“Imagine Tina Turner fronting Outkast at Bette Midler’s bat mitzvah.” That’s how singer-songwriter Chantal Claret describes her solo debut The One, The Only…, a stunning album that swings with retro rhythmic swagger and songs that feel like revitalized Motown gems. Written and co-produced by Chantal, the album is meaty, beaty, big and bouncy, with Chantal putting a modern twist on early ’60s femme-pop. “I wanted to make music that sounds like it could’ve been written in the ’60s or ’70s, but with a big fat hip-hop-like low end,” she says. “Luckily for me, a lot of amazing people came together to help me pull it off–not because they were looking for a payday, but because they believed in the songs and that means everything to me. I hustled my ass off to make this record happen. I’m really proud of it and hope people have as much fun listening to it as I had making it.” Chantal enlisted the likes of writer/producers Rob Kleiner (David Guetta, Cee-Lo), Mher Filian, Pigeon John, Lion’s Share and mixer Mark “Exit” Goodchild (Erykah Badu, Cee-Lo) to help bring her musical vision to life. IT ALL STARTED WHEN SHE SNUCK INTO MOD CLUBS AT AGE 15 “I love upbeat 60?s music: the British Invasion, the doo wop dollies, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, blue-eyed soul–all of it. When I turned 15, I started sneaking into mod clubs in New York City, where I danced and people-watched until 4 in the morning. The first shows I went to were 60?s rock revivals and there was always an amazing rock & soul energy. That’s where my heart is and that’s the music I always wanted to make, but with a fresh feel. I remember being blown away the first time I heard Lauryn Hill’s ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’–I was so happy that music could sound like that again.” FINDING SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTOOD THE IMPORTANCE OF NANCY SINATRA & BRIGITTE BARDOT When trying to find the right collaborators, it seemed like everyone I met didn’t understand what I wanted to do or wasn’t capable of doing it. It got really frustrating and I was seriously contemplating giving up. On a whim I texted my friend Rob (Kleiner), who occasionally plays guitar for my husband’s band (Mindless Self Indulgence), and asked, ‘Do you like upbeat ’60s music?’ And he wrote back, ‘You mean like Nancy Sinatra and Brigitte Bardot?’ And I said, ‘YES EXACTLY!’ I told him about the project and he said he’d love to work on it. We got together and it was incredible. After just a few hours of working together, I had a song (‘Pleasure Seeker’) done. I finally had someone who understood what I wanted to do and it was a beautiful thing.” EXIT (ERYKAH BADU, OUTKAST, CEE-LO) WAS TOO BUSY TO MIX THE RECORD, BUT SHE SENT HIM MUSIC ANYWAY “I’d been trying to find the right mixer and had been sending people a reference mix of ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley to give them an idea of what I was looking for. Mher Fillian suggested Exit, saying ‘maybe he’ll work with you if he likes the songs, regardless of the budget’ (or lack thereof). Ironically, Exit’s credits included a ton of Gnarls Barkley & every major hip-hop artist, so he was PERFECT. There was an email address on his website, so I sent a note to his manager. They responded pretty quickly, saying he was busy and probably unavailable, but that I should send some music regardless. Hours later, I got another email saying Exit loved the songs and wanted to mix the record. Huzzah! He gave the songs the oomph they needed, making them sound big and clean while keeping their edge.” CHANTAL’S DADDY IS “THE PLEASURE SEEKER” “‘Pleasure Seeker’ is about my father and it’s the first song I wrote for this record. A couple of the lyrics in there are direct quotes from him and everything in it is true. The first time I played it for him, I was so nervous I got physically ill, as it’s not the most complimentary song. I sat him on my couch and said, ‘this song is about you,’ then stood there and watched while he listened. I was so relieved when he said he ‘fucking loved it.’ He’s so proud of it–he plays it for EVERYONE. He said if there’s a video, he wants to be in it. It’s funny, I was always afraid I would turn out like him, and except for the lying, cheating and stealing, I’m exactly like him. I’m in constant search of pleasure–be it from music, sex or food. I’ve always been a hedonist in search of a good time.” SHOOTING GUNS WITH ACTOR MICHAEL ROOKER CAN LEAD TO GOOD MUSIC “My husband James and I know Michael Rooker, who’s good people, an amazing actor and a heckuva marksman. For James’ birthday, I took him to shoot guns with Rooker at his private range. While there, Rooker kept using really cool ‘gun slang’ and I thought, ‘I gotta write this stuff down.’ A few weeks later, I was writing the song ‘Pop Pop Bang Bang’ and I called him to make sure I was using the right terminology and he proceeded to tell me the history of the .22 and I was like, ‘C’mon, Rooker! Just give me the cool gun slang!’ And he did. He is awesome.” LOVE SONGS MAKE CHANTAL FEEL CHEESY “I’ve always wanted to write a classic love song, but I’ve always had a hard time with it because they make me feel cheesy. I was determined to have one on this record and came up with ‘Honey Honey,’ which I wrote for James. I’m happy that I was able to write a song for him for this record. He’s literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me. He’s so supportive and I never knew that I could love someone as deeply and wonderfully as this. Also he knows that if he ever fucks with me I know how to use a gun.” SHE SAYS “BITE YOUR TONGUE” WAS INSPIRED BY A PIECE OF SH*T “I will never say publicly who ‘Bite Your Tongue is about (trust me, you know this person), but I have to say that this person is an utter piece of shit. My last interaction with this person was me saying, ‘forget you know my name and I’ll forget you exist.’ I’m so glad I got a lyric out of an actual conversation!” CHANTAL DOES MOST OF HER BRAINSTORMING IN THE SHOWER “I was in the shower doing my usual singing (the acoustics in my bathroom are amazing, so I do most of my brainstorming there) and all of a sudden the full chorus for ‘This Time’ came to me: ‘This time it’s gonna be different, this time it’s gonna be good, this time it’s gonna get easier, wouldn’t you know I said that the last time, too.’ The idea of deciding to make a change is a simple concept, but it has a strong meaning, one that can be applied to anything: a bad relationship, a career, etc. It’s funny – whenever I come up with an idea in the shower I have to keep singing it over and over while quickly drying myself off so that I can run and record it. This time I had my phone nearby with the audio track on it. I recorded it on there and a few days later, we were working on it in the studio.” TAKING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD “Most people know me from my previous band Morningwood and I’m really proud of everything we did. But that was a collaboration of personalities whereas this record is all me. Before even writing the first note, I knew what I wanted this record to sound and feel like. When it comes to music, I’ve never had that kind of clarity before, so it was nice to bring it to fruition. I’m beyond excited to play these songs live. I want to bring the energy and spontaneity of a rock show to a soul revival show. And most importantly, I know a bunch of dance moves that I can finally put to use.