Liking new music is clear cut when you find something that clicks with you. Chisara Agor makes you want to cross that fence.
Armed with a philosophy for what makes her music important to her, there is little that is arbitrary in Chisara Agor‘s music. Carrying stringed instruments, an inquisitive mind and a voice that carries for miles, the artist is a vessel for new ideas that she forms from a plethora of creative disciplines that she works within.
Music, art and an engaging mind, welcome to the playful masterful world of Chisara Agor…
SL: Your new songs ‘Forever’ and ‘Better Man’ are out now, what are they about and when was the concept conceived?
C: I think the overall themes for both songs are variations on solidarity, collective responsibility and the play between individualism and community. Both are expressing the idea that we are constantly trying and a lot of the time failing to do the right thing, but that we need to stand up to power even in the smallest of ways.
‘Forever‘ was conceived amidst the chaos of lockdown and ripples of BLM across the Atlantic and here in the UK. It has been clear to me and many people that the systems in place do not work for the people, the song I suppose was a collective call or anguish at how a small amount of people exploit communities and the planet. ‘Better Man‘ is about maintaining that human, emotional connection to others and their experiences and acknowledging our flaws.
SL: How do you hope for each song to be received? Do you wish for it to reach a particular audience?
C: Sometimes such kinds of hope can lead me astray, they can turn into an expectation of particular success or reception and when that doesn’t happen it can make you doubt yourself when you shouldn’t. Of course I do hope that a lot of people receive it well, hear it and can connect with it in some way. I want it to reach whoever and wherever it can. But I also want to try and not let any reception, or lack of define my art. My best hope is that someone somewhere is sitting in their room listening to the songs for the second or third time and afterwards they feel how I love to feel when listening to good music- inspired and wanting to be around those I love.
SL: What subtleties in each song do you hope people will notice for both music and vocals, what parts mean the most to you?
C: I hope people will notice the multiple voices in ‘Forever‘ that sing in some of the choruses and at the end the song. These voices were what I collectively named the virtual choir. The majority of them were recorded through people’s phones over zoom, in the session I would sing harmonies out and hope for the best. It means the most to me because I loved the idea of people feeling like they are a part of something, part of the creation. I hope to do more things like that in the future. The percussion in ‘Better Man ‘is another thing I hope people will notice. Adding a talking drum and djembes to my arrangement meant I could accentuate that feeling of communication but also link back to my own heritage, I’m really happy that the song holds within it a sort of ancestral recall, a call to reconnect and communicate.
“I hope that when you lay out all the things I do people begin to see the intersections of where they connect and the similarity of intentions behind them“
SL: How would you describe your work?
C: I would describe my work as a liquid mirror with different colours and an expansive nature. For me my work absorbs the world around it but also critiques itself, I think it’s work that wants to start a conversation even if it’s without words, a conversation that does not necessarily have an ending.
SL: Your music comes across as meticulously executed, yet free spirited. How did you find your identity and would you say it has changed working with different people? If so, how?
C: Initially in 2015 when I recorded my very first EP I was still trying to understand beyond songwriting how it all worked. When you first start putting things out there, you listen to everyone’s advice, knowing what’s at the core of your practice means you start knowing who to listen to and what does and doesn’t feel right. I think that developing my production skills on my own allowed me to expand and curate the world my songs live in while ensuring that my individual expression is followed through to the end. I know this identity, the front facing one, the songs, the images etc. will evolve and change and I look forward to creating more compositions that challenge myself and push my art in new directions. When I was sure that my own feeling and voice was worth listening to it meant that I could approach collaborations with an assurance that my gut, knowledge and style and most of all artistry would be respected.
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SL: As a multidisciplinarian, how did you find yourself in both theatre and music? Which came first?
C: I think music might have come first as I was lucky enough to have a great music department at my primary school in Peckham back when the government seemed to be more interested in investing in the arts with children. A lot of my friends were given music lessons at school and I learned to play the flute and was in the choir. My understanding of the voice at that age was that it was a collective and that we would all sing beautifully together. It wasn’t until I started going to classes at Theatre Peckham with Teresa Early who was AD at the time that I realised that I too had a singular voice and that it wasn’t too bad! Theatre was the bringing together of music, performance and dance, becoming other people, creating new worlds and using art to transport people. There will always be elements of that in my music because at the foundation it is about communication and communion bringing together a multitude of elements, a multitude of people’s. Since then, I have enjoyed being autonomous in the works I create blending elements of sound, dance, theatre and visual art.
SL: Considering your versatility within the arts, is a visual album on the cards?
C: I would love nothing more than to create a visual album one day. I would say it’s on the cards, on a deck somewhere out in the universe. For now I enjoy sprinkling smaller scale visual elements with my music gearing up for an epic visual album maybe one day in some future.
SL: With such a multitude of talents, how do you want people to perceive you and you?
C: As a whole made up of constantly changing parts, as someone whose art doesn’t have to be just one thing, maybe it feels chaotic but it’s (semi) organised chaos. I hope that when you lay out all the things I do people begin to see the intersections of where they connect and the similarity of intentions behind them. I want all these different paths to be followed back to the source, which is me, the being at the core of it all.
SL: Do the people you collaborate with share a similar passion for different artistic fields?
C: In some way yes and in other ways no, it really depends on who you’re talking to. I think the best thing about those I collaborate with is that they are all open to most, if not all the ideas I bring to them. They are never afraid that it won’t work or is too weird. They are willing to try. Their understanding and assuredness of me as an artist means that they are welcome to experiment and create something new.
SL: Will ‘Forever’ and ‘Better Man’ lead to a new EP or album?
C: It will lead to a new EP called Shadows and Searchlights