Che'Nelle: Still Standing

The last time we spoke to Che’Nelle, way back in March of 2006, Jay-Z had signed some UK rapper called Lady Sovereign (remember her?) and it finally seemed like global artists were going to break the American market. Over a year later, a lot has changed. For starters, that whole international thing didn’t blow up like it seemed it was going to (except for Amy Whinehouse who managed to enjoy unlikely success stateside). For Che’Nelle, a rhythmic Australian- Malaysian singer discovered through her MySpace page, the biggest adjustment was the merge of Virgin and Capitol Records. The merge put all artists on each of the labels at the mercy of corporate America.Che’Nelle could have been sent bags packing on a Qantas jet back down-under. But her global sound won over Capitol executives, who have finally released her first single “I Fell In Love With a DJ” featuring Cham. The single will be followed by her debut album Things Happen For A Reason scheduled for a U.S release next year (although places like Japan and Australia will experience it later this year). We caught up with Che’Nelle in New York for an inside look at the rising artist and what industry politics have taught her. Alternatives: Last time you interviewed with us, the ink was still fresh on your album deal and you had just moved to New York…Che’Nelle: Man that was like two years ago?! Oh my God, so much has happened since then. The single has changed about a million times. Capitol and Virgin merged so there was a big stall on the album, because a whole bunch of Virgin people got pushed out. Now I have a bunch of new people working for me. It was real quiet and then the last three months it’s gotten really busy. AHHA: After you moved to New York, was there ever a time that you thought this deal was not going to happen? Did you ever think that you may end up going back to Australia?Che’Nelle: Oh, plenty of times. I even suggested it! I was like, “If you guys don’t know what the hell you are doing, I’ll bounce and go home.” At least I can create [music] there until they are ready to have me again. Here [the label] has to put me up in an apartment and everything. So if you can do it, it’s all good, otherwise I’d rather just go home. I don’t want to struggle.AHHA: Was it off and on all the time? For instance, one minute the album is coming out and the next minute it’s not? Che’Nelle: It was very much like that. It’s been a year and seven months. It’s just the typical label story. They don’t know what’s going on and then the next minute they do. But that has changed ever since I’ve had this new group of people who know what the hell they are doing. They are still up and down, which is normal but the last few months have been great. Everything has been organized and the single is out on radio. I’m working with a whole bunch of really cool label reps. AHHA: What’s the biggest difference you have experienced since you arrived to New York? Che’Nelle: Generally speaking, the culture and the people are obviously different. Not in a bad way; it’s just a different mentality. Everything here is a lot faster paced. Perth [Australia] is laid back and everyone is like, “G’day mate!” Everybody here is, “What’s goin’ on? What’s next? What’s new?” That’s probably the biggest difference. In terms of the music industry, it’s a lot more critical. You have to teach yourself. There’s a book called the Four Agreements. They are:1) Never assume2) Never take things personal3) Always be true to your word4) Always do your bestI follow the Four Agreements. I also follow The Secret. I think it’s very easy to lose yourself. In Australia, all I had was my bedroom, my Pro-tools and my music. All I cared about was performing, creating and enjoying what I do. Once you sign to a label, it’s that plus the political side. You try to separate yourself because, really, you have to concentrate on your creative side. But for me, I want to learn more about the industry and how it all works. I see myself as a business woman. AHHA: Are you still hungry?Che’Nelle: I think so. I’m hungry for different things. Before you get signed, you’re hungry to get signed. And when you get signed, you’re hungry for a good selling album. And after you get a good selling album, you’re hungry for…world domination? Nobody is ever satisfied. I like the fact that I’m taking my time. It gives me an opportunity to learn every aspect of the music life. AHHA: Well, it’s paid off. Congratulations on the album! When can do we get to hear it?Che’Nelle: Thanks! The album will release at different dates throughout the world but it will be released here next year. I don’t know if a lot of brand new artists have the opportunity to write most of their songs on their first album but on this album, most of it is written by me. I call it a rhythmic album because there are so many genres that will come out through my writing. I can’t wait!