Damned on the way to Dalston
An interview (that almost happened) with C.A.R
Embarrasment, French witches, robbery, propaganda and missed friends. These are all subjects in the interview that almost happened when Profet's Chief Ideologue Filip Lindström went to meet C.A.R in Dalston, to talk about her new album »PINNED«.
Me and Chloé Raunet were supposed to have met while I visited London about a month ago, for a coffee in Dalston. It never happened, because I got lost on the way there. This is partially true.
When we finally catch up over the phone a couple of days after I’ve returned home to Stockholm, I’m still too embarrassed to say that I missed our appointment because I had been robbed the night before and tried to walk all the way from Russell Square to Dalston. So, me being lost that day was just one part of the reason for me being extremely late. I was robbed, lost, late and shamed in a city that I didn’t know.
However, back on home turf, safe and sound, I get to do my interview with Chloé about her solo project C.A.R. Midst February she is releasing her second album »PINNED«, a word that can be either negatively or positively charged.
- It’s a bit of both, Chloé says. That’s why I chose it. It means a lot of things, all of which can apply to the album. Either being »pinned down«, or a reference to the Sixties when girls used to go study with boys and they said that he »pinned« her, when he put his badge on her jacket. It’s so difficult coming up with an album title.
- Have you done it the same way before, choosing a word that can be interpreted in several ways? I ask.
- To be honest, this is probably the most random album title that I’ve come up with. The album has been a really long time coming. It is work that I finished writing over two and a half years ago. I finished mixing it in September 2016 and back then I had a working title called »La Voisin«.
- And what does that mean? I say, trying to cling on to my fading French skills.
- La Voisin was a French sorceress, she was a bit like the French equivalent of Rasputin. In some ways, I think maybe I should have stuck with that title but in August when we were passing ideas around I didn’t like the way it looked, and I didn’t like the way it was French.
»I don’t think that people need to indulge in everything about me«
I ask Chloé to write down the name of the sorceress for me. I’ve once known some French, but never enough to catch the French equivalent of extreme survivor Rasputin. I learn that »voisin« means »neighbor« and that it is a masculine word in French, but interestingly feminized by preceding it with »la« instead of »le«. Chloé almost regrets not sticking with the original title when teaching me this French grammar. Originally, she is from Canada, but she has lived in London for many years and has (to my ears) caught a bit of the London accent.
- You say that you disliked that the title was in French. Is that because you want to get away from you French past? Because I assume you are from French Canada? I blatantly inquire, thinking so for no reason other than Chloé experienced pronunciation.
- No, I’m actually from English Canada. My father is French from France.
As opposed to what I thought, the dropping of the »La Voisin« and picking up »PINNED« as an album title had nothing to do with Chloé attempting an escape from her French roots.
- It had more to do with aesthetics and how it sounded. Even though I like the concept around La Voisin, I don’t think that sonically those two words didn’t sound right with the album.
Chloé focuses on lyrics and music, and has let others handle the visual concept on »PINNED«, fronted by the Sin City-yellow cover showing her with her eyes piercing the viewer. Other than its reminiscence to a cartoonish action film starring Bruce Willis, the cover has a propaganda poster-esque ring to it. The three letters »C.A.R«, I see they are spread as far across the cover as possible, in the place where the name of a political party or a catchy statement would be written. To Chloé, letting go of the visuals has been relieving.
- The nature of what I do musically is already pretty personal. I think, by handing the artwork over to someone else, it becomes a little bit less self-indulgent if you can say that about any creative process. Beyond expressing myself through music and words with this C.A.R. project, I don’t think that people need to indulge in everything about me.
- You mean that you don’t have to have everything out in the open? Is that it?
- Yeah, I guess so.
- But the songs are still quite personal? Have they always been?
- Totally, I think there is a danger of it becoming a bit twee. This is only my second album. My first album was kind of a cathartic experience. It was the first time I attempted to do everything on my own. Before, I worked with other people and I was a part of a band. I’m not a trained musician, so the first album was a sharp learning curve, trying to work out how to use the instruments and the software, just getting my head around the production side. The second album is a progression on that. It’s a bit more mature than the first album. From what I can remember – I haven’t listened to it for a really long time – it is pretty naïve, whereas this album is warmer and more all-encompassing, which is something that I was really striving for.
From what I understand, Chloé’s aim with C.A.R. is to open the listener up for their own interpretation of the music. She forces no message or meaning onto the consumers of her work and I believe that can come with its positive effects as well as its negative, just like how the title »PINNED« can be read differently depending on your point of view.
Before making the first C.A.R. album »My Friend«, Chloé worked on a record with her best friend Joel Dever, for their band Battant. Close to the release of that second Battant album, Chloé lost her friend and went through what must have lead up to her need of the cathartic experience that was her first solo album.
- He died two days before the album came out and it was a really, really dark time. I ended up touring a bit of that album, because everything was in place to do it. I had a really bad experience, being on the road with people that I didn’t know and also grieving my best friend. In that sense, I had all this shit that I had to get off my chest. The writing process of that second album that we did together was kind of your dream collaboration. I know it’s easy to romanticize, but we knew each other very well and it was like we were in each other’s heads. At that point, I couldn’t imagine working with anybody else, so it was kind of out of necessity. I had been at it for a few years already and in a sense, it was my bread and butter as well as how I had chosen to express myself. Going from that first album, you just keep at it.
- And you’re going to keep at it after »PINNED«?
- I don’t know whether I’ll do it under C.A.R. or a different moniker. I feel fortunate in the sense of that I’ve always kind of been on the fringe, never having to worry about the pressures that come from too much commercial success. You can make your own rules and there´s a lot less pressure.
- That’s a nice way of seeing it I must say.
- You know, I’ve been around a while now and I’ve seen people come and go, rocket to the top and then disappear. I’d much rather just be going on underneath, to be able to experiment and try things out, and fail but not ruin my entire career.
- So, experimentation-wise, do you think you would let anyone down if you would change your direction entirely?
- My publicist might disagree. I think the most important element of any art is to be authentic and if you’re doing something you necessarily don’t believe in, that filters through so there´s no point.
Chloé really has a sort of French straight-forwardness to her, speaking her mind without apparent notion to any possible perception of it. I think she has gathered too much knowledge, about the music business and maybe life in general, to do otherwise. The big success doesn’t temp her enough for her to reach out of the comfortable space that she has established, where »PINNED« doesn’t have to top the charts to not be called a flop. In that space there is more room for authenticity, which comes easier when a creative product isn’t meant to please and entertain every single person. So, to all you kids out there reading this, learn two lessons from this interview. They’re both equally important and can help you in surprisingly many aspects of life:
1. Stay Gold. Don’t try to reach somewhere by sacrificing any parts of yourself or your beliefs.
2. Don’t walk from Russell Square to Dalston. It takes way to long and you’ll probably miss something important, and embarrass yourself immensely, if you do.