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Chantal Acda - Interview

  by John Clarkson

published: 25 / 11 / 2015

Chantal Acda - Interview


John Clarkson speaks to former Sleepingdog front woman and Dutch-born singer-songwriter Chantal Acda about her second solo album 'The Sparkle in Our Flaws', which is her first release on Glitterhouse Records

When Pennyblackmusic last talked to Dutch-born singer-songwriter Chantal Acda in 2009, she spoke at length about her need for isolation and solitude. Acda, who was promoting and touring her then project Sleepingdog’s second album ‘Polar Life’, confessed that she was cautious of other humans and much preferred the company of animals. Acda put on hold Sleepingdog, which also featured American multi-instrumentalist Adam Wiltzie who like Acda lives in Belgium, after a third and final album 2011’s ‘With Our Heads in the Clouds’. She has just released ‘The Sparkle in Our Flaws’, her second studio album under own name and her first on the German label Glitterhouse Records. Minimalist in tone, it combines Acda’s celestial vocals and sparse, sublime piano with touches of strings, synths and backing vocals, and also features the acclaimed solo artists Peter Broderick and Shahzad Ismally, both of whom also appeared on Acda’s 2013 debut solo album ‘Lay Your Hands on Me’. Like that album, ‘The Sparkle in Our Flaws’ finds Acda on tracks such as opening number ‘Homes’, the title song and the closing ‘Still We Guess’ more at one with the world. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Chantal Acda about going solo and ‘The Sparkle in Our Flaws’. PB: When we last interviewed you in 2009 at the time of 'Polar Life',You talked a lot about your need for isolation. Yet with this album and also ‘Let Your Hands Be My Guide’ their titles alone suggest that you are not just reaching out for but also finding greater contact with other people while the lyrics, such as those on the tile track, of "I would save air for you/breathe the same air" seem to confirm this. Does this seem a fair assessment? What has brought about this change? CA: It totally does. I think I am looking for more connection with the world around us and with the universe instead of just my own thoughts and emotions. That change came about because recording the previous record showed me that I had to do some research. I have been hiding a little bit behind strong personalities in duo projects because I always didn’t feel good enough to stand there under my own name. I didn’t know my own strength, and I started looking to it and to why some people seemed to be touched when I was playing music. And one of the things that I found out was that I can press a button to truly surrender myself to music. In that way I can forget about judging myself while singing. There is just this big sense of letting go. It made my eyes open up, and connect with bigger things than just me. It was almost a spiritual journey. PB: The other main theme of 'The Sparkle of Our Flaws' seems to be accepting our own faults and those of others. CA: Yes, that’s also correct. And it is also connected with my previous answer. I wanted to see if I could liberate myself from being so judgmental. People are always judging, both ourselves and others. It is a shame. How often do we compliment ourselves or others for the things we are good at? And that fact makes people harsh. The world is hard and aggressive enough as it is and I am looking for ways to soften it up…to connect instead of judging. PB: The final track 'Still You Guess' rails against total conformity with its mantra of "Still we guess how we should think/How we should feel." CA: Well, we seem to think too much, both about how we should be and how we should behave, instead of feeling our needs and following that path. I also feel that there is a change coming with more and more people trusting their instincts. PB: You recorded this album at the Sparkle Studio in Pacific City in Oregon. have come a long way from recording your first album 'Naked in a Clean Bed' in your living room in Belgium. Why did you decide to go there to e=record it? Was 'The Sparkle in Our Flaws' the first album that you had recorded outside Europe? CA: It was. But it wasn’t a planned thing. It was not recorded in a fancy studio. It was recorded in Peter Broderick’s studio. That place feels as “home” as it can be. I am always looking for places like that. Recording at home isn’t always easy with all its practical distractions and my kids running around. So, it’s good to go somewhere else and focus. PB: You worked with Peter Broderick and Shahzad Ismailly on this album as you did with 'Lay Your Hands On Me'. Why did you decide to work with them again? What do you think they brought to this record? CA: They liberated me. I totally love working with these guys. We don’t need many words to go in a certain direction. It feels as if we are on the same page. PB: While you worked with Peter and Shahzad in the studio, you worked with a completely different band for your live work and your live album 'Live in Dresden' which came out last year. Are you still working and touring with the same live band? CA: Oh yes, I love my live band. It’s interesting to transfer the studio songs to live songs. The people I work with in my live band are truly amazing. PB: The cover painting by Ingrid Godon is stunning. It also appeared on a book sleeve 'Ik Wou'. What was the appeal to you of that painting and that book? CA: Well…it was instinctive. I saw that face at the beginning of my writing process and it fitted really well together with my music. Also with the title I am not a very visual person. So, it was quite special. I felt that very clearly. I am so happy I could use the drawing. PB: You have always worked with a lot of other projects and musicians. Sleepingdog started off as a solo project before becoming a band with Adam Witzie, and you have also worked with other projects such as True Bypass and Nu Nog Even Noit. How many of these other projects still exist? CA: They are all asleep. I am not saying we won’t make anything anymore. I loved all of them, but for now it is good to focus on my own thing for a while and to work in a less fragmented way. PB: Most of your other albums with Sleepingdog and also your solo releases have come out on the excellent Gizeh Records in the UK. Why did you decide to sign to Glitterhouse Records to make this album? CA: That was a hard decision. I love Gizeh Records. And they couldn’t have done anything any better. It is a great label! I guess I just needed a fresh perspective and some new visions. But Gizeh still feels like a home to me. PB: You will be playing dates in Belgium and the Netherlands for the rest of the year. What plans do you have for the near future and 2016? CA: We are organizing tours in the UK, Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I would also love to go to Japan. And…I plan to write new songs! PB: Thank you.

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Chantal Acda - Interview

Chantal Acda - Interview

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