It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. Chelina released her self-titled debut album on Saturday, December 22, 2018. One day before the release, the young musician – along with Iconic Events – held an intimate album listening for close friends and colleagues. The Zare Journal caught up with her for a chat.
Zare Journal: Tell us a bit about your musical journey.
Chelina: I started doing music around seven years ago. I started with the Express Band and then played with other bands and gained a lot of experience through that. I was lucky to have worked with so many musicians. Then I started attending Yared School of Music but I didn’t finish.
After some time, I started working on my own music. I started working on my album a while back but I took a break in the middle and then went back to working on it again. This album has taken me around a year to finish.
ZJ: Why did it take you a long time to come out with your album?
Chelina: There many reasons. When we first started working on it, there was a lot of energy and we came up with good music, but then we started looking for sponsors which ended up being a lot more work than we anticipated. In the middle, there were other personal issues that had come up and I lost my momentum. I felt like I wasn’t ready, so I took a break for almost two years.
ZJ: Since it took a long time for you to finish the album, did you have to revisit most of your music from the past?
Chelina: Initially when I started working on my music, there was a different vibe. If you look at all the music I have done up until now, it could fit into two albums; it’s a lot. After I took a break in the middle and then got back to it again, I selected some of my older works that I felt would go well with the new music I did for the album. But in this album, most of the songs are new.
ZJ: Now that your debut album is out, how do you feel?
Chelina: The fact that it is out and people will listen to it and love it, makes me feel like I succeeded. When you see your work having an impact on others, that is how I define success. I am very happy; it took me such a long time and I have put a lot into it.
ZJ: What do the songs on the album focus on?
Chelina: The songs are about different things. Most of it focuses on a variety of my own experiences. You can’t just sing about love because that’s not the only thing that life is about. It can be about your country, it can be about the world and sometimes it could be about the conversations you have with God. I feel like I have expressed myself freely in this album and as much as possible all the works reinforce positive messages.
ZJ: What kind of feedback are you expecting from people that will buy and listen to your album?
Chelina: I think the people that have seen me play different gigs throughout the years and enjoyed them, and have the same music taste as me, will like this album. If they enjoyed my single “Sai Bai” they will most likely love this album because I feel like I stayed true to my originality.
ZJ: You just mentioned how you stayed true to your originality, sometimes artists can steer in different artistic directions to accommodate to what listeners want and what the market wants in general. How do you overcome these challenges and try to stay original?
Chelina: It is difficult. If you want to stay original in this industry you have to overcome a lot of things. Especially if this is your main job and your livelihood, you have to sacrifice and pick and choose the kind of work that is appropriate for you. I think the challenges are much bigger for women in the industry, especially if you want to bring something new. Nobody will take the risk with you, most would rather follow the market and what is popular among people, so it is hard.
If you manage to overcome the challenges, and you can still find yourself, and you’re still able to finish what you have set out to accomplish, then you can be proud of yourself and your music. People will still accept your music because at the end of the day what people want is originality and the artist’s truth.
ZJ: Now that your album is out, what is next for you?
Chelina: I will rest! It has been a crazy few days! But, yeah, we have planned a lot of things. We are thinking about what kind of shows to do and what kind of band set to work with. We want to bring new things for the fans and I think it’s going to be great, we will have a lot of surprises.
I don’t just want my album to be different and exciting, I also want different shows and concerts we do to have that same element and quality. I will be announcing what’s to come on my social media.