Artist Interview: Chloe Levaillant
Tell us about yourself and your music
I am a French-British multidisciplinary artist and I focus on the voice and performance in different contexts. Born in London, I spent the early part of my childhood in England before moving to France where I studied opera at the Conservatoire Darius Milhaud in Aix en Provence. I later received a BA in Contemporary Performance Practice at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow and I am currently doing an MFA in VoiceArts at California Institute of the Arts.
My passion for music developed through songwriting as it became a vehicle through which I was able to make meaning out of the world. Although English is my primary language for expression, I also write in French and Spanish, sometimes combining the three languages in a single song in order to communicate with a wider audience. As a passionate traveler, the theme of adventure is very prominent in my writing. My music is influenced by the different cultures I have come into contact with, and through these influences, I have created my own unique folk sound. A lot of my songs are political and speak of my own observations of humanity and how we interact with our environment. Alongside my artistic career, I am an avid street performer and have performed my songs in many different towns and cities all over Europe, driven by the strong desire to keep art in contact with humanity. In many ways, my commitment and exposure to street performance have shaped the content of my songs as I see this specific type of performance as an opportunity to share something thought-provoking with my audience; something that will make people stop, listen, reflect and perhaps go about their day in a different way.
Talk to us more about your latest release
In July 2017 I released my first album Acres. This album is a compilation of songs that I wrote throughout my travels and arranged with students and friends from California Institute of the Arts. The album itself combines multiple musical styles from folk to jazz, reggae and world music. Although I wrote the songs and arranged many of the instrumental parts, the album was very much a collaborative endeavor, bringing together different musical backgrounds, cultures, and personalities of the musicians involved.
What inspired you to write this release?
When I wrote the songs, I was not thinking about the final product. I was writing about what inspired me at the time. I played the songs in the streets for over a year and I got good feedback from my audiences. When I went to CalArts for an exchange semester I shared my music with some friends and it was well received. I was encouraged to record an album so I started the process of writing out parts and envisioning each song, working closely with each musician in the arrangements of the songs.
Any plans to release a video?
I have released a video for my song Gitana. It was filmed by sister Martine Ingrid, a self-taught videographer and film editor, and it is set in a small town in Corsica.
Any plans to hit the road?
The plan is to put a tour together for summer 2019 in the US. Nothing is set in stone in terms of dates or locations although a tentative plan is to make my way up to Canada, stopping in a number of towns and cities in the different states along the way. I would combine busking with live shows, staying true to my passion for street performance.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
Often people have said that my music is eclectic, as it pulls from a variety of genres and styles. Having had some classical training background, I use my voice in a way that combines classical technique and folk singing, keeping the naturalness of the human voice center to the work. My music is political and thought-to provoke as well as full of feeling and emotion and my lyrics are born from a place of honesty. What makes it stand out the most, in my opinion, is that not only does it bring together multiple musical styles, but it also brings together different languages and cultures, creating a unique fusion that can be surprising or unexpected for the listener.
Who have you been listening to lately?
I have been listening to a variety of styles of music. Artists that spring to mind are; Bon Iver, Fleetfoxes, Tung, Bjork, a baroque Venetian composer called Barbara Strozzi, Fleetwood Mac, Dakhabrakha, Velvet underground, Beirut, Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros, Asa, Lianne La Havas, Bob Dylan, Madredeus, Ayo, Bob Marley… And I could keep going on.
Tell us about your passions
I am passionate about activities that allow me to be in contact with nature, especially those that get my adrenaline going and make me confront and work with my fears. My two main hobbies aside from music are rock climbing and high lining (a sport that involves walking along a one-inch piece of webbing rigged between cliffs or buildings – I am always attached by a leash going from my harness to the line so that when I fall I do not fall to my death!) I engage in creative disciplines aside from music such as visual arts and dance and I enjoy creating multi-disciplinary political performances, using a combination of mediums to bring something powerful to the stage.
I am also extremely passionate about teaching and working with young people. I teach non-native English, French, and Spanish as well as voice lessons and I have done a lot of performance facilitation workshops in public schools where the arts are not very present.
What else is happening next in your world?
I am in the process of recording my second album Skywalker that differs in style from my previous album but still sits somewhere in the eclectic / folk genre. I am also working with my partner Atticus Mckittrick to record our first duo album.
I am in the last year of my Master’s degree at CalArts and will be performing a variety of my new songs for my mid-residency recital on January 27th, 2019.
On the more experimental side of the spectrum, I am writing an experimental, multidisciplinary opera that deals with deforestation and climate change whilst bringing to light the growing discord between the 21st-century lifestyle and the environment that we inhabit. It will be performed at CalArts on March 9th, 2019.
Thanks for an awesome interview, Chloe!