Five Questions With… Nuela Charles
This Edmonton soul siren is resolutely DIY in her approach, and a recent Juno nomination confirms she is doing it the right way. Find out more in this interview.
By Jason Schneider
Nuela Charles is a proud indie artist, and the combination of her natural talent and tireless work ethic have brought her a 2018 Juno nomination for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year.
The Edmonton-based alternative soul singer/songwriter released her sophomore album The Grand Hustle in late 2016, and since then she’s received international notice from the likes of SoulTrain.com for her soulful vocals and captivating stage presence. Her single “Crumbling Down” has been heard everywhere from ESPN to the hit TV comedy Jane The Virgin.
Charles is set to build on her momentum with a brand new single called “Do It Right,” to be released March 2. Co-written and produced by Grammy nominee Rob Kleiner (Andra Day, Sia, Ceelo Green) in Los Angeles, the bouncy, infectious track gives a clear indication of where Charles is taking her fiery brand of cinematic soul.
She spoke to us before the Juno ceremony about what it’s taken to get to this point, and what the immediate future has in store. Find out more at nuelacharles.com
Congratulations on receiving your Juno nomination. What does it mean to you at this stage in your career?
Thank you! The nomination was unexpected and very exciting because I’m still operating on a very independent scale. I am still self-managed, I book my live shows, and have secured over 15 TV synch placements without a publisher. So, it is also very reassuring that I am doing something right.
For people who haven't heard The Grand Hustle yet, what were some of your creative goals for that album?
This album centres around the idea of “the fall” and picking oneself up from the lowest low. It’s not as depressing as it sounds though! It’s about the perseverance it takes to come back stronger than before. Sonically, I wanted it to build off of my first album, and I went down a more cinematic route with lush string arrangements and James Bond-esque moods.
Your new single “Do It Right” has just come out. Is it a taste of what your next album will sound like?
Definitely! “Do It Right” was written in Los Angeles with Grammy-nominated producer/writer Rob Kleiner, and it was the first song written for the next album. It set the tone and was a great base jumping off point. The rest of the songs are a bit grittier but maintain that cinematic feel that I’ve had on my previous albums.
Your profile in the US is steadily increasing. Have you had any unusual celebrity encounters?
I haven’t had any unusual celebrity encounters while in the US, but I did have some when I hopped on a friend’s European festival tour a couple of years ago. They were opening for Black Sabbath in Italy, and I bumped into Ozzy backstage as he was just walking about. I panicked and froze! Later on that festival tour, I crashed into—literally—Sam Smith, got to chat with Dan from Imagine Dragons, and had lunch with Bastille in Switzerland. Those were just a few rad encounters, and it was a great way to experience a tour on that level, without feeling any of the pressure. My kind of vacation and 100 percent inspiring!
If you could change anything about the music business, what would it be?
This is an interesting question, and I guess it ties into what my current struggles are as an artist in Canada. I wish the industry would be more open and be willing to take a risk on something that it may not be used to. I don’t understand why artists have to leave their own country to be successful, and only then will they receive the support from their homeland counterparts.
There are so many stories of artists going overseas to breakout—and then return home to everyone clamouring to work with them. I’d rather see Canada at the forefront of breaking acts, rather than waiting for someone else to do it first.