Cha:dy is a Parisian alt-jazz singer who, last week, released new single ‘Lazy’. Taken from a forthcoming EP, it shines a light on young people suffering with mental health. Having suffered herself, Cha:dy was able to tap into her innermost emotions to write a song that is as honest as it is moving. She says:
“The hook came to me when I told someone how miserable I was feeling, and they answered me ‘Stop being lazy’, which made me feel very misunderstood and inspired me to write this song. At the time I thought it was just a phase and did not recognise those were the signs of a deeper unhappiness and problem, that I needed to work on. I feel like it was important for me to write this song instead of something more poetic or romantic just because it’s real and I think it will resonate with a lot of people”
With a name taken from the Arabic word for melodious, Cha:dy is inspired by lots of singers like Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Amy Winehouse and Beyoncé but particularly by Shingai from The Noisettes whose name in Shona means be bold, courageous and strong. This single shows all of those things as this outstanding young songwriter and singer lets her velvety voice unapologetically tell us about the ups and downs of life in the real world for so many people.
Having grown up in France and performed at various Paris venues, she has performed extensively in London after studying at the prestigious BIMM, launchpad of artists like Tom Odell, The Kooks, James Bay and many more.
I was lucky enough to chat with her about the new single and what she hopes the future holds. It’s an inspiring single from an inspiring artist:
EP: So, ‘Lazy’ is out. Very exciting! With its references to mental health and depression, it’s right on trend with the feelings so many people are going through during this pandemic. What made you use this subject as inspiration for this very special song?
Cha:dy: It came to me like that because I was actually going through it. I didn’t really think, ‘I’m going to sit down and write a song about mental health’, it was more like that it was a night I was very inspired to write a song and found this old guitar loop from a friend and then I just started writing the song and actually finished it in twenty minutes, probably because it was something I was going through at the time and that’s why the words came to me so quickly.
EP: So, it’s a very personal song then.
Cha:dy: Very personal….
EP: Does That make it feel like a bigger step with its release, a bigger exposure of your soul. Almost like letting someone read your diary?
Cha:dy: Yes, actually, yes. This song is going to be part of a bigger project, my coming EP called ‘Manifesto of Honesty’. It’s a project in which the whole theme of it is to be completely honest and raw and say things as they are, so yes, it is definitely nerve-racking to be releasing such a song but I know that people will relate to it and I think that’s what’s helping me as well to get out of my comfort zone and release such a personal song.
EP: Did you find it therapeutic to put your feelings, your emotions and your honesty into the lyrics of a song. Does getting it out there help you cope better?
Cha:dy: Yes, yes it was very cathartic, very therapeutic to write the song. Before I released the song I actually got to perform the song live and it was people’s favourite from my set. Afterwards they would comment to me about it and say how much they appreciated it, and they related to it, as they were going through that or that they had gone through that before.
EP: All of your songs are very personal. They deal with personal issues…with ‘Suffocating’ at the end of last year and ‘Like a Boi ‘ before that, and now ‘Lazy’ they are all heartbreakingly personal. With that in mind who are your musical and life influences, who do you look to for inspiration ?
Cha:dy: it’s a really big question because it’s everyone really. My biggest inspiration as an artist are the incredible artists I grew up with. So Beyoncé; she is an amazing business woman, vocalist and performer. It’s very cliche but she’s all of those things .
Lauryn Hill inspired me. Actually, as well, a singer that’s not very famous, but she definitely inspired me is Shingai from The Noisettes. They are from London, from the UK.
EP: Yes I know them, in fact I was lucky enough to have seen them live….
Cha:dy: Oh my God, I’m so jealous because I have all of their albums. Shingai is a fierce black woman and she was wearing her natural hair and that was something I didn’t see before and she’s a bassist in a punk rock band so definitely one of my inspirations as well. Amy Winehouse….I fell in love with her songwriting. She was very honest in the things she was saying; she wasn’t trying to say I am strong and I do not care what this person thinks of me, she definitely cared and she definitely said it. She wouldn’t hold back even though they were ugly emotions or just kind of say I miss this person so much. She wasn’t proud, she was just saying these things as she was feeling them, so definitely an inspiration as well.
EP: Yes, she really laid her soul bare. I guess an advantage, if there is one, is that a lot of the releases, a lot of the music that has come out during the pandemic, a lot of the artists that I’ve chatted to, there’s been a real theme of honesty, of self examination. I think honesty in songwriting is always the best; you can really tell when a songwriter believes what they’re singing and I guess then it’s easier to perform those songs live as there’s a real connection to the lyrics?
Cha:dy: Absolutely, every time I perform live I get in the zone really because the lyrics are so personal to me. It’s definitely easier to get that emotion over to the audience.
EP: Lockdown has been really tough for everyone but especially so for artists and singers but I guess the sources of inspiration have become numerous. As you said earlier, all of those things, those people, we took for granted have been elevated in our eyes. With the loss of live performance, of contact with an audience, have you used songwriting as a remedy, as a way of dealing with lockdown?
Cha:dy: Mmmmmmm, well obviously music was something I needed to do, so I keep singing in my room, I keep writing songs and stuff like that. I think it was mainly just keeping a healthy routine like waking up at a certain time, making sure that I exercise a little bit, that I drink water, that I check in with myself, check in with my friends. Obviously I am thinking about the future; am I going to be able to go to gigs again, perform at a gig again and stuff like that. Right now I’m just happy that I have this time actually to write songs and focus on me and call my friends and my family and things like that. I think I really wanted to use this time positively because I usually have two jobs, or three jobs so I never have a lot of time to focus on songwriting and taking a rest. So, it’s nice for me to just have the chance to slow down a little bit.
EP: it’s good to be able to take stock sometime. I think lockdown will have the advantage of making sure we never take live performance and music for granted again, or even how important it is to look after our needs . You mentioned Shingai’s hair before and on a light note, you have great hair…..how are you coping with the lockdown hair (laughing)?
Cha:dy: (laughing along)…thank God, yes, I got my hair braided just before lockdown so I’m ok and now that I have more time I can do hair masks and stuff like that but my hair has been alright. I think it’s more with the boys as their hair grows so fast but right now it’s ok
EP: So no big ‘fro issues? (laughing)
Cha:dy : I love a big ‘fro. I’m always trying to have it bigger and more in your face (laughing) so…..
EP: So, seriously, what has made you base yourself in London?
Cha:dy Basically, I was studying English back in France but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to do music but I couldn’t find people that wanted to do the same music as me or have the same projects in mind and because I wanted to come and study as well. I didn’t know how to write a song before. I had a good voice, I could sing, but I didn’t develop it so I was looking for schools to study popular music which is something that we don’t really have in France. If you want to study music, it has to be classical music really. So I was looking for a place to study. There was either the US or here and the UK isn’t too far from Paris, where I come from, and it’s a really cool city so here I am.
EP: So with that in mind, and the fact that French would be your first language, when you’re writing a song do you write in English, think it in English or is it born in French and then developed into an English song?
Cha:dy: That’s an interesting question because I learned how to write songs in English so I would say that I definitely write in English first but sometimes, when I don’t know what to write in English, I can switch to French and the lyrics, the inspiration can come faster. So when I’m stuck I can definitely write in French but I would say I write in English more.
EP: I wondered because French is such an expressive language and English can fall short sometimes, maybe, in comparison. It’s incredible that you can convey so much emotion in what’s essentially your second language…..
Cha:dy: I feel that multilingual people all have different personalities in all of the languages that we speak so I think I have that too.
EP: Looking to the future, are you planning anything live or just waiting to see what things look like when lockdown eases?
Cha:dy: I think if things had been normal I would have organised some type of single release party but obviously that’s something that we cannot do so I think I’m going to see how things pan out. It’s supposed to get easier around Spring and Summer but we’ll see. My EP is coming out in June and I would love to have an EP release party by then. We’ll see…..
EP: There’s a fantastic festival that I go to every year that prides itself on its support of new music. It’s down near Gloucester and it’s called Barn On The Farm and it’s been instrumental in the development and launch of so many singers that have gone on to worldwide success. It’s in July, hopefully, so just after the EP comes out. It would be great to see you there launching the EP. Or even just checking the Festival out. The organisers love their music!
Cha:dy: I’ll definitely do that…
EP: I know you’re very inspired by the feminist movement and gender equality as you sang about in ‘Like a Boi’, do you think your music is a step towards inspiring other singers and listeners to do the same?
Cha:dy: I don’t pretend to inspire change with my music. I feel that if it is going to help people then I’m really happy with that. I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t think I’m a spokesperson for the movement; however, this is something I feel strongly about and that I would love to have conversations about with people but sometimes people don’t really want to have conversations about these topics because it makes them feel uncomfortable or because they refuse to see their privileges and stuff like that. So, I feel like that if I can just put some of that in my songs and can make people think differently then it’s a win for me. And a win for the movement.
EP: I think all your songs are very inspiring in different ways. ‘Like a Boi’ especially was very much about gender perception. I think you shouldn’t underestimate the help your songs give so thank you for that. Finally, how do you see 2021 unfolding for you?
Cha:dy: I think I want to release EPs and singles for now. I think an album is such a big project and I think I’m going to concentrate on EP’s and singles. My five track EP comes out in June, as I said, and I’m also working on the next one. I know this one hasn’t been out yet but I’m already working on the next one….
EP: Will the next EP continue the theme of honesty from ‘The Manifesto Of Honesty’ release in June or will it tackle something different?
Cha:dy That is something I’m still figuring out (laughing). I thought there might be a continuity between the EP’s but right now I’m living new things, new experiences. I feel very inspired so I don’t really know what my mind is going to write just yet and what will link the songs altogether. So, it might be something different. It’s going to have to be a surprise!
EP: Surprises are good. I’ll look forward to an exciting year listening to your music. Thank you so much for your time and I can’t wait to see you play live as soon as possible.