Following the release of ‘If It’s Love’ earlier this year, Mark Knight follows up with another vocally charged anthem-in-the-making ‘Tonight’, which features the UK’s Chenai and US mainstay Mr. V.  We  had a socially-distanced-chinwag with the incredibly talented Chenai, to find out her favourite nuggets of London & what inspired her from her roots, and into lockdown thus far.

  1. What makes London (your home) so special to you? 

I moved to London 7 years ago, away from all of my family in Yorkshire with the sole purpose of pursuing music and it has given me so much in return, amazing friends, a partner, and a great career. 

  1. What is your favourite thing to do on a Sunday-morning-post-gig? 

Park on the sofa, zone in and out of Russell Brand’s Under The Skin, eat anything pastry based, and generally be a slob. 

  1. Have you started any new creative hobbies in London lockdown?

Yes! Painting. When I’m listening to music, I can’t focus on anything else, but can when painting! So relaxing. Also learned how to trim my own hair, which is pretty useful!

Chenai - Beats Traveller

  1. How did you come to feature on Mark Knight’s latest record – TONIGHT?

I was at a Toolroom writing camp and Mark was working on this tune in one of the rooms, it was right up my street. It came together really organically. 

  1. Please tell us something about yourself so our readers can get to know, also express your musical inspiration?

Hmm, like an interesting fact?? I studied Law and planned on being a Barrister, before I realised that music was the path and quit halfway through. Music is the only thing that stuck. Growing up, my Mum was into Soul and House, the big female soulful vocals, and piano house stuff. Gwen Guthrie, Candi Staton. She also really liked everything to come out of Naked Records. Zero 7, Blue Six. That downtempo, ambient introspective sound, so that was a huge influence. 

My Dad is a drummer, he was into groove based 80/90’s funk, Chaka Khan, Patrice Rushen, Evelyn King, Prince. He also loves Stevie Wonder, but I have such eclectic taste.  There’s a guy called Moses Sumney who is blowing my mind at the moment ! Anything cinematic, stacked with harmony is right up my street. A love of electronic sounds definitely comes from a love of house and 80’s funk.

  1. Your vocals are so powerful & charged, do you prefer to record in the studio or perform live at festivals/gigs?

For me, the studio is a place for reflection, to collect thoughts/emotions, and almost tidy them away into a piece of music or a lyric for other people to connect with. I’ve been exploring the more vulnerable and tender parts of my voice for the solo stuff. Performing is a lot of fun, I feel at home on stage, and connecting, sharing a moment with other people, you cant beat that energy. I’m a Gemini so variety is important, but at the moment with Lockdown, I’d say studio has my heart. That will change. 

Chenai

  1. How did you come to make the transition from featuring on other people’s records to also being a solo artist + producer?

Being on the road and writing for other artists is really inspiring, and a great learning process. You get to see how the industry works. The features were things that happened along the way and felt good! I’d always had a vision for my own project, I had ideas, things to share, and wanted to connect with people through thoughts/emotions, but it took a little time figuring out exactly how to execute it. The production thing happened because I had this sound in my mind that I couldn’t quite explain. The only way was to actually do it. My first single ’If You Love Me’ is an introduction. I have collaborated with some other fantastic producers on the first EP though!

  1. Where do you dream of going on your next adventure when lockdown is lifted?

When lockdown is lifted, we plan on visiting my father’s home country, Zimbabwe. I really want to visit Brazil at carnival time, colours, drum’s and music, that’s next on the list.