REVIEW: Chelou's "Halfway to Nowhere"
Inspired by the Camden punk scene, Chelou is a 23 year old singer songwriter who has been making a name for himself with his haunting music and help from radio stations like BBC Radio 1. In French, Chelou means weird or strange, which I find to be a near perfect description of his music. Chelou is able to so seamlessly blend various genres and sounds together in order to create a cohesive musical piece and provide the listener with a unique experience.
“Halfway to Nowhere” is the song I am recommending, although, I highly suggest that you check them all out. I chose this specific song, which is one of his most popular pieces, because I believe it is a good introduction to who Chelou is for a new listener. In an interview with Gigslutz, Chelou described his music as “electro-dream-folk,” “Halfway to Nowhere” is perfectly encompassed in this description. With a stunning beat that is calming, but also slightly unsettling in a way that makes you want to keep listening. This calm and unsettled feeling is very fitting to the dreamlike atmosphere that is also reflected in the music video in which the protagonist is in a dream as the animated representation of Chelou sitting on a cloud. However, the underlying unsettling tone is reminds me of folk music and the feelings of pessimism and sadness, yet a unique calm can be taken from them.
Whilst being lyrically sparse, what Chelou does explicitly sing can be interpreted in many different ways, which is part of the beauty of music, but here’s my interpretation. The chorus, “I sing for pleasure. I’ve sung for pain” speaks to an artist’s struggle and how they express themselves through their music, but also the joy that comes from this process.
Another set of lyrics, “they tell me good things come to those who wait/Despite the process along that came from fame,” suggests that those who get famous are not people who might have ‘waited’, but rather are personas made by a studio system, manufactured very carefully so they do succeed. If you take this view of the song, the title lyrics “I’m halfway to nowhere/ I’m still nothing today” can be representative of being seen as ‘unsuccessful’ and a ‘failure’ just because you have not succeeded as much as these other people. It’s in our natural human nature to compare ourselves to others which can be detrimental to our self-esteem.
That can be another one of the interpretations of the song which I think is best represented in the visually stunning music video which uses Pollynor art showing how, when two artists collaborate together, something so stunning and complex can be created. In the video, we see a girl and in her reflection she sees herself as a demonic creature symbolising self-doubt, negativity and the struggle with identity that we all have and go through. This is reflected in the opening lyrics “How do you get out of bed in the morning?” and poses a real question that many of us, like myself, don’t have an answer to.
This almost depressing introduction, you would believe, sets the tone for the entirety of the song and whilst it’s true that the beat and vocal stylings don’t change Chelou is still able to take the listener on a journey which is aided through Pollynor’s captivating art and the visual storytelling. This journey continues when the female is in the dream land and, rejected by this green creature, she places a mask over her face that is also green. This shows how we all wear masks to disguise ourselves because we have a fear of rejection and want to fit in and be accepted. Despite these feelings she has, she is able to overcome them through the spirit of song and dance, at the end of the video she wakes up on her bed proceeding to text people. This end is ambiguous as there is an implication that she has gotten rid of these self-doubts and is now back in touch with reality, no longer drowning in a headspace of negativity. However, there is a still a question left in the air because reality caused her negative feelings. So, the question is, will she be able to live the rest of her life? Or will she go back to her old ways?
Overall, this is an incredible piece of music which has a way of sticking with you for days to come. I hope this article has convinced you to check out Chelou and the rest of his music as he is an artist with a great, interesting discography. Also to celebrate his debut album Out of Sight coming out on April 26th, he will be going on tour so if you are interested please go and buy tickets. I look forward to further covering Chelou his rising career!