An interview with Chantelle Barry
DK: Good day Chantelle, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for me today! How are you?
CB: Hi Dennis! Thank you…it’s an honor to be chatting with you and Chicago Music Guide.
DK: So, it is great to see how the power of music impacted your life so early on and with a musician parent and your siblings whom you performed in the Barry Sisters with, it is no wonder. Take me through your childhood… how did you balance music with school, friends and family?
CB: Music has always been a huge part of my life. I always sang & danced around the house as a kid and once my parents realized how passionate I was about being a performer my mum started taking me to a singing & dancing school every Saturday, which I loved. After class my mum & I would go shopping and I’d get to buy a new record. Then a lot of Saturday nights we’d go to the pub for dinner and karaoke night and my sister and I would sing a bunch of songs.
Being a musician himself, my dad was big influence on me. He’d introduce me to his favorite songs from artists like Connie Francis, Doris Day, The Beatles, Eric Clapton etc, then I’d write down the lyrics & learn how to sing them. Dad had a real love for gear so we had a pretty impressive audio set up at home…wireless Shure mics, an awesome multi channel Yamaha console and big loud speakers. There were daily concerts in our living room! That soon tunes into my sisters & I performing at community concerts and events and doing local TV appearances. It was a lot of fun.
Balancing academic, friends & family never felt like an issue for me. They all kinda went hand in hand…I sang at school events, my friends would come to watch me perform at any concerts I was part of and a lot of my performing was with my sisters where my mum made our costumes and dad was the live engineer- it all just kinda flowed.
DK: That is awesome and sounds like a great family life growing up. Did you take any official lessons?
CB: I learned how to read music at primary school under the instruction of the most awesome music teacher ever who was from America. Mr Leadabrand influenced my life and career path in a big way. When I was 12 he wrote a musical based on the C.S. Lewis book ‘The Silver Chair’ casting me as the lead villain, The Green Witch.
DK: Ooo, nice! That had to be great fun!
CB: We performed a season at the local theater company and it was not one of the most exciting things I’d experience, but it was also my first real taste of music theater and I was hooked.
Shortly after I auditioned for and attended the top performing arts high school in Perth (John Curtin College of the Arts) on a 5 year theater & dance scholarship. In my senior years I was secretly bullied by the ‘popular kids’…Lots of racial issues (Australia wasn’t as progressive then as it is now), so I skipped school a lot but never missed a performing arts class or rehearsal.
DK: I am very sorry to hear about the bullying and racial issues, that had to be very difficult.
CB: If it wasn’t for our head of department Carolyn Byatt (whom I’m still friends with today) I probably wouldn’t have graduated high school. She really nurtured my talent and was there for me.
After high school I attended the WA Academy of Performing Arts (the same college Hugh Jackman attended) and graduated with a certificate in Musical Theater. We studied music theory among other things, but in all honesty I’ve always felt more comfortable playing by ear. I’m much more of a hands-on type.
DK: How would you describe your songwriting from earliest songs written to today?
CB: The first song I remember writing was when I was about 6 years old and it was for my big sister Char. Actually, it was more like a chorus than a song, but it was VERY basic and just a fun expression of how I felt about her. The lyrics were “You are so pretty, ee-i-ee-i-ee oh. You are so beautiful, ee-i-ee-i-ee oh”… haha. My writing has definitely evolved since however I think at the core I’ve always been good at taking exactly what I’m feeling in a particular moment and crafting it into a song.
DK: And in the end, that is really what great songwriting is all about; expressing feelings in music. How has the recording process been for you over the years and how many songs do you have under your belt already?
CB: I’ve always loved recording. I particularly love engineering, which I did on my last few releases. I love the freedom it gives me to create cool vocal arrangements and layer them the way I hear them in my head. It’s very rewarding.
As far as songs go I probably have a few hundred recorded at this point, not to mention hundreds of ideas recorded in my voice notes on my phone.
DK: Are your songs written about personal experiences?
CB: Most definitely. My songs are like journal entries so it’s pretty easy to listen to a song or album of mine and get a pretty good sense of what I was going through at that point in my life.
DK: How have the reactions been to your music and which would you say are fan favorites?
CB: Hm, it’s always interested to me know how my songs are received and which ones get a bigger response versus the ones that mean more to me. Simple Things gets requested a bunch when I play live and that was off my very first album back in 2009. I released a single called One Step Closer a few years ago that people seem to like. Oh and Love Someone…that’s one of my favorites and people love hearing that one live.
It is interesting to see on Spotify what songs are doing well off my last album. You just never know what’s gonna resonate with people, which is why it’s always best for me to write for me and throw it all out there with no expected goal in mind.
DK: Yes, expectations can sometimes throw a wrench into everything if they’re not met or turn out differently. How does it make you feel though now being on the other end; creating music for yourself that moves people?
CB: Awe, Thank you for saying that. You know my goal in music is to create connection. If one person is moved by one of my songs, if it resonates with them or speaks to an experience they’ve had, then I’ve succeeded.
DK: How do you approach your music with regards to live performances, have you altered/adjusted any songs for the performance sake?
CB: Definitely. Some songs are just fun to sing and depending on how the energy is at the time we might add an on-the-spot breakdown chorus where I ask for audience participation, that’s always fun.
DK: You’ve also been doing a lot of incredible acting… tell me about that, how that came about and how it fits in with your music career?
CB: Thank you! Ever since I did my first musical back when I was 12 years old I knew acting was something I’d dually pursue. There are more and more musical TV shows and films being made nowadays so there’s definitely a place for performers like me who are musically skilled also. There’s a new show about to be released called “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” that I’d LOVE to guest on. #careergoals
DK: You’ve had some great opportunities with your roles
CB: Absolutely. And the more I acknowledge that, the more great opportunities keep popping up. There’s something to be said for not only being grateful but actually ‘feeling’ it. I have a recurring guest role on an awesome comic series ‘Doom Patrol’ (on DC Universe) and it’s one of my favorite roles yet. I play a French horse named Baphomet…she’s blue, she’s animated AND she sings. Voice acting is a whole other world of fun, and the great thing there is that it truly doesn’t matter my age, race, gender…it’s just about bringing a character to life.
DK: Everything I’ve ever seen with ‘behind the scenes’ for movies, it actually looks like it would be a bit challenging in a sound room conveying different emotions and communicating with other characters who aren’t actually there, but I am sure it would be a fun challenge at least. How does it feel being so successful as an independent artist and having produced ‘Lovers Gonna Love’?
CB: Honestly, it’s only up until recently that I started seeing myself as a successful artist. I’ve done a lot of self work this year, a lot of personal growth and re-evaluating my idea of what success is. For me, what it comes down to is this – I’m doing what I love everyday and earning a living doing so, I’m literally living ‘the dream’ and when I fully allow myself to be present and acknowledge every accomplishment big and small, I know I’m succeeding.
DK: How did you end up being more directly involved in the music business side of your career and would you suggest other artists do the same?
CB: I’ve never been terribly excited by he business side of anything. I used to feel creatively stifled when I had to do business stuff. But I turned that into empowerment. My mum always told me growing up “what are you waiting for, someone to come knock on the front door and say “Chantelle Barry? I’ve been looking for you!” Haha, I used to roll my eyes at that but it’s the truth. The market is so over saturated nowadays with so many new distribution platforms and gimmicks that I needed to start getting stuff done and stop waiting to be signed by a major label, especially when I wasn’t prepared to make the sacrifices a major label deal would require.
An awesome book that really lit a fire in me is “The New Music Business” by Ari Herstand. Reading his book made me finish my Lovers Gonna Love album and I had a better understanding of the steps I needed to take to not only release it but also market it. There’s actually a lot more help out there than we realize, it’s just about asking the right questions and being really clear about what it is you’re trying to achieve. So yes, I’d definitely encourage other artists to be more involved and find ways to make their goals achievable.
DK: You recently announced that you have a new video coming out this month for your single, “Not Here” which you filmed in Berlin… fill us in on all the details about the video and how Berlin came to be the location for the video?
CB: Yes! Thank you for asking :)) The video comes out Sept 6 and I’m stoked to finally be getting it out there. A dear friend of mine Eric Chambers is an awesome film writer/director. He writes really strong kick-ass female protagonists and I had an idea where I wanted to portray a spy in this mini film music video. Eric loved the idea and ran with it…he reached out to a mutual friend of ours, Gary to produce it and he jumped on board. There’s nothing better than having a network of friends who are so supportive they’ll do what they can to help facilitate your dreams. Since the concept is spy-oriented and Eric lives in Berlin it just seemed like a natural fit…and who doesn’t want a good excuse to travel somewhere new?! Lol.
We shot it over 2 days, 2 very long 18 hour days…my younger sister flew up to meet me there and assist (she also has a cameo appearance in the vid). We worked with an incredibly generous local crew, great hair/makeup, talented actors from Berlin, I got to handle some very fun & dangerous weapons…it was a dream production.
DK: As if you didn’t have enough going on, in 2009 you also created a line of spiritual/boho jewelry called White Elephant Designs… I understand it has been tremendously successful for you, kudos on that! How did you come to start this?
CB: Thanks! One of my many facets as an artist. Jewelry is fun…we (my younger sister Charlena & I) use lots of chunky raw gem stones for cuffs and bracelets. It’s all about the metaphysical properties of the stones and what people are trying to attract into their lives. So far it’s been a lot of word-of-mouth sales and it helps when celebs wear the pieces. We have some stores in Venice and Westlake who stock the collection but the big goal for White Elephant is spiritual festivals like Bhakti Fest, Wanderlust, Lightening in a Bottle, etc…that’s really where our main demographic is.
DK: What do you have planned for the remainder of the year?
CB: Hmmm, it’s already been such a big year. I just got back from my honeymoon in Bora Bora, we waited a year because of timing and work commitments so right now I’m still on island time (lol) but I’ll be jumping back into work right away. I’m working on a large franchise video game as we speak that I’m not allowed to divulge details of just yet but that’s been keeping me nice & busy. Oh and more music. I’m more focused on extended content for my Lovers Gonna Love album. More videos, releasing early version demos of songs from the album, that type of thing.
DK: With all your involvements and interests, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
CB: Fast asleep on an island somewhere??? Please, anyone? Haha.
This business can be very fickle so right now I’m focused on what’s in front of me but I am planning on doing some more composing and scoring for TV projects. That’s been on my list for some time now.
DK: I would like to thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, I really appreciate it Chantelle! I wish you all the best in your career!!
CB: Oh my gosh, thanks again for such awesome questions and for featuring me! Truly grateful…and I look forward to connecting with some of your readers who can reach me on Instagram- I always write back to people there :) @chantellegence
Born & raised in Western Australia, to an Italian mother and Burmese father, Chantelle began her creative path at a very young age, singing and dancing.
Currently residing in the worlds entertainment capital Los Angeles, Chantelle continues to create art in many forms. Songwriting & composing music for film & TV, acting on the big and small screens as well as voicing many popular animated shows and video games. In 2009 Chantelle created a line of spiritual/boho jewelry called White Elephant Designs which is quickly becoming a celebrity trend.
Chantelle is currently playing supervillain Roku in Valiant Comics 1st live action series Ninjack Vs The Valiant Universe and will be releasing singles from her Lovers Gonna Love EP via spotify throughout 2017.