Friday, June 14, 2024

Chantel McGregor Talks New Album & UK Tour

Guitarist and singer-songwriter Chantel McGregor will release her highly anticipated new album, Lose Control, on Friday 9th October 2015 on her independent boutique label Tis Rock Music. The new album is the follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2011 debut solo album, Like No Other, after a subsequent four years of touring and festival appearances

Photo by: Steve Howdle
Photo by: Steve Howdle

Chantel McGregor was jamming in her native Bradford and evolving into a gifted musician by the time she was 12, and as a female guitar prodigy of 14 she was told by major labels that she had a “great voice, but girls don’t play guitar like that!” Wisely ignoring the comments, she enrolled at the Leeds College of Music and became the first student in the college’s history, to achieve a 100% pass mark, with 18 distinctions, leaving with a First Class Honours degree in Popular Music and a coveted prize, for outstanding musicianship. Stepping out into the pro-musician world she has proved she has the ability to perform rock blues for the new age, with a loyal and growing fan base. Voted Guitarist of the Year by the British Blues Awards in both 2013 and 2014 and nominated again this year, she has won five awards in the last three years (including Young Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year) in competition with highly regarded peers. Now, halfway through 2015 she is about to tour the UK again with her second album imminent.

Speaking about the influences that lead to Lose Control, McGregor said: “I’ve always been interested in the dark side of Southern Gothic literature, artwork and media. I wanted to create an album that reflected the imagery and themes of that genre. I drew inspiration from the TV shows True Detective and True Blood and studied the literary works of Tennessee Williams, Carson Mullers and Mark Twain. I also surrounded myself with imagery from artists and photographers such as Walker Evans and Clarence John Laughlin, all to immerse myself in the sinister, dark world of depravation, magic and voodoo, writing most of the songs from the perspective of the disturbed flawed characters.

“My interpretation of Southern Gothic is the loss of control, either spiritually, physically (through other people or substances), or emotionally,” she reflected. “I drew on this theme a lot throughout the album, hence the title Lose Control. I wanted the sound and emotion of the album to reflect the concept, so I juxtaposed heavy, guitar riff-based, dark tracks with haunting, emotive acoustic tracks, whilst tying them together with the lyrical themes of desperation and loss so often seen in Southern Gothic fiction.”

The ten new songs featured on Lose Control are said to not only salute contemporary rock, but show her gradual transition from conventional blues to a harder, bigger and bolder rock sound with progressive influences. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Livingstone Brown (who has worked with Ed Sheeran, Bryan Ferry, Robin Trower, Tina Turner and Shakira) at his studio in Brixton over the space of six months, interspersing studio time with touring. Brown played the majority of the bass on the album, with McGregor playing small parts, and her touring drummer, Keith McPartling, playing drums for the whole album.

“I did the vocals, backing vocals, all guitar parts, arrangements and some production. We brought in two amazing string players, Charlie Brown on the violin and Chris Worsey on the cello,” said McGregor, adding, “ I really enjoyed the creativity the studio gave me and loved venturing into the production and arrangement sides of it, which I will definitely be doing more of in the future.”

For the album artwork, McGregor wanted to reflect the darkness of the album whist retaining an eerily traditional feel. To make this happen, she contacted a friend of hers, Mark Eliades, who created all of the calligraphy by hand, that McGregor transferred into digital format to design the album cover. In addition to designing the cover, she also did all the photography and visual effects. Thus, the imagery is all hers- from the voodoo doll, the scratched song lyrics and the gothic old door, all of which tie in into the Southern Gothic theme, reflecting the dark undercurrents and disturbing concepts of the album.

Chantel McGregor has also described the story and development behind each of the tracks featured on Lose Control:

Lose Control Album Cover
Lose Control Album Cover

‘Take The Power’: “This stemmed from a track that I wrote a couple of years ago that I was never totally satisfied with, so I revisited it, changed the music slightly and rewrote all of the lyrics and melody. The lyrical concept of the song is about religious and social cults, the idea of control (or loss of) from a higher power or person, which ties in with the title and theme of the album. Musically, I wanted it to be dark and grungy, emphasising the loss of control. I drew on influences from my youth such as Nirvana, Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots, who evoke the emotion of performing with passion and losing control.”

‘Your Fever’: “This was written on a metaphorical level. The initial idea for it being literally written in the garden on a day when we had a heatwave. It was unbearably hot. That was the literal concept; then I started to be creative with it, drawing on the Southern Gothic ideas, twisting it into a world of stifling desert heat, creating imagery of dust, bones, and the feeling of entrapment. I aimed to continue the heavy rock sound, once again drawing on the grunge influences previously mentioned. It was important for the track to be melodically interesting, especially with the lead guitar part. I wanted to create a haunting soundscape that reflected the concept of isolation in a desert amongst the bones of people past.”

‘Burn Your Anger’: “Continuing the rock sound to the album, this track was very much about creating a chorus that people can sing along to, backed with lyrical themes that people can identify with. I moved away slightly from the Southern Gothic concept as I also wanted to keep the album relevant to modern day life, thus the influence came from reading the book Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Lyrically, it still touches on the overall theme of the album, centring on desperation and loss, centring on the breakdown of a relationship through infidelity. “

‘Anaesthetize’: “This is one of the more emotive songs on the album. I wanted to take the listener on a journey throughout the album through the heavy rock tracks, interspersed with the sensitive acoustic tracks, meanwhile weaving the concepts and lyrical themes throughout both aspects to tie it all together. With ‘Anaesthetize’, I wanted to explore the feelings of loss, guilt and desperation caused by substance abuse. This was incredibly hard for me to understand as I have never personally experienced this, so I had to research and attempt to emotionally connect and empathise with people who had undergone the experience, and try to see the world through their eyes, whilst remaining sensitive to the subject. I also drew on a character from the TV show True Detective who had deep rooted emotional problems, and tried to connect to the character in the song through him.”

‘Southern Belle’: “Following ‘Anaesthetize’, I felt that I needed to bring the mood of the album back to a more rock feel. ‘Southern Belle’ was my interpretation of debauchery and indulgence. I wanted to tie in the Southern Gothic themes of religion and loss of control, and the idea of rebellion seemed the perfect way to do that through this song. Musically, this is the most bluesy track on the album, and probably the most American sounding track, this being intentional to the overall theme of the album.”

‘Lose Control’: “The title track of the album, this is intended to really epitomise the concept of loss of control, through possession and being out of your own body. It can be interpreted on two levels, the literal level, a song about partying and losing yourself to the music, or the spiritual level, being possessed and losing yourself on a metaphorical level. I wanted the music to reflect the excitement of the subject matter, through guitar riffs and distorted vocals, and I feel that it encapsulates the concept.”

‘Home’: “As well as writing songs with a strong theme and concept, I wanted to write a personal song that I could really reflect on my own life with, whilst using imagery connected to the rest of the album. This song was written about spending time on the road away from home, growing and evolving as a person, and looking back on things which I’ve done. It was important for me to perform this song with true emotion, and I used cellos and violins as well as subtle electric guitar to meander in and around the classical guitar and haunting vocal lines, to give tenderness and depth. Whilst working with the string players, I drew on influences from the iconic artist Nick Drake, who used strings to emphasise the emotion of his music.”

‘Killing Time’: “At the time I wrote this track, I was listening to a lot of contemporary rock bands, such as Royal Blood, Band of Skulls, Black Keys, who all use heavy rock riffs to punctuate their songs. The concept of the song is about being a serial killer. It was fitting to make it riff based rock to emphasise the viciousness of the concept.”

‘Eternal Dream’: “The inspiration for this song was an artist who I have loved for years, Jeff Buckley. I’ve always been captivated by his music and his story, and I wanted to put that into a song. I used a lot of techniques evident in his music within the song musically, such as dissonance and falsetto vocals. This is my tribute to him.”

‘Walk On Land’: “I have always had a passion for progressive music, purely down to the fact that I love the technicality and intricacy of it. I listen to a lot of Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree, and both heavily influenced this track. I wanted to create something technically interesting to provide a different angle and texture to the album. Experimenting with different time signatures, interesting instrumentation and backing vocal arrangements has always been a passion of mine, so this song is an important part of the album to me. It was also great fun recording the improvised guitar solo at the end of the track in one take with the drummer, I aimed to capture the excitement and spontaneity of improvisation within the constraints of a very structured song. The theme behind the song is an observation of how live moves on and the world keeps turning, yet some things in life never evolve or move on. The subject matter reflected the progressive sound of the song.”


Chantel McGregor’s Lose Control is out on Friday 9th October 2015, but her extensive UK tour starts later this month.

Chantel McGregor 2015 UK Tour Dates

Worthing Pier South Pavilion: Saturday 15th August
Billericay New Crawdaddy Club: Friday 28th August
Leamington Spa, The Assembly, Zephyr Lounge: Friday 11th September
Newark Blues Festival: Saturday 12th September
London, 100 Club: Thursday 17th September
Hessle, Town Hall: Saturday 19th September
Whitby, Pavilion Theatre: Sunday 20th September
Stockton, The Arc: Thursday 24th September
Louth Riverhead Theatre: Friday 25th September
Wrexham, Central Station: Saturday 26th September 2015
Birmingham, The Institute, The Temple: Thursday 1st October 2015
Ruislip, The Tropic: Friday 2nd October 2015
Halifax, Playhouse: Friday 9th October 2015
Southport, The Atkinson Blues Festival: Saturday 10th October 2015
Doncaster, The Dome: Friday 16th October 2015
Retford, The Elms: Saturday 17th October 2015
Sheffield, Greystones: Wednesday 21st October 2015
Edinburgh, The Caves: Thursday 22nd October 2015
Glasgow, Nice N Sleazy: Friday 23rd October 2015
Carlisle, The Venue: Saturday 24th October 2015
Salisbury, Arts Centre: Monday 26th October 2015
Exeter, Phoenix: Tuesday 27th October 2015
Bridport Arts Centre: Wednesday 28th October 2015
Brighton, Komedia: Thursday 29th October 2015
Lincoln, Engine Shed: Saturday 31st October 2015

Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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