I watched Carlene Laurel perform at Stereo 92 for our monthly Music Revolution show, the talented and charismatic songstress from West London looked composed on stage as she sang both original and cover songs during her set. Although on the rise, she has attended stage schools and has been recording professionally since she was 13. She has recorded with Grammy nominated producer Harmony Samuels, who has produced for artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande and Kelly Rowland.
Carlene has also been spotted by Grammy award winning veteran Clifton “Specialist” Dillon who has been responsible for bringing reggae music to the international market with his latest protégé OMI. Her single “Wake Up” is a catchy pop single with Island flavours that has been making a name for itself in both Japan and the UK.
Below is my interview with the passionate and driven songstress to find out more about her music and her career aspirations.
Hello Carlene, how are you doing?
I’m great, happy to be speaking with you today.
Great, happy to be talking to you today. After seeing you perform at Stereo 92, I listened to “Wake Up” a few times and I recently just heard your new single “Ego” – both songs seem to have a Caribbean flavour to them; what is your music background?
Yes I would definitely say there is a Caribbean influence running through my music; I come from a very eclectic fusion of music mainly being reggae. My dad was very much into house, funk, and pop and soulful funk. Playing alongside Jamiroquai in the early 90’s and mum was the “Bashment Queen” *laughs* – never was this always the way as she grew up singing in Ruach Church. Her love for music just expanded as she grew older and travelled and moved to London. I was very lucky to have the best of both worlds in terms of how diverse my upbringing was and how multicultural it was. One day I would be playing Alanis Morissette the next day I would be listening to Bob Marley. Caribbean music is the core to who I am and my music will always be influenced by this sound.
That’s amazing. Do you write your own songs?
I do write my own music, it’s the greatest thing ever! To be able to write something in your own words, formulate a melody and create a feeling that touches other people is something I don’t take for a joke; it’s my therapy and just want to get better as time goes on.
It’s refreshing to know writing your own music makes you feel that way. Can you tell us your songwriting process?
A little secret…Well it’s not anymore. Many of my studio sessions are freestyle; I have always enjoyed jamming session, improvising which was something I did a lot of when studying Music. I didn’t realise at the time but it allowed me to be free and sing from an honest place without thinking about it. I may come up with a line and it goes from there really. Sometimes before a session I send the producer a melody, a song reference, something that I have in my mind and come up with a topic to write when I go in the studio. I tend to go off impulse and sing about what I am really feeling, never like to put too much pressure on the moment.
I believe that’s the best way to do it. No pressure on yourself whatsoever. Do you play any instruments?
I definitely need to work on learning the piano a bit more as of now it’s very basic..And I believe it will help to develop my skills a lot more.
I hear you. Who are your musical influences?
Do we have 24 hours? *laughs*. Wow. Everybody from Bob Marley, Beyoncé, Alanis Morissette, Indie.Arie, James Brown, Rihanna, London Grammar, Fela Kuti, that’s half, there’s to many to mention.
If you could collaborate with one of those artists, who would it be and why?
Beyoncé because to me she totally gets it – from a musical point of view there isn’t anything she can’t do, she is hardworking and has the talent to carry it through. For me being around people has to mean something, there has to be something I can learn from. I wouldn’t want to do a collaboration for the sake of it, I think with Beyoncé with her understanding of music and mine I believe we would create a perfect song.
That would be an interesting collaboration. I’ve mentioned the new single “Ego” which is out 31st July, are you currently working on a project?
I am working on a project and I can say I am excited about this.
When can we expect it?
Before the end of the year definitely, follow me on my socials to stay updated.
Will there be visuals to promote it?
There will be definitely.
What theme/concept are you going for with this project?
This will be an introduction, the core areas of my life I touch upon, to me building a relationship with my listeners are important…. As an artist there are many different elements to my life, hence why the project takes time. It’s important I touch upon subjects that are relatable but done right… sonically and lyrically.
I like the sound of that, looking forward to hearing it. As an artist, what has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
There are a few I can say, just being a female and making sure you handle your business correctly, still learning. It’s important you get to know my background and my come up and how hard I work to make this even possible. It’s not easy but when you love what you do, nothing ever is really hard, as I believe God is the driving force behind this and making it even possible.
For real. How would you describe and rate the music scene in London right now?
It’s great I am happy for everyone who is winning I love it, for me though I like to have my eyes on all the scenes. I like to be in touch with culture in the world. London is definitely doing amazing things and I feel happy to be a Londoner.
Where would you like to find yourself in ten years?
A global artist, with a movie of my life and to be very happy…And ten years seems far but its not, the years are literally flying past.
Where can readers keep up to date with you, your music and future live shows?
Follow me on my socials
Instagram: Carlene Laurel
Website : carlenelaurel.com