I cannot recommend this artist enough. In my opinion, one of Australia's finest music talents. Her artistry has an organic essence. Each song, brewed from a potion of unadulterated passion, talent, and soul. Her vibrant, audacious vibe is a much needed breath of fresh air, unlike the pervasive musical frippery that speedily fades away (uh, what the heck did I just say?). What's more, she hails from Melbourne. Well, okay, she was born in Fremantle and is now based in LA. But still, she lived here for a decade and her family resides here. So as far as I'm concerned, she's Melburnian-ish.
Born Chelsea Wheatley, Chela's inner musician surfaced early. She knew at a very young age, music was her destiny. As a 'fresh princess' bursting with creative drive and lyrical flair, her mum would garb her and her sister up in matching outfits. They'd then entertain whoever was around. And that's what's interesting about Chela. Her innate capacity to captivate. For instance, her song "Romanticise". Filmed in a single take, the clip is her dancing around non-stop; flaunting her signature quirk with deceptive ease.
So as alluded to above, I had the pleasure of asking Chela some questions...
Q: In terms of initial idea to final product, what part of the process gets your creative juices flowing the most?
A: I'd say the initial idea is usually the most exciting creatively because good ideas come at the strangest times, and it's a fun task to capture them. From there your imagination runs wild with possibilities, and once you've formulated a strong direction it becomes a game of puzzle solving - finding ways to fit the pieces together. Hell, I love a good puzzle though.
Q: Do your songs have a specific underlying theme? ie. deeper personal meaning to yourself? If so, would you mind indulging?
A: Absolutely. I've noticed that a lot of my songs are messages to myself. It makes sense because I write what's on my mind, and usually your thoughts are a conversation to yourself. Those songs can become very therapeutic for me, especially on-stage where I can get it out so viscerally. I also like to make the songs relatable in hopes that I can give that pleasure to other people, so I usually don't go into too much detail. I appreciate a little mystique and wonder in songs.
Q: Do you attribute your success to your family/parents in any particular way?
A: Of course! My family nurtured mine and my sister's love for music from a young age. They enabled us to have private training in dance and voice throughout most of our childhoods and teenagehoods. When we moved cities I was 15 and I rebelled against almost everything in life due to my circumstances at the time - I tried my best to un-train myself in lots of ways, in order to express raw emotion in the same ways that all of my new idols did. And my family have always been supportive of every artistic chapter I've been through. I've been lucky for that. (Especially if I'm having a hard time handling the music industry) My Nana always says 'Chels, you know you have a home here in Perth where you will get fed and be loved, and won't have to worry about anything'. Having that support gives me a certain contentment, like no matter how hard it gets I never let myself become completely despaired, because I know I have a safe place to fall.
Q: Ignore this question if it is too Twilight Zone-ish, but do you feel money inhibits or inspires your creativity?
A: Good question. There's always a bit of both. Money is a massive part of life for most people, and every element of life feeds into the creative beast. If I had had more money I would have released more music by now, however being restricted at times has been... character building, therefore allowing me to evolve and changing my creative flow on the way.
Q: The video clip for Full Moon, filmed in and around Melbourne & Fitzroy - when you were filming it were you blushing at all? Or do you possess a rare inbuilt confidence to be yourself without any reservation?
A: Ha! It is true, I am hard to embarrass, especially when I'm performing. Off-stage I feel a lot more vulnerable and guarded.
Q: If I had to pick my favourite Chela track, I'd have to split it between Zero and Handful of Gold. Do you have a favourite? If so, is it because of the final product? Or more so, the personal feeling it evokes?
A: I usually don't play favourites in life. Every song is a different experience for me, and some spur on stronger emotions than others, but for a variety of reasons. I can safely say I'm never bored - I feel like I jump from one emotion to the other and I don't have time to sit back and compare.
Q: Romanticise - Sleeping With Other People. It's awesome to hear your stuff circulating around in Hollywood. Um, not actually a question.
A: Haha thanks!
Q: Are we going to be rewarded with some more catchy, irresistibly hip-shaking tunes in 2015-16?
A: Honestly I hoped that I would release new music this year, but I have come up against some big changes in my personal and business life, all important parts of the journey. Yes I do have lots of new material that I'm eager to share and I'll be getting them to you as fast and responsibly as I can.
With Chela's retro-sounding groove, denim, and Michael Jackson-esque moves, there is a definite hint of 80's to Chela. But in my opinion, that's another of her assets. Furthermore, it's not feigned or pretentious. It's merely Chela's untamable flamboyance. And can I also just say (not that you particularly need convincing): don't let the 'retro' fool you. Despite the 80's throwbacks, Chela's firmly perched on the upper end of the progressiveness spectrum (if such a thing existed). Ultra-ultra-progressive, both in terms of her social conscience and musical knowledge.
Chela will be performing at 'Bowie Late Nights', where she'll be injecting Melbourne with a blast of funky, upbeat high jinks. There'll also be guest DJ duo Condensed Milk (mmm, yum), and the infamous Bowie dancers. So if you're needing a jolt, come on down to ACMI at Fed Square, October 30th.
How: Bowie Late Nights has free entry (but priority given to exhibition ticket holders). There's also timed entry (every half hour). To secure your spot to see Chela, BOOK any exhibition session from 5pm on the day of the event.