has been smitten with 60s and 70s mod pop and retro from the moment she snuck into her first club at the age of 15. Years later, and coming off the heels of a successful career fronting alt/rock outfit Morningwood
, she's striking it solo to tap back into those roots and deliver the music she's always dreamed of making. With a sound that effortlessly blends pop, soul, hip-hop, and rock n' roll — a sound which she's ingeniously pegged as "Rock N' Soul" — her forthcoming debut full-length, The One, The Only...
, is a fierce and fitting start in the right direction. We caught up with Chantal about creating her dream record, how upbeat music can still kick it with the best of those signature "heartfelt" genres, and why it payed off to sit in an empty club at 7PM all those years ago. Check it out, spin her new tune "Never Gonna Let You Go," and get ready for the new album to drop on June 19 via The End Records
PureVolume: We hear you used to sneak into Mod clubs? Can you describe the first time you snuck into one, and how it set the tone for the life you would come to pursue?
Chantal Claret: Oh my lord, well when I was 15 I "interned" at this club called Coney Island High on St. Marks Place. I told them I was 24 and had the crappiest fake ID ever, [so] the first thing I did was become friends with the door guys so they wouldn't give me a hard time. Every day after school I would take the subway down to Astor Place and go work at Coney Island High. They had all sorts of different music — every night was a different band or different club night. I remember going for the first time to this party called Tiswas and I just couldn't believe it. The music was incredible [britpop, and 60s, and garage rock) the most amazing bands [were] playing live, the boys were so cute, everyone was dancing — I was hooked. Then there was a party called Shout at Bar 13 every Sunday. I would go in at 7PM when doors opened and would be the only person there. [I'd] sit in the corner and do my homework till people started getting there around 10 or so. For the first few months all I did was watch everyone dance, then go dance in my bedroom at home. Then I got enough liquid courage to do it myself and I've been dancing that way ever since.
PV: From the beginning of this project, you had set forth to put out a very different sound than what you had done with Morningwood. When did it become strikingly clear to you that this is the type of music you were most passionate about creating?
CC: Oh, I've known it for a long time. Morningwood was always slightly out of my comfort zone [and] this style is completely who I am. I love Rock N' Roll and pop, but that era of music was never what I really imagined I would be performing. I knew there would be no way to infuse my love of 60s/70s retro sounds into Morningwood, and I saw all of these other artists like Lauryn Hill, Amy Winehouse, Duffy, and Adele getting very close to the genre that I had always wanted to make. I knew that if I didn't do it I would end up regretting it for the rest of my life. So, it was time to either poo or get off the pot.
PV: To you, what is the most exciting thing about bringing new life to a style of music that isn’t often worked with anymore?
CC: Just being able to create and perform a style of music that I've idolized and loved for so long is such an relief. This IS music that I would listen to on my off time. If you look through my iPod it's filled with girl groups, soul, british invasion, garage, disco, everything, so I wanted something that would fit in seamlessly. In the 60s, you could write unapologetic pop songs that were hooky and lovely without being cheesy. I miss that. If I could have worked in the Brill Building with people like [pop singer/songwriter] Ellie Greenwich, my life would have been complete. In regards to performing, I watch people like Tina Turner, James Brown, and Ronnie Spector, and they have such power and grit. They're dancing, and singing, and performing pop songs, but it is still so guttural. I love that and I want to try to bring that to my stage show. They are true punks in the sense that you never knew what they were going to do — real Rock N' Roll or Rock N' Soul as I call it.
PV: Can you describe how you felt about the album’s direction once Mark “Exit” Goodchild [Outkast, Cee-Lo] agreed to mix the songs?
CC: I was literally squealing and jumping up and down around my house when I heard. We had been getting different mixes in, and none of them captured what I was going for. I used to send mixers Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" as a song reference to what [the album] should sound like, and Exit has done a bunch of work with Cee-Lo and a million other artists. He had the perfect ear for blending hip hop, pop, and more organic instruments. If he couldn't do it then NO ONE COULD. He is such a sweet guy and a real damned diamond.
PV: What’s the story behind “Never Gonna Let You Go”?
CC: I wrote "Never Gonna Let You Go" with Mher Fillion, an amazingly lovely dude. I wanted [to make] a sort of 70s upbeat love song, and obviously it is about my husband. This is the first record where I didn't feel weird writing love songs. Love is cheesy — all the things I feel about my husband [Mindless Self Indulgence's Jimmy Urine], and the things we say to each other are cheesy, so I might as well be honest and write it the way I feel it.
If you could describe the new album in one sentence, what would it be?
CC: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, or rather, Upbeat 60s and 70s-inspired pop songs that make you wanna get down with your bad self.
PV: What do you most hope people will take from this album, and more importantly, the genres that you’ve fused to create it?
CC: That this would be an awesome show to come see live, and that just because music is upbeat with a booty bass doesn't mean it's any less heartfelt and sincere then some guy crying into his guitar.