Chenél No.1 is a songwriter from South Africa whose genres of choice are country, folk, rock and pop. Her newest release, Master of Disguise, will be available 29 Jan2021 Presave it here:
Read her interview about her influences, ambitions and breaking the stigma of mental health issues.
Your musical journey really started in your 30's, why did you wait until then - what gave you the push to start? I've always loved listening to music from an early stage in my life, but never really got the opportunity as a child to learn to play an instrument. I took up some guitar lessons which sparked the urge to write my own songs. Early in 2019 we had a local South African Songwriting competition which I entered and got 15th place. It was then that I realized that I maybe have an opportunity to prove that I can be a songwriter. I released my first song in October 2019 and since then been trying to be consistent in releasing new songs throughout 2020. Who really inspires you musically?
I love October Projects fluidness and harmonies, I love both Tracy Chapman & Dolly Parton's songs that always have a story to tell. How do you make sure you carve out time for music with work and family commitments? I have no other choice. My family and work comes first so mostly I pursue my musical ideas after everyone is asleep. I'm tired as it's a tough pace to keep up. But it's worth it. Dreams mean nothing if it is not placed in an actionable goal. Your new song Master of Disguise is out at the end of the month and touches on mental health issues. What's inspired that?
Myself and a friend were talking about life in general and as the conversation went on it turned into something more serious. So the title links to the main theme of the song that many people deal with mental health challenges or depression but wear masks to hide what they are feeling/experiencing. Thus they are disguising their true emotions and lying to those that care about them. It is a very heavy topic and the lyrics touch on various emotions as well as the thought of suicide. My hope is that this song breaks the stigma of silence and that people experiencing mental health challenges talk to family and friends about it. There is no shame in it and I think if more people are aware of it they would deal with situations differently. You've had a change of look for the video! Do you enjoy making videos and playing with your image?
Not really. I'm more of a girl-next-door-type of person with no need to impress people. I am what I am, but for this song I really wanted to delve into the character of the song. Highlighting the fact of wearing a physical mask to show that people wear inner masks to hide their emotions. I do like making videos and it's usually with friends in a DIY setup. It's always fun and we laugh a lot. What advice would you have given your younger self?
Had I known what I know now, I would have not waited and just set fear of failure behind me to pursue my dreams. I've always been a creative soul and I should have thought with my heart instead of my head.
What are your top 10 favourite songs right now?
1. The Otherside - Cam 2. To the all of the Queens who are fighting alone - Jenny Jewel 3. Subtle silence - The Radar Station 4. Get numb - Council 5. Caution - The Killers 6. The summer song - Rose Alaimo 7. Home one day - Lucy, Raquel and Me 8. Letter to you - Brice Springsteen 9. One night standards - Ashley McBride 10. Cry about it later - Katy Perry
Which one of your own songs are you most proud of?
She's a Flamingo. I feel that it's the one song that started to get me noticed. What's your ultimate dream as an artist?
Honestly I never dreamed of being an artist myself, it just happened after I decided to take the leap of faith. The goal would be to eventually write songs for other artists. Is there anything else you want people to know about you and your music?
I don't write songs that are complicated or smart. I want to be as authentic to myself as possible and hope the listeners experience that.
Writing songs is one of the best creative outlets in the world and I want to keep doing it.