Nuela Charles is a 35-year-old alternative/soul musician based in Canada. She was born in Kenya, then raised in Switzerland and Canada. Her music is filled with amazing vocals and high quality production. She has released four albums so far and her songs were heard on popular television shows such as Jane the Virgin and Tiny Pretty Things and others. Nuela has seen performing in the UK, Germany and the US. Blissful Madness is her forthcoming EP that was written to express different emotions we feel in one day.
Hello, Nuela. Thanks for joining us for this interview. Can you briefly tell us about your early years, childhood?
Hello! I was born in Mombasa, Kenya, and when I was around 1 or 2 we moved to Switzerland, where my dad is from. We lived there until I was 6 and them we immigrated to Canada to live on a cattle ranch. LOL The dream was to be cowboys and be ranchers. It was definitely a unique lifestyle. We had all sorts of animals, it was pretty great. When I was 13 we then moved to the Bahamas and as much as that was a very big culture shock for me, it’s where I first started developing my musical skills and where I taught myself to play the guitar and to write songs. After 5 years there we moved back to Canada to live in Alberta and this is where I graduated from high school, and go on to pursue my musical aspirations.
How would you describe the Canadian music industry in three words? Underrated, Small, Transitioning Could you tell us more about your latest track “Space”?
‘Space’, produced with Don Mills (Giveon, Snoh Allegra, Juice WRLD) and Ryan Worsely, oozes with smoky pop vocals and soulful flames. It’s a very groove-driven song and has funky bass slaps, groovy guitar runs, tight drums, and sultry synths that layer up the frequencies. It’s definitely a sassy anthem that reminds you to never take no for an answer. It was written well before the pandemic but fit so well into the context of how we were, and still are to an extent, living our lives.
How long does it take on average to write lyrics to a song?
That’s a tricky question. It really depends. Sometimes if I’m alone and inspiration hits the lyrics come flowing out. Usually it’s first verse, chorus and bridge – leaving the second verse. Which I go back to eventually, or sometimes never! LOL. In a co-writing session, it could take anywhere from an hour to a few hours, with the goal being to have a finished song at the end. So yea, it definitely varies.
Why did you choose to live in Edmonton?
The choice to live in Edmonton was made for me when my family moved back from the Bahamas, and first lived in Calgary and then a year later moved up north to Edmonton, mainly for work reasons. It ended up being the perfect development ground for me, and I’m grateful for the community there. I moved to Vancouver for a year early on, but went back to Edmonton, and that’s really where Nuela Charles started.
What has been your biggest challenge in life?
I think being understood and taken serious has been a real challenge, if that makes sense. The industry likes to cling to things they understand and are comfortable with. Over the years, I’ve had countless conversations with industry saying “we don’t know what to do with you” and so I had to prove that what I was doing not only works, but is marketable and has an audience and even then, they were still very hesitant. So I just had to make my own path and I’m proud to have JUNO nominations under my belt, independently.
If you had to choose anyone to work with at the moment, who would it be? Why?
I’d have to say Danger Mouse. I think he has a very unique perspective and has been able to beautifully marry nostalgia and modern sounds within each of the artists he’s worked with.
Do you like experimenting with different genres and musical instruments?
I like experimenting with different genres and instruments, but I like to also have it come back around to be palatable and be a bit pop leaning. “Space” was definitely a different vibe for me, but I pushed for it, knowing that it’s a bit funk, but still pop leaning and accessible.
Where do you want to go on tour next?
I’d love to tour Europe. I love the history and the beauty in how they maintain their historical structures. I also find that the audiences there also just appreciate the arts, and are more willing to go see an artist they may not be too familiar with. I played to a packed venue in Switzerland because of this, and it was amazing!
Do you think awards are important to artists?
I think awards are nice, and I’ve definitely won and been nominated for a good amount of them, and I’m grateful for it. If anything they validate you to other people, if that makes sense? I can tell someone I’m a musician, and they can be like “that’s nice.” But if I say, I’m a 3x JUNOS award nominated artist – they perk up, listen and take me seriously. So I think it comes down to other people’s perception of you that changes when it comes to awards. But they don’t ever make you better than another artist. Art is subjective.
if you were not singing and songwriting, who would you work as?
I think if I weren’t singing or songwriting, I’d still be doing something creative. Maybe a graphic artist or interior designer. Two things that I’ve definitely dabbled in, in my own personal life.