Introducing Montana Chanel: London indie pop artist confounds expectations

by | Music, music interview

Montana Chanel is a female singer-songwriter from London.

With a main influence stemming from the alternative sound of Lana Del Rey and the idea of melancholic lyrics with a catchy instrumental underlaid, along with the willpower to break the mould of ‘pop’ music expectations she’s definitely not an artist to miss. With a wide vocal range from a low smoky voice to whistle tones, not a single note is flat.

indieRepublik: you’ve decided to release a 10 minute track that you describe as more like two songs in one, with lots of layers and details, instead of the usual 3 minute single. How did you come to that? Just made sense, or do you have a plan? 🙂

Montana Chanel: So initially they were 2 separate songs, with the first part being written months before as an almost love song?I’ve always really loved the idea of combining two songs into one and always planned on it but never really had enough to say for such an extended song. Along with needing a solid idea – both production wise and lyric wise – to keep people interested for such an extended time!

I sit there and shove ALL my emotions into the song for hours until it’s finished as a healthy way to deal with how I’m feeling

I loved the idea of slowly developing it as it goes on until the crescendo, as it progresses it gives me a massive dopamine rush! It started with an idea to sample a main motif from the first part into the second, and then I came up with the crazy idea of combining them as one entire song that I see as a 2 part story.

The song pretty much develops from your standard intoxicated-by-love song into somewhat of a heartbreak anthem.

indieRepublik: How does the songwriting process work for you?

Montana Chanel: This is such an interesting question because I could talk about it for days! I’ve always been the strongest with English subjects during school, and I loved writing stories my entire life. I’ve always had a love for performing arts and singing, and I’ve found combining two things I love and am good at has been an outlet more than I ever thought.

I can’t really force my creativity, and I tend to write best from emotion and usually pain. My ideas tend to come out of the blue with a couple of lyrics or a cheeky melody popping into my head (usually in the shower) and I either write them down and leave it to somewhat marinate or I sit there and shove ALL my emotions into the song for hours until it’s finished as a healthy way to deal with how I’m feeling. Sometimes I’ve written songs in about 15 minutes, some songs took a long time to come back to. It all depends on how my brain is that day!

Good Girl: theatrical and massive, and with heavy electric guitar

indieRepublik: If you had to describe your music to a deaf person, what would you say?

Montana Chanel: I would definitely struggle, I find it so hard describing my own music. And I find sometimes my songs don’t really fit a genre.. Each song has its own different sound. And they all have a different story or vibe? I don’t think I’ve found my distinct sound yet.

Of the three released at the moment, I’d say Nepotism Baby is reminiscent of Alternative / Indie Pop with the general pop structure but the strings and guitar can potentially evoke a lot of emotion, it’s definitely more commercial and that’s probably the closest to pop I can create on my own.

Nepotism Baby is very indie pop…it’s probably the closest to pop I can create on my own

Good Girl is a badass song. I experimented with tempo changes and to me it sounds angry. Very angry. And powerful. There’s a massive massive slow down where the dynamic of the song just shifts into what I feel as powerful and vengeful about being in a toxic relationship and taking power back. A recurring theme from people is always that it fits a movie, almost like Bond vibes – theatrical and massive, and with heavy electric guitar which I love.

And regarding Blue Eyes Under Blue Lights – I’d describe it as; club. Imagine you’re under the UV lights and you’re really into this person and the world seems perfect and you’re in that honeymoon period.. That intoxicating feeling of catching feelings. Then you HAVE them and they turn out to be the worst person you’ve ever met. They’ve ruined your life. That’s how it sounds. First part sounds like falling in love and to the beat in the background. The second part is just like a distressed siren calling out for her lover that just never really existed.

The first part makes you feel in love and sonically it sounds almost fairytale with the harp and piano at points on top of the dark synths to give a club feel, the second part as it develops into a darker song while still retaining elements of the first such as layered vocals and gets heavier with the main melody focuses on more plucking than chords.

To someone who couldn’t physically hear my music I would have to describe it to be something very… unafraid to do what it wants. It has no boundaries and isn’t afraid to do whatever to get a story or a song across, I think I showed that by dropping an almost 11 minute long song.

indieRepublik: If your music was a movie, which genre would it be in?

Montana Chanel: This is such a tough one. I’ve had so many people tell me my songs could fit in a movie, I can imagine Nepotism Baby in like a teenage coming of age movie maybe? Like an adaptation of a YA novel or something.

Good Girl I can definitely see the Bond vibe end credits after a movie where you need to process what happened, or opening credits. Or with the tempo switch up, a character getting revenge or something – instrumental or with vocals.. Definitely gives that feeling of something shifting in the movie in like a turning point.

I mostly write from emotion and pain. I have struggled with mental health issues for literally my entire life, since I was about 4.

And with Blue Eyes, I’m honestly not sure, it has such different points of the song where I think it definitely fits into that young adult theme of maybe partying because of the drum pattern and falling in love, and then the prominent theme of ‘you said you loved me’ etc would definitely work as a heartbreak scene in a coming of age too.

indieRepublik: Tell us a secret about yourself.

Montana Chanel: Hmm, a secret. I did the voice of Pocoyo as a child growing up. It’s a British TV cartoon that most of my friends watched growing up, I love ruining their childhood when they realize their friend was their version of Santa Claus.

indieRepublik: Where do you get your inspiration from?

Montana Chanel: I mostly write from emotion and pain. I have struggled with mental health issues for literally my entire life, since I was about 4. The main struggle for me though is BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). When something happens that I can’t cope with or I need help processing with instead of completely spiralling, I will write or I will sing or I will just remember that pain and channel it into something useful.

I’m quite young, I’m only 21 but I’ve gone through my fair share of issues and trauma and thinking that it was all for nothing might quite literally drive me to the brink of insanity so if I can turn that into something productive, if I can turn my pain into something that actually gets me somewhere with life, and if I can actually make what I’ve wanted my entire life and my dream with singing come true then I can definitely live with that.

I’m a very very stubborn yet determined person and even if I lose motivation, I never lack inspiration.

I tried walking away from music and going to university and as soon as anything happened that upset me or affected me I turned to music every single time and I realized it is the only constant in my life that I care about the most.

I will always flex the fact that I went to an intimate Billie Eilish concert in March 2019 before she blew up

indieRepublik: What was the last concert you went to?

Montana Chanel: The last concert I went to was Vacations, this was mid August. An old best friend of mine was going and it was so nice to be in an intimate smaller venue and really close to other artists, and I think it was the last kick up the ass that I needed to feel motivated with music when I spent a lot of time wishing I was doing it too.

The concert before that was Lana Del Rey that I saw in Hyde Park. I’ve loved her music since I was 16 and her music is quite literally the only music mine exists, her music has been the biggest inspiration for me and it has remained that for 5 years. As I was walking home afterward I realized to myself that that is what I want and to not give up on my dream. Those two were definitely eye openers for getting myself together.

I will always flex the fact that I went to an intimate Billie Eilish concert in March 2019 before she blew up and that I got to see my favorite band Catfish and the Bottlemen before they split!

indieRepublik: How do you feel about covering a song?

Montana Chanel: When I’m in a creative drought I do covers myself all the time. Sometimes I post them on social media but I don’t know if I would ever trust myself to fully rework someone else’s work a la Doin’ Time. I’d be worried that I would absolutely butcher it. I love performing other songs in my own way though. Songs that I love that are in my range that I also enjoy singing, I adore doing.

indieRepublik: In ten years you look back to today and think:_

Montana Chanel: I’d love to look back and think, this was my first interview.2023 was one of the most testing years of my life and friends did not stay constant, life was unpredictable. I had a really really difficult year and I’d like to look back at 31 and think to myself, it wasn’t all for nothing. That I was following a dream for a reason and that as petty as it sounds, I can scream that I DID make it to everyone who thought I couldn’t.

I don’t know if I would ever trust myself to fully rework someone else’s work…I’d be worried that I would absolutely butcher it.

indieRepublik: Do you see your songs in colour or in black and white?

Montana Chanel: Isn’t there a condition called chromesthesia where people see songs in color or something? I wish I had that ability for other songs but I think I have definitely experienced it with Good Girl and Blue Eyes..I don’t think I see them in black and white, I can see certain colors in my minds eye when listening to my own music and creating it. I tried to reference that in the cover art with Good Girl. I see sepia. A warm shade of brown ish? And I have slight visuals of smoky sepia.

I’m an indie artist. I’m not signed. Everything that I’ve done, I’ve done for myself and by myself and had only myself to motivate me.

With Blue Eyes there was actually a picture that inspired the entire thing, it inspired the name along with a vivid visual aesthetic which was taken with Salvatore himself under the UV lights. I chose the cover art to be that ultraviolet blue/purple color, the actual pictures used were under that color light as well. When I hear the song I can vividly see UV lights and I hope I got it across in the cover art.I might try and make a black and white sounding song. That’s never crossed my mind before.

indieRepublik: How would you define indie? What do you personally think it means?

Montana Chanel: I personally think indie truly is just independent. You have so much freedom when it’s all because of YOU. Literally just calling something indie music or indie games or indie movie genre, it makes me think of hard work. Of independent people who had to grind and work so so hard to get to where they are. I’m an indie artist. I’m not signed. Everything that I’ve done, I’ve done for myself and by myself and had only myself to motivate me.It just reminds me of hard work really, and pure creativity.

indieRepublik: What do you like most about indieRepublik?

Montana Chanel: I love the fact that this has given me a voice as a small underground irrelevant and independent artist. I like the fact that you’re giving previously unknown people a chance to show their music.I also love blogs, I think they’re starting to die out and they’re nowhere near as common as before and I love them I think they’re so niche and a staple of the internet, it’s just independent and authentic.

indieRepublik: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us 🙂

Find Montana Chanel on Instagram

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