was about to be released the next day but I came across that sample and started working on it asap. I managed to finish it and release it along with the others and yea it was fun working on that track.
What can listeners look forward to in the album?
Just some quality Soül. Tried to step outside my comfort zone with different production techniques I don’t normally do, instrumental structures I don’t usually make, going back to sampling tracks I wouldn’t usually sample and really just find new ways of pushing my sound. Focusing on displaying some sort of emotion with each track and communicating that to the listener with different instruments. People can also look forward to the amazing collabs that came out of this project.
Where can our readers get a hold of more of La Soülchyld?
Written by: Bafana Mjakana
One 2 One 2, A South African duo that explores Future RnB, Hip Hop, House & Electronic Music
One 2 One 2 is comprised of RBI, an ingenious Producer and Composer and SimSima, a Vocalist with a rugged and unusual singing style.
The South African duo’s music dabbles in Future RnB, Hip Hop, House, Electronic and World sounds.
Their debut single, Walk On Water, features Caddy, a fellow South African artist who adds a Motswako flavour to the track.
The single is a feel-good song that pays homage to the universal feeling of freedom, celebrated once the weekend starts.TGIF!
Check out the track on other music platforms here
Words by: Linda Mongala
Album Artwork by: Lethabo Ngakane
What’s the hype about Two Point Owe’s Don’t Be Afraid – Dilla Tribute?
J.Dilla was a prolific Detroit underground hip-hop producer and rapper, known to the general masses as 1/3 of the soulful hip-hop group Slum Village. Dilla grew up in a family of musicians with his parents performing as an
He went on to produce A Tribe Called Quest’s Grammy award nominated album Beats, Rhymes and Life and over his career and to his untimely death, this highly gifted musician grew an almost cult like following from avid hip-hop lovers…Globally.
As we come to the end of #DillaMonth we open heartedly and with ease celebrate one of his biggest fans who could be said to have inherited Dilla’s musical genius and spirit.
I’m talking about South African born and Stuttgart based Two Point Owe, a prolific producer with a career that spans from working with the likes of a beat crazy duo called Jungle
In this track he decided to pay another tribute to his idol by creating a song out of his favourite Dilla joints, from the drums, stabs, effects and even raps. Check out and download (free) his “Don’t Be Afraid – Dilla Tribute”
NanaBcool #NewBlackHistoryMusic’s Sugar Honey Ice Tea
Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Ghanaian-American singer, rapper, dancer NanaBcool blends smooth, soulful vocals with electrifying dance steps to bring a fresh groove to RnB. We caught up with him to find out why he is the future of black music? his thoughts on black history month and his journey from our ears to our hearts.
So,Where did you grow up?
Columbus, Ohio Eastside (Turnberry)
How was it like growing up in Ohio and what type of family unit did you have?
Growing up was cool, I grew up in a Ghanaian family with my mom, dad, sister, and my grandma. I was surrounded by the Ghanaian community at home and church. And I grew up in a neighborhood where pretty much all of my best-friends lived, I feel like I always had a strong support system in my endeavours and when I got my first condenser mic all of my homies were in the basement rapping and singing with me, the love from them is still here to this day.
How did you get into music?
My dad plays the keys at my church, while also on his side of the family every one of his brothers plays the piano; so growing up there was always music in the house and my mother
My parents had Michael Jackson’s Dangerous tour in Bucharest on Vhs and I played that concert at-least 10,000 times (see what I did there lol) I was always being put onto good music.
2 years back you dropped the 2am cruise EP, what inspired that EP and do you have any favourite tracks on there?
That ep was inspired by life during 2012-2013. I moved from Columbus, Ohio to Chicago, Atlanta and finally New York within those years. That ep was supposed to summarize my journey up until that point.
My favourite song on that project is Ohio Player. Being from Ohio we have a lot of hometown pride, so being able to make a song that details some of my stories on the come up means a lot to me.
The track 10k hours sees you singing about diversifying your income streams, a lot of growing up as well as decision making…how much of those thoughts are still relevant right now?
I honestly still feel the same but I play a lot more shows now. Listening back I feel like I spoke things into existence with that song …“I’m finna play these shows, I’m a live nigga” and I still believe in the concept of 9-5 and 6-9. At the time I was spending as much time possible in the studio really figuring out my sound, though I’m still writing and evolving my sound, I’m working on getting my 10k up on the stage
10k hours is where the perfection starts not where it ends.
So, you’ve recently dropped the video for “Ice Tea”, it’s very fresh and playful compared to your older works…can you tell us a little more about the song and video?
This song is me detailing a day in the life of a young person living in Brooklyn. You find me post 2amCruise more confident and more secure in what I’m doing, that’s why I feel like I’m the Sugar Honey Ice Tea aka The S.H.I.T. The second verse is me reminiscing back to 2012/2013 when I was in the process of moving to NYC and in the process of quitting my job at the bank (advice that I got from a friend and my uncle).
The video was us trying to set the vibe of just kicking back and hanging with the homies. Ice tea is the name of my upcoming album due in March, so Ice Tea is the product that I’m now selling. I feel like everyone feels like they are the sugar honey ice tea(Shit) at some point and even if they don’t they should; so we had to add the infomercial to give y’all that energy.
We know that a historic/iconic month is here, how’s Ohio during Black History month, how is the vibe?
To be honest I haven’t lived in Ohio since Feb 2012. I don’t know if black history month in America is any different. The way I grew up, my schooling copped out and took that time to talk about Martin Luther King Jr. year in and year out. They never took the time to speak about the plethora of black heroes America has experienced.
My thoughts on black history month are that in America its a cop out. Black history IS American history. The truth is America was built for free on the backs of black people and they decided to give us a month? Naw I want more, we deserve more waaay more.
Would you say enough is being done to teach black and mixed race kids about their history?
Definitely not, unless it is a specialized school or if kids have one those special teachers, but it’s not a priority if you’re talking about schooling, they teach about Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King and if you’re lucky you might hear a sentence about Malcolm X. I was lucky enough that my family raised me with teachings about different black inventors, and revolutionaries. My moms and pops had my sister and I read so many different books by black authors. I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley when I was around 12. So I was brought up to be somewhat militant. Being Ghanaian I had the chance to learn about Ghanaian heroes also, I’m grateful for that.
What legacy do you want to leave behind with your music?
The legacy I want to leave behind is that I made quality art and stayed true to myself while helping black people in any way that I can. I want it to be remembered that I always represented for my culture.
Thanks for giving us an opportunity to know a little bit more about you and your music, it’s important for the global community and the future of black music.
Thank you guys for reaching out to me, it means a lot. Peace and blessings,
Please follow Nana on the socials below:
Steezy Stylish Live from the East Side (Review)
Ekse Live from the Eastside is a sonic landscape painting of a prolific and seasoned MC from the East Rand. LFE is a high definition story of the life of Hip-Hop and the hustle with all its good, bad and ugly. The album includes enough hidden nuggets to keep you sustained for a long time to come.
Steezy Stylish is a rapper, songwriter and music producer from Kwa-Thema in the Eastrand who prides himself in translating the sights and sounds of township life into melody and music laced with articulated lyricism.
The Intro stood out for me, I was immediately drawn in by an audio clip at the beginning which makes a scathingly honest criticism of the youth by Prof. PLO Lumumba…as I patiently waited to hear steezy’s take on the topic. The track goes into a lot of ills that stunt our growth as people from the township and the urgency to change that. It’s not a guideline or a blueprint but a pretty motivational track to make you aware of what’s really happening to us in the hood.
Op n Af
is the essence of the go getter attitude that built the Eastrand. It feels like a township December when everybody is back home from the cities while reflecting on the continuous hustle and getting into the mix of things by any means necessary. A suave gangster track that will teleport you back to the Tkzee Mambotjie days.
Begins with a clip from a Eugène Terre’Blanche interview where he discredits the worth of Johannesburg, this clip brings much into context when it comes to the question of land expropriation and where the real value lies. The track is reminiscent of the egotistical battle cat style of rap that birthed some of the illest rappers to ever come out the East. It’s really something for the head bobbers with a quart, a blunt and a backpack. I’m ill is definitely one for the streets and deserves a listen!
Is his latest single out, a feel good track jam packed with kasi nostalgia and the township party culture. It builds itself ‘pon the foundation of “no money, no fun” and if you don’t have it then you’re just another insignificant number. The track is all sorts of jiggy and will have you singing along while swaying from wall to wall. A definite December jam worthy of being play-listed on radio and of course in your car, your phone and your house.
This album feels like home, it displays how observant and skilled Steezy Stylish is, this can be observed in his lyrics and vibrant hooks straight from Kwaito’s past. At one point you are reminded of who you are and the power that’s in your hands to change your situation and of those around you and the next you are Op n Af in the streets cutting through any distraction that’s in your way to achieve your goals. There’s tons of Kwaito and township references in this album; from beats, flows and hooks that are bound to have you feeling like a cold beverage with your day ones, kicking back and sharing some street knowledge.
Live from the Eastside is definately one for the festive season. Get it here:
Alslo catch him on IG below:
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