XRAY.FM is proud to present Chanti Darling as our latest Featured Artist. We talk with Chanticleer Tru about the current state of R&B, being named Best New Band, and living as a Black artist in Portland. Read the interview below, and see Chanti Darling live at XRAY.FM’s 3rd Birthday Party on Sunday, March 12th at Mississippi Studios.

You have a few recorded tracks online. Have you taken any steps toward recording an album? 

Yes, I’ve actually been in the process of recording a new body of work for the better part of a year with producer Damon Boucher and some additional production from Natasha Kmeto. A lot of the songs maintain a lot of the complexities of non contemporary R&B pushed through a futuristic lens, so it’s been quite the experience seeing where the songs land going down this very experimental rabbit hole. So far, I am very excited with the outcome. I am looking forward to announcing a release for some of this material sooner rather than later.

Dancing plays a major role in you live shows. In your opinion is there a city where the crowds get down the hardest? 

Well, not necessarily… Portland gets down pretty hard. But, everyone that we’ve been able to play to seems to catch the feeling as well. When you get up on stage and give all that you’ve got, it’s really nice to see that reciprocated. I’ve yet to have an experience where I’m not able to make that connection. Fingers crossed. And a nasty little 8 count always helps get people going.

Do you have a go-to track for when you want to incite a dance party? 

You know… all of Chanti Darling’s music is groove based. Everything that Damon and I have ever worked on maintains that. Funk is a part of the framework. It’s in the DNA of this music. So, whether it’s a slow burner, a mid tempo groove, or a high energy disco or house influenced dance track; we find that people have no problem feeling the groove and dancing about it. That’s exactly what we want.

Funk is a part of the framework. It’s in the DNA of this music. So, whether it’s a slow burner, a mid tempo groove, or a high energy disco or house influenced dance track; we find that people have no problem feeling the groove and dancing about it. That’s exactly what we want.

I’ve read some statements where you have expressed your discontent with the place R&B presently holds in mainstream popular culture. What do you hope for in terms of the future of the genre?  

(Laughs) Yeah, well you can’t say anything these days without people taking to their keyboards to argue and fight about it on the internetI admit that I could have used some better language to state some of my feelings. But, there has always been a certain braggadocio surrounding this type of music, and anyone who was initially reactionary to my statements have come around to respect exactly what I meant. But, to answer the question both simply and thoroughly… R&B like most forms of popular music are extracted from certain cultures, appropriated without representation, and then and only then perceived as cool. But, in light of this fact there have always been many different types of people contributing to this music. Look at Bowie and Vandross together. Look at Toto and Cheryl Lynn. The difference is that their music was undeniable and authentic.

There is a huge difference between cultural exchange and appropriation. And hell… an even bigger difference than a bunch of suburban kids these days throwing the label “R&B” on any and everything without the knowledge, the depth,  the breadth, and the chops to be quite honest. We are in a very self aware time. A time of “wokeness“.  We have to be aware of such things, and as a Black artist living in this age of information exchange as it were; I’m built for it because this is my literal history we’re talking about. It’s not a commodity. To quote Erykah “I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit”.

Your first year as a band was full of successes. Do you have any major goals for this next year? 

My major goals for this year is to set releases for the body of work that Chanti Darling has been working on, and then to continue to grow and evolve. New music is afoot and it’s nothing like the tunes you’ve heard. Chanti Darling’s introduction to the world was purposefully meant to captivate through notes of nostalgia, but there is so much more music in my mind that I want to realize, and that I’ve already begun working on for the next phase. Keep looking up.

What ways do you think Portland’s music scene could use improvement? 

Honestly, I think it’s growing. I think it’s evolving as it should be. Look at some of the top artists coming out of this city today. The Last Artful Dodgr, BlossomMinden, and Aminé. There are interesting electronic projects like Force Publique and Orkis on the rise. There is certainly a new age coming for this town musically. You can feel it. You can see it too.

When Chanti Darling won Best New Band we got an earful from “tourists” being like; “They aren’t even a band”, as if the only thing that constitutes a band is a long haired dude bro with a jangly guitar. I said to them, stop being basic. Stop being so simple. Get into the scene and stop flapping your lips as a “musical tourist troll”.  This town is not, and never has been a musical monolith. The same town that gave you a Nu Shooz, Quasi, Strfkr, Radiation City, DeadmoonLifesavasPink Martini, The Decemberists, Poison Idea, BlitzenTrapper, and so much more… It’s about to give you a head full of new shit that you never expected, and you’re welcome.

Interview by Dylan Farwell | Graphic design by Kyle Mayfield | Photo by Tojo Andrianarivo