The rebellious collective Chargaux wins over the hearts and ears of newly introduced listeners with each string they strum. Their use of live instruments (viola and violin), improvisation, and sincere engagement during New York’s first Roots Picnic left an infectious impact both musically and personally. So it comes as no surprise that they’ve been making melodic waves for some time, garnering features on major works like Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid m.a.a.d City and J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive. But what else makes this classically trained duo so unique? Well, we chatted with Charly, who serves as 1/2 of the group along with Margaux, to find out more about their history and their journey.
How have things progressed musically for you since first meeting in Boston?
So when we moved we just met, like actually that year we just met each other. Just getting to know each other and just being friends, making memories with some of her college friends and my college friends. We needed to have experiences. And at the time we didn’t know, you don’t think about that as an artist — Oh something crazy happened, I gotta write about it. That first year was special for us in that we were able to pull from a lot of things. And when we got to NYC, we put things on ice for a second because we didn’t understand the hustle. We were in the subway a lot in Boston, so just really trying to get our improv skills up, be a little fearless, and prepare for having to get money whenever we could and however we had to do it musically. When we got to New York, we got more comfortable being able to play in the subway and creating actual music.
Actually I’m getting ahead of myself — the first project we put out when we were first working together, that’s probably the most raw, straightforward project that we have to date. And the music that we are making now is revisiting that. Going back to the simple era where we said things and didn’t care. It was just us and how we heard music. Like if you’re putting a violin on a trap beat this is how it should sound. It shouldn’t sound gimmicky; it should sound intentional. So that’s what the last five years have been about. Kind of going all over the place then coming right back.
How do you utilize improvisation within your music and performance?
It’s kind of funny, it’s like you’re asking someone, “How do you utilize working out in your everyday life” as somebody that’s fit. It’s kind of the same thing, it just becomes a part of your identity. First of all, we already had the natural gift to improvise, so just being blessed with that, kind of an extra sense you have. And when it comes to being ready on the spot, it just shapes your mind differently. There was a time we were asked to play a party in Paris, we were asked to play for Michael Jordan. It was a really small party, it was just Jordan and 30 of his closest friends. We played this whole set, we prepared, it was cool. He wasn’t anywhere to be found. Then later that night, there was an afterparty and somebody whispered, “Oh the girls that play violin.” And he demanded right then and there, “Hey! I want to hear them right now.” So that’s how improv comes in, like Oh great Michael Jordan wants to hear us right now and he doesn’t want to hear what we just did earlier, so what are we going to do? We just winged it. You’re prepared with your music, just that kind of confidence.
What are some projects that you are currently working ?
Oh my gosh, I wish I could tell you this one album that we just finished. We just got full control over the whole orchestra aspect of it. But I cannot tell you who this artist is; he doesn’t want anyone to know that he is making music… you will know who it is (later). Then we put our own stuff out recently, Meditations of a G; like I said it goes back to our very first project. It encompasses a lot of the other music that we’ve written and a lot of experiences that we’ve had, but it goes back to the raw kind of sound. And we’re also just working on shows because we like to tour ourselves.
Listen to Meditations of a G below:
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