Happy New Year to everyone! And what a great way to bring in 2016 but to discover the joyous creativity of independent Victoria artist Chantal Fabre! Our now third installment of Westsound Magazine would like to welcome you to this bright light who is continuing to not only work on her extremely prolific writing but a variety of other projects that are about making life that much better for everyone.
You only have to listen to the tracks on her self released first cd “Chantzy Q & Jammin@chya Including All Shades” to hear that. The tracks are a mixture of spiritual, francophone and English, roots, country and rock that have a wonderful sing a long quality. The use of percussion and harmonies only adds to the material, provided by family and friends for a wonderful warm quality. With a voice that reminds me of an early Mae Moore, her influences of Gordon Lightfoot are also apparent and she moves the melodies along with her leading 12 string in interesting and inventive ways. From the gang singing and bright fun of Special Friend to the slow build of Loving Guidance into its large anthemic pulse the album is an absolute treat or like a gift from Chantal’s family to you.
You can check out more of her at
or have a listen to some of her YouTube clips right now at…
And now, here’s the interview I had with Chantal Fabre on January 12, 2016!
WM – So here we are with Chantal Fabre and Westsound Magazine! So our first question is…how did you get started making music?
CF – I started playing in elementary school like you do, with all the instruments…playing ukulele, recorder and clarinet until it got uncool in highschool. And then, I always wanted to play the guitar so I just got one and picked it up and learned on my own with friends…travelling. And when I went to Montreal…when I was 23 I guess…I entered a competition on the radio called What Women Want. I wrote in and said that I wanted a 12 string acoustic electric Takamine guitar. I didn’t even know if it existed or not. But that’s just what I wanted and that’s what the competition was. And so I got a call at seven o’clock in the morning. It was early and I was still sleeping. They said “You won!” and I was like “are you kidding me?” So I went down to the music store…the biggest one in Montreal…I think it’s Steve’s Music or something like that, and there it was! The exact one I wanted! It was 12-string, Takamine electric acoustic. They threw in a case. So I was just set from there on.
WM – Cool!
CF – Yeah, it was like a sign.
WM – Where are you from originally?
CF – I’m from Victoria. I went to Montreal after I went to South East Asia and taught English over there. Did some travelling…the young person kind of thing. I took early childhood education at Camosun. I was supposed to transfer to Uvic but my grades weren’t quite good enough so I went and did that.
WM – Come from a musical family?
CF – I do! My Aunt was a singer in the Victoria Operatic Society. My mom, her sister, isn’t as musical so when she joined my band, when I started the family band about ten years ago she learned and she found a rhythm and she found her voice. So it was pretty amazing. So now she’s like a known washboard player…like everywhere we go around people are like “Why didn’t you bring your washboard?”
WM – Wow!
CF – Yeah, she’s really good at it!
WM – Any favorite artists you are drawn to? I noticed from your Facebook that you’re a fan of Gordon Lightfoot.
CF – Yeah, Gordon Lightfoot! Locally I really like The New Colors, Ellice Blackout and Zulu Panda. There’s Dave Burns as well, he’s really good!
WM – You mentioned a family band. Is that the Jammin@chya one?
CF – Yeah! Jammin@chya started out as a family band.
WM – Cool…tell us more about that!
CF – Jammin@chya was just a word that I came up with, and my mom and I were like yeah, let’s go with that! We always jammed together as a family and so this was just another step. We’d get together every week and play some of the songs that I wrote. The first one we played was on Goldstream in Langford at the church there…a leukemia benefit. That was our first concert, yeah. We did a few and it was fun. But you know families grow up, get kids, responsibilities so now it’s just me. It was originally a six piece…my sister, myself, my mom, my aunt, my half brother and my best friend Erin. That’s the Jamming Group. Chantzy Q and Jammin@chya, so Jammin@chya would be the band. Erin also designed the logo I still use, the headphones with musical notes, so it’s designed locally which is kind of neat. I slap it on every car I can (laughs)
WM – Can you tell us more about the fracophone side of your music?
CF – My biological dad is French and he was in the navy, they had a school called Victor-Brodeur in Esquimalt which was just for the navy kids. It was a private school but now it’s become a public school but that where I went. It was full on French immersion…like, if you talk in English we are taking points off, even in the playground when your swinging on the swing-set, you know? (laughs) So that’s how I learned my French. When I got to college I took a French radio class and they were doing a section on veterans and that’s when I wrote Ode to the Veteran. They had me perform it live and they recorded it and played it on the radio a couple times. So that was fun! I was kind of neat, I was driving down the Malahat and suddenly I’m listening to my song on the radio which was pretty wild.
WM – Cool! One thing I noticed from your blog was the recent Voice of Victoria event. Tell us more about that.
CF – Oh yeah! This was very exciting! This was the second time I was a judge for the Voice of Victoria and it’s kind of like an American Idol but it’s all in Mandarin, a bit of Cantonese but it’s mostly in Mandarin. Some of the kids do sing in English but I didn’t know a lot of the words, but you can pick it up and I think I was a little bit of a generous judge because I noticed at the finale that they’d ask me to mark a little bit lower (laughs) So I thought that was kind of funny. But there is a lot of talent and they do sing in a kind of karaoke style so the music will just play in the background and they’ll just sing but without the karaoke words. But yeah, this year the talent was just like whoa…you drop your mouth and your eyes are big. There is a lot of talent in the Victoria Chinese Performing Arts Society. They meet once a month I think…I’m not sure exactly because a lot of what they put online is in Mandarin.
WM – What are you working on at the moment?
CF – I also have the Reiki Refresh project. I started that a little bit ago and I practice Reiki. I don’t have my master Reiki yet but you sort of get how to use it to enhance your life in a way. I have been battling mental illness being bi-polar and so I’m always looking for different things to help with that and I’m proud to say that I have been in a good place now for ten years. That’s why I like sharing things that are good online, like from different pages, I think it just helps…like my new project for this year is Community Care and it’s helping people find where they need to go, like if your strapped for money and you can’t afford your homecare for one day. Things like that where the cracks get covered. It’s a slow build of course but yeah.
WM – Very cool! Do you have any live events or projects coming up?
CF – This year has been very fun because I finally got my new phone so I can record my new videos for my second album that’s coming out on YouTube. This year I’m just going to release it on YouTube this year because it’s the least expensive! (laughs) And I really just want to get them documented. There’s songs that I have and they’re just ready to go. The first album was more of a folky rock feel but the next one has more of the country rock and roll kind of vibe. They’re all songs that I’ve written from experiences that I’ve had, some from different boyfriends or breakups. I do a lot of wedding songs for people that are getting married, friends that I have. So I’m excited about doing that. I’m hoping to do open shows over at the St. Ann’s Academy in that little theater that they have. I want to do some down at the breakwater and then hopefully have a Christmas concert called Praise, singing songs of Praise 106.5
WM – Is there anything you want to add or any question you wish I had asked?
CF – It’s kind of exciting because the second album Jim Moffat produced two of the songs! I haven’t asked him if I can put his name on the cd cover yet, but that’s still pretty exciting because he is an icon in Victoria. So yeah, that’s pretty much it.