Take breaks and don’t be a perfectionist. Because seeking perfection will make you stand in the way of your own success. (Example: love yourself first and foremost and success will follow)
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Charmian Devi.
Born in Montreal, Canada, Charmian Devi has been an original singer/songwriter for many years. Her father emigrated from London UK to Montreal and she has been dedicated to a life in music from the start. She grew up in Quebec City soaked in the offbeat Quebecois French culture but her musical roots began with an eccentric well educated father who brought home the latest Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, or Beatles album as well as early traditional American folk songs. The lead singer/songwriter of a cutting edge Canadian punk band based in Vancouver, she lead a tight trio, opening for acts like 7 year Bitch and No means No and became one of the most talked about bands in Canada. Along with other astounding NW grunge/punk acts of the 1990’s, they toured relentlessly and on a regular basis the NW circuit through Seattle, Portland, San Francisico, LA , Vancouver and across Canada. Charmian Devi’s songs were broadcast on Canadian and American college radio and stayed on the charts for several years.
They released two independent CDs that are still sold as rare and sought after items on ebay, amazon and GEM. A trailblazer in her own right, they were compared to the likes of The Dead Kennedys, Husker Du and The Stooges. After four high energy years, the band disolved due to irreconcilable conflict which happened to coincide with the tragic death of her husband. It was from this harrowing time that Charmian Devi decided to relocate to London, UK to rebuild her life and she formed the alternative rock band, L.I.A.R in 1999. The band performed in London clubs for two years. Still haunted by her turbulent past, Charmian was forced to return to Canada. She went on to form a duo with collaborator John Lok, writing soulful and melodic alternative pop songs. Most recently Charmian completed her alternative rock recording in NYC with 7x nominated 3x Grammy award winning producer/engineer, Marc Urselli recorded at Eastside Sound Studio. The musicians on this recording are Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith group), Tony Garnier (Bob Dylan and the Band), Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) and Brian Marsella. Devoted to a life in music and resolutely opposed to authoritarian regimes and dogma, Charmian is the embodiment of everything rock n roll stands for: truth; revolution and unyielding artistry.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I am a female singer/songwriter from Montreal, Canada. Born in Montreal but raised in Quebec City, I grew up in an a crazy offbeat Quebecois French culture of deep snow,loud bars and unusual gypsy characters. My musical roots began with an eccentric well educated British father who would come home with the latest Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, or Beatles album as well as early traditional American folk songs. I was hooked to music from these early days and vowed to write lyrics since I was 8 years old, scribbling odd bits of poetry to my best friend in the burnt out haze of Quebec High School. Once I committed to a life in the arts, I have never looked back and have stumbled through many a sordid tale to arrive at this point. I am a writer and singer to the core and cannot seem to stop. Music drives me, heals me and keeps me alive.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I began in art school studying photography at Concordia Fine Arts in Montreal. I started to play drums and joined a rock band playing in Montreal nightclubs. I turned to acoustic guitar and began writing my own songs. I have never looked back since.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Playing live at the Whiskey GoGo in Los Angeles with my then punk band and after finishing the set, the audience was so blown away, causing the lighting and sound men to take our set lists off the stage to keep for themselves. Of course they asked for our permission first! and asked us to sign the setlist!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Yes I cut all my hair off before forming my punk band.
It felt good at the time but I miss my long hair!..which for me represents a kind of freedom. Never force any one identity for we contain multitudes.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am working on the completion of my album titled “Till Eternity Breaks”. The two singles, Radio of None and No Peace, recorded in New York by 3x Grammy award winning engineer/producer, Marc Urselli has been an amazing project, and I hope to be able to record my full album in New York soon. I also hope to be able to collaborate again with members of Bob Dylan’s band as I really enjoyed working with and meeting Tony Garnier, Bob Dylan’s bass player.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Never give up. And remember fame must not be the goal but rather the love of your music and craft and the commitment to share it with the world.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television?
Yes 1) Diversity allows for original art to have a voice 2) It also opens the mind to different ways of creating, expressing and thinking which can act to influence and trigger new forms of expression. 3) The more diverse the better! for it feeds the imagination on all levels. How can that potentially affect our culture? It can foster and nurture new forms of art to help broaden our minds.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Its going to be challenging in ways you can’t even imagine so do it for the pure love it brings you. (Example: love your music first and foremost..challenges will be easier to handle)
- Take breaks and don’t be a perfectionist. Because seeking perfection will make you stand in the way of your own success. (Example: love yourself first and foremost and success will follow)
- Be true to yourself always.( No one truly succeeds by copying someone else)
- Never try to get ahead for the sake of ambition alone. (Ex: Ambition is just the ego, take it in stride rather than let it rule you)
- Be sure to love and remember all those who have helped you along your path. ( Be grateful, gratitude will shape your success like no other force)
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Always take time out to meditate and enjoy a good walk in nature.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Yes compassion and an open mind are the two most important qualities a person can develop in this life. So a movement to always fight for the truth, and learn to love and offer compassion for all.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes my producer/engineer, Marc Urselli at Eastside Sound Studio in NYC is one amazing person I connected with and his ongoing belief in my talents helped me complete this recording of Radio of None. With his steadfast perserverence and patience he managed to get Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group), Tony Garnier ( Bob Dylan and his Band), Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) to come together for this recording. What a feat!..his generous, encouraging and dynamic spirit I shall never forget on my career path.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Leo Tolstoy’s quote” The truth is obtained like gold,not by letting it grow bigger but by washing off from it everything that isn’t gold”.
The life lesson for me is to always live in your truth which means for me to be as authentic and real in my music as possible.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Yes Bob Dylan! I want to ask him to sing a duet with me on one of my new tracks “ Wrong Turn”.
He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
How can our readers follow you online?
You can visit my website at www.charmiandevi.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!