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Michelle Chandler: Singer & Songwriter

"Songwriting was a great way to express what I was feeling."


Tracey Chandler

Michelle Chandler shares an openness and honesty in her life, wisdom, and a refreshing point of view on everything musical. The content of her music stretches over the deepest of emotions to the most captivating sounds imaginable. Michelle has a down to earth personality, and she lives a creative life which is visible in everything she does. She knows what she wants in her music, and works tirelessly with a freedom of expression that is rare to find. I sat down with Michelle recently and explored a world of sound, silence, improvisation and setting melody to words. We spoke of her humble beginnings as a musician and she says,

"My Dad was a whistler and my mother played the piano. My brothers all played guitar, my sister played piano and none of them continued on with music. I was the only one who kept playing. My siblings listened to Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Frank Zappa (…). I had these great songwriters influencing me, and always being around musicians. At family gatherings the guitars come out (…), and the legacy continues.

I started playing when I was fifteen, and I have always written.  The catalyst for serious writing was when one of my brothers was killed in a car crash when he was eighteen, and that had a huge impact (…).Songwriting was a great way to express what I was feeling (at the time)."

Her music is a culmination of folk, jazz, blues, sound, silence, improvisation and classical sounds which cannot be labelled into one genre, making her music so unique. She is self-taught and her skills on the guitar display classical ways of thinking and a simplicity which falls nicely on the listening ear. Michelle spoke about her approach to sound and says,

"I generally hear the instruments. I hear the horn parts, the bass line, even though I can’t play them, I can hear what I want. When I am writing a song I can actually hear the big sound as well as my voice and the guitar."

Her approach to writing new music has evolved over time, and she explains that she loves instrumental music.

"Early on it was being inspired by something and you’d write a song. These days I guess I am more realistic in terms of how I approach the songs. What is the best point of view for the song to sit in (…) (in terms of) styles, phrasing, and internal rhythm (…)? The lyrics follow the melodic road map.

I do write instrumentals; I love writing instrumentals. On my new album there are two instrumentals."

We briefly spoke about living a creative life and creating new music based on emotional and environmental influences and Michelle says,

"If I couldn’t play or express myself in that (emotional) way, I am not sure how I would have been able to do that (otherwise)."

Michelle is a wonderful musician who shares her life experiences in her music and is actively living a creative life true to her beliefs and essential self. Her new album Unravelling is due to come out soon, and I would highly recommend buying the album, and delve into the musical world of Michelle Chandler. To learn more about Michelle please visit her website.

Hanli is a freelance creative and academic writer and is currently busy with her PhD studies in music at Western Sydney University. She is a guitarist, composer, novelist and has a strong interest in the psychology of music. Her first novel is currently being edited and will be published in due course. To find out more about Hanli you can visit her website.

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