We sent our interview via email to Chris and Chantelle at The Rising in Belfast. Here is what they had to say.....
Q - How long have you been writing and performing together?
Chantelle: We first met at an open mic night. Basically, I had been writing and singing my own songs for ages. Getting onto any stage I could. One of these stages was a charity gig where I was opening up the show. Headlining the show was a band called “The Rising”. I was on in the afternoon, so I never got to see the band that night. But then one night at an open mic night I was performing and so was Chris. Chris approached me at the end of the show and said that he really liked my songs and voice. At the time I was struggling to get recordings done and had done several recordings, but I didn’t like any of them. So when Chris said he had a studio we then started planning. I ended up recording my solo album with Chris. However, during these sessions Chris started to throw out suggestions, changing parts of the songs, working on the arrangement and making the song more than what I came in with. We found that we worked well in that format.
Chris: Yes. Chantelle had come into the studio to record her solo record and during the recording stage we began to collaborate on her songs. We had crossed paths for several years at various shows but never actually met until that open mic night. At the time I was recording The Rising’s first album (with the original singer) and I had asked Chantelle if we could maybe try and write a song together from scratch as previously we were just editing each others songs. So as luck would have it the process was very easy and quick. I wasn’t used to co-writing as I had written the bulk of the first record myself. But I found that I enjoyed having someone to cannon ideas off. We continued to write songs, just for fun, amassing quite a collection. By this time I was thinking of using one our songs for The Rising’s next album. However, around this time the band was on a UK Tour and the singer did nothing but cause hassle. This came to a head at a big bust up after a gig in Bristol where he insulted the audience. Straight after the gig I phoned Chantelle and told her I was kicking the singer out and did she want to join the band. Thankfully, she said yes. So we finished up the tour, came home and went our separate ways. Chantelle was now the lead singer and we started at pace to begin recording the Moving On album. But we had already booked a slot at C2C Festival, so we ended up surprising everyone by showing up with a completely new singer and format. The rest as they say is history. Q - If you could invite the people who have influenced you in your music career to a dinner party, who would you invite?
Chris: Well that would need to be quite a big and varied table. Firstly, I would have to put my idols down. That would be all the members of Queen including Freddie. Hearing their music and Brian May’s guitar is what made me get into music. So I would have to put them down. Other major influences would be Keith Urban, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Lindsey Buckingham, the guys from Needtobreathe and James Taylor.
Chantelle: I would also have a big list … erm… my family would all be there alongside Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Keith Urban, Freddie Mercury, Johnny Cash, Demi Lovato, Kelsey Ballerini, Garth Brooks and maybe Simon Cowell even. They have all played a part in influencing my career in some shape or form. From the songwriting to the vocal placement of melodies. The music video ideas and the visual side of music that is a growing aspect of the music industry. Most importantly, I would, of course, invite my best friend and musical partner Chris Logan! Without him I think my musical mind and career wouldn’t be what it is today. I believe we have influenced each others musical career and choices for a very long time now and I would hope that it would continue to grow.
Anyone could come along… there’s been so many people in my life who have influenced something musical for me.
Q - If you were to take one well known song and put your own country twist on it, which song would you choose?
Chris: Well funny you should say that… we actually have something up our sleeve.
Chantelle: When I was younger, the first concert I ever attended was Girls Aloud in Belfast! I was obsessed. I had all their CDs and posters in my room. One of my favourite songs they sang was ‘Love Machine’. So one day we were messing around and Chris was playing Folsom Prison Blues. I started singing Love Machine over the top as a joke. But it really worked.
Chris: Yes, so we immediately started recording it. We are actually going to release it as a single.
Q - If you had the chance of performing anywhere in the world, Where would your dream venue be?
Chris: Of course, there is the obvious choices like The Grand Ole Opry or the Ryman. But the dream I have had since I was a kid was to play the arena in my hometown of Belfast. We have the SSE Arena although it will forever be known as the Odyssey Arena. I have been going to gigs there since it opened and I have seen many of my heroes. So I always dreamed of being up on that stage myself. Since it would be a hometown show it would be so much more special as you could have your friends and family there. People who have helped you along in your journey.
Chantelle: I mean… there’s so many to choose from! Any big stadium would be a dream come true for me! But I have to say I think Wembley Stadium would be an amazing place to play. My Ultimate dream would probably be The Grand Old Opry in Nashville. Basically anywhere in the world that my Idols have played would be a dream come true.
Q - What is your favourite thing to do when you are not performing?
Chris: When not performing, writing or recording I am a massive Movie fanatic. So I will most likely be found going to the Cinema, watching every new release I can get to. Also Lego is a huge thing. Put movies and Lego together and I'm happy. I spent about a month building the Ghostbusters Lego Firehouse recently. The lego set cost a fortune but I had an epic time building it.
Chantelle: I'm never far away from music, should it be songwriting, serenading my dog, trying to learn the guitar and piano, singing around the house, but I am also a big fan of going to the cinema, live gigs, and learning about different trends and styles in make-up.
Q - What excites you about the British country scene?
Chantelle: I love the fact that Country music is becoming more popular in the British culture. I think that for a long time it was really under estimated and believed to be only an American or Irish thing. I think it is great that the Country genre has amalgamated with other music genres making it more accessible and current to all generations. The British Country Music is a huge community that will grow from strength to strength over the coming years.
Chris: I am going to be controversial here. But having been involved in the UK Country scene since before big-money The Shires/Ward Thomas machines rolled into town I have seen it go through a lot of changes. What excited me at that time (around 2010) was just how open the scene was and how artists would help each other out. We were all going along a path that had not been fully tested before, so it was all new and exciting. But I feel that has been lost slowly over time. The scene is now still pretty small but it is controlled by a small number of gatekeepers who like to run a pretty tight ship. Add to this the endless debates as to who/what is Country and who is not Country, which can get pretty vicious.
After The Shires/Ward Thomas boom more acts flooded in and suddenly everyone started being more out for themselves. Each act in a way became a form of competition to each other. So naturally, that feeling of community and clubbing together was lost. For example, we recently did a UK Tour and out of about the 20 acts we had playing with us only three acts actually hung out before the show or stayed until the end of the show. Most arrived just in time for their set and then left straight after. As in literally played the last note, grabbed their guitar and walked out. So the community sense is largely gone and been replaced with a more cut-throat attitude. Growth has also kind of flat lined a little when you think of the huge boom around 2016. But being positive. We have an amazing array of diverse and truly talented artists all bringing something new to the table.
Q - Tell us the most unusual gig you've played, be it the venue or the situation you found yourselves in.
Chantelle: Thats a tough one - I will leave that one up to Chris lol
Chris: That would have to be a gig in The Electric Carousel, London. Basically, we were due to play a show in The Water Rats but the venue was being renovated at the time. So the gig was moved. But what made this gig weird was that before the doors for our show could open there was a drag and Burlesque show on. So imagine the scene where three different artists are all sitting watching this Burlesque show so that they could begin their own show. Such a strange night. We slept in the airport after the gig too.
Q - The British country music scene is growing fast. Each artist having their own take on what country music is to them. How do feel that our music stands up against the music coming out of America at the moment?
Chantelle: I think there is always going to be a divide between British and American Country Scenes. I believe that the American Country Music scene moves a lot faster and is more willing to offer up new sounds to Country therefore giving more opportunity to the up and coming Country Music Bands that have a slightly different sound. There are also a lot of great British Country Music Acts out there at the minute it just seems to take a lot longer to move up the ladder in the British Country Music Scene.
Chris: I think it stands up well. There are many artists under the radar who are making world class music but for various reasons it is simply not being heard. Whether it be that they aren’t in with the right people or they simply don’t have the financial backing behind them to push it, i.e. radio pluggers, PR etc. But the biggest barrier to the growth of the scene is... how do UK acts break down the barrier between the country fans who typically only go to see C2C or any of the major Nashville acts. That is the big challenge and one that artists need to break down. Most of these people seem to look at UK Country as a bunch of local bands/acts just indulging in their hobby while playing cover gigs at the weekend. Not as the proper independent acts that they are. So how do we as artists and indeed the scene as a whole work to change that?
Q - Where do you see British country music in 5 years time?
Chantelle: I would hope that the British Country Music Scene would be in par with and taken as seriously as American artists in the UK . I Believe that there will be more young Country Artists and fans emerging from the British Country Scene taking it on a brand new and exciting journey.
Chris: As Chantelle says, there are many younger Country artists coming through in the UK, all with a unique take on the genre and not being afraid to mix it up. So perhaps they will be the ones to change perceptions. I have to admit that I am just a little concerned as to where UK Country will be in 5 years. I truly believe that we are in fact sitting at a knife-edge moment where a lot of artists are becoming disillusioned.
The scene has kind of levelled out in recent years after the big boom. We seem to have a market where it is the same people going to the same gigs year in, year out. A simple scroll down the BCMA nominations and winners lists for the last three or four years also shows an indication of the flat line in growth. A lot of this could be down to the fact that the same people are voting for the same people year in and year out. Voting for their friends and favourites in essence. With not as many new members joining.
I voted in this years BCMA awards for example and I found it very difficult to know who had released what and when. There is no long list of eligible albums or things in place to help voters. You go into voting completely blind. So naturally, you will get largely the same results year in, year out. There also seems to be a massive disconnect between those getting nominated and those moving further in the industry. For example, one of the acts I voted for had a stellar year with huge radio and media coverage, yet they didn’t receive a single nomination. They also released an album but when you look at the nominations “Album Of The Year” is mostly EP’s. Why is this? Is there a way to break out of this?
So as a scene we really need to look at how best to move forward. How we can collaborate to make things better. But in five years I would like to think that UK artists would be taken more seriously. Maybe even build in a system to help emerging artists i.e. creating an industry database/guide or a funding scheme to help emerging artists.
Q - What do you feel is the greatest achievement of your musical career to date?
Chantelle: Having the album released on Vinyl was awesome. I grew up in a musical family. I was brought up listening to cassette tapes and Vinyl. I have always viewed it as something only major artists could produce and so to actually have our own music on a Vinyl has to be right on point for me. Also playing the 02 at Country to Country was pretty amazing too. Just to hear the audience singing back the chorus to you and knowing I was right next door to Carrie Underwood was just WOW.
Chris: For me, I take great pride in the fact that we are a completely independent act. We don’t have a massive budget behind us so we write, record, produce, mix our own music. Not only that but we also shoot our own music videos, book our own tours/gigs, do our own PR and also have own label with a distribution deal that allows us to get physical vinyl/CD into major record stores worldwide. Not many bands/acts are fully in control of every aspect of their own career. Of course, it is hugely stressful and results in us sacrificing a lot of things like holidays or taking time out. But it is very rewarding to see people react to something that you have personally made from the very beginning through to the listeners or viewers hands.
Q - Where can we find you on social media?
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