Interview by Kayla Gutierrez
Sucker: Who is Louise Chantal?
Louise Chantal: I’m a singer, songwriter, creative director, and entrepreneur from London, living in the NYC area.
Sucker: Who or what are some of your musical inspirations?
LC: I’m inspired by so many people in different genres for different reasons. One person that inspired me vocally to grow and push myself, and accomplish as much as I can is Whitney Houston. Beyonce also continues to inspire me as an outstanding boss of her brand and talent as well. Her work ethic is unmatched in my eyes and I would like to strive to be the same way with an uncompromising devotion to my craft.
Sucker: What is your creative process?
LC: Each song has a very different story. Some of the songs on my project, I wrote without hearing instrumentation first and other songs I wrote to instrumentation. The biggest evolution in my creative process from the time I started writing and recording my EP to now is that I am much more involved in the musical production. I really wasn’t an executive producer outside of funding my project when I first began recording songs, but by the end of the project I was heavily involved in music production, not just the songwriting, vocal production, and arrangements of the voice. A big portion of that growth I think I can credit to working with producers that were far more experienced in the industry than me. Syience, who executive produced the project with me, always encouraged me to think and speak for myself. Once I began doing that wholeheartedly, I gained a lot more confidence in myself.
Sucker: What kind of messages do you want to convey through your music?
LC: I would like to convey honest messages. Many of my songs promote feminism and anti-patriarchal concepts because that’s who I am, but then I also have a few songs in which I’m hopeless romantic. All of the emotions I have written about are things that I’ve experienced and battled with. I have experienced men who made me feel like shit, made me feel absolutely horrible about myself, and it’s bigger than intimacy or relationships for me, it goes way back to my childhood up to now and witnessing how society isn’t structured to uplift or celebrate the woman of color. And in this album I’m talking about how I had to find myself, and find out what I loved about me, and why I was special, and why I didn’t need a man to define my worth. My life stories I haven’t share in the Welcome to Aranbi EP. I shared stories of the many women in me.
The emotions are really what I care about. Cry, cry, cry but then you have to move the fuck on. That’s my music. There’s a lot of sadness behind it, I feel that’s the core. There’s other happier songs, but for the most part I wrote about men that didn’t want me to know my worth or think that I was smart enough to be excellent, outstanding, or powerful alone. It was more to their advantage and ego to make me feel small. In this project, I said fuck that.
Sucker: At what age did you start singing?
LC: I was 12 years old, a point in my life where the world I thought I belonged to shifted drastically. I went from a very diverse public school to an all white private school. The way I viewed myself and my value flipped completely. But in the midst of all the sadness that came that year, I fought for a music career, and joined a production company. I wrote and recorded two EP’s, and a mixtape with them, and we created really great things. Years later I’m here, with my own company, having fun and doing it my way.
Sucker: Where do you see yourself in five years?
LC: I get that question quite a bit. Hopefully in five years – I’ve done three albums. If it doesn’t work out that way, it’s okay. But hopefully, I’ve done a few albums and I’ve become the creative director of a fashion brand. Maybe I’ll have had a role in a move or guest starred in a TV show. Hopefully my charity has expanded its outreach globally. That would be most amazing. And I’ve toured the world a few times.
Sucker: How do you want your fans to perceive you?
LC: As a business woman that is passionate about what I do. I love my supporters because they understand that about me. They understand that I’m here to change the world through art. I want them to know that I have an uncompromising attitude and devotion when it comes to my work. There is a lot of negative stereotypes about women in the industry, obviously bred by misogyny. They want to promote these messages that women aren’t intelligent enough, aren’t powerful enough to be successful without selling their bodies to a man in power. I hate that shit. I want my fans to know that I’m in control of my shit. No one in the ‘Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is’ music video told me, ‘Oh I want you to wear this or I want you to pretend to be that’, everything you see in my content is what I wanted. I’m very much involved, I’m very much in control. There is no one telling me what to do and I’m proud of that and I think it’s important that my supporters know this isn’t been repackaged by a man.
In the PYMWMYI music video I made some people uncomfortable. Uncomfortable to the point where they felt the need to write in the comments ‘oh I wonder who she fucked to get to the top,’ or ‘go back to the strip club’ or ‘slut slut slut.’ If a man puts 100 strippers in his music video, he’s the man. He’s a God. It’s never going to be oh I wonder how many women he had sex with to get where he is because they have all the power and they keep it in their circle. But if embrace my sexuality or look a little too confident in my sex appeal, I get 3,000 comments reducing me down to object. Stripper or no stripper, I’m made out to be an object. I’ll take the backlash in a heartbeat and just do what the fuck I want to do. That’s who I am. That’s who I am going to remain throughout my career, a woman that is unapologetic and willing to make people uncomfortable.
Sucker: How have you ever experienced sexism first-hand? What changes need to happen to end sexism?
LC: I don’t know how I could be alive in this world as a woman as color, and not have experienced sexism. I could rant on and on about how people undermine on my capabilities or what I can achieve because I’m a woman. But at this point for me it’s about changing the program and what is promoted through the media. The idea that women have to have sex with men in order to achieve career success. The messages that say being in control as woman isn’t sexy. The messages that are promoted through the media must change.
Sucker: Is there anyone you want to collaborate with?
LC: Princess Nokia, I really like her a lot, and I really like what she has stands for in and outside of her music; the messages she promotes. Her entire life story is really inspirational. I’d also like to work with Drake one day.
Sucker: Do you believe personal relationships go with professional business?
LC: Business is always first priority for me, but I tend to become very close to the people I work with continuously. Some of my best friends are people I work with regularly. For that reason I’ve learned about the importance of knowing and respecting boundaries. I once had a friendship in past that became too multi-dimensional. There were no boundaries or moments alone, too much became intertwined. I learned a lot from that relationship and the outcome was sad. But with time and experience I’ve learned how to navigate my business life and my personal life and how to always keep them separate to a certain extent.
Sucker: Many artists claim that motherhood is not a good combination with their life’s work, do you see yourself being maternal in the near future along with balancing your career or solely dedicated to the music?
LC: I’m so in love with me and what I do professionally. All of my siblings have kids. I have so much work I have to get done, and I don’t think a kid would make that any easier for me due to first hand experience babysitting. You need time to be a parent, I don’t have the time or wisdom at this stage in my life to become one for sure.
Sucker: Who has been the most supportive to you through your journey as an artist?
LC: Probably my dad, I’ll give my dad that one.
Sucker: Is there more in life you want to accomplish than music?
LC: Absolutely. I already see myself and my brand as being bigger than music. I want to change the world and I think it will take multiple mediums in order for me to change how kids learn, how the world thinks and I’ll start with music, but I will definitely be branching out. I have a passion for business, branding and market. , I feel there’s so many ways for me to grow as mogul, as an entrepreneur. I love music, but I will definitely be taking advantage of every opportunity to do so much more.
Sucker: With growing movements such as Black Lives Matter, will fans see you spreading activism, will it be in your music?
LC: I definitely feel as though I am an activist through my music and my words, but I am planning to really take things to the next level by launching the Aranbi Foundation in November. At this point in my life, actions are really speaking even louder than words for me and that’s why I’ve begun taking initiatives to become active in the inner city communities that are being targeted the most by a flawed criminal justice system.
Sucker: What is music to you?
LC: Music is the one place where I can say whatever the fuck I want. I can just say what I feel, and I can just cry on a song, and I speak my mind with no dialogue, and no conversation, just me and the world that I created in pain and isolation. Aranbi is me in my head.
Sucker: What is one place you know for certain that you can go for peace and quiet?
LC: My dad’s place. He’s so calm, relaxed, and open minded. I love that about him. I feel so loved in the presence of my father, and enjoy spending all of my time with him. Another place I love going is to the beach.
Sucker: What advice to you have for young aspiring artists?
LC: Don’t underestimate your value, don’t allow anyone other than you to determine what you can or cannot do. Don’t underestimate your ability to think for yourself. Finding yourself and then believing in who you are is key.