fbpx

RGM Introducing – KALA CHNG

Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide to become a soloist?

I was always the last one standing every time I tried to start a band, so after a while I gave up, but then some rappers got me to sing hooks for them on their tunes and said why don;t i just go solo, I was like oh yeh! So I did!

It’s been a bit of a wild last year, how have you guys managed to pass time and stay sane during lockdown?

I’ve been writing, recording and producing a whole new album and doing more songwriting commissions and creative community projects, plus I’ve got into yoga and walking more (like I think most people have!?)

How positive are you feeling now restrictions are loosening?

I feel a bit nervous and a bit excited, I want to see people and do things together! I also really want to hug everyone but I don’t feel ready for that yet!

How has 2020  affected your mental health?

I’ve had to make such a bigger effort to look after myself but I think there are some lessons to keep forever. Plus realising how we can all support those around us in whatever way we can.

How much are you looking forward to playing live?

I actually don’t miss it as much as I thought, I’ve always found it really nerve wracking and a lot from load in to soundcheck to pack down. I’ve really missed hanging out and rehearsing with the live electronic session band I work with for live, but I’ve also spent more time running though songs stripped back on piano, and doing stripped back radio gigs which has been fun. I was gigging twice plus a month and the pressure to always be out to prove your seriousness and are supported/ in demand is actually a lot. So I’ve felt a great relief around having a chance to break from that and it’s been great for my mental and physical health in that way, because I was also always out on the scene supporting and watching other live music. So the pressure to be out all the time was gone. I have missed the income! And I’ve missed doing the gigs that feel like real community spirit, they always bring me a lot of joy to catch-up with everyone from bookers to other artist to regular supportive fans, to just the vibe and spirit of the event and audience in general. I’m also excited by what new gigs might be like, e.g. sit down shows! 

[oh but wait til the question later!]

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? 

I don’t think so?

Whats one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?

There isn’t one, surprisingly they are always very different! But also I love talking and chatting to people so I think I find that super easy and flowy for me!

What support is out there for new artists in Bristol ?

There’s a lot of youth projects such as stuff at Bristol Beacon and Knowle West Media Centre, where I met those rappers I mentioned who got me back into music. I also went to an adults production course at Bristol Beacon which was really enjoyable. There’s also Bristol Music INdustry Network, which was a great way for me to meet people and get advice when I was starting out.



Who is inspiring you at the minute on the Bristol unsigned scene?

I don’t know if they’re unsigned, but I recently discovered a new band called Arroh from listening to The Bristol Music Show, and an amazing artist called Grove who I heard from listening to BBC Introducing In The West. It’s how I find new music locally through local radio and (pre pandemic) through going to local festivals and gigs/events.

If your fans could remember one thing about you what would it be?

Not sure if I understand the question, but the old school fans it’s my Bristol Beat song I wrote from running round the city as part of City Running (MAYK Commission) and if they meet me it’s usually that I talk too much maybe haha oh and then I pee a lot like I get real nervous before I go on stage and have to go like three times just before I go on stage!

What useless party trick /talent do you have/? 

I get drunk after a sip of almost anything!

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

That’s really hard!!! Ok now I’m questioning my answer before about not missing gigging! Two that stand out are when I performed at Keynsham Festival with the electronic band set up and like a sea of people across the park seemed to stop and pay attention, turn round stand up dance etc. It felt like I moved them from way down the hill on the bottom stage and they all were so amazing supportive and I felt such a buzz and was having a blast. But more recently it has to be performing solo at Trafalgar Square,London for Chinese New Year last year, with my new solo set up and costumes ( from my DYCP (developing your creative practice) grants from Arts Council). It was my first time on a large stage alone (no backing band) and I thought I’d be scared but the stage manager and engineers were super pro and help put me at ease and when I got on stage I loved it and again the crowd was super supportive, and vibing I could feel their love and I felt so alive I even pranced around and spun across the stage totally unexpected and they were proper cheering me! Ok maybe I miss giggs a little ha! 

What was the worst experience on stage?

Hmm ok there were theses two venue gigs were I started to perform to like two and maybe 4 people, but because I performed like it was more I think both times people came in off the streets and the next room, it was like I called them in like the pied piper lol so it was tough to start but I stayed positive and appreciated who there and it was fab in the end! Actually but there was another time I felt like I had food poisoning but I didn’t want to let anyone down so I powered through the set, it seemed to go ok but I kinda faked being lively then went back to a ball curled on the floor straight after the performance backstage in the staff room, I swear the staff wondered if i was hungover or something i just felt so ill but I didn’t want to let anyone down.

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about? 

Well I want to make up something else but if I’m honest most people get a shock when they find out my age and that my daughter is twenty. This is the first time I’ve ‘admitted’ this in an interview cus I’m always worried with the whole you have to be young to be an emerging artist with a future/potential but the truth is I was busy raising her and finishing education and being a bedroom songwriter at most until she was I think maybe at senior school and then I started getting more active on the scene, releasing stuff, doing gigs etc But it was also a confidence thing and those rappers and their producer being supportive telling me I had talent and to go out and do my thing! (Thank you forever Wayne, Dave, Joshua!)

Who would you like to work with on the Bristol circuit right now?

I’ve actually managed to work with (either musically or otherwise creatively) most of the people I had on my ‘vision board’ back in the day. For someone who loves people and socialising I actually love working solo, it’s very therapeutic and I get in like a zone/trance/flow state. But I think if anyone asks and I like the tune or idea I’ll always have a bash and see what happens!Cus I do love writing and the ease and fun of toplining. I also have a lot of people I admire and respect but then I’d probably feel too daunted to work with them! Plus I’ve kinda learned along the way and especially this year that it’s not about what I want, it’s about what the world needs and going with the flow of the universe!

What advice would you give someone going into the music industry?

Just do what you love and the rest will follow. All the best times I had were accidents and chances I took, not long thought through plans and desperate desires. Make something you love, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Spend time to find your style and grow your brand – there’s two schools of thought here though; get it perfect and don’t show anyone ‘til your ready, or the other which I prefer as it’s far more fun and chilled – just play and experiment, put it out there, just aim to be better each time you do something, so you master your craft over time, instead of trying to be perfect every time. Also buy in people who have strengths where your weaknesses are (or blag in favours when you can’t afford but be grateful and give back in other ways) – you’ll make creative friends, get an outsiders input, and get better results from their expertise and the collaboration. Oh also make regular time, it’s precious. When I worked full time I did music every weds eve and sunday at least, then I took mondays off work and added Mondays, then Fridays etc basically make scheduled time, but then of course I also allow for ad hoc inspiration (which happens a lot for me like when I’m just chatting to someone or out somewhere and I have to grab my phone click record and start singing my ideas).

What advice would you give your younger self 

Stop caring what other people think! Stop worrying you’re too old! We’re never too old to do what we love and have fun! Plus I think for me certain factors set me back in life stages age wise from my life but that shouldn’t have stopped me. (I mean I started solo after I was already too old for all the startup musicians support programmes etc!)

What’s your biggest achievement as an Artist?

The current album I’m working on, which no-one has heard yet! I think also my output, I’ve released on average an album or EP every year. – I think it’s 8 bodies of work in 9 years and one more on the way. Plus I’ve had some big stages and headline gigs at festivals/events and venues, but to me it’s always about the art I make first.

What makes you stand out as a band/Artist?

I’ve been told it’s my sound – my vocals and the music which is synths/electronics mixed with strings and chinese instrumentation.

Right now, whats pissing you of the most? (Cant say the virus 🙂 

I don’t get pissy often or easily, usually it’s something to do with my husband (who deliberately winds me up or kisses me when I’m trying to write), but I love him most of the time haha

Whats your favourite song to play live and why?

It’s usually whatever new(ish) song I’ve nailed, as the old ones feel tired and the brand new ones I’m still nervous with!

Tell me about your new single and  how it came about?

I was thinking about how everyone missed live music, and about how I was loving having more time for writing and just being with my music (not just out gigging or doing what all us music artist hate ‘the music admin’ lol). So I sat at my piano and started seeing what came out. I wanted to have something that resembled how many of us were feeling and what we were rediscovering during the pandemic.

You can also see more info in the description of my youtube video for the song.

[This song is all about two key revelations for me over this period of time and I think perhaps they could resonate with others in different ways. 

Firstly I had time to fall back in love with songwriting and the creative process and not having to worry if I was say releasing enough or out gigging enough (the expectations can be exhausting) and if I was pushing enough, because life had changed over night. 

I let go of plans and schedules and targets that had for too long consumed my thoughts when working on my art. I think many of us had time this last year to fall back in love with our life’s passions, find the time to be quiet slow and creative, even if our working lives had become more busy and chaotic or uncertain and scary. 

Secondly it was bigger than that. Bigger than just enjoying doing what I love and making time but I had learned to let go. Sometimes we make plans and goals we attach our selves to so tightly we don’t realise how much pressure we out on ourselves and how that affects our wellbeing and our ability to go with life’s flow – in a way that is riding the tide rather than fighting against the current. 

When we let go of our ego and our own desires and listen to the quiet whispers in the world we can become one with the world and follow the path that’s easy, joyful and makes the world a better place. I learned to trust that, as my nan used to say, everything happens for a reason. 

So for me my new song The Music is about allowing time to do what we love (without worrying about success) and going with the flow and trusting our intuition and the messages to us through the way life unfolds (instead of living in fear or worry, attached to a thing that may never happen). It’s about finding joy in the little things and about finding our place in this big wide world]

How was the recording process given the various restrictions the UK has been under of late?

It was the same as always is being solo – I recorded and produced the song, then sent the files off to people more talented than me who care about frequencies and have better sound banks and can improve the production/mix/master it. We send things back and forth remotely and chat about it etc

What are your plans for the year ahead?

Finish this new album! – it’s called Star and the theme is: we are all stardust, we are all (super)stars, we are all cosmically connected. I’m also doing a load of community work with my local community centre and highstreet (Filwood Community Centre and Filwood Broadway), and started working abit more across the country (with Fun Palaces) and I hope to do more songwriting commissions and songwriting projects (for causes / with communities), and obviously find more days in the week haha and some better life balance probably by the end of it! 

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

At the end of May/early June Bristol Beacon will preview my new song Boombox that was written in response to a workshop with my local community.

Plus don’t forget – do what you love, make time for what’s important, don’t care what other people think, follow your bliss and the rest will follow (don’t overthink),  go for mastery not perfection,

…oh and show love, kindess and forgiveness as much as possible and go explore something new in your community and try saying hello to someone new! xoxox