Interview Coely: “I met the right people at the right time”
Alături de Suburban Magazine, una dintre cele mai noi şi fresh reviste online care promovează cultura urbană, am realizat un interviu exclusiv pentru România cu Coely, o rapperiţă din Belgia care deşi şi-a început cariera muzicală în urmă cu puţin timp, datorită performanţelor sale muzicale a ajuns să cânte în deschiderea unor artişti precum Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar sau Nas.
Coely va concerta în această vineri în clubul bucureştean Colectiv, alături de C.T.C. şi Dj Undoo. Vă invit mai jos să citiţi interviul. Lectură plăcută!
*Me and Suburban Magazine, a very fresh Romanian online magazine, dedicated to urban music and urban culture, prepared exclusively for Romanian fans an interview with Coely, a young rap singer, who will sing on 14 March in Bucharest, at Colectiv Club with C.T.C., one of the best rap groups in Romania, and also with Dj Undoo, who represented Romania at Red Bull Thre3style World DJ Championship in 2013, in Toronto.
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1. For those who don’t know, who is Coely?
Coely: I’m a female rap artist/singer. I was born in Antwerp, Belgium, where I still live. My family’s roots lie in Congo. Coely is actually my real name, it’s derived from Colin (CO), my dad, and Elysées (ELY), my mom, so my name is quite original.
2. You graduated last year, but you started making rap music when you were 17. Is it hard to make music at that age? Why did you choose rap?
Coely: Yes exactly, I graduated last year in June, the very next day I was the opening act at Couleur Café, one of the bigger festivals in Belgium. It’s a really multicultural festival with big acts like Aloe Black, Wyclef Jean, Nneka, … I always dreamt about performing on big stages but I never really thought I’d make it.
I actually started singing at a young age, just singing along with everything I heard on the radio and on TV. At that time, my mom was the conductor of an African church choir. I started singing in church together with a lot of friends, it was so much fun, but as soon as I got home I wanted to listen to MTV. My mom didn’t like that at first, being really religious and all, but she realized that you can’t hold back what’s in someone’s heart so now she’s my biggest fan!
I actually wasn’t really into rap, I mean I listened to it but I didn’t really rap myself. Sometimes I tried some lyrics from famous songs, but I didn’t know how to flow them naturally. I was afraid that my friends would look at me weird if I tried so I mumbled the lyrics quietly when walking through the city. Luckily for me, I met the right people at the right time.
3. Who encouraged you to start making music? And whose styles did you learn from?
Coely: In my neighbourhood there’s this youth centre where they organize a lot of activities for kids and youngsters, a nice initiative that gave all of us something to do in our spare time and it kept a lot of kids off the streets. One of the people who worked there heard me sing and invited me to join his workshops. He organized lots of musical activities and built a little studio so kids could record their music.
Long story short, some kid had heard me rap some little tiny verse and told Niels, he’s the guy that organized the workshops. He then encouraged me to come more often and he actually thought me how to rap proudly, not to mumble anymore and use force. It wasn’t that easy at first, but after a couple of workshops I just started screaming into the mic, letting go all of my frustrations that had built up over the years and it felt so amazing! I mean I had loved singing all of my life, but now I had found something extra. Cool thing, Niels is now my manager and still produces all of my music together with Filip and Yann. They’ve all known each other for more than 10 years and also run the independent label I’m signed to: Beatville.
Luckily for me I’ve got an amazing Crew/Entourage. They’re all a little bit older than me and they’ve got a lot of experience at making music and know exactly what I want to do with a song. I’ve got people guiding me through this process ever since the day I started rapping. I don’t have to worry about anything and just enjoy making music.
They introduced me to music from artists like Jay Dilla, Pharoahe Monch, Erykah Badu, and so many more. They have opened my eyes. Of course I knew Lauren Hill, and a lot of modern rap artists, but I didn’t know that much about where the music came from. Now I’m getting to know so many new (actually old) bands and I consider many of them as a source of inspiration. I guess you could say that I got musically raised by MTV, Church and Beatville, My musical Trinity.
4. Who was your favourite rapper when you first got into rap? Do you have any female role models?
Coely: Kanye West, no doubt. He’s far more that a rap artist, he’s a musician with a vision. I’d love to sit in a room, be quiet and just watch and listen to what he does. He changes the sound of hip hop every time he releases an album. I hope that one day maybe I’ll be an inspiration musically to people like he is to me.
Lauren Hill, there’s no other. I’m growing up rapidly since I’ve made my breakthrough in Belgium, but I’m still a young girl. When I listen to Lauren, I hear a woman talking. Even at a young age she was so strong with lyrics, with such a strong attitude. I’m a fan, that’s all I can say.
5. How did you start making music and what is your rap about? Does it come from personal experience?
Coely: The first songs I made (Ain’t Chasing Pavements, Nothing On Me, All I Do) I still like musically, but I want to grow as a person, as an artist and put more of my experiences into lyrics. Those first songs maybe lacked a little bit of depth, but that’s quite normal at the age of 17-18, maybe even at 20. I’m actually really proud of my new song called My Tomorrow, it’s a step forward for me and includes a lot of personal references I believe we can all understand and most of us probably go through in our lives. I try to make positive music, that in some way lifts up your spirit or gives you that extra push to get out of bed, to enjoy the day and see it as a gift. We’ve all been down and low and sometimes we should focus on all those good things and just leave the past behind.
6. What’s the hardest part about navigating through the music industry?
Coely: I believe the hardest thing is finding the right people to work with. You need people who believe in you and I’m not talking about major labels or big time managers, but just some people with the right attitude and some experience. I’ve had the luck of meeting the right person at the right time and all is going well. Just set goals for yourself, ask people for feedback but most of all, just keep making the music that you love to make.
I think a lot of artists get impatient as they get older if they don’t get that lucky break. I didn’t have that because I was only 17 and the first song that I had ever made, Ain’t chasing pavements, got so much media attention, it was scary. My biggest fear is to not reach the expectations that people have of me. I had made one song and suddenly I read that I was going to become a superstar, that’s quite frightening.
7. You give away a lot of free music. What’s your opinion about selling recorded music in the digital age? Do you think young artists have any chance of making money of their work?
Coely: I recently made my first EP RAAH – The Soulful Yeah downloadable for free. I did not do that from the beginning, because hey, it’s still the music industry, not the music charity. People don’t work for free and I also have bills to pay. I see CD’s as promotional material, my first EP included five songs and we sold it for € 5 and it was only sold at shows and on iTunes, Spotify,… Sales at shows are going quite well to be honest, € 5 isn’t that much money for five songs, it’s the same price on iTunes.
8. Let’s talk a little bit about your future. You have announced your second EP, scheduled for this April. Can you give us more details? Any collaborations?
Coely: Well maybe we were a little bit eager to say that we’d be releasing it in April.
We’re working hard on new songs and we’ll release a new single around that time, but we want some more time because we feel that we still have some margin with some of the songs. It’ll be released when it’s finished.
9. On 14 March, you will be in Romania (Colectiv Club), for the first time. Do you have any message for the hip hop fans here in Romania?
Coely: My comfort zone is where the magic happens! So I’ll see all of you in Romania pretty soon, I’m really really excited about this! I would like to invite you all to step into my comfort zone and together we’ll make it a night to remember. RAAH!
You can find Coely on: