This is an excerpt of an interview for a forthcoming article
(Montreal) Attempting to find a label to attach to the music of Chantal Chamandy is no easy matter. Throwing out a catch-all phrase such as "world music" is meaningless, because Chantal's music defies such a simplistic categorization.
Her evocative voice is unlike mainstream Western singers, as she draws on traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean styles and blends these influences in pop music forms ranging from upbeat dance to heartbreaking ballads. Her music, however, is very accessible to Western ears, and the passion that flows from deep in her soul seems to strike a universal chord.
Chantal was born in Alexandria, Egypt to parents of Greek and Lebanese descent, and has lived in Montreal since she was a child. She is fluent in five languages, and her lyrics frequently display this multilingual ability.
Chantal Chamandy's first single, "You Want Me," was a Top 5 track on the UK dance charts for the much of 2005, and in early 2006 the song was a Top 4 “breakout” on Billboard’s US dance chart.
Chantal and I discussed her upcoming album release Love Needs You, slated for release this summer, as well as life, love, and Toledo.
Chantal believes that new artists can achieve fame while maintaining independence by utilizing non-traditional media such as the Internet.
"I was in the music business a few years ago on a major label, and I really prefer working with an independent label," she said. "I can control my own destiny, and I am able to write and develop my music in the way that I envision it."
The key to success using the emerging medium of the Internet, said Chantal, is developing a solid grass-roots group of volunteers.
"I only want to work with people who enjoy the music – I don’t want to work with people who have just been hired as promoters," she said. "I am so lucky to have people backing me who believe in the same things that I do."
Chantal agrees that her music is difficult to categorize.
"Some people like to group me with Shakira, but I don't think I sound much like her," she said. "I like to think of my style as "pop music meets the neighbors," because you might have all sorts of different types of people living in your neighborhood."
The music has been well-received in the areas that Chantal and her organization have targeted.
"We of course did quite well in London last year, but I have been surprised at how people in places like Texas and Ohio have responded," she said. "The Internet has allowed us to reach people in very unexpected places."
Among the unique ways that Chantal has reached out to fans is a relationship advice feature on her website, as well as an interactive MySpace blog.
"I am a true believer in love, and the idea that there is someone for everyone if you wait long enough," she said. "I answer my own mail, and offering advice on matters of the heart has allowed me to connect with fans in a way that I could not do if I was employing publicists."
Chantal's advice to aspiring musicians and singers is direct.
"Find people who believe in what you do and make it happen," she said. "Go out there and just find ways to get heard, and most of all - stick to it!"
Music samples, videos, and much more are available at Chantal Chamandy's website, as well as links to ordering her album.