She is not your average pop singer. She is not really a pop singer either. She is unique in both style and genre. She is Celine and she is back with her latest single “Hide Away”. A song about living with the ‘over-thinker’ and anxiety within us. Small Town Music had the chance to sit with Celine (respecting the social distancing of about a few 100 kilometers) and chatted to her about Covid-19 effects, her music, songwriting, and more.
STM: Out of the starting blocks what has been your experience with Covid-19 as an artist and individual?
Celine: It’s been an interesting time with a lot of ups and downs. At first, it was difficult to accept and adjust to the new “reality”, especially when gigs started getting canceled. There was a lot of “pressure to be productive” in the early stages of lockdown, which was quite overwhelming, and I tried not to let that get to me. I needed some time to process the situation, grieve the loss of what I thought 2020 could be, and accept the situation. After a few weeks, I felt more adjusted and able to be productive and creative again.
A lot of my original plans for the year had to change and be adapted, so in the initial stages of lockdown, I took some time to figure out a plan of action and how I could adapt to the new situation. We actually had a music video release already planned for early April, which we still went ahead with (Luckily we filmed it in February already), so I was really thankful still to be able to release music!
On a positive side, I’ve really used this time to work on various skills and learn as much as possible. I’ve learnt a lot of new things such as how to record at home, which I probably wouldn’t have learnt under normal circumstances any time soon. The situation has also pushed me creatively, especially in terms of content creation, which I think is definitely a positive.
On a personal level, it’s been very up and down. There are some days where I feel very frustrated and stressed, and it’s difficult to see an “end” to the current situation, but overall I’m trying my best to stay positive and keep moving forward even in small ways, and accept the situation for what it currently is.
STM: You are back with a brand new single “Hide Away” which is truly an addictive tune – please tell us more about it?
Celine: I originally wrote the song in 2018, and with it, I took a slightly different direction from my previous work style-wise. We produced the song over lockdown. My producer and I had Skype sessions where we tried out different ideas and I recorded some of the guitar and bass sections at home.
The song is about anxieties and overthinking, the longing to feel “heard” and understood, and the desire to find solace and peace of mind from anxiety. I overthink things all the time, and it can get quite overwhelming and frustrating. The idea of the song was born from my realization that even though we sometimes feel like we want to run away from our problems/fears and “hideaway”, we need to face our inner demons and adopt healthy coping mechanisms and cultivate self-love. Talking about what bothers you with someone you trust really helps, as being heard makes one feel less alone.
STM: Living with anxiety we do tend to keep our true feelings inside and even around trusted people you feel afraid to share your feelings and thoughts. What would you advice to a friend or family whose loved one has anxiety?
Celine: I’m honestly a bit hesitant to give advice… I’m still learning how to manage and understand my own anxious patterns and thoughts, and I think different things work for different people. See, I’m already overthinking this question!
What I think I can say is this:
Something I have learned over time is that it’s really important to TALK. Talk about what’s bothering you, let it out and don’t bottle it in. It is definitely difficult to open up, but it always feels so much better once you do. Sometimes anxiety tells us that no-one cares or no-one are willing to listen, but that is not true.
It helps to find healthy hobbies that calm you, whether it’s playing Sudoku on your phone, drawing, or journaling. Petting a cat or a dog also helps.
STM: With “Hide Away” I see it can be a firm favorite when you play it live, how do you think your fans will react to this song?
Celine: It’s quite an upbeat, catchy song, so I hope my fans will enjoy singing along. We decided to move to a more modern pop direction sound-wise, so this is the first song with the “new sound.” I think it will be something new and interesting for my fans. Most of my older songs still had pop elements, so it’s not a complete 180, but it’s definitely something fresh and I think my fans will enjoy the new sound and enjoy hearing the song with full production!
STM: How easy do you find songwriting at this current stage of the world?
Celine: I have honestly found it quite difficult during this time. There has been so much going on and so much to “take in”, that it’s been a little bit overwhelming. I feel like I haven’t really been able to focus my mind on what I want to say lyrically at this stage, as I am still processing everything going on around me. I find that I usually tend to write better once a situation is resolved or once I have processed it enough, so almost as form of reflection.
Musically, I have had a lot of ideas for songs during this time, so I am going to keep saving those ideas for when the lyrics are ready to be written.
I’ve actually found that my creative energy has been flourishing in different ways lately, such as content creation, instrumental ideas, and marketing, etc. All of this ties into my career as an artist, so for now, I’m going where the creative flow takes me!
STM: Which instrument do you prefer writing songs with and why?
Celine: My go-to instrument for writing songs is definitely the acoustic guitar. It is the instrument I feel most comfortable with and thus can express myself with the best and properly flesh out any ideas. I think I also lean towards it because it fits my genre of music really well.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with trying to write on different instruments to broaden my creativity. I do this especially when I have writer’s block, as I usually tend to start with a chord progression or melody and build from there. Sometimes everything starts sounding the same on guitar, so I go sit at the piano, play the ukulele or try to make up a bass line instead and it gives it a whole different feel and then the ideas start flowing again. Once I get a base idea from that, I sometimes then finish it off on guitar anyway. Getting the initial idea going is key!
STM: You have been in the industry for a few years, what has been a highlight for you?
Celine: There have been some really memorable moments! A big one for me was definitely performing on the Expresso Morning Show. That was always a huge goal of mine and it’s such a fun and unique experience to be on the show.
Also, performing at the Cape Town Coffee Festival! It was so cool and it was held at the Castle of Good Hope – Performing at a literal castle was such an epic career highlight!
STM: In the entertainment and events industry we are doing the #LightSAred campaign. Do you feel this will help lift the ban on events?
Celine: I really hope so. Even if the ban is not lifted just yet, I hope that it will help artists get more support and assistance during this time. It was definitely a great way to raise awareness for our industry and the struggles it has faced during lockdown, so I really hope it will lead to the possibility of events coming back soon!
STM: You have a 1-hour meeting with President Ramaphosa – what will you discuss with him?
Celine: Ooh, this is an interesting one!
I think I would try to discuss ways we could elevate our local entertainment industry and how to garner more support from the local public. I think one of the big struggles in our industry is that there is very limited support from our local public, and we really need that in order for the industry to continue to grow.
There also needs to be more funding for the arts and more scholarships or bursaries for students wanting to study performing arts-related courses.
I would also discuss the issue of Gender Based Violence in our country, and what steps our country can take to take action against GBV and ultimately put an end to it.
STM: What is your goal with your music career?
Celine: To win a Grammy! Just kidding, but also… It would be incredible to actually win a Grammy. Maybe someday it can happen, who knows?
But for real, I’d say overall my goal is to be a successful musician in the sense of: Being able to make a full-time living off music, have my music be heard far and wide, tour locally and internationally, and more. I have a long list of goals haha.
These are some of my long-term goals, and I have a lot of short-term goals and milestones that I am working towards that all build towards the ultimate goal of “making it” as a musician. I am going to keep working hard and pushing forward to go as far as I possibly can in my career.
But tying in with all of this, my goal is also for my music to inspire and mean something to my listeners, so that they can find something to identify with and something that brings them joy, peace, pride, a sense of belonging, you name it.
These artistic goals go hand in hand with my business goals, and I believe it’s important that I don’t lose the balance between the two.