J-pop icon Che’Nelle on a decade in the industry: “It’s pretty surreal”

SheBOPS got an interview for y’all!

The interview is with Che’Nelle, who is celebrating a decade as a performer with the recent release of Metamorphosis, her first foray into the international market since becoming a multi-platinum icon in Japan.

I have to know – where did the iconic “Che’Nelle got a story for y’all!” catchphrase come from?

Che’Nelle: I have no idea why to be honest, all I remember was when I recorded “I Fell in Love with the DJ” in my home studio back in Perth, that’s what naturally came out when I hit record, it was part of my adlibs lol. I wasn’t planning to use that on every song, but I have used it again on a couple of my other songs lol.

Your international album Metamorphosis dropped on September 6th. What’s the tea with this new album – what have you done differently this time for the record to be called Metamorphosis? 

Che’Nelle: I felt that title, one: was the first thing that came to mind and stuck because of the kind of life I gave this album as I was creating it and the place I am now after all the other releases in my life, and two: what I’ve done differently is simply allowing myself to open up and indulge in the freedom of creating music that speaks from my heart, my experiences, views and my imaginations.

Which lyric from Metamorphosis summarizes the theme of the album?

Che’Nelle: “HOME.”

What inspired your single “Love You like Me” from the album?

Che’Nelle: I love dancehall pop-ish kind of beats. My first single happens to be that. When “Love You Like Me” was created it wasn’t talked about that I specifically wanted that kind of beat but it turned out that way, which was awesome. I remember my producer Mario playing the piano, which you hear in the start of the song, and I began writing. The vision grew into a story or message about how some people may have everything that they are looking for in a person to love and be loved by if they would just pay attention… that person is usually right under their nose and they may have overlooked them.

How did you get Konshens on the track?

Che’Nelle: I threatened him! I twisted his arm and shoved him against a wall and said “give me a verse or I’ll hurt ya!!” hahaha

No… that would’ve been more exciting right? lol I met him at an Empire party actually in LA, I was introduced to him by Ghazi, the head of Empire, and we all just talked and hung out a little. We were talking about the different projects we were doing and “Love You Like Me” came up and we thought having him feature on it would be so much fun and would def color the song in a different way which it did. Anyways he said he was down! And I was so stoked and grateful! THANKS KONSHENS!

Side bar, I love his “Bruk Off Ya Back” song. Freaking love it.

You are celebrating a decade in the industry this year with your fifth Japanese album Destiny – did you ever see yourself reaching this stage?

Che’Nelle: Nope not at all lol, pretty surreal.

What sparked the decision to release music in Japan?

Che’Nelle: It began with the single “I Fell in Love With the DJ.” When that song blew up out there, they wanted an album which luckily I already had put together called Things Happen For a Reason. So it wasn’t really a decision made by me, the song made the decision to spread and it caught attention over there. That was the miracle. After that was when the J-pop albums were released which were completely different to the first international album.

Have you faced any difficulties recording and releasing music in Japanese, as opposed to English?

Che’Nelle: I have faced more trouble releasing music in English then in Japanese, and I have faced more trouble recording in Japanese then in English 😉 oh the irony lol

Was there ever a moment where you felt like giving up on music and doing something else?

Che’Nelle: Mmmm, maybe for a super short period of time I would think about giving up when I was depressed or in a low place or something, but not entirely where I put music completely aside and actually got another job.

What’s your creative process like when making a new album? How do you get in the zone?

Che’Nelle: I feel like every album was a different experience and the zone I get into would depend on where I’m at at that time, what I was experiencing, seeing and feeling. Generally my creative process is at its best when I’m in a room where I and the producer/writers gel. I don’t really over think things, I just go in and catch a vibe, sometimes it’s dope and sometimes it’s not… When I hear an arrangement and I get inspired by it I start writing, sometimes I would think of concepts before heading to the studio… sometimes I get writer’s block, sometimes I write and record a song in an hour lol it’s different at different times, never one way…

What have you noticed about the treatment of female artists in Japan?

Che’Nelle: The treatment? Wow… mmmm from what I’ve seen they seem to be respected by the industry? lol I think they have a lot of fans that look up to them.

Who are your favorite women in J-pop right now?

Che’Nelle: Probably Crystal Kay, AI and the awesome MINMI.

Are there any female musicians who really inspire you?

Che’Nelle: Pink, Alessia Cara, Adele, Madonna.

“Feel Good” (2010) is probably one of my favorite songs ever because of how uplifting it is. Out of all of your songs, which one would you pick as your favorite and why?

Che’Nelle: That’s kind of hard, I think I have a bunch of favorites. Right now I think “Destiny” is my favorite, it’s really fun singing it, it has attitude and a darkness to it which I love and I love the melody and arrangement of the song.

You wrote “Can’t Breathe” for Leona Lewis’s Echo album and also featured Tinchy Stryder on “Hurry Up” in 2008. Are there any other British artists you’d like to work with?

Che’Nelle: I would like to work with Sam Smith and Adele.

As an artist who writes most of her music, do you think it’s important for singers to write their own lyrics?

Che’Nelle: If that’s what they love to do, then of course. Some artists don’t write and they just love to sing and they can take a song and make it theirs and that’s just as important to be able to do that.

Is there anything you haven’t pursued yet which you want to? Has Che’Nelle got a coffee table book, perfume or remix album for y’all?

Che’Nelle: Maybe acting.

What valuable lessons have you learnt since you debuted ten years ago?

Che’Nelle: I think the biggest lesson I learned is if you are not clear about what you value the most in life, in what you want to become and knowing what you want to do, you are going to be living under someone else’s values, doing what they are clear on and what they want to do. So being clear and knowing what’s authentic to you is when life and everything you do starts to feel more fulfilling and aligned.

Do you have a special message for your fans?

Che’Nelle: Special message to my fans! Thank you for the amazing support and trust in my music. I’m grateful for those who have been inspired! I’m working to get to as many cities as possible in the world to perform, share and inspire people with my music. Look out!!… Might be in your city soon! I have a couple of music videos coming out so stay tuned!

LOVE CHE’

Metamorphosis is out now. Connect with Che’Nelle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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