Cupid & God

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Thirsty yet fearful I waited for an answer
On a dry field I walked, 2 years

Trusting in a life of air, honesty and inaction

Looking up to the sky
I was waiting for my chance with cupid and god
But as my eyes stared up, focused and blinded
Beneath my feet the ground did vanish
And all that was left was a hole.

Dark and dry, the lips of my hole ripe for a kiss
From fate, not now, it will come.

But my lips, they stayed dry
A dirt filled mouth to pray
Just catch your destiny. It will find you.

I willed and wished apathetic and passive
Do nothing, let it be done.

Stay safe in dirt and indecision.

God and cupid revealed in passing
But dirt attracts dirt and they stayed away.

I stared in the face of meteors, begging for a sign
Inviting rocks as my tribe, I cowered on the bed of dirt

Familiar, hard and dry.

A beating feels safe when you’ve met the abuser.

The meteors they plummeted
And crashed through the clouds stealing rain
To wet the lips to my hole

But the dirt lips eroded while mine were wet
And as I remembered how it felt to taste drops
The opening closed and I was encased in mud, wet mud.

Grains in my eyes and sealed breath
I thought, how peaceful it would be to quit
Have no more meaning, have no more drive, have no more me

To drown or be wet.

You can’t swim in dirt but mud you can persuade

So I stroked to the top, birthed on land
Exposed and vulnerable but closer to cupid and god

Making changes in holes when all you see is the sky.

Under Chandeliers and Gold

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I never really knew you. You never really spoke.

But do words always matter?

The essence of a person speaks without sound. Does it?

All I ever wanted was for you to know me. But you did know me, you knew your daughter, the one character I become with you, a facet of myself.

You, always at a loss for words, dying or living, I struggle to tell you who I am. Dying or living, your words are sparse.

But here hiding away from the world so vulnerable, so weak, dehumanized and disrespected by tubes and drips, bloody diapers and a soaked red pillow I try.

Is your soul pouring out your mouth? Rich and red velvet blood.

“I’m sorry” did you say?

Did all the words you never said rot and corrode your insides?

The eyes that once judged now plea but I can’t. I can’t and all these years I would have done anything.

You never asked.

One eye trying to escape: “I can still speak” it says. “I must break free of this corpse.”

In a pile on a starched bleach white pillow pieces of you pull your soul out.

Tubes keep your body here.

You wish that container of blood were a bottle of Courvoisier.

That the tube in your arm was a joint in your hand.

That the fever was just the feeling of scorching sun on the Barbados beach.

That this hospital gown covering your protruding ribcage were a silk robe and the fluorescent lights cruelly revealing the grey scale of this setting would turn to sparking chandeliers and atmospheric candles.

and you …

You in a 4 post mahogany king size bed, draping silk and velvet, French doors and ladies who wait on you.

The colour of your blood is so rich, you know, like the decadent wallpaper in a casino. Your eyes rolling, blankly following the blood.

If you blur them do you drift to the roulette tables?

In your morphine coma I hope all the people, poking, prodding, sticking sticks in your mouth, changing your diapers, counting down till you are no longer. I hope they transform into maids, butlers and gardeners.

You wish that this was just a flu, the strained breathing would go away with antibiotics, that the cancer was just a nasty bacteria killed by penicillin.

“We just have to wait it off. Wait till the drugs kick in.”

But we tried that. The queen’s doctor could treat you and still we would have to live this reality.

That you will never know me, meet your grandchildren, see me on TV, be proud. Dreams you had, that I shared evaporate from your hollow body and settle on your pillow.

You can forget. You are gone.

You left days ago.

I dreamt we danced under chandeliers and gold. Connected and understood, you spun me. I had a daddy and then exhausted we walked off the floor, like through an invisible wall of reality. This was our last dance. Time was over.

I’ll hold onto that dream and toss the trapped man in a dying shell. You, so proud and vain, I will not do that to you. Your charm and charisma will live on in me. My bones and veins like the pinstripes on your suits. An elegant flamboyance that made a statement, made it’s way from you to me.

The Road Of Mini Successes

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We can all be extremely hard on ourselves and expend too much effort relying on the judgments of others to validate our existence.

Many of us are born into a society that dictates a very specific concept of success that is entirely measured by dollars and cents. Unfortunately, this kind of “success” ignores the individual’s non-monetary personal milestones. For example, take 2 men standing at the corner one morning, waiting for the light to change. One is well dressed. Nobody can tell that he is hungover for the third time this week. The other, shabbily dressed, has been sober for ten years straight. The latter’s success is invisible to the rest of us, so we look down on him. In fact, our society encourages us to look outside of ourselves for validation instead of looking inwards and accepting ourselves and recognizing our own private successes, a process that continually wears down our confidence by implicitly telling us that we are not good enough, rich enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, happy enough, successful enough. Ironically, this system may well be dependent on our lack of confidence in our own selves.

It’s hard not to look outwards into the eyes of others as a mirror to see ourselves, to gauge our worth and determine our place in this society. We are all in some way or another trying to give meaning to our existence and what so many of us do is look outwards instead of inwards.   How do we compare? To her? To him? To it? To them?

I too have been part of that black hole. For years I have been writhing to break away from this hammering concept that tries to deafen my inner voice and natural trust in myself.   We all have that inner voice and innate trust in ourselves and we all have our own method to hear it. But it’s a constant battle to turn the outside volume down and silence the fears perpetrated by this system.

I turn to music to silence the pounding. And thus, for me each song becomes a personal success where I’ve managed to conquer that concept for just one day.

Getting this album out to the world has been a challenge. Yes, there is the planning and time and the work and the money that had to go into it , but that’s not what I mean. To me, the challenge was to push forward, to keep pushing forward, to not cave in and give up despite the constant pressure to chase the capitalistic concept of success, i.e., the path that implies the promise of money and security – rather than my own path, which is to be myself, listen to my inner voice and take a massive risk.

My greatest challenge is to accept myself. It may seem to you that I already do but, believe me, it is a continuous battle and I’m not giving up. With each song I write I am putting it all on the table, my hopes, my values, my faults, mistakes, wounds and vulnerabilities – putting it all out there for anyone to judge as they wish. What I have learned though is that, if I were to depend on other people’s judgments of me, I would go insane because for every person on this planet there is a different opinion and though people may believe their opinions are correct, no one person’s judgment has more weight than another’s.

Of course, a good review is always nice and greatly appreciated, and 100,000 albums sold would make my life a little more comfortable – but it wouldn’t suddenly give value to my work, to my album, or to me as a human being.

At the end of the day, I look back at this entire process, see the stories and experiences and emotions behind each song and know that each one alone was a personal success. Bringing together an incredible team of musicians and technicians who understand my vision, developing lasting relationships with them and recording an album is a personal and shared success. Deciding to mix the album in Berlin and delve into the technical world of dynamic sound in a country with a different sound esthetic, all the while learning new information about engineering, was a personal success. Problem solving in the later stages of mastering, when we realized that technical practices between Germany and Canada differed greatly, was a personal success. Digging deep to uncover the artistic direction for the album and then bringing together the perfect team to shoot the album and promo photos, the music video, and design the album and website was a shared and personal success.

And although it would be wonderful, regardless of whether the album is considered “successful” in the eyes of others – whether With Blindfolds On charts, sells a ton, or garners great reviews – I know that I have done something that forced me to push myself to the limits, to learn about who I am, to better myself, and to turn an idea into something others too can experience.

So here we are now: the album has been released and how its life will unfold is no longer in my hands. But for me, this project has already been a success, or rather, a collection of mini successes culminating in one of the greatest feats of my life so far and something I will forever be proud of. All I can hope for is that With Blindfolds On touches people and gives them a little extra courage to look inside instead of outwards, to accept themselves and take the time to appreciate all of their own personal mini successes.

Hey! Living each day is a success.

And now, as I head on tour with the support of an unmatchable band (who are not only freakishly talented but also my closest friends), I sit here quietly for one moment in time, and appreciate who I am where I am right now.

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Photo by Davide Santi

 

#BeenRapedNeverReported: My Story

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For those of you who are not Canadian, you may not have heard the media report that prominent Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi has been fired from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, (CBC), having been accused by 9 women of harassment, physical abuse and sexual assault. Although this recent news is shocking and ugly, it has led to something positive by shedding light on a very common yet mostly unspoken issue:  sexual assault and assault of women in general. It inspired Toronto Star writer Antonia Zerbisias and Montreal Gazette reporter Sue Montgomery to create the hashtag on Twitter, #BeenRapedNeverReported, a platform for women to share their stories of abuse without shame to the world and astonishingly, it has been tweeted over 8 million times.

I too wanted to join in the discussion by sharing my story in support of all survivors of sexual assault.

WARNING: This content deals with an account of sexual assault and may be triggering to some people.

It was my first month of highschool.  I was 14 and wanted desperately to be cool.  I lied to my Mom and went to a party with a couple girlfriends.   I knew the boys who were throwing the party.  And I knew they weren’t good news – they were known to be into drugs – but I wanted to fit in so I went anyway.  I was naïve. I had one drink, a mixed drink made by one of the boys. When one of my friends was getting picked up, I asked for a ride home but her mother didn’t want to drive out of her way  –  so I stayed.

The next thing I remember is waking up in a dark room with no windows, unable to move, half on a bed, my pants being pulled down by one boy who stood between my legs.

I couldn’t move.

My friend came to the door, saw what was happening and shooed him away.

But then she left me there alone, probably too inebriated to realize what was going on.

Then again:  black.

Throughout the night, I woke up only for minutes at a time – paralyzed, undressed, poked and prodded, violated by the hands and body parts of 4 different boys – and then blacked out again.

This cycle continued throughout the entire night and all I could ever do was mumble a nearly soundless “no”.

The next morning I woke up unable to focus my eyes, seeing more than double.  I could barely stand up.  Everyone acted as if nothing more than a really fun night had passed.  I pretended everything was okay as well – I didn’t know what else to do – and waited for my ride home.

These boys were my peers, in my classes, in the halls. They were proud of their behaviour and told everyone who would listen that I had consented to their evening of  “fun”.  They bragged about it and scratched explicit comments on desks at school detailing what they had done.  People snickered at me and I was suddenly the slut at school:  tormented by girls, “easy” for guys.

Why didn’t I say anything?

I was embarrassed.  I was ashamed.  I felt it was my fault for going, for lying to my Mom, for not knowing better, for taking that drink.  I was imagining it. It was a bad dream.  I was crazy and hallucinating.  I was a bad person.  I let it happen.

That was many years ago and I am no longer ashamed or embarrassed or deeply tormented, but the healing process was long and enduring and there are still lasting consequences.

With such an invasion your mind dissociates from your body, and from that point on you search for ways to feel intact again.  This separation may be a good coping mechanism that serves in the moment and perhaps keeps you from feeling far too much at the time but the poison leaks into the future and all future relationships.

When someone invades someone else they leave a trail of dirt, images behind your eyes, memories in your skin and fingerprints on your future relationships.

Later on, when someone comes along who truly loves you and touches you with respect, they undeservedly have to bear the consequences of that past invasion, side effects that are often hard to explain or understand and can be destructive to a partnership.

However, this love can help you heal, but let me tell you, it takes a lot of love to kill those memories and even still, after all these years, after therapy, songs, time, and tons and tons of love and respect, now, even though I am comfortable talking about this, I can’t lie:  every once in a while, even when touch is full of love and beauty, intimacy triggers fear.

In the end, I believe that it is really love and respect that heal these wounds, and that over time the positive experiences outweigh the negative.

If I were to leave you with any suggestions for working through such a trauma, or traumas in general, I’d suggest you go and create anything at all, without any inner critic, without caring about it being “good”.  For me personally, it was the combination of love from others and creativity as a means of releasing, understanding and connecting with others that aided in my healing process.  Creativity is one of the most healing outlets as it can give you the power to transform the unspeakable into something beautiful and full of power, something external which does not really need words, to be used for you alone for whatever means you see fit or to share with others to communicate and foster understanding.

I hope that my speaking out is empowering for other survivors of sexual assault and for our society as a whole.

Lots of love

Chloe

 

P.S.  I am more than interested in your comments and personal stories.  If I can lend a hand, just let me know.
P.P.S. Feel free to share this post.

 

 

Win tickets to German shows this fall!

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Hi Germany friends! I’m so excited to be coming back for 5 shows this fall!

You can win a pair of tickets to a show in your town by following these three easy steps:

1: Tweet your favorite song of mine with the hashtag #ChloeinTubingen, #ChloeinErlangen, #ChloeinLeipzig, #ChloeinBonn, or #ChloeinHamburg 

2: Tweet every day for a better chance of winning

3: Await your prize, to be announced 3 days before each show!

The winners will be chosen at random and will receive 2 tickets to the show in their hashtag. Good luck and see you all soon!

Lots of love!!
Chloe 

Just chilling with Ella Fitzgerald! No Biggy!

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The North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam is amazing. It is absolutely mind blowing that they bring so many crazy artists together in one space for 1 weekend. The amount of talent there is jaw dropping. It’s a city that is beautifully built inside a convention centre, fitting something like 25,000 people each day. What an honour to play where the likes of Ella Fitzgerald has played!!!

A Magical Festival Experience: Larmer Tree

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We just performed at Larmer Tree Festival in Britain. Set in a magical garden inhabited by peacocks and parrots, we were warmly welcomed by a beautifully attentive and kind audience.  This has been one of our favourite festival experiences. I could say so much but pictures tell much more.

True Romance…Love is contagious!

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What is true romance? Well, boy have I got a love story for you.

But first something to make you giggle:

And a few pieces of news:

* The album has been recorded!!!  Best experience of my life! Now on to mixing, mastering and all the other fancy details!

* I reached my Pledge Goal to help fund the album!  Thank you for contributing! I can’t wait to start sketching your portraits and sending you love letters from abroad.  If you still want to get involved in the album, you can pre order a CD, Vinyl, or lots of other goodies and get private updates, videos, and sneak previews: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/chloecharles

* So remember that Award I asked you to vote for?? I WON!!  I owe you thanks for actually taking the time to vote! Your Chloe won the SiriusXM Indie Award for Best R&B/ Soul Artist of the Year 2014!

* I’ve got a big European tour starting up this weekend and going through the summer, spanning 7 countries. I hope you’re at one of them. For details see header or: www.chloecharles.com/dates

Now onto that love story I promised you…

It isn’t every day you get to be behind the scenes of a marriage proposal.

…and not just any proposal, the most elaborate and romantic proposal I’ve ever heard of.   This was movie worthy.

At CMW 2013, on stage at Tattoo Rock Parlour, I looked into the audience and there was this adorable couple, hanging on my every word and note.  We chatted afterwards and I remember telling my band that this was likely the cutest couple ever.

A year later, after getting to know them better and having their support at every Toronto show I’ve had since, I get an email from Jonny.  He writes me their lovestory.

In short, that show at CMW was one of their first dates and somehow my music became somewhat of a soundtrack to their blossoming relationship.

Within months of knowing each other, Jonny knew Jesjika was the one for him and wrote a letter to her dated 1 year later, in which he proposed.

This letter was sealed and framed, not to be touched for 12 months.

And when the time came for her to open it, Jonny wanted me to be there to serenade her.

I can’t imagine anything more flattering.

Skip to the day: With Davide by my side, we walk into this newly bought house decorated with love notes, flowers, X’s and O’s and yarn.

Yes yarn…

Jonny borrowed the idea from my music video, Find Her Way, and spun a maze of yarn for Jesjika to untangle and lead her from the front door, to her framed proposal.

Davide and I hid in the closet. My heart was beating and Jonny’s was probably near explosion.  We were dying with anticipation! 

Jonny being a baseballer, had set it up so that when Jessika reached the letter she had to throw the ball and break the glass to finally read that long awaited for letter.

And then he went down on one knee, or maybe two.

This was all while we waited for our cue to play.

A flick of the switch, lights on, and through the closet door, she hears music.

Jesjika opens the door and there I am singing Find Her Way.

Her face is something I will never forget.

In short, this was the most rewarding show I’ve ever played.  The memory of it makes me smile every time I recount it.

It made my heart happy!  Congratulations to Jonny and Jesjika!

This summer I have many chances to be fulfilled by the smiles of audiences around Europe.  Know that your attendance fills my heart and your smiles are contagious! I hope you will be in one of these places and in the spirit of love stories, let’s all be a little romantic and show someone how special they are to you.

Love you to pieces

Your Chloe

XO

 

 

Music: The Time Traveller

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My new painting, available as an incentive for contributing to my 2nd album.

My Dear Spring Tulips!

Before I get started on my flowery note to you, I have a few exciting pieces of news:

1. I’ve been nominated for a #SiriusXMIndie Award for Best Soul/R&B Artist of the Year and NEED YOUR VOTE! Voting ends this Friday! http://indies.ca/voting/

2. I’m going to be playing the North Sea Jazz Festival  in Rotterdamn July 12th.  Who else is playing? Stevie Wonder, Pharell Williams, Outkast and on and on…I’ll also be playing Love Supreme (Gregory Porter, Jamie Cullum, De la Soul) and Womad (founded by Peter Gabriel), both in the UK in July.

3. If you are in Toronto for Canadian Music Week, I will be there to showcase some new material with my European-Canadian merged band at The Drake Hotel on Friday  May 10th at 8pm.

4. My favourite piece of news:  We are recording my 2nd album at Number 9 Audio Group in Toronto!!!  Preorder the album or help be a part of it by donating here:http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/chloecharles

It’s a lot to ask your fans for a little support and … boy, is it ever scary!

One, because we live in this super individualistic society that emphasizes making it on your own, that we should all be autonomous… as if all of us don’t actually rely on each other for services and safety and sanity every day of our lives.

And two, because it’s admitting that my career is not a one-man job.

It’s not just Chloe who does everything. I’ve got a lot of people behind me helping me to get my music out there, allowing me to do what I love, and bring something special, the gift of music, to you.

We are past the era of musicians living it up, with the exception of a few.  So, perhaps with this crowd funding approach, we’ve time travelled  to the days of the court jester being hired by the king as a full time entertainment fixture in the kingdom.

Let me be your jester! Let me reside in your home in the form of a brand new album!  

If you have ever spent time in a studio, you know the tremendous amount of work it is to record an album, the amount of energy it takes to actualize dreams.  But that’s the only way to produce the magic, the potion that can cast spells on people, make them feel young again, make them feel love, transport them through time and space, inspire their creativity.  It can be cathartic, or spiritual, revitalizing or soothing.

This world is too hard to not have music, to not have the arts, to not live with a little magic.

Reality is tough and we all need a break, something that transcends the daily grind, material difficulties, financial worries,  world problems.

Music is one thing that speaks to us all and I’m so excited to be part of this.  I hope you are, as well.
Because your support is integral to making this album come true!

And, THANK YOU, again and again to all of you who have already pledged to help!

A new tune sent to you from my kitchen with my baby Guild…

Chloe Charles – Hold Me from Christen Bach on Vimeo.

My Second Album

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Hi, lovely people, who happened upon this blog.  Perhaps you are coming for more information from my Pledge Music Campaign, perhaps this is your first stop.  If it is, I urge you to head over there and watch the little film.

 

This has been one of the most momentous years of my life, personally and career wise. I opened for the “Searching for Sugarman” Rodriguez 2014 UK tour in venues I’d been dreaming of – The Apollo in London, Birmingham Symphony Hall. I played festivals with Gregory Porter, Ghostpoet, Snarky Puppy, have been torn between 2 continents and 2 incredible bands, lost my father, lost my grandfather, gained 2 sisters, sang twice on BBC, nominated for a SiriusXM Indie award (you can vote here), played sold out shows at the London Jazz Festival and at the preeminent jazz club Sunside Sunset in Paris, and was featured on Taratata (watch here), the most renowned music TV show in France.

Davide, Robert and myself with Rodriguez after our last concert together at the Apollo in London.Sound checking at Birmingham Symphony Hall. 

Now, what am I proposing?

I am going to record my second album and build on this momentum gathered and take my career to the next level.

So…through delicate poetry, powerful vocals, and intricate arrangements, I want to share with you all of these wild experiences, challenges, thoughts and emotions in the form of a shiny new album.

My aim? 

To catch the energy and emotion, the atmosphere and the charm of a live show – with the impeccable clarity, precision and elaboration made possible only through studio recording.

This album will be international, highlighting the unique flavours of both my European and North American bands and the ambiance that they each bring to bear on my music. It will be enhanced by the collaboration and the combined ideas of all the musicians involved – from Canada, USA, Italy and Germany – and the resultant innovative development of songs through intensive rehearsals.

And although I’ve considered a few sure fire ways to raise the funds to record this album – robbing a bank, online gambling, selling my soul, etc., I decided to try my hand with Pledge Music.

So let’s cut to the chase; albums cost a ton of money. … if if if you actually want to work with the great people, in a great studio and pay people what they deserve. I do.

In short what will your contribution go to?

1 polished album recorded in May 2014 in Toronto at Number 9 Audio Group, (Celine Dion, Duran Duran, Joni Mitchell, Danielle Lanois, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Rush, Van Morrison, K-OS), for the most part, self produced under the guidance of George Rondina (Jane Siberry, Amanda Marshall, The Nylons), owner of Number 9 Audio Group, and Bernie Cisternas, engineer at Number 9, with the exception of a couple of songs which will be produced by Grammy Award Winner Christopher Sholar (Whitney Houston, Kanye, John Legend, Max Herre).

My Canadian band and manager at Number 9 Audio Group, Toronto, with studio owner, George Rondina and renowned bass player, George Koller.

 It will fund 6 Canadian musicians, 1 Italian violinist who has played with the likes of Andrea Boccelli, 1 German pianist, flights across the Atlantic, equipment and instrument rental, rehearsal space, guest cameos, programming, a string quartet, choir, piano tuning, food and accommodation to keep my musicians alive, mixing, mastering, manufacturing, album artwork, incentive production.

My European band at The Apollo in London before the show.

I am a fan of this crowd funding approach because I’ve learned that people like to help each other and to be part of something they believe in. Some people think it lowers your image as an artist but let’s be honest … Yes, talent is important, and determination and all that jazz, but no question, I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for my champions; those people who believed in me and my music from the first time they heard my songs and selflessly wanted to help me to succeed.  Those people will always have real-estate in my heart.

…those people who gave me advice, or picked me up at the airport, or drove my guitar across the country, or listened to me vent, or bought me dinner, made me dinner, housed me on tour, fed me lollypops when I had food poisoning, lent me money, gave me money, gave me awards, gave me guitars, or great reviews,

…lent me their car, booked me shows, gave me grants, filled out contracts, made me tour binders, booked me flights when I was too tired to see straight, shot music videos for 37 dollars, shot music videos for free, stamped cd’s with me and didn’t complain when their palms were bruised, designed websites for me, taught me photoshop so I could make my own posters,

…threw house concerts for me, made me part of their family, became surrogate dads, resized graphics, responded to my facebook help ads, gave me massages when my shoulders were so sore from lugging my life and guitar on my back, gave me their houses and keys with full trust, or gave me a chance and threw me on stage in front of thousands of people…

…and many many more….oh you know who you are!

So I decided, don’t try to fit big ideas into small boxes, aim to be your greatest,  love what you do and work with the best (even if they’re across the Atlantic) to bring out the best in everyone involved.

Then cross your fingers, wiggle your nose, believe your guardian angels will hop on board and figure out how to pay for it later!

Il sera magique. N’est-ce pas?

All my love,
Tschuss, Ciao!
Chloe

P.S. If you haven’t already, and want to go deeper into the costs of being a musician, please read this essay I wrote recently (that happened to reach over 15,000 people). The Musicians Facade