Interview With Singer, Dancer, Artist & Host ‘Chantel Nicole’

Photo Credit Shako Khiskiakiadze

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a bop princess from New York! I am a singer, dancer, actress and host. I wear a ton of creative hats but my main love and primary focus is singing. I enjoy songwriting and making my creations come to life for you all to see. I also like long hikes to mountain tops and discussing anime by the beach.

How did you come up with your artist name? 

This is the first time I’ve been asked this question! Well, it’s serendipitous in nature, really. My name was finalized as Chantel Nicole in 2017. I was auditioning for my college showcase and a stage name was required. I didn’t want to use my name alone. I don’t know why, but I was against it. So I wrote down, “Chantel Marseille”. It rhymed, it was French and I felt fancy.

I went to speak to my counsellor and informed her of my successful audition. As I told her she says, “Oh, that’s a nice name. I would have thought you would go by Nicole.”

This counsellor would always call me “Nicole” and would always tell me “you look like a ‘Nicole’,” so her statement wasn’t weird. Coincidentally, my aunt calls me Nicole when I’m “in a mood.”

After saying Chantel in tandem with Nicole, I liked the way it sounded. And when I was figuring out some branding things: C.Nic came up and subsequently, #taketheCNicRoute came to be.

How long have you been in the music industry? 

I’ll say 3 years. Maybe 2, consistently. I released music in 2017-2018. Then I stopped for a year and a half and released more music and now I’m back.

How did you get started in the music business in the first place? 

I got started in the music business working as a background character. Background dancing/singing, and working as an intern and assistant. I worked and learned and eventually took action and started making my music.

How would you describe your latest single? 

The “CHANTONES” —my singles— for this project represent different sides of me and my sound (Chantel’s sound and also a portmanteau of Chantel + Pantone). My song “Here I Am,” is warm, and cool. Like an orange-navy blue gradient. The message behind the song is heartfelt and fiery but has alluring energy that is present in the production.

“Here I Am” is what Janet Jackson would sound like if she had a Sailor Moon transformation.

When can fans expect the visuals for the single?

The video has been released. I had a great deal of help during the process and I
directed/styled/produced/edited this video, so please watch it and give it lots of love. We worked really hard.

Who are your inspirations in the music industry?

Some of my inspirations include Beyonce, Ciara, BoA, Brittney Spears, Left Eye, Rina Sawayama and so many more, but these are some of the people I listen to and emulate the most.

How do you go about writing a song and what is your process?  

It depends on the situation and my mood. I used to think I needed to burn the midnight oil in order to create, but I wrote songs midday and wrote songs as I’m driving. So As long as I’m relaxed and just feeling the energy, I can write anywhere or anytime. I’m not saying that every idea gets fleshed out into a full song, but I’m not limited by my environment.

I do also like having a brief to stick with. Sometimes writing without a theme makes it feel mildly pointless.

What is the concept behind your forthcoming project if working on one? 

CHROMA serves as the palette on which I mix genres, such as Latin-Pop (“LIKE IT”) and K-Pop/R&B, (“Here I Am.”) The 6-track mini-album is my first body of work since releasing her musical triptych, Me + U. That work was a musical trilogy about the beginning, middle and end of a relationship. “I LIKE U,” “I WANT U,” and “I MISS U” and fun fact, the project had an iMessage theme. I want to shine a light and reveal all of my true colors. Each song embodies a certain CHANTONE–colors that depict the mood/feel of each song.

Any plans on touring to promote your latest single?

Touring? Ah, I’d love to, but I’ve not found opportunities that make sense. Yeah, I could just perform at showcases, but in the past, I did that cost me more and turned into low-budget experiences. I intend on doing a live show, or at least a live performance for fans—my WINGS.

What did you buy with your first check off music?

Oh, wow! I wish I had made enough to buy something awesome. I haven’t done that yet, but next year, I plan to earn at least $1,000 via my music. If I make more, awesome. If not, the bits I have made will go back into the music as it does already.

What are must haves when your in the studio working?

Water, tea, bare feet and cough drops.

What is the best piece of advice in this business you actually followed?

Make the music you want to make. Or as a couple of female rappers told me in 2017, “Do what you [freaking] want to do.”

Will you be collaborating with any other artists in the future?

Ooh, good question? I don’t want to say no, but my favourite artists are my friends. They are very talented and if it makes sense I’d like to make a song with them.

What artist have you had the pleasure of working with and what was it like?

None, just yet. I’ve done some background dancing for some and I can say that only a couple artists have been kind to me. Others? Let’s just say that their behaviour was bizarre and uncalled for.

Name an artist(s) that you would love to work with?  

Rina Sawayama, BoA, Ciara, Bree Runway, Nicki Minaj, Little Mix, Rei Ami, and Charli XCX. If I have the opportunity to delve more into rock: NIN, Paramore and Avril Lavigne one day.

Do you think your music is mostly enjoyed more for the beats or for the lyrical flow and content?

I believe that my music is enjoyable due to the sonics and the visuals. I make sure my videos are good and that the songs are catchy and well-thought-out. Granted, my writing has improved, but I think the quality of songs I’ve created can be A-rated.

Lyrically, I do not believe that people have picked up on my wordplay just yet. I have a genius so I hope people have a chance to check it out.

What area do you need to improve on in regards to your career? (Example: Better production, Delivery, Stage presence, etc…)

Good question. I’d say that I need to work on my networking, vocal/song production and stage movement.

Networking – I’m actually an INFJ/P personality type and although I like to work the room, I don’t always allow everyone into my space. A follow on IG isn’t an actual connection, and although it can lead to an opportunity. I dislike using people and being used. So navigating IRL and SNS is always something I need to work on.

Vocal/Song production – I never formally earned how to produce-slash-arrange music/songs. So everything I’m doing is self-taught. I’d love to learn and get better, just so that I can approach recordings more confidently.

Stage movement – I always manage to bump my mouth against the microphone. It hurts. I need to fix that.

What’s your all-time favourite song? 

All time favourite? Tough to say. Songs are a zeitgeist for me. One song that comes to mind is “Baby, I’m Star” by Prince. It used to be “Call Me When You’re Sober”.

What was the last album you listened to?

Because I have a music show called CCTV: The NON-STOP POP SHOW, I listen to music constantly. Most recently I listened to Kylie Minogue’s DISCO and Jessie Ware’s “What’s Your Pleasure.”

Your favourite artist of all time and why?

AH! I have to choose? I’ll say Janet Jackson is my favourite artist of all time. She went from child star to adult icon! People always look at her as a sexpot but that woman is VERSATILITY personified! She has endearing songs like “Miss U Much,” “Escapade” and “Doesn’t Really Matter.” She has conscientious tracks and of course, she has the sexy jams. She embodies a true pop icon.

Whose your favourite five artists right now? 

Right now, and in no particular order: Rina Sawayama, Bree Runway, Rico Nasty, Doja Cat and Victoria Monet.

In your opinion who is the most influential and successful artist in your genre today and why?

Doja Cat. She has been working hard for a long time and she has been consistent. She is who she is: quirky, a dancer, a singer and she leaned into all of her good qualities. She can write a fun song, put on a good show and is beautiful. She’s the whole package.

Who have been some of your favourite artists that you’ve been able to work with? 

Three artists that I’ve worked with that treat me well and make music I actually listen to are: Nikki Era, Britney Crush, and Shenna.

How do you feel about the current state of music? 

I think it depends on the genre of music. I feel like everything has been derivatives of each other. Not all artists are the same, obviously, but when you have a bunch of artists who don’t really have a sound that’s what happens. Tiktok-virality can be a blessing and curse because it exposes you to talent and also reveals who doesn’t actually have a good catalogue. It’s a bit hit-or-miss, but I’m hopeful for change.

I also feel like music is so sad nowadays. Granted there is nothing wrong with feeling down or having a song about some good ol’ Bacchanalia, but is anyone in love and/or happy? Everyone is out here trying to be “savage”. Where is the heart?

Any dream award shows you hope to one day play at?

FESTIVALS! Coachella, KCON, V festival, Sofarsounds, VMA’s, BET AWARDS any choice awards, and eventually THE TONY’s.

What is your main goal as far as music?

I want to make music I’m proud of and that excites me! If I have an opportunity to get synced or land a placement, that would be amazing as well. I’m open to whatever happens as long as it’s in music.

That being said, I ultimately want to make money. Of course, the goal is to create more music and keep doing that, but the more money I make the more music I can make. I think at this point of the question, people can figure out that music is something I see myself doing genuinely and lovingly. Even if I don’t win awards, if people are streaming and purchasing the music/merch/tickets and I’ve made a profit, then I can say the 100K I’ve invested in my life was worth it.

Who would you say your music relates to the most?

I’d say my songs relate to whoever wants to listen. And I don’t mean this in the abstract. I write music that is enjoyed internationally. The DM’s I receive and comments are from people all over the six continents! Male, female, and everyone in between, the listener doesn’t matter and it doesn’t matter.

I rap, I sing (in English and Spanish), my music is inspired by K-Pop and R&B and I’m only going to add more sonics to my catalogue. The possibilities only end with a closed mind.

What separates you from other artists? (What’s makes you different?)

What makes me different is my versatility. As I mentioned, I have a lot of influences that stem from different countries and genres. My overall sound is Pop and R&B, but my music depicts different sounds within the frames of the genres that is both palatable and honest.

When your not in the studio, What do you like to do for fun and relaxation?

I watch old comedies like 30Rock and Martin, I read, I like to exercise and sleep. I’m pretty simple when it comes to personal-Chann things. I like exploring and getting lost so I’m always finding something to do. I recently picked up a skill: SOLO WHEELING! I’m not great at it, but it’s fun to do.

If you could work with any producer who would it be?

Hmm, because I enjoy her work and writing I’d like to work with KENZIE.

What’s the biggest highlight of your career thus far?

Winning an Emmy as part of a cast. That and releasing “HERE I AM.” It’s one of the best songs I’ve written but not the best song on CHROMA. Wink wink!

What is your dream venue to perform at?

Ooh, wow. I’ve not thought of this. I feel like MSG is the typical answer, right? I’d like to perform in the O2 arena or better yet, METS Stadium.

What’s the name of the last book you read and by whom?

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

What’s your favourite sports team and why?

The Toon Squad, haha! Honestly, I do not watch sports with an allegiance in mind. I watch for the fun of it. If I’m watching with my dad, I choose an opposing team to foster some friendly competition.

Whose your favourite actor or actress and their best movie?

Don’t have one. One of my favourite movies is Kill Bill, though.

Name someone famous who inspires you and why?

Rina Sawayama is a huge inspiration to me. I’ve mentioned her several times during this interview and she is worth it. She started off making music with her own money— like every other Indie artist— and once she found her producer, Clarence Clarity— she has taken off into stardom. She writes about life in a way that isn’t preachy and mopey. It’s amazing and she even created a NU METAL song, which is amazing for a Pop artist.

Someone else who inspires me is Issa Rae. I used to watch her show ABG (Awkward Black Girl), religiously when I was younger. I bought merchandise and even ran into “White J” in the middle of an H&M (a picture Issa Rae “liked” on Instagram). She was everything to me when I was a young teen. Now, she’s building an empire and I have a small part in it! Hint-hint for Spring 2022!

What can we expect from you in the future?

MORE MUSIC, MORE VIDEOS, more acting credits, and a placement! That last one is a wish, but MANIFEST, MANIFEST, MANIFEST.

Where can the fans check out for your music?

I have a universal link: EVERYTHING IS HERE! I cannot wait to e-meet you all.

Photo Credit Shako Khiskiakiadze

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