Canadian recording artist and 2013 Boss Loop Station Championship Champion for Canada and 2012 3rd place finalist, Chersea takes a bit of time out to speak with LiveLoopers.com about her music, her experiences and Looping in general.
LiveLoopers.com - First I'd like to say thanks a ton for agreeing to do our very first interview. I, in particular, am really impressed by your music.
No, thank you! Such an honour - I'm thrilled! And excited you're putting together a site like this. It will really help similar artists to connect - so thank you! And I'm glad you enjoy my music and what I've put together.
LiveLoopers.com - Thanks. 1st question: If you had 30 seconds on an elevator with some person who could be important to the future of your music and you had to tell them what your music is --and is about-- in 30 seconds or lesss... what is your music about?
That's a really good question. First of all I'd hope it would be Dave Grohl
because he's a genius and I respect him and his musicianship so much...but I would basically describe my music as the following: I'm a loop artist, a musician who builds layers upon layers of synthy sounds within the framework of a classical background to form music that I love and want to listen to. I would classify my work as ambient tribal pop.
LiveLoopers.com - (this may seem like an end-of-interview question, but I like to ask it up front)
If someone is REALLY interested in your music after reading this interview, what are the one or two things you would want a new fan to do to connect to your music for now and keep track of new music in the future.
For new fans, old fans and everyone else in between, I direct them to my web page and my YouTube channel
, and to Facebook
. I am very good at answering all messages and in any language (thank you google translate), so for fans who want to connect I'm here to chat and listen and help them start their looping careers. I love new friends.
LiveLoopers.com - Do you have any advice for new loop artists just starting out?
Absolutely! Looping is such a treat to a control freak like me. I love that people are really starting to express themselves via looping, it is magical. The key is to keep on experimenting, keep recording and demoing and sometimes it gets really frustrating but the more you play back your own work, the better it gets.
Also, view the loop station as an instrument and not a device. Technology is taking over music-land (which is great and allows for modification of sound, creating new genres etc) so I feel like it is important to incorporate it into your set in a way that people forget what you are actually doing. I like being looked at as a musician and a songwriter, and I practice so much that my performances (now) are almost seamless. So I think the key is to not let it get repetitive, make sure you are a songwriter first and a looper second.
I don't want it to be looked at as a gimmick, or as a magic trick, because its not. It's it own unique brand, an art form that needs to be respected like everything else. Respect the art form and you will be successful!
LiveLoopers.com - referring back to your introduction, you mentioned "classical background". A lot of loop artists I watch seem like they're great entertainers but I can't detect that they know a lot about music. When I watch you I feel like"Wow! Here's a person who must know everything about music theory, all about chord pregressions, harmonization, everything!" Is that true about you or do you just have me fooled.
Yeah I studied piano for a long while and that was all hunky dory, but my real interest was in writing, and using my ear. I hated all the theory and the exams - couldn't stand them really. I also like to practice on my own time, I'm not one to be ordered to sit and practice for four hours. Every time I'm supposed to practice I end up writing anyways. [laughter] that's usually when my best work happens, so why not?! But yeah, I love piano, such a beautiful instrument.
Then I was in concert bands for 8 years playing clarinet, trumpet, and percussion. That was also a blast. Some of my favourite memories of high school was concert band. Not many kids can say that without feeling that their popularity will be threatened [laughter] Band was amazing!
LiveLoopers.com - If you had to choose between being born into a place where everyone makes beautiful music together on accoustic instruments all the time but there was NO modern technology at all -- or being born into a really high tech place where awesome music making devices were readily available for free but nobody EVER played together and it was ALWAYS a solo endeavor, which would you chose to be born into if you HAD TO pick.
Music is fundamentally a language. It is the only UNIVERSAL language. For me to sacrifice group-playing for the best of the best equipment would really just paint a picture of what's kind of already happening in the music world. If I had to choose, it would be option #1. Music is meant to be shared, it is meant to communicate things, and if I could only play acoustic instruments with the people I care about in my community I would sacrifice technology. Although a lot of my music is fairly simple, I can definitely hold my own on guitar, bass, piano, trumpet, clarinet, and hand percussion (like djembe). I would still be able to write, and looping doesn't define me as a musician. It is just another instrument, and as it is my set is always changing and growing, so it would definitely be an adjustment, but I would never want to be confined to just individual work.
LiveLoopers.com - Changing topics a little bit: when you were filming the videos at the Alibi room did you have the sense, 'Wow! These are going to look and sound Fantastic!' Was there an excitement about that particular recording session?
Not really, I mean it was super cool performing in a bar during morning time, when its all closed up and smells lightly of beer and yeast and cleaning products from the night before. There's a certain magic about that... Especially at such a well renowned establishment.
I never think anything is going to sound fantastic to be honest. I'm highly critical of my own work... The whole time it was just like I hope I can nail 5 takes and it'll make for the best video. [laughter], and that didn't happen. There was definitely the moment where I was like "that's it! That's the one we're using"... And that was exciting. But no, for someone who looks perhaps surprisingly natural on camera it scares the living shit out of me [laughter].
LiveLoopers.com - [laughter] What was your first experience with a looping device. And was it love at first sound? Also, what's your favorite music related gadget presently?
My first experience with a looper was at a friends house. I went over and he was playing with it, and then I wanted to try it. He was super supportive and he was like, "you'll be great at this". So I tried it and I looped for the first time and it worked and I was really pumped. You could say love at first loop.
About a week later I rented the RC-30 (dual stomp box looper from Boss) and I went back to their place, and we were looping and I was showing them what I was working on and they were all pretty stoked for me... Seeing that I had improved that quickly. So I started writing. It was originally just acoustic guitar and voice. And then I found all sorts of ways to make my set grow into what it is today - and now I have endless amounts of fun. Looping is probably my favourite thing to do.
As for my favourite device, I'd still have to go with the VP-7, which is a Roland product. It flopped in markets and the marketing videos for it were maybe not the greatest, although it showed the product's flexibility, but clearly people didn't buy it. However, when I won third in the first Canadian looping championship, I got a little bit of money to provide me with an additional Boss/Roland product
(I am so thankful for that company - amazing people, amazing values, and amazing products). I did all the research and I really wanted a vocoding device. A lot on the market were rack mounts, incredibly expensive, homemade, or to be used partnered with a particular synth - like the Micro Korg. All I wanted was a device to midi to a controller so I would be able to sing all the voicings that my hands are making on the midi controller...thus having a backing choir of at least 10 Cherseas - signing additional harmonies through my fingers. So I did that, got it, and it is such a brilliant tool. I use it mostly for backdrop singing, or filling in the gaps, but sometimes it'll lead the song like in "I could lose it all", where it comes in right at the beginning. It's a perfect product to me, and everyone asks me about it and loves it. I think they perhaps just needed someone to show how to use it so that its not just an accompaniment device, but an excellent "cherry on top" tool if that makes any sense.
LiveLoopers.com - Are there any lyrics or lines that you have written that you are especially proud of?
I've always loved writing and poetry, and sometimes it makes me sad because people are so focused on the way I create my music that they overlook the words that accompany it. In saying this though, my show is pretty mentally stimulating so I forgive those who don't really hear the lyrics.
I'm a poet who writes in allegory and metaphor. It is important for me to have people interpret the meaning, not having the lyrics too literal or easy to understand because for me music and lyric writing is my entire means to self expression. If I'm too literal than I'm giving it all away too easy.
My song "Longtalk Boardwalk" didn't have the greatest reception, but the lyrics really mean something to me. That song is a fun, Grizzly Bear inspired tune honouring the relationship between my sister and I. Some of the lyrics are taken straight from a Facebook messenger conversation we had while she was living in Montreal. She's very important to me, my best friend, and the words she was saying came out beautifully:
Who knows what they say,
it doesn't matter anyways
And dream about what you should hear
It feels like life has passed me by but I haven't lived a day, recently.
The last line to those lyrics really stuck out to me. It was so poetic and beautiful, and we both felt the same way at the same time. Those mean a lot to me
Also, a newer song of mine called "Historians"
Who knows what we're fighting for?
Crushing your hopes,
crushing you dreams,
raiding your homes again.
a world of creation.
Where we all go extinct,
Who knows what we're fighting for?
He's knocking down trees
he's folded knees:
the scriptures told me so.
Command the engines of tanks not to mention
the trappings of far too many souls.
LiveLoopers.com - final question: What upcoming projects are you excited about?
I'm just excited to continue to write and record and make music that people hopefully love, understand, and want to share. If I could book an American tour or a European tour in the next year that would also be amazing. I'm also going to be working on more footage, and have some friends who are interested in creating a video that follows me from home to a gig, through set up, performance, take down, showing all of my gear and how it gets all rigged up. I think that'll be a lot of fun, and will show a lot of people how I really do things so that they can get started on their own independent looping projects. So I'm also pretty excited about that.
I'm also excited for Project Limelight
, it's a society I've partnered with for the past two years that delivers a free musical theatre program for kids in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. The last two shows I've been a musical director and the folly for the play. It's such a blast and I miss the kids so much right now... Seeing them grow and have a blast performing and getting all excited for the year end production really melts my heart.
See the debut of Chersea's new video, "Requiem", by clicking on it below.
Her latest EP, Grey Matter, is available for purchase from chersea.bandcamp.com
This interview was conducted by Alex of LiveLoopers.com