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Name: Adam Bernard
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Che’Nelle - One Intoxicating Import
Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Thanks to her hit single “I Fell In Love With The DJ” Che’Nelle is all over the radio right now. My first encounter with the Malaysian beauty with the Australian accent came a little over a year ago, though, as I sat down with her for her first major interview. Her genuineness, a quality she still possess today, was something that shined through as we discussed a number of topics including her world travels, her music, and the pick up line she'd heard way too often since moving to America. With Che’Nelle’s debut album, Things Happen For A Reason, ready to hit stores on September 25th I wanted to take a look back at that interview. Enjoy.

Adam Bernard: You’re a new artist so tell me a little bit about yourself.
Che’Nelle: I was born in East Malaysia. I speak three different languages, English, Mandarin and Malay. When I was ten I moved to Australia because my parents wanted me to have a better education and all that sort of stuff. I finished high school, went to Uni (college), did a course in contemporary music and got a diploma out of that. My Dad owned a karaoke in Malaysia so I started singing there when I was like three and my mommy would always teach me a new song each night. Now when I think back and I ask my mom what were the songs I used to sing a lot of them were a mixture; from Barbra Streisand to Patsy Cline to Elvis to Tom Jones to reggae. That kind of explains why my music is so diverse now.

Adam Bernard: I was gonna say after all that what do you feel you sound like?
Che’Nelle: I don’t feel like I sound like anybody in particular. I find that when you listen to my music it has a tinge of all different genres, that’s why I consider myself a rhythmic artist, I’m not really a one genre artist. I’m not an R&B artist, I’m not a reggae artist, I’m not a Hip-Hop artist or a pop artist. I’m a rhythmic crossover artist that urban society can accept. I think that’s the best way to describe it.

Adam Bernard: I hear how you were discovered is a pretty interesting story.
Che’Nelle: I was found on MySpace. My manager, Charles Dixon, found me there. He contacted me and I was like uuuh, I don’t know if I wanna talk to this guy. Just imagine you’re all the way in Australia and this dude hits you up on the internet saying I really want to help you out and promote you.

Adam Bernard: I’m sure you’d heard that line before.
Che’Nelle: Yeah, you know what I mean. So I was like uuuh, I don’t know. But he had promoted Amerie’s single “One Thing” and “B-I, B-I” for Lil’ Jon so I called him and we started talking for like the next eight months and he started playing my songs at clubs and then he came over to Perth because I was like my mom will never let me go all the way to America on my own with somebody I’ve never met. He came down, we met up and I showed him my home studio. He was blown away by how I recorded my material so after that he went back and literally in like a week or a week and a half he called me from the Virgin office (Virgin merged with Capitol in February of this year) and he was like “I’m here with the A&R and the CEO and they really like your music.” It’s like three in the morning in Perth and I’m like yeah, whatever. Then one of them gets on the phone and is like “I really like ‘I Fell In Love With The DJ.’ I wanna get you over here. I wanna get the single out as soon as possible.” I was shocked. I didn’t know if I was dreaming. I was like “thank you.” All you can do is say thank you. I was like OK, thank you so much, I’ll get my ass over there as soon as possible. I hang up the phone and I go back to sleep and I’m like is this for real? Five minutes later I get a call and they’re like OK we need your passport details, and that’s when I knew it was real, I was like oh my gosh I’m really going over there. By the next week I was in New York and literally in three days I signed the contract.

Adam Bernard: Any culture shock coming to live here on the east coast of the U.S.?
Che’Nelle: Yeah! A lot of things, especially in the city itself, like the people. I find that you either get really really nice people or really really mean people. Everybody’s also, to me, a whole lot more self-confident, they’re not afraid, it’s different from Australia. In Australia everybody’s laid back.

Adam Bernard: And you moved out here in February of ‘06.
Che’Nelle: Yes. That’s when all the snow is melting and I’d never seen snow and I was like what the hell is that? And people were like “oh that’s just snow melting.” I didn’t think that it would get that gross at the end.

Adam Bernard: Oh yes it sure does! So, once all the snow is melted, what’s a night out with Che’Nelle like?
Che’Nelle: Well when I have a bit to drink apparently I talk too much. I’m always dancing and I’m not afraid to just go up to anybody and be like hey what’s your name, but I’m not the flirtatious type unless I see a really cute guy and I’m like hmmm. But I’m very open, I like to meet new people and just drink up and dance all night.

Adam Bernard: I’m sure you get approached a lot when you’re out, so tell me some of the corniest pickup lines guys have tried to use on you.
Che’Nelle: I hear a lot of “Damn, Ma!” And they just grab you over here, they just grab your hand and I’m just like uuuh, no thanks I’m here with some other friends. I think it’s so funny, I just laugh at it.

Adam Bernard: So what’s a better pickup line for you?
Che’Nelle: I only get interested guys after being friends. Usually you have your circle of friends, or you just meet somebody and they’re really friendly and their first intention is not to get with you and they just want to get to know you as a friend, to me that’s the best way. When you get to know somebody as a friend first you know that person deeper so that way when the relationship starts you know more about that person.

Adam Bernard: I guess the key word for you is time.
Che’Nelle: Yes, I’m definitely a take my time type of person unless, ya know, that’s if I’m looking for a relationship.

Adam Bernard: OH, so there’s a door number two!
Che’Nelle: (laughs) Oh my goodness! Yeah, but you know what I mean. If I’m really wanting to be in a relationship I’ll take my time to get to know somebody otherwise if I was to hook up with somebody I’m not really gonna spend as much time getting to know the person, I’ll just be like OK.

Adam Bernard: So this conversation we’re having here is too long for that.
Che’Nelle: Exactly, right. But my days of that are over. Right now I’ve got to focus on my work, I can’t get myself into any crazy situations. New York is a totally different place than Australia, you have to be a lot more careful, I think, with the choices you make. So I’m still keeping it low, maybe after the album drops I can party it up a little bit.

Adam Bernard: When you film your first video are you going to use your sexiness to lure us guys in, which will inevitably lead to you hearing a lot more “Damn, Ma” comments?
Che’Nelle: I don’t really like to say I’m this sex appeal type person. I’m told that I’ve got a bit of everything, there’s sex appeal and there’s also the girl next door vibe.

Adam Bernard: Yeah, if next door is Malaysia.
Che’Nelle: (laughs) What I mean by the girl next door is pretty much a normal girl that loves the same things that every other girl likes to do, the only difference is I love writing songs and I have a story that I write about. I think that’s why a lot of people connect with my music, because it’s so close to home for them. I like to come across that way, I don’t really want to come across as this big star that everybody’s scared to go near. It’s like on MySpace I get this rush when I email my fans back, they get so excited.

Adam Bernard: What else gives you a rush?
Che’Nelle: Dancehall music. The beat of dancehall music, the rhythm of it, it just goes through your system. I hear dancehall music and I just get crazy.

For more Che’Nelle check out chenelle-world.com and myspace.com/chenelleworld.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:50 AM  
  • At 4:40 AM, Blogger LeoFantasia a.k.a LEO said…

    yo...Che'Nelle makes us here in Sabah (East Malaysia) really proud...At last, sabah manage to produce such a talented girl her..Even she was raised in Australia, we still a big fan of her...

    Her song getting popular day by day here (east Malaysia)...We want to thank you for your effort promoting Che'Nelle on ur blog....

  • At 5:06 AM, Blogger Pirut said…

    yeah. She make a new movement for our culture! Great!

  • At 3:41 PM, Blogger imborntosingsongs said…

    I had dinner with Che'nelle... such a nice gal with heaps of advice.... :-)

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