INTERVIEW WITH YOUNG BLACK ARTIST CHAYA AUSTIN

Chaya Austin is a mixed race, Toronto based, multidisciplinary artist.  Currently finishing up high school, Chaya writes music and practices playing her guitar and piano regularly. 

Taking vocal lessons for the last year, Chaya is working on an album and dreams of spreading her positive message to the world. 

BCP: Why music?

CA: I feel like my writing and music is the most natural way for me to express and reveal myself to others.

BCP: What is your writing process?

CA: 80% of the time I have writers block; but usually how it goes is I sit down with my guitar and play around with chords until I find something unique, and then I find my inspiration through the sound of those chords, and relate them to my emotions.

BCP: How long have you been writing songs?

CA: Since summer 2009.

BCP: You are a fan of Etta James.  Why do you like her so much?  What have you learned from her that you incorporate into your own music?

CA: I like Etta James because of the soul she puts into her music plus she has a gorgeous voice. I try to incorporate the same jazzy and classy feel into my own creations. 

BCP: Who are your other musical influences?

CA: Bob Marley, Damian Marley, Alicia Keys, Peter Tosh, Billie Holiday, Michael Jackson, Barrington levy, Tupac Shakur, Pearl Jam, and many more.

BCP: Your songs are emotional, honest, and very spiritual.  What do you try to convey to your audience?

CA: I try to put across having a positive attitude, and looking towards each day as a new opportunity to discover something original about your own self. I also want to express unity between people despite of our differences, and appreciation of what we have.

BCP: Why does your spirituality play a part in your writing?

CA: My spirituality definitely plays a part when I write my music because it keeps me writing true to myself and not putting out negative and shallow messages in my music. Sometimes when I write I feel like my spiritual conscience comes out.

BCP: Do you see a song as a form of prayer?

CA: It can be, similar to psalms; songs can be about giving thanks to God, or could be a gesture of thanks given specifically and intimately to God.

BCP: You recently had your first show.  What was that like?

CA: At first a little scary, but feeling the support of everyone there really made it a great experience that without a doubt will give me confidence for my next performance.

BCP: What do you think of the music industry’s current state?  Do you find it easy or hard to find artists you relate to?

CA: Today’s music industry is very corrupt in my opinion. I find new mainstream music to be the most mind-numbing material out there; really, I think there’s nothing good about it. It’s hard for me to relate to any new mainstream artists because their music has very little for me to relate to, I think the same goes for a lot of other people. My taste in music is really old school so I don’t even really pay attention to most new artists.

BCP: Black History Month is coming up.  What does Black History Month mean to you as a young Black artist?

CA: To me black history is a time to unify ourselves no matter what color. Some people are half black and reject their African roots; so I think that this month there should be a lot more discussed about our descendents; where we came from and what our people went through, because sometimes we forget.

BCP: What are you working on now?

CA: I’m trying to buckle down and write as much music as I can, but at the same time make sure its material that I agree with and is me. I’ve also recently took up piano, and have been composing on there as well.

BCP: When do you expect to have your own CD?

CA: Hopefully in summer or before the end of the year.

BCP: When is your next performance?

CA: A Breast Cancer benefit in February 2011 with the date and location to be announced.

BCP: What advice do you have for other young artists like yourself?

CA: My biggest advice is to ignore other artists and be yourself; what this world is lacking of is originality; the best music is music that comes from the heart and that’s something that only you yourself can do. It’s better to be hated for being yourself than be loved for someone your not.

Tune into Black Coffee Poet Friday January 28, 2011 for a video of Chaya singing one of her songs.

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About Black Coffee Poet

Black Coffee Poet is a mixed race poet, essayist, and journalist who focuses on Social Justice, Indigenous Rights, STOPPING Violence Against Women, Film, and Literature.
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