CHANJ: Dare To Be Chanj

Focused on love and music with substance, Alistair recording artist Chanj is doing something that so many strive to do every day — that is being daring enough to say “this is who I am; this is what I believe in and I do this with love”. Delivering strong lyrical content about infatuation, admiration and love in a manner that’s chivalrous rather than salacious, Chanj has already garnered recognition for a soulful rendition of “Say Yes” and the buzzing and relatable song “It’s The Worst.” Admittedly unfazed by the allure of mainstream success achieved by portraying a manufactured image, Chanj dares to be unapologetically different with the goal of spreading love, sharing great music and stories; and hopefully inspiring others.

Sharing a journey that includes performing and winning at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, Chanj sat down with Singersroom earlier this fall to discuss the state of R&B; his forthcoming debut album; hope, love and just why he continues to sing after nearly abandoning music.

Singersroom: What made you decide to go with the name Chanj ?

Chanj: At the time I was doing a lot of shopping at different labels and they were asking me to be certain things that I just did not want to be. I decided to become everything the record labels were scared of. I decided to be Chanj and it’s something that I live by because I want to promote love as much as possible and bring music back to what it was built on in the beginning. You know, back in the Motown era – that same vibe.

Singersroom: Some say there is trouble in the love department when it comes to R&B. When you sat down to record your mixtape and forthcoming debut, did you think about the state of love in R&B?

Chanj: I went into this thing with the mindset of making as much timeless music as possible. One thing that music is today, is a bunch of fads. Fads wear off. You know, whatever is trendy at the moment will die next year. All this music that is being made as the fad of today is not going to be the fad of tomorrow. I just focus on creating beautiful love stories; beautiful love songs and music that encourages people and gives them some type of solution or makes them feel good (makes them forget about their troubles). I try to create music fit for a lifetime.

Singersroom: There is a song called “It’s the Worst”, which deals with relationships. Was that song inspired by a personal relationship?

Chanj: I think that everyone can relate to that song. I did not write that song though. It was written by Steve Russell (he wrote and produced the song) but, when I heard the song I was blown away by the content more so than the melody and more so than the music. It was just the content. It was talking about real subject matter: real things that people go through and I just said let’s do this. Let’s record this. I want to put my energy behind this and see what happens. It came out as a really good song and I’m very happy that, that’s the first single so people can really have an idea and know that I’m trying to bring something with substance.

Singersroom: It’s a great song. To me it’s great because it talks about the good and the bad parts of a relationship. Because relationships are nice, but you also have those moments where you feel really bad and torn. Then there also comes a time when you realize just how deeply involved you are or have become.

Chanj: Exactly. It’s the worst.

Singersroom: Steve Russell produced “It’s the Worst”. Who are you working with or looking forward to working with on your debut album?

Chanj: I’ve worked with Dre & Vidal, Adonis, Marsha Ambrosius, Teddy Riley, Tie & Chords and Mike from Day 26 also penned a song for me. It has been an incredible experience working with everybody because everybody was able to pull out something different from me each and every time, which was absolutely amazing. We went in with the energy and focus to create something magical.

Singersroom: It’s said that working with a number of producers, brings things out of you that you never thought were there. Did that happen for you and with a particular producer or writer?

Chanj: You know what.. Teddy Riley brought a piercing sound in my voice that I never really thought I had, which was very interesting. And Marsha Ambrosius brought out a different tone, kind of side, in my voice and I was really intrigued by that side. Both of the sounds, like the piercing sound Teddy Riley pulled out of me and this other side of this smooth-soft-sexy sound that Marsha pulled out of me are creating a really interesting portion of new material that we’re recording.

Singersroom: Outside of the studio you were able to take time out and perform for men and women serving in the military over the summer. How was that experience and has it affected your outlook?

Chanj: It was incredible. First of all, it was in my home state — the state of New Jersey, which was amazing. Welcoming them home was incredible. It was a great experience to entertain them and be apart of the celebration.

Singersroom: While you may be new to some, you’re music has been applauded by a number of entertainment veterans including Jamie Foxx. What bit of advice, received over the years, has stuck with you and from whom?

Chanj: It came from a producer that I worked with by the name of Armando. It was at a time when I was struggling. I didn’t know if I wanted to do this anymore because it just didn’t seem like it was going to happen and Armando simply explained to me: “look, if you don’t want to do this stop. Get out of it and figure out what else you want to do. But, if you wake up in the morning and that’s the first thing that you think of or when you go to sleep at night that’s the last thing that you think of or you get this magical feeling every time you listen to music and you feel it’s something that you need to do, then that’s what you need to do.’ I’ve definitely taken that advice throughout this whole journey and throughout the remainder of my journey I will take that.

The other thing is to just keep humility first, because that will build a lasting career more so than anything else.

Singersroom: When it comes to world events, both good and unfortunate, what particular one has changed your life or your take on music ?

Chanj: First and foremost I would say the election of Obama. Just to see that was really life changing for minorities to say ‘okay, yes we can do it’. In kindergarten your teacher might have said ‘you can be whoever you want to be’… ‘you can be the president of the United States’. You take it for a while and then you end up saying ‘aw, I’m not going to be no president’.

Just to see him take office in the way that he did with intelligence and love and really trying to turn this country around is very inspiring. It lets people know that they can do anything they put their heart to and anything they put their mind to.

Singersroom: Fellow entertainers like Alicia Keys and Usher hold certain causes close to their hearts. What cause is close to your heart or what would you like to see changed in this world ?

Chanj: My father has lupus and I would definitely be a part of any fundraising event that is dealing with that disease because it’s still very much unexplained and they don’t exactly know how it’s caused. Just to develop and research more – I would be interested in that.

Singersroom: Going back to something you mentioned earlier. What about music makes you want to get up each morning and record, write or even collaborate with other artists ?

Chanj: It’s interesting to go into a studio and figure out a topic. You have two or maybe three, four at the most, people, coming together on one topic to show everybody’s viewpoint and make incredible stories. That is something that’s very invigorating to me. I love to work with other people because I know that I don’t have all the words in my head or that I don’t have the answers or sometimes may not be able to find the melody that fits the moment or fits what needs to be talked about at that particular time. But, the main thing that gets me up in the morning is just that love of the craft itself, just singing in general. I love to just share music; share my stories; and share what makes me feel happy or maybe inspire somebody or help them forget their troubles or help bring them to tears or cry or laughter. It’s just something very dear to me.

Singersroom: With that said, give me three reasons why those unfamiliar with you should check out your music ?

Chanj: I am a different voice for a different era. I am bringing love back to music. And it’s something for all ages. —— By: Interview By Njai Joszor


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