Name: Chantal Acda
Occupation: Singer, Songwriter
Current release: Chantal Acda's A Closer Distance, a collaboration with Italian composer and pianist Bruno Bavota, is out October 7th 2022 via Temporary Residence.
If you enjoyed this interview with Chantal Acda, her website is the best place to start your yourney into her music. She is also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter. Or head over to our earlier Chantal Acda interview.
For many artists, a solitary phase of creative development precedes collaborative work. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your first collaborations?
Collaborations have always been a big part of my musical journey.
I tend to not really like to be around people. I have a hard time to really let them in. That gets lonely.
When I collaborate, that feeling disappears. Through music I can connect.
What were some of your earliest collaborations? How do you look back on them with hindsight?
That must be Adam Wiltzie. Also known by his projects Stars of the Lid and A Winged Victory For The Sullen.
[Read our A Winged Victory for the Sullen interview]
We first became really good friends (so it’s kind of rare that it happened this way around this time!). He mixed one of my first albums and gradually he became a part of my project Sleepingdog.
I loved it because musically it seemed unlogic to do something together but when we did, it all felt right!
Besides the aforementioned early collaborations, can you talk about one particular collaboration that was important for you? Why did it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
They all feel beautiful and real. The one that has a extra special meaning was the one with Nils Frahm.
He jumped on stage in Paris with me and after that we had a Skype. He recorded my first solo record and really put me in my strength. So much depth, encouragement. It changed me forever.
I also love the collaboration with Bruno Bavota. Because it was not planned. It just happened. And it went soooo easy … like just taking a breathe and than the record was there!
[Read our Nils Frahm interview]
What are some of the things you learned from your collaborations over the years?
I have learned that it makes it possible for me to let people in. To make my music richer. To trust and that letting go of the feeling of comfort can really lift life up.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your collaborations? Do you feel as though you are able to express yourself more fully in solo mode or, conversely, through the interaction with other musicians? Are you “gaining” or “sacrificing” something in a collaboration?
They are both different. I can almost always express myself as long as there is music.
I sometimes really enjoy playing alone but the joy of playing with people is also hard to resist.
There are many potential models for collaboration, from live performances and jamming via producing in the same room together up to file sharing. Which of these do you prefer – and why?
Playing live, for sure!
Because I work a lot with the energy of the venue and audience. So that makes the collaboration even bigger and more vibrant.
Do you need to have a good relationship with your collaborator? Or can there be a benefit to working with someone you may not get along with on a personal level?
No … I don’t actually. Strangely enough. Well, depends on what you mean by relationship.
I mean, with some people I have worked with (like Shahzad Ismaily) I have this extremely deep connection. But not in a human, day to day thing. I hardly ever see him if we are not making music. But the energetic connection means everything to me.
These are not about the normal relationship things like for example, being able to have wonderful conversations. These are about a very intens musical and personal understanding.
Some artists feel as though the creative process should not be a democratic one. What are your thoughts on the interaction with other musicians, the need for compromise and the decision making process?
Depends on the process. I can be a team player in some cases. But when I sometimes write a song that I feel deeply, I will not just let someone into the process.
What's your take on cross-over collaborations between different genres?
I don’t do genres - I do music!
Collaborating with one's heroes can be a thrill or a cause for panic. Do you have any practical experience with this and what was it like?
Yes … with Bill Frisell. Oh my. First we recorded together in Seatlle and he turned out to be this wonderful sweet man. Than we joined the stage. Unrehearsed. I loved it so much. And we became friends.