ALEXIA CHAROUD - A PROMISING TALENT ON AND BEHIND THE STAGE
Alexia Charoud about her passion for music, her university education, equality empowerment, and the equality factor of London's music scene.
The London-based French music creator Alexia Charoud sets an excellent example for empowered women in music. Not only does she know exactly what to do on stage, she is also very familiar with all the technical and visual challenges of the music world. With her expertise as a music creator, sound designer and audio producer, she possesses all the puzzle pieces needed to build a successful career in music
Through her art, Alexia is about to create crossroads between music, sound art, and experience design. Over the past year, she has been performing and producing works for galleries, fashion shows and venues between London and Paris. Alexia is not only an empowered, but also a very well educated artist. She graduated with a Master of Audio Production and is just about to complete a Master in Information Experience Design and Sound Design. All those skills can be heard and seen in each piece of musical art she creates. For us, it is a pure pleasure to listen to the tracks that she officially released so far.
This Thursday is a special day in the life of the young aspiring artist, as the music video for "Silver Lines" will be released today. "Silver Lines jumped straight out of my subconscious. To me, it evokes relationships and how we treat the ones we love in a dehumanized contemporary world. A world where what we have to define and show ourselves as almost overshadows our existence as human beings who feel, love, evolve. The song plays with this dichotomy through the conflict between irresistible industrial beats and beautiful lively synths.", she tells us about the context of the song. The video was directed and edited by Sammy Selin. How did in every respect an amazing work. "Sammy managed to depict that perfectly in the video, with the twofold color-palette, and the opposition between the wandering space traveler and her evil antagonist, ready to turn her into another pawn.", Alexia praises the terrific work of the director.
"The music video is about a space traveller’s surreal journey into an oppressive queen’s land of nightmare magic. Alexia’s music has a vivid storytelling component to it that is otherwordly and spellbinding. I wanted the visuals to encapsulate the dreamy universe of the EP and the dark undertones of the song. We created a world that feels like a retro sci-fi fever dream to resonate with the ethereal nature of the music. Of course, the video was only possible because of an incredible team of creative humans. We pulled this production together with limited budget and space, but a lot of joy and passion.", Sammy tells us about the work on the video.
But now get a picture of Alexia's music, the video and her views on the music world!
Why is music your passion?
Music is magical, it creates worlds and places in space and time, it transports us. It is one of the rare places where we can truly be anyone or anything we want. Music brings the ineffable to sound, makes the marginalized voices heard, and creates spaces where we can share, move together, or isolate and retreat. It’s just fascinating!
"I like music that came from somewhere deep."
What makes good music for you?
Music takes so many different forms and shapes that it is hard to draw general lines for what good music would be for me! But I would say I like music that transports me, moves me or makes me want to move. I like intricate music, queer music, music that came from somewhere deep. I like music that builds unique sonic architectures, that do not think of fitting into a genre. I like music that was made with true intentions, and music that expresses voices otherwise unheard. I like music that was crafted with love and care, and also music that has the power to bring people together.
When did you realize that you want to dedicate your life to music?
When I was a kid I found an old guitar in my grandma’s attic. I knew nothing about music but the minute I started to pluck the strings, I was completely transported by the very haptic quality of the sound, its texture, vibrations and echoes, and their resonances with my thoughts. I often think back on this memory. It’s only when I was fifteen that I picked up a guitar again and became aware of the expressive power of music. I could now express things that I could not say, I could create worlds that were more in line with my thoughts. I soon realized, however, that I was relying on other people to create what I wanted to create. I did not want to be a girl artist that depends on her male producer counterpart. I wanted to be able to do everything, to have my own hands on the sound from start to finish. So, I went to London and started learning, and there was no going back!
You are a music creator in so many ways, why and when did you decide to become a sound designer and audio engineer?
Being able to do the audio engineering part was really important to me, I wanted to understand all the technical stuff, to understand sound at its very basis, and to be able to arrive in any venue or studio and know exactly what’s what and how it works. Sound design was for me inseparable from music production. Whether it is in a film, an installation or a music track, sound sets the atmosphere of the universe expressed. Finding the right sound is crucial. Not having had any real form of musical training, I always played and composed by instinct and from the sound itself, so it was really natural for me to venture in the exploration of sound rather than sticking to musical arrangement.
You graduated from a Master of Audio Production in the University of Westminster and you are currently completing your Master in Information Experience Design and Sound Design in Royal College of Art, what can you tell us about the gender relations under the students?
I was quite surprised, when I arrived in Westminster, to see that we were only three girls in my MA. When we were something like 30 students or more? It is not that the university or course leaders did not want to have more, on the contrary, but simply that audio engineering/production is still predominantly masculine; and that’s very regrettable. The course was super great, but I would have liked a more balanced environment. I have been facing that quite often in music and sound studios. I think it is changing a lot though, but I do believe that women are still not encouraged enough to follow this kind of career paths; and that the industry is still super rigid and unequitable.
Royal College of Art is an art and design school; my course, because of the broad nature of its subject (Information Experience Design), reunites people from all types of fields and practices. It does not correspond to such an enclosed industry, and therefore the gender balance is way more even. It is definitely queerer, which feels more right and comfortable.
Did and do you have a lot of female professors?
Not in the Audio Production field, we did not have any. It was frustrating, and I felt underrepresented. If the teaching was of great quality, I really think having had female tutors would have made it easier for me to make it through the year. It didn’t feel right. Thank god, I do now!
Can you name us some women that influenced you during your academic career?
I have had the chance to meet artists like Es Devlin, Sophie Clements and Beatrice Dillon. Sophie Clements’s moving image work really moved me, she freezes moments in time and explores the strength of human bonds by creating an expression of the feelings they leave you with when they suddenly disappear. Beatrice Dillon’s approach to sound in music is very different from mine, which makes it even more eye-opening; however, like me, she uses a lot of visual artists as inspiration and the lines she draws between music and visual arts are fascinating. Es Devlin is quite mind-blowing. In a Q&A I went to, she talked about how it feels to be a woman, past a certain age, in the art industry. Her confidence and peacefulness really inspired me.
"I hope my work can raise poetic awareness about key issues and question the paradigm that structures our world."
What do you want to change in the world with your art?
I hope my work - whether it is in music, sound, or experience design - can raise poetic awareness about key issues, and question the paradigm that structures our world. I hope it creates magic and wonder, transports and inspires. I also hope it challenges the ways we conceive, consume and experience music.
Which female artists do you call heroines?
Oh god, so many. Josephine Baker, Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram, Kate Bush, Björk, Edith Piaf, P!nk was my first big music love so she will always be a heroine to me. I have always been in love with Joan Jett. I recently met an amazing collective of queer women called Rebel Dykes; whose activism and badassness changed the face of 80’s London.
What can you tell us about the music scene in London in terms of equality for women and people of diverse gender identities?
I am lucky to be evolving in quite an experimental scene, where everyone does their own thing, and where labels do not really apply. For this reason, people from all genders, sexualities, identities, everyone is fairly represented in the venues and places I go to. But a masculine majority does persist, especially in the more music tech side of things, and in more classical music studios and venues, where it is too rare to see a female (or gender-non-conforming, or queer) engineer or head of tech, or session instrumentalist.
How equal do you perceive the music world to be at the moment?
From my lens, I see it as slowly moving towards equality. I find that it is an incredible progress that queer artists now get as much reach and widespread success as other artists. With so much music being independent, and easily releasable and shareable online, everyone’s voice now has a better chance to be heard and to reach their community. Many alternative ways to make and record music thrive; and if the places that still function on the basis of traditional gender roles want to keep up-to-date, they will have to change their ways.
"A truly equal music world wouldn’t even have gender as a bias, it would be a world in which everyone feels safe and represented; and in which anyone can consider a career."
What does equality in music means to you?
It means equal opportunities and resources for everyone regardless of their gender, identity, ethnicity or social background, in all music-related fields from engineering to music technology to music performance.
It also means breaking the habit of stereotyped gender roles which still infect the industry.
A truly equal music world wouldn’t even have gender as a bias, it would be a world in which everyone feels safe and represented; and in which anyone can consider a career. It’s important to remember that although we do have huge artists representing minorities headlining, it does not mean there is not a lot of progress yet to be made in the less visible spaces of the industry.
What is Equality Empowerment for you?
It is, as people who still suffer from inequalities, or people that simply believe in equality, helping each other out and powering through together. I think that is something I try to achieve by taking actions to encourage minorities and like-minded artists; by taking part, collaborating, helping out, sharing and making visible.
In your opinion, do artists have a special responsibility for equality empowerment?
Of course, art is one of the only channels through which what lies hidden in the margins can be voiced and made visible. For centuries, amazing female artists have fought for us to live in a fairer and freer world, we owe it to them to keep fighting for these causes, and to make the world even better for people who come after us!
Are you part of any network for musicians yet?
I would say yes, maybe more small communities of artists, that are not restricted to music. But always happy to be part of more.
What would you expect from a “women in music network”?
Mutual encouragement, artistic and creative sharing, experience sharing... Just a safe space to share and communicate! I would really love to hear about other women’s experience in the industry.
What are the biggest challenges in your everyday life?
These days, coding in Python for a project I am doing is giving me a hard time haha!
How are you affected by the current Corona crisis?
Luckily, being very fresh in the music world, tours and gigs don’t consist in my main source of revenue like it is the case for a lot of fellow artists. I was super sad not to be able to do my EP launch in the physical world, but I am sure it will happen at a later time, and a lot of online alternatives are planned. For now, I am focusing on the work I can do remotely. That’s where being a sound designer also comes handy. What affects me most in my practice is the impossibility to show the interactive works I am currently developing. But I am hoping I will soon when things get better.
How can we best support you?
Running such a lovely website, asking me about my work and being supportive like you are is already incredible!
What are you working on now?
I am working on technologies for interactive musical installations (keeping the surprise for now…), on soundtracks and sound design for films, and collaborating on quite a lot of music projects too, including a queer all girls-band I am a part of, that should be launched after the crisis. Quarantine got me to work with a lot of people, and I will be releasing music with other artists soon too. And I am of course working on what will come after the EP I am currently releasing. It’s all very exciting!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Somewhere in the middle of nature with my soulmate
taken by: Laura Dudek & Sammy Selin
album design: Zohar Dvir
fashion design: Manon Planche