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Catching Up With: Nuela Charles

Following on from the release of her highly-impactful offering ‘Top Of The World’, fast-rising artist Nuela Charles continues her vibrant ascent with the release of her affirming self-titled album and its focus track, ‘Heavy’, out now via AWAL.

The 10-track album brings the singer’s fiery brand of cinematic soul pop to life. It’s both produced and mixed by LA-based Matt Parad (Selah Sue, William Joseph Cook) and represents a change for Nuela in terms of both how she views herself and the creative process.

Alongside the record release, the focus track, ‘Heavy’, sees the singer and songwriter in carefree spirits, delivering fresh and clear vocals along with an encouraging message that there is “light at the end of the tunnel”. ‘Heavy’ was written solely by Charles, with the production by Parad, allowing the track’s deep vocal textures and intimate feel to shine through.

Speaking about ‘Heavy’, Charles said, “‘Heavy’ like most of the songs on the album, started out as a voice memo. This time I was staying at my grandparents’ horse farm. I was in my room in the basement just thinking about certain situations in my life and even though they felt like I’d never get through them, something in my head just said – it’s gonna get heavy sometimes, but then we’ll get to the good part. I quickly looped a 4 chord piano progression on my laptop and the rest flowed out. I actually think this was one of the first ones I brought to Matt (Parad) at the beginning of summer 2021 when we started working on this project, and it really fueled the rest of the songs, and the direction of the rest of the songs.

“I hope this song brings people comfort or some sort of re-affirmation that even when they’re going through the thick of it, that there’s hope, and things will get better eventually,” Charles added.

We had a chat with Nuela all about what she’s been up to, the album, banishing gatekeeping in the music industry and more. Read the Q&A below.

Hi Nuela! How are you? We last spoke with you three years ago! What has life been like since then? How did you cope during the pandemic etc?

“Hey! I’m so good. Hope you’re well. Life has been crazy. I don’t really remember anything from mid-2020 to early 2021, but that’s ok! I definitely took some time in 2020 to reassess and just take a forced break. I didn’t even try to be productive in lockdown. I knew it wasn’t going to happen, so I just rested. But going in 2021, I started to pull myself together and began writing and demoing and getting at it again.”

You’ve just released your new self-titled album. What can you tell us about the record? And what were your influences musically? Who were you listening to around the time of making it?

“I’m very excited for this album. Lyrically and thematically it is definitely an uplifting and positive album but not in a cheesy way. Each song is like it’s own little affirmation – which I love. Sonically – I didn’t really have any direct influences. In my day to day I love listening to Alt-Rock and Alt-R&B so I guess those seeped in for sure. Some of my favourite listens are Sam Fender, Amber Mark, Jacob Banks and Nothing but Thieves.”

What was the songwriting/production process for the single ‘Top of the World’ like? Did you do anything differently this time around for the album? Any challenges?

“For ‘Top of the World’ the writing of it was very quick. I wrote it with Breagh MacKinnon, a great songwriter from Canada. The finished demo was pretty much just piano and vocal, but we both knew it was going to be an up-tempo dancey song. So once it got to production, my producer Matt Parad (Selah Sue, William Joseph Cook) gave it that synth dance treatment.

“A first for me during this recording was that I did a lot of my own background vocal tracking in my home studio, just because it was still COVID and couldn’t get back to Los Angeles. Definitely a challenge, but I loved the process.”

If there was one thing you could change about the music world, what would it be and why?

“If I could change one thing it would be gatekeepers. I wish that artists who are talented and have put in the work get recognized without having to jump through the industry hoops. Especially when it’s non-musicians telling artists what they should and should not be doing.”

Finally, what else is next for you? Any shows coming up in support of the record?

“The next few months are definitely going to be focused on the album. I’ll performing at Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg Germany later this month and I can’t wait to get on the road to perform this songs!”

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