5 minutes with… Nuela Charles

Nuela Charles
Nuela Charles

Nuela Charles: “I feel like I’m getting closer to figuring out what ‘my sound’ is.” Pic: Steven Hope

As she shares her new EP ‘Distant Danger’ we catch up with the alt-soul, Canadian star to discuss the record

Nuela Charles is one of the most exciting names on the scene right now. The Canadian is a major force in the alt-soul world and earlier this year she was nominated for a Juno Award in the category. The nomination was in recognition of her sophomore album The Grand Hustle. Now, less than one year after the release of her latest album, she’s back with her brand new EP Distant Danger; a ritzy return for the audacious pop and soul fusion. The release features the hit single Do It Right, co-written and produced by Grammy nominated Rob Kleiner (Andra Day, Sia, CeeLo Green).

So we thought now would be a great time to catch up with Nuela to see how it all came together…

Your new EP Distant Danger is out now. How do you feel about the new release?

“I’m very excited, especially because I really took my time with this one. I started writing the EP last September when I took writing trips to both London and Los Angeles. The first single came out of the LA session.”

The EP follows the release of your Juno nominated 2018 sophomore album The Grand Hustle. How do you feel your sound has grown over the past twelve months?

“I feel like I’m getting closer to figuring out what ‘my sound’ is. For a lot of these songs, when we thought they were ‘done’, we would tear them down and build them back up again, to the versions you hear today – sometimes two or three times!”

Can listeners expect any musical surprises on the new record?

“On this record we experimented with sampling my own voice to create darker tones, layering it underneath the lead. I feel like it gives it this edge that I’ve not had in my music before. I’m also excited because we recorded live strings and horn instruments for these songs – something that’s always been a dream of mine!”

For this EP you have worked with Rob Kleiner. What was it like being in the studio with him?

“When I worked with Rob, it was the first time I’d met him. I’ve learned that with new sessions, and all sessions really, it’s best to go in open-minded and willing, and as a result, our session ended up being an easy one; in the sense that within that day, we came out with the lead single Do It Right. He couldn’t have been a better co-writer and producer.”

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Nuela Charles

Nuela: “I like to let the room help dictate where the song ends up going.” Pic: Steven Hope

How did you approach the writing process for Distant Danger?

“Apart from Do it Right which was written with Rob, I spent the majority of October 2017 to February 2018 writing with an Edmonton-based duo Towers. The only track that was a solo write was Sugar, which came out of a post-writing session. I’d literally got home and started playing the piano and the words started flowing out. I ended up capturing it in Logic and recorded the horns and vocal backgrounds, and brought that in the next day where Towers helped finish the production.”

When writing new music do you have set ideas or do you go into the writing room and go with the flow?

“Sometimes I’ll have little ideas here or there – but I usually like to start a session fresh and go with the flow, especially if it’s a co-write; I like to let the room help dictate where the song ends up going.”

Is there one song off the record in particular that you’re most excited about sharing?

“I’m really excited about Sugar because I really gave myself artistic license, and wasn’t worried about trying to fit into a commercial mould. It is what it is, and it flowed out so quick that I knew it was meant to be heard.”

Musically how would you describe your new EP?

“I would describe this new EP as a cinematic journey that could be the soundtrack to a James Bond movie.”

Which song off the EP was the most difficult to write and which do you feel flowed easiest?

“Most difficult would have been March On because lyrically I wanted it to have weight and it took me a while to get there. The easiest was Sugar.”

What else can we expect from you in 2018?

“The rest of 2018 is going to be a bit quiet as I look toward 2019. I look forward to playing more gigs and festivals in different countries and putting out more music.”

Interview: Laura Klonowski

Nuela Charles’ new EP Distant Danger is out now. Find out more at nuelacharles.com

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