Judges from international songwriting contest Song of the Year described Chandra’s track Dance Like You Want Me as ‘an emotional assault on the senses’ and ‘a technically masterful song’. On his Myspace he states that overplay.com have recently compared the Asian singers high energy pop music to US superstar Chris Brown. With such high accolades received Flavour had to chat with the 29-year-old Londoner to see what all the fuss is about.
How would you describe your sound?
I’m the sounds that’ll make even the stiffest of stiffs wanna get on the dancefloor. I’m the beats that people thought couldn’t exist after Timbaland. I’m the grooves that even the most wound-up stress-head can relax and enjoy life too. I’m the melodies that infect your brain like some kind of negative vibe-eating virus. In short, it’s all good.
What kind of tracks can we expect on your album?
It’s a little way off yet – and I don’t want to put a jinx on it – but I’m working on the get-up-off-your-feet album that everyone will won’t to turn up to 11 before they go out on the town. All the people in all cities of the world – if they want to have a good time, and I’m talking legal substances here, then this is the cure to all your day-in-the-office blues.
Tell me about your journey how did you get to your current position?
I like to think that everything that happens to you, no matter how good, bad or ugly, is part of the recipe of life. Every little bit goes into the pot. It’s like Assam. . . it tastes like ten lemon rinds all condensed into a jagged little pill but it’s the very basis of a great curry.
I grew up moving around the country and the world. I got caned in a school in Malaysia (and I don’t mean that in a good way). I came back to the UK and started a rock band. It all went wrong. I owe the bank loads of cash because I put my whole world into that band. But that’s the kind of thing that makes the stew taste so good in the end and it’s the thing that makes you push even harder for the dream.
I’m here talking to Flavour Magazine because of all the things that happened in my life. I’d say the journey was worth it.
Why did your rock band Circa break up?
Well, you know we were talking about journeys earlier and I think the band was just a part of that journey to where I am now. The band broke up for various reasons but for me, I was just trying so hard to move the music in a more pop-dance direction. Ultimately I’ve always been about a catchy melody, not some bizarre alternative time signature that people have to study for 10 days before they can even get it. So that’s why it didn’t work out for me.
Music site Overplay.com compared you to Chris Brown. Those are big shoes to fill. How did you feel about that?
Ha! Well I have to admit, that came as a bit of a shock. I don’t think of myself like that but it goes to show that everyone sees things differently and you should never assume things about yourself. But in terms of melodies and production and general ‘on the edge’ factor, yeah, I feel blessed that people think things like that. He’s got a really smooth voice so they definitely weren’t talking about vocals, and he looks good in hats (I don’t) but f**k, I think the melodies are on a par! Just wait till you hear what’s coming out!
Who or what influences your music?
My influences read like a who’s who of the past thirty years. The Stones, REM, U2… nobody does a stadium gig like those guys. This might not be a popular choice but in terms of pop genius Britney has churned out some stunning albums. I’ve always been a massive fan of Northern Soul, I was brought up with Jazz clubs, my mum listened to the Gypsy Kings and The Carpenters… and then I was massively inspired by Britpop… before falling love with Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Kanye, The Neptunes, Timbaland… man, I don’t know where to begin with it all. My mind is buzzin’ with music 24/7.
What do you love most about what you do?
I live and breathe music… it’s in my head all day. I love being on stage performing my music. It’s in my blood, it’s in my DNA. And there’s a chance that people might want to pay me to do it!!?? You’ve gotta be kidding me right? It’s like a dream.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Audiences can be fickle – that’s just something you learn – but when it goes right boy does it go right. I think seeing one of my videos on MTV for the first time is a moment that I will never forget. It’ll remain fresh in my mind till the end of time. I think I cried that day.
How did you learn production and engineering?
Just through loving it really. It came to a head when I got fed up of watching bands perform in my local bar with an awful stage sound. So I offered to do it and that’s how it started. And the band had its own studio so I was always playing with sounds and learning what sounds cancelled what out and what layering techniques would make guitars sound amazing. It’s a science, you know? Basics aside though I just loved experimenting with sounds. I know I said it’s a science but it’s a romantic science and you’ve gotta feel it inside you.
What motivates you?
That’s the billion dollar question right? Everyone wants the answer. I really don’t know. I’ve just got this thing inside my stomach that won’t let me just sit back and do nothing. Music is my dream and that’s that. It doesn’t get any more complicated than that. What, you thought I had the answer?? No offense but if I had the answer I would charge for it and give the proceeds to charity.
What 5 songs a you listening to on your Ipod at the moment?
Haha, now this is where it all goes wrong! It doesn’t matter what answers I gave up until now, this is where ALL my dignity takes a bow. I’m going to give you records/albums cos I don’t really listen to individual songs.
1. Automatic For The People (REM): it’s one of the most perfect stories in music form and I revisit it all the time to remind myself that I am nothing compared to these guys in their prime.
2. Blackout (Britney): I hated this when it first came out but I listened to it a lot while I was in the US over the summer and I can’t get enough of it right now. Break The Ice is just perfect.
3. Timbaland Presents Shock Value: even after all this time I think this record is amazing. Until I heard this I was too shy to play people the rock-hip hop fusion stuff I was doing but Timbaland’s album justified it and that was a turning point for me.
4. Effloresce (Oceansize): Completely random, I know, but in terms of art rock I think this album is simply untouchable. It came out years ago but it taught me tons about layering guitars to make a wall of sound. Genius.
5. Ibiza Chilled (Various): Not too sure which one it was but it’s this amazing tune on it called Champion Sound (Digital Dog Remix). The whole album is great but that tune is baggin’ man!
Image is important in this industry what do you think is your best feature and why?
I think my personality and confidence is my best feature. You can be the prettiest, fittest fella out there but it won’t hold people’s attention for too long. You’ve gotta have that presence and you’ve gotta believe in yourself at but the same time you’ve gotta have enough humility to keep yourself in check. Otherwise you’ll be famous for five minutes before everyone realises what a complete arse you are. I like to think I’ve got the right ingredients in the right measures. My mum and dad brought me up to respect other people and respect myself.
When will the next single and album be released?
My main focus right now is getting my dancefloor album ready. I’m aiming for April right now.
With Barack Obama being President proves that anything is possible. What is the impossible thing that you plan to make possible in the future?
Every day I’m utterly, utterly shocked at the tiny amounts that our world leaders are doing to save this planet. If I had to focus on one thing I think it’s unforgivable that governments allow communities to get in such appalling states that they are forced to cull and wipe out species of animals that have been roaming the earth for millions of years via deforestation and the complete obliteration of their natural habitats. Only God knows how right now but I want to be in a position where, just maybe, I can do something to help.
To find out more about Chandra go to Myspace.com/chandratunes