Trust. No plans for the future. Go with the flow. Not exactly catch phrases for today’s calculating, media savvy and self-promoting generation of musical artists, but a way of life for singer-songwriter Alexia Chellun. Eight albums into a productive 12 year journey, she has ridden her wave of trusting and practicing life from a different angle into an entirely new recording experience that has yielded her latest EP, Who Am I?
Who Am I? unexpectedly fell into Chellun’s lap in November 2018. There was no plan or agenda when Chellun used an extra half hour of studio time at the end of a recording session in London to spontaneously set up a microphone, and quickly sing and record three older songs from her un-released catalogue of material. She felt they were as current and emotionally viable as ever.
En route to a completed EP, and with adherence to Chellun’s “plan” of not planning, the three tracks she recorded, “Dark Rum”, “I’d Do It All Again”, and “Who Am I?” have taken a journey of their own. After Chellun documented those songs in the studio, she played them for long time friend Ken Rose, who has co-written, produced and performed with a wide variety of artists including Marianne Faithfull, Teitur, Kip Winger, and Tony Carey and his own band Hero Jr. Rose immediately recognized Chellun had captured a special moment and suggested releasing an EP after adding a few elements of supportive accompaniment to the songs. She and Rose enlisted British cellist, Hanna Marshall, and American violinist, Molly Thomas, and, with Rose playing additional guitar and guiding the collaborative process, the EP was completed in a few days.
The organic flow accompanying the creative evolution of this EP began five years ago, in the middle of the night, in Spain. In circumstances similar to those of Keith Richards writing The Rolling Stones classic, “Satisfaction”, Chellun woke up, recorded what she thought was just an idea, fell back asleep, and woke up the next morning with a completed version of “Dark Rum” on her phone. Set aside while working on other ideas, Chellun rediscovered the recording a year later and began including it in her live shows, eventually recording “Dark Rum” four years later in London. Chellun herself is amazed at the good fortune of writing two of the three EP’s songs in a few minutes each. The EP’s title song was also conceived in minutes from start to finish. Although not in her sleep, Chellun sat down with a broken ankle, and in the midst of a disintegrating relationship wrote “Who Am I?” in one rambling stream of consciousness. With a couple minor word changes, Chellun’s song about facing and embracing her inner turmoil and self-discovery was complete. “I’d Do It All Again”, a reflection on the possibility of rekindling a relationship, was written in 2018.
Chellun’s organic approach to life and art seems to eliminate any barriers between the two, opening the door to unlimited possibilities and potential to reach her audience.
Letting go of constraints, welcoming new experiences without expectation, self exploration, and complete trust in the creative process have been the cornerstones of Chellun’s musical philosophy and life. Her deep and soulful vocals, uncluttered arrangements, and natural dynamics are the perfect companions for her enlightening observations.
Chellun was born into a South London family steeped in musical influences and cultural traditions that have continued to accompany and enrich her music since childhood. Her father (Indian/Mauritian), mother (Greek-Cypriot) and grandfather (Greek-Cypriot) provided a soulful stew of Creole folk music and culture from France, Spain, Cyprus, and Africa. She learned piano as a child and performed regularly at school events and concerts. Chellun says she gets some of her vibe from her grandfather, a well known Greek-Cypriot dancer and musician, with whom she shared a close relationship. He might have had a premonition when, after listening to one of Chellun’s recordings, he told her, ”You’ve got to do this professionally. It’s your job....and...when you perform, never stay on stage too long. Leave people wanting more.”
A large part of Chellun’s audience are members of the Kundalini Yoga and meditation communities. As soon as she learned her first guitar chords at 20, Chellun began writing both original songs and mantras that reflected her life and spiritual practice. In lieu of performing on the singer-songwriter “open-mic” circuit, where audiences are focused on drinking and socializing instead of listening, she started booking herself at Yoga retreats and festivals throughout Europe. Fluency in several languages as well as her openness and ability to keep from pigeonholing her music towards one audience or culture, has allowed her to successfully tour throughout Europe.
As a performing artist Chellun has the ability and patience to follow her instincts without expecting immediate results. This doesn’t mean Chellun lacks a diligent work ethic, but substantiates her belief that having a plan is not necessarily a guarantee for success. Chellun says she “ doesn’t exactly have a ‘calculated vision’, or a lyrical agenda, but she trusts her creative process and that her artistic unpredictability will lead her where she needs to be at any given moment. I’m relaxed. I’m not trying. I’m just singing!” Chellun effortlessly switches between traditional song-writing and the more structured mantra based recordings and she admits the creative process still confuses the hell out of her. “It's all about flow and wherever it takes me I follow.”
Throughout her song-writing, Chellun exhibits a unique melodic pop sensibility combined with lyrical themes that examine the human race, consciousness, and awareness. She makes an unarguable point when she says “Oneness has no genre.” In addition to her yogic and multi-cultural folk influences, Chellun has been drawn to a wide spectrum of artists including Tracy Chapman, Cat Stevens, Indigo Girls, Simon And Garfunkel, Dar Williams, and even Jon Bon Jovi! But for the last few years Chellun has been “listening” to life as opposed to what’s in her iTunes library, which is evident in her latest release, Who Am I?