It’s rather bizarre to end up writing someone’s break-up album for them, but that’s what I think I did for Chantal Acda.
What was even more bizarre was that, when she (and her collaborator Craig Ward) put out this album – recorded under the name True Bypass – they called it Toby.
Chantal and I were put together by Danny Theuwis for an appearance at the M-ID zomer festival in the summer of 2010.
Here’s Chantal’s first email to me:
The other song, called ‘No Longer’, hasn’t been officially recorded. But Chantal’s put the demo up on YouTube, just so you can listen to it: No Longer
My public performance a guitar in front of me, and a mic under my nose, have totalled four: two at the Port Eliot Festival, one in a fairly drunken Christmas singalong in a pub, and the one with Chantal I’m going to tell you about.
This took place in the M-ID zomer festival, but not in a concert hall or anywhere obvious like that.
Instead, Chantal and I performed in an art gallery exhibiting work by Angus Fairhurst, painter and sculptor (let’s, for once, not mention the lot of artists he’s usually associated with). Most memorably, we were a few feet away from a very sad-looking gorilla looking down at its lost arm.
Angus Fairhurst committed suicide in March 2008, and this show around us was a fairly big and impressive retrospective.
Most of our audience, I am sure, had come for the visuals rather than the grooves.
Chantal allowed me to fulfil one of my musical ambitions – to play a guitar solo. I assure you, it was not Yngwie Malmsteen. More the kind of thing that Pete Shelley might have knocked out in 1978.
But… Chantal liked the two songs we’d done enough to want to write more. So I started sending her lyrics – and, by trying to figure out where she was emotionally, I tried to write the songs she would have written, if she’d been able/wanted to.
What’s perhaps less bizarre but more satisfying is that Chantal has now released a brilliant solo album called Let Your Hands Be My Guide. It contains only one song with lyrics by me, ‘My Night’.
But the other songs are very special. Here is ‘Arms Up High’.
And especially the final song, ‘We Must Hold On’. This seems, to me, to have am immense emotional impact, despite being so minimal. It sounds like it could easily have starred on the Drive soundtrack, but that’s underselling it. It’s a cool electronic classic. You can listen to it on the Gizeh website.
Chantal has one of those voices that makes you feel loved. Her songs seem to be made up of the simplest elements, but the melodies can skim the top off your head. I feel lucky to have coincided with her, and to have done some breaking up on her behalf.