Chantel McGregor Interview

Bradford born award winning guitarist and singer songwriter Chantel McGregor is coming home to West Yorkshire on the 13th February, when she will perform at the Arts Centre in Bingley as part of her latest UK & European tour. McGregor will be performing songs from her new album Lose Control, which was released in October 2015.  The tour will see her play 12 venues around the UK between now and the end of June, with one month (April) spent in Europe.

Having conducted an interview with the singer this week it looks like a very busy year ahead, as well as performing on tour, Chantel has also started to write new material for a third album. She is looking to showcase her music whilst on tour to introduce her blues rock sound to more new areas of the country as well as overseas, which she hopes will increase her fan base.

What inspired you to take up music?

Originally, I was inspired to take up music by my family, my dad used to play the guitar, so there was always guitars and rock music around the house. My dad used to play songs for me when I was a baby and once I’d learnt to walk, I would toddle over to him and grab his guitar, so when I was three my parents decided to get me a half size guitar and it went from there.

Which artists influence your music?

I have a very broad range of musicians and artists that influence me, and it usually changes by the day. When I was a child I would listen to things like Free, Led Zepplin, Fleetwood Mac etc, things that my parents were listening to. Nowadays I try and listen to everything and absorb and learn a little bit from everything.

What is your favorite album and why?

I have a few favorite albums that I always seem to go back to and hear something different and new every time.

  • Jeff Buckley’s Grace – Jeff Buckley has inspired me ever since I heard “Last Goodbye” on MTV2 when I was about 14.  His voice, his tone, his guitar work, his songwriting and his magical performances all captivated me and I’ve never got over it. Every time I listen to “Grace” it takes me back to the first time I heard his music and I fall in love with it all over again.
  • Alanis Morrisette – Jagged Little Pill – Again another album from my teenage years. I love this album for the sheer power and emotion Alanis Morrisette puts into it. The songs are so personal and filled with angst and I think the personal honesty is what connects with the audience, which is what makes this album timeless and still a fantastic album.
  • Fleetwood Mac – Rumours – an album from my childhood. I always remember as a child I would ask my parents to play Rumours in the car.  I always wanted to be Stevie Nicks and I used to twirl around with curtains made into dresses pretending to be her. Again I think the personal closeness of this album is the reason it has remained a classic album, people can relate to it in so many ways.

What was it like working with Livingstone Brown?

Livi is great. I’ve worked with Livi since I was 15, I used to go down to Nottingham and London to record with him years ago, then when I did my first album Like No Other, he was the obvious choice of producer to work with as I knew I worked well with him.

The new album Lose Control was great fun to record with Livi, although I must admit I now have a bit of a jerk chicken addiction from recording it in Brixton (we lived on rice, peas and jerk chicken most days for lunch!).

If you could duet with anyone who would it be and why?

I think I’d pick someone totally outside the box like Lady Gaga, because as an artist, I find her really interesting, she has a great voice and is a fantastic songwriter as well as an incredible and individual performer. I’d also love to work with the progressive artist Steven Wilson, as he is probably my current favorite artist. I find his songwriting and production really interesting and his shows are fantastic with visual art and concept videos.

When writing new material do you think it’s important to be individual?

I think it’s incredibly important. I think it’s a challenge as essentially you’re never going to reinvent the wheel and there’s only so much you can do with 12 notes, but you have to try and push the boundaries as much as you can, even if it’s just your own boundaries as a songwriter.

I also think it’s important not to grade yourself and your songs against anyone elses, as you can get so wrapped up in what other people are doing that you become paranoid that you and your songs are not good enough, whereas it’s much better to just be the best artist you can be and forget what everyone else is doing.

You have a large amount of followers and fans across social media. Is that online connection important to you and your musical development?

I think it’s incredibly important. At the end of the day if you don’t have a connection with your followers and fans, you play to an empty room. So to me, I think it’s so important to let the fans know that they are appreciated and valued, which I do by interacting through social media.

I also think it’s important to interact with fans about other things other than music, as they need to remember that as well as an artist, that you are a human too, and they can connect with you about normal things as well as music.

The music industry is difficult to break into, have you ever considered going down the talent show route?

I actually performed on a Sky Arts program last year called Guitar Star, it really opened my eyes to how talent shows operate. I wouldn’t do it again, I think there is a lot to be said for just getting out there, honing your craft and building a following organically without diluting yourself by doing to talent shows.

You have won a number of British Blues Awards, what’s it like to having your music and talent recognized?

It’s great to win awards, it’s very kind of the industry people to nominate me and the fans to vote, however to me it’s not the be all and end all. I think a better way to think of music being appreciated is to have people at your shows who really look like they are enjoying themselves and they come over to you at the end of the show and tell you that they’ve had a great night, personally I find that more satisfying.

Having released your second album and been on tour, what were you highlights of 2015?

I think the real highlight was releasing the second album, as I’d been working on it for a year and spent most of that year in the studio, so it was lovely for it to be finally heard by everyone. I had to keep it under wraps and only a very small number of people had heard any of the tracks, so it was very exciting to see what everyone would think of the album and how it would be received by the media.

What are you plans for 2016?

At the moment, I’m working on tours both in the UK and in Europe, I’m starting to write more songs towards the next album, which may be something very different again – we’ll see on that one, and continuing to play the shows. Hopefully, we’ll be reaching more new areas this year and meeting new fans and followers!

Interview by Chadwick Media

Pete Francis

Pete Francis is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Blues Rock Review. Pete founded Blues Rock Review in 2010 because he felt there was a major void in how the blues rock genre was covered. Pete is the host of Blues Rock Weekly and a co-host on the Blues Rock Show.

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