The wonderful Chisara Agor has shared an insightful mini documentary for her new track ‘Forever’.
Taken from her recent two-track project, which was released via IXCHEL a few weeks back, ‘Forever’ is ripe for both dancing and reflection.
The song takes an isolated, fatalistic voice and raises it with a powerful chorus, challenging systems of suppression and calling others to join the history of black movements.
The documentary, directed by Agor with cinematography and editing by Michael Hegarty goes behind the scenes to gives us a glimpse into the development of the song.
Check out the video above and find out about her upcoming Shadows and Searchlights EP and much more, as we chat with Chisara, below.
Q. Hey Chisara, so you’ve just released two tracks from your forthcoming EP; can you tell us about what to expect from Shadows and Searchlights?
I would say listeners can expect aspects of what they’ve heard so far such as plays on lyricism, bold ideas and a blend of musical styles. There will definitely be more grooves that people will hopefully be able to dance to or at least two step to! The rest of the EP is really bringing all the songs full circle, the name Shadows and Searchlights is a metaphor for people who are usually ignored, marginalised or invisible. It’s a movement of those who move in the shadows into the light, but on their own terms. Searchlights implies that those people are often sought out to be punished or used as scape goats for societies problems rather than individuals with unique experiences.
Q. Going into recording the EP, did you have a sense as to what you were looking to do stylistically?
As a producer on the tracks I pretty much spend hours in my room making sure everything I think the song should have at the moment is on the demos. The majority of the time I let the song-writing dictate the world/style and any themes of the songs have a huge influence on what I want them to feel like. I think I lean heavily on feelings when thinking of style, feelings, tone and I suppose a pallet. If I think about it as if I were painting there are colours or sounds I love to use, certain types of percussion, for example in Better Man I had the talking drum in the demo and I knew I wanted forever to embody an idea of community. This style was manifested through the virtual choir, asking people to sing harmonies on Zoom. Better Man was the oldest song of the two and felt much more personal and stripped back, while still having the energy of movement and a beat behind it. I didn’t know these songs were the ones that we’re going to be together when I first started, that happened instinctively. I like to think the four songs will come across as part of the same world but also quite contrasting.
Q. How were ‘Forever’ and ‘Better Man’ born?
I initially had another song I wanted to record for what was at the beginning of 2019/20 just a single track before I met the team at IXCHEL. However the start of lockdown and the events of that year pretty much changed how I was feeling about what I wanted to say. I remember flicking through my notebook and seeing the word Forever written on one of the pages. I wish I was making it up so that it sounded less cheesy, but I grabbed the guitar and just started playing around with what the word Forever meant to us right now. Who has the privilege of experiencing time as a kind of endless continuum of opportunities and success and how do we treat people and the planet if we think everything is infinite? Everything flowed from those core ideas, music included. Better Man was an older song I had written a few years ago, I don’t remember much about how it came to life but I think the idea of the song, the concept for it had been in my mind for a while. I wanted to express how I felt about wanting to be a “good person” and the standards we may hold ourselves to publicly or not and how in doing so we may miss out on the person we may be becoming and true compassion and empathy.
Q. ‘The Sessions’ artwork is very striking; can you tell us a bit about the designer?
The illustrations you can see in the artwork are by Sophie Bass a Trinidadian-English illustrator based in London whose work weaves through music, politics, nature and community. The armour and headpiece I am wearing are by set designer and stylist Camilla Lønbirkand and Jano Jonas Liefhold. The main photo was taken by Seb JJ Peters and then involved going back and forth on photoshop with Ixchel’s Artistic Director Charlie jungle on how to put all these pieces together. Collaborating with these incredible artists was a great experience, especially as someone who up to this point would make a lot of work in isolation. To facilitate these various collaborations meant just having great conversations about how I envisaged the pieces, what the music and concept was about etc. For example, I had described Forever being set in a semi dystopian future where our capitalist society has crumbled and we’ve gathered all that was left of the splendour and created clothes or adornments out of those pieces, rebuilding something new, something more in tune with ourselves and nature.
Q. How do you balance your time between working on The Garden and other music?
The Garden somehow came about through writing in notebooks on journeys to auditions or at lunchtimes when I’d have a break from theatre rehearsals. The music part I was really lucky in that a lot of it came to me quite easily at the start. Now I’m balancing many other artistic projects it will get trickier to develop, especially when it’s something I’m supporting on my own. I’m looking forward to building a larger team around it once all the foundations of the story and writing are in place. But I’ve accepted the biggest things sometimes take the longest journeys and I wouldn’t want to rush anything about it, I’m enjoying piecing it all together slowly and with care.
Q. Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, what do you have planned? Any gigs?
I’m really grateful that as a multidisciplinary artist I am able to create various forms of art and see my ideas go from the page to physical manifestations. Most recently I created a film with Talawa Theatre exploring community healing, resilience and a connection to nature during the pandemic and its impact on Black mental health. Physically I’ll be at The Rich Mix for a day on July 2nd with two other great artists exhibiting our works in progress for Spitalfields Music. Mine is a project involving visual art, performance art and of course, music. It’s an exploration into what it means to be seen and unseen and how we may choose to move in the world, touching on ideas of otherness, recognition, existentialism and the way our history informs our present. Solo artist gigs wise nothing penned down, but I’m looking forward to playing those new songs in front of an audience as soon as possible!
Forever / Better Man is out now.