Chanel Samson is a Californian born, couch-hopping, LIPA graduate. Chanel splits most of her time between Liverpool and London. Either hosting her cabaret show, The Secret Circus or touring with her band, Chanel & The Circus – a band she describes, “Metric meets Gwen Stefani meets some other punk band”.
The band are currently recording an album with their producer in Manchester, so I caught up with Chanel ahead of this weekend’s performance at Threshold Festival. Chanel plays the ukulele in the six piece ensemble although, “I really need to buy a synth,” she says. “We’ve got the drive and rebellion of rock and roll, but mix-up a bunch of genres, like classic cabaret.”
Liverpool has had a huge influence on Chanel’s musical direction, due the city’s concentrated arts community. “Liverpool is super friendly and quite small, which I love, because it’s perfect for an arts scene.
“I’d never played live [in a band] in Cali before I came to Liverpool, but [I’ve now] been in about ten since I’ve been here,” she laughed.
It’s the band’s second year in a row at Threshold and Chanel is looking forward to playing a couple of new songs this year at their 8pm slot on Saturday at Constellations in the Baltic Triangle. “Our new songs, they’re quite driven, one is about sex, one is about the music business, and the other is quite anthemic; like I imagine it could be good for a revolution.”
Chanel harbours political ambitions for her music. Taking inspiration from the sexual revolution in the 60s, where the ‘American Bandstand’ gave the sexual revolution a little shove in a direction that helped bring about changes in people’s sexual attitudes and behaviour. “It’s like what’s happening today with issues of gender fluidity. As an artist, I think that it’s super important to be challenging the status quo.”
Chanel hopes the video for Little Red Dot – which is out in May – starts a conversation on sex education, and helps make people more comfortable with discussing safe sex. “I feel like I’m starting from the inside and working out. Combining ideas of learning to love yourself and each other, with being self sufficient, and paralleling that with the politics of other countries.
“I’m not quite there yet, but I can see how its going to evolve, I’m always about five years ahead of myself in terms of what material I make.”
You can also catch Chanel hosting her Cabaret show, The Secret Circus together with Eve Howlett in the Lantern Theatre on Sunday at 7pm, that will feature a mixture of poetry, belly dancing and magic.