By Noe Gutierrez
On Saturday, January 26th at Coachella Valley Brewing Company the FREE event, “Ladies First”, will be taking place. Performing live from 6-8 p.m. will be Courtney Chambers, CAKES and the Assholes, The After Lashes, and Jetta King & Tyler Ontiveros. The event will feature some of the most talented individuals in the Coachella Valley. They also happen to be female. One of those multifaceted artists is Courtney Chambers.
Courtney Chambers is now synonymous with the Coachella Valley and Desert Music. Whether it’s her heart-to-heart solo acoustic show or the lock stock and barrel of her complete band, Courtney delivers her inventive music genuinely and without disguise. Spectators are converted after her performances. I spoke with Courtney to get an update on her current course.
CVW: First of all, what’s the status of your new album?
Courtney: “My next record is currently in pre-production. I’m approaching this one a little differently. I’m recording this at my place and taking on a little bit more of the production responsibilities which is an exciting new phase of my craft.”
CVW: With you tinkering more on the production side of things, how does it feel versus being only the performer?
Courtney: “I’ve been part of producing my music since Higher Places (2004) so it’s not totally new, but having the 16 years of experience has given me a lot more knowledge and confidence to be able to make a record I’ll be proud of. On my first record, Imperfect Like Me (2001), my only role was to come in, play my parts and sing the songs. I didn’t particularly like it, because, really, I had no say in the process, which is frustrating when you are the creator of the music. Needless to say, after that I made sure I had a hand in the production and arrangements of every record I made from then on.”
CVW: Who is in your band currently?
Courtney: “Ah! My band. I miss playing with the band! I will be planning a band show soon though. Right now, my lineup is Armando Flores on bass and Tomas Granillo on drums.”
CVW: You’re loyal to who you work with, both with your production team and musicians. How important is that trust in the studio and on stage?
Courtney: “Trust in who you work with is vital. I’m not a micromanager with the people I work with because I simply don’t have the time and I find it exhausting, so its imperative that I have people who get my vision and follow through on what I ask for.”
CVW: You’ve visited Nashville a couple of times in the last few years. What have you taken from your trips there that are helpful now?
Courtney: “Nashville has been life changing. It’s a city where all that is going on is music and everyone is hustling, everyone is writing together and fine tuning their craft. The scene and the vibe is incredibly supportive. Everyone seems to be in it together. It was inspiring and reinvigorated my creative quest.”
CVW: You know how many of your fans (including me) feel about your epic album “Tales of the Aftermath”. How are you approaching this new album given the success of TOTA?
Courtney: “Well, thanks for the description of TOTA as ‘epic’. Ha ha. Every record I make costs me thousands of dollars and countless hours writing and being in the studio, so I never take it lightly. I make sure the songs I write I feel passionate about and I won’t release it until it’s done and it’s a piece of work that I’m proud to put out into the world. With that said, sometimes my records take a really long time to make. I was afraid I couldn’t outdo Bigger and Brighter so TOTA took a while. TOTA exceeded my expectations in so many ways and all I want to do is create something even better and definitely different. No point in putting out the same record, you know what I mean? This time around, since I’m taking on more of the production role, I’ve been listening to lot of different records to get the creative juices flowing and see what turns me on.”
CVW: What is your take on the status of the access to music versus artist compensation? Do you feel that the industry is now more geared towards compensating artists and those involved or do you think there is so much further to go?
Courtney: “With the passage of the Music Modernization Act, songwriters will be getting a fairer share of royalties as well as producers and anyone involved in the recording process. That’s a huge step forward. New music technology has always spooked the current format since the invention of the phonograph, but it tends to bring more money to the table in the end. You just have to know how to work it and be able to evolve as things change. Streaming was detrimental at first with Napster because no one was getting paid. Now we have streaming services and companies also monitoring it, which pay artists every time an artist’s song is played and more artists, are being exposed to new listeners. The format still isn’t paying what it should in my opinion, but it’s a start.”
CVW: You’ve been in the desert for several years now. What specifically has kept you here?
Courtney: “I just celebrated my 5th year. It has been an amazing experience, the music community is incredibly supportive and there is so much going on. The opportunities granted me, affordable living, wonderful friends and an incredibly supportive community is what has kept me here.”
CVW: You’re performing with CAKES and the Assholes, Jetta King and The Afterlashes for the “Ladies First” event at Coachella Valley Brewery on 1/26. What would you like to say about each artist?
Courtney: “Nothing puts a fire under my ass like a woman who takes charge of her life and career. CAKES has done this unapologetically her way. Mad respect. Jetta King? Damn! One of the best voices in the desert. I first met her singing in Sunday Funeral together and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of her before.” The After Lashes? I love these ladies! Always a fan of all girl bands, they remind me of The Runaways and early-Punk Go Go’s.
CVW: Who are some of your favorite CV artists by history and who are some of the artists you feel are up-and-coming and have peaked your interest or inspired you?
Courtney: “Some of my fave artists are The Flusters, Porsia Camille, Black Water Gospel, Eevaan Tré and 5th Town. Some of the ‘up and coming’ artists who have peaked my interest are Jetta King and Vinny Berry.”
CVW: “Why is it important to have an event like “Ladies First”?
Courtney: “I think it’s important to have an event like this to showcase the female contribution to music in the valley. I would like to see us all getting out there performing and representing more as well as seeing new female artists emerge out here.”