As a member of one of the most successful girl groups of all time, there is no way you could forget her. With her group members forever present in her mind, Chilli of TLC is preparing to step out on her own with her debut album Bipolar. There is no need to tell this seasoned veteran how to create a hit. Her first single, “Dumb, Dumb, Dumb,” has already been making the radio rounds and has set the stage for a self described “fun” album. Her more than ten year musical career has provided her with an unmatched education and possibly taught her one of life’s most invaluable lessons: remain true to yourself. A motto such as that, coupled with her undeniable talent, are precisely the reasons why Chilli’s solo efforts are sure to deliver.
SingersRoom: As an artist who has experienced great success as a part of a group, does it feel strange to be on your own?
Chilli: Oh, no, no, not at all. You know, I think it’s just perfect timing for me actually. T-Boz and I, we’re still a group. I’m always in TLC and TLC is always together so we just do things outside of our group.
SingersRoom: Is there a difference between the Chilli of TLC and the solo artist Chilli?
Chilli: No, it’s really not; not much. The difference is that it’s just me but the things that I believe in and the things I write about, it’s the same because I’ve always been true to myself. I think I kind of get to be that a lot more. I don’t have to sit down and converse about what I really want to do with two other group members.
SingersRoom: Right. So, it’s just more of you.
SingersRoom: Your first single “Dumb, Dumb, Dumb” is a very fun song. Does the remainder of your album carry that sound or is that just a small piece of it?
Chilli: This album is so much fun. If you like to dance, workout, or whatever it is that requires a lot of energy, you’re going to love my album. All of the tracks are just crazy. Because I’m a dancer, when I look at the songs I have to listen to the tracks first and the tracks get me.
SingersRoom: And you have a dance contest going for this song?
Chilli: Yes, I do. I’m actually looking for the “Dumb, Dumb, Dumb” signature dance. People have been showing me that they can dance, but I don’t see that dance that’s going to grab not only my attention but everybody’s attention when the hook comes around. So, I had to extend the contest.
SingersRoom: So, you haven’t found the perfect one yet?
Chilli: Not the dance yet. I’ve seen a lot of great dancers though.
SingersRoom: Do you have any features on this album?
Chilli: Yes, my sister T-Boz, Missy Elliot, and I’m trying to get one person, but I don’t want to jinx myself. I won’t say the name.
SingersRoom: You worked with an up and coming writer, Cri$tyle, on the first single. What was that like?
Chilli: She’s amazing. Very humble person, extremely, extremely talented. It was such a treat to work with her. I’m very proud of her, actually, with what she did for Mariah Carey, how she has blessed me with a hot, hot record. She’s doing her thing.
SingersRoom: As an artist of your caliber, how do you pick and choose who you work with?
Chilli: The one good thing is I have been in the industry for a long time and people respect what I’ve done. It’s not hard to work with pretty much anybody, but at the same time, I like new writers and producers. They just have a different kind of energy. The same kind of energy we all had when we first got started. You don’t know much about the business, you’re just hungry and so geeked up about doing something you’ve always wanted to do.
SingersRoom: Do you have a title for the album yet?
Chilli: Yes, Bipolar.
SingersRoom: And when will it be in stores?
SingersRoom: September 2nd. That’s the date we have but you know how that goes. Every date we’ve ever had, on a TLC album, it’s just never the date; they always get pushed back or something crazy happens.
SingersRoom: As you’ve said before, you’ve been in the music industry for a long time. What have been the changes you’ve been able to see from the time you started up until now?
Chilli: Before, you used to see a lot of Barry Gordys, your LA Reids, just a lot of seasoned people that have been in the industry for many years that you could look up to and really give you great, incredible advice as far as how to be an entertainer. You don’t really see that a lot these days, unfortunately. It starts from the top. It’s funny to me because some people in these positions don’t really know anything about music or developing an artist and that’s what it’s all about. There’s a lot of raw talent out there, but it needs to be refined and kneaded. That’s how Michael Jackson is who he is and who our kids and their kids and their kids will always know about Michael Jackson.
SingersRoom: As someone who’s been in the industry for so long, have you ever thought of starting your own record label to try and help artists out?
Chilli: Oh, I have absolutely. But one thing I would do, I would definitely make sure I would do something like that when I know I’m done being an artist. I think it’s just so tough still being an artist yourself and running a label. Somewhere, somebody’s going to suffer and it’s usually the people you signed.
SingersRoom: Your love life always seems to be on people’s minds. It’s like, whether true or not, you’re constantly linked to some artist or this guy or that. Does that bother you at all?
Chilli: Sometimes it does, especially when you’re just friends with somebody. It’s unfortunate that I can’t just go out and hang with my friends; just because they happen to be celebrities doesn’t mean it’s a date. That’s the downfall of that part.
SingersRoom: Do you ever read blogs or read about yourself on the Internet?
Chilli: No, I can’t. I’ll hear about things but I don’t personally go on there looking to read. That stuff would drive me crazy. I pass on that.
SingersRoom: Recently you started your own business, Bags by Chilli. Can you talk a little bit about how that came about?
Chilli: I feel that everyone out there should have one of my bags, including yourself, because the bags are very hot and basically you advertise yourself. Whatever it is that you love, that’s what’s on your bag, or your wallet, whatever it is. Of course for all of the mommies out there, we love our kids more than anything in the world. That’s why my son is plastered all over my bag. My sister just got married and she has a bag with her and her husband. People send pictures of animals or whatever it is. That’s why when you go to my site, bagsbychilli.com, the first thing you see is “advertise yourself.” It kind of speaks for itself and I’m very excited about it, very happy about how things are going and it’s just a pleasure, for me, when I send those bags out because they’re so sentimental and they just really touch the heart when I send a bag with whatever it is that you love on it. It really, really, really, makes me feel happy to send those bags back out to my customers.
SingersRoom: With so many artists being entrepreneurs, did you feel pressure to do the same or was this something you really wanted to do?
Chilli: Oh, no. I feel no pressure. I’m totally about whatever it is that you want, whatever opportunities present themselves to you. And as long as you’re not disrespecting yourself or others, do it. This is something I’ve been wanting to do; this is something I looked into, all of the research I needed to do. Because you have to do research when you want to venture out into something and make sure it makes sense and benefits you, of course, because that’s why we work: you want the benefits of working.
SingersRoom: In your mind, what does the remainder of 2008 hold for you?
Chilli: Work, work, work. This album, performing, going on tour, all of that. I’m just so looking forward to it. I’m really excited. I can’t wait to be on stage and show y’all the new “Dumb, Dumb, Dumb” dance.
SingersRoom: This is my last question for you. Why do you love R&B?
Chilli: I like the story lines. R&B to me is almost like country music. You’ve got these great beats, but at the same time, it’s a story. And usually most people can relate to it. That’s why people really do enjoy R&B so much because you hear a song and are like, “Ooh, that’s my song, honey!” That kind of thing goes on because it touches the heart; it’s just so relatable to everybody. Whether it’s something you’ve experienced yourself or not, somebody has experienced that before. So, I love the storylines. —— By: Interview By Bethany N.