Haunting, intense and all-encompassing: this is Nuela Charles’ official “Awakening”. Releasing a track that is chilled in temperament and slow in tempo, Nuela still manages to pack a punch thanks to her compelling vocals, ear-worming soundscapes and inescapable stage presence. As for the accompanying music video, single shots are seen with the artist singing to her own tune under a spotlight. Rhythmic, captivating and enigmatic, the visual for “Awakening” lets viewers into the inner psyche of the artist, pulling us into her universe infused with R&B and soul.
In her own words, Nuela explains, “For the “Awakening” video I wanted to keep it pretty simple. I think when it comes to the message of the song, you are the only person responsible for your own enlightenment and growth, and I wanted the video to just be me in a clean white space. That white space was then transformed by the use of lighting and smoke, and I think when it comes to real life, when you’re hit with different elements you’re forced to pivot and move, and adapt. So I wanted to be free to move and interact with the elements, and just be authentic. No real choreography, or planned “moments” it was just captured very organically, and I love that about this video. Kyle Tiernan, the director, did an amazing job.”
To mark the release, we chatted with the artist about her upbringing, her sound and her creative process. To stream the track and for the full interview, head below now…
Hi Nuela, how are you doing?
I’m doing so good thank you for asking!
Where are we speaking to you from right now?
I am coming to you from Toronto, Canada. I just got back from a writing camp in Spain, so it’s nice to be back home.
What was the first thing you did when you woke up this morning?
Oooo – I am very guilty of checking my phone first thing. I try to avoid it, but that would mean I need to get a new alarm clock. Working on that.
You spent your upbringing in a variety of places, including Kenya, Switzerland, Canada and the Bahamas! Would you say that all of these places have had an influence on your sound? Or, perhaps one place in particular has done so?
Definitely. I think living in all of those different cultures, really gave me a broad worldview. I appreciate different cultures a lot more, and I find myself leaning towards things that are different and unique, rather than what’s currently popular. Musically, living in the Bahamas during my teenage years, it definitely opened up my eyes to different Caribbean musical styles (reggae, soca, dancehall, etc), and how music is embedded in their everyday lives and cultural celebrations. I think traveling definitely informs my music creation on a sub-conscious level, and that’s why I love exploring, and can’t sit in one place for too long.
Your music identifies with the R&B and soul genres! Do you have a favourite R&B or soul artist?
It’s funny because the music I create, versus the music I listen to, are polar opposites of each other. I listen to alternative-rock more than anything, and mainly from the UK (Arctic Monkeys, Nothing but Thieves, Sam Fender). Personally, I think my music straddles a few genres, R&B/Soul/Pop/Alt being a few of them. I lovvvveee R&B from the 2000’s (I may be dating myself now) but that was definitely one of the best musical eras in my opinion. But currently I’m loving Jorja Smith, HER, Frank Ocean (forever), Jacob Banks – they’re all so uniquely themselves and I love it.
Congratulations on the release of “Awakening”! How are you feeling about the world hearing the song for the first time?
Thank you so much. It’s been really great so far. It’s funny because a lot of my inner circle has been saying that this new music is the best I’ve ever made – and I agree – but it’s awesome to see audiences around the world feel the same way. Their streams, saves, shares are definitely indicative of that and I’m super grateful!
Talk us through the premise of the track! Is there a specific theme, emotion or story that the track is based on?
“Awakening” is about letting your inner light shine, and not dimming it for anybody! When I began writing it, the overall feel was very different. It was more downtempo, and chill, but the verses were the exact same – those flowed out relatively quickly. As an artist we’re meant to be constantly in the “spotlight” but as a person I’m quite an introvert, so it’s a constant battle of being like “hey look at me” and me deflecting that shine onto others. But these last few years have taught me that I truly deserve everything that comes my way, and that there is plenty to go around for everyone, so this song became more of an affirmation for me, and when I took it to my producer Matt Parad (Selah Sue, Will Joseph Cook), he definitely helped bring out that vibe in the track. It’s the anthem we all need at one point or another.
Is there a specific emotion you are looking to induce in listeners with this track?
I want listeners to feel empowered when they hear “Awakening.” I want them to feel like they deserve the world, and to not dim themselves for the sake of others.
You are also dropping the music video for this track! What was your time like on set for this?
This video was probably one of the quickest I ever filmed but I think that’s in large part due to the fact that I wanted to keep it pretty simple. I think when it comes to the message of the song, you are the only person responsible for your own enlightenment and growth, and I wanted the video to just be me in a clean white space. That white space was then transformed by the use of lighting and smoke, and I think when it comes to real life, when you’re hit with different elements you’re forced to pivot and move, and adapt. So I wanted to be free to move and interact with the elements, and just be authentic. No real choreography, or planned “moments” it was just captured very organically, and I love that about this video. Kyle Tiernan, the director, did an amazing job.
I know that you also have an album on the way! Talk to us about that! What can we expect from the project?
Totally! I’m really excited to have spent the last year working on a bunch of new songs with producer Matt Parad, and like I mentioned earlier, they ‘re some of my best work to date! I think as artists we all tend to say that, but it’s true. I believe that this next album will be the most “Nuela Charles” ever – and I feel like I may have finally hit home on what that sounds like, and “Awakening” is just the start. I was really free to talk about what I wanted and it allowed me to be very introspective, without worrying about anyone else might think, because for the most part it was just myself and Matt, and he left me to do what I wanted with the lyrics. I’m really excited for everyone to hear it! Look out for more music coming sooner than later, and definitely look out for the fall.