Chanel of Chanel and the Circus Source: Provided

NX MEET: Chanel and the Circus

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

EDGE and Lexus NX Beat have partnered to profile six of today's hottest LGBTQ+ recording artists. Click here to see the full video featuring Chanel and the Circus and Leopold Nunan, and read the EDGE interview with Chanel below.

Non-binary artist Chanel (They/Them) fronts the band Chanel and The Circus... and that's not just a name; the group headlines a real live circus, as well as headlining queer festivals around Los Angeles.

Their fun pop-rock sound is perfect for upbeat numbers like "Under the Impression of Depression," "Bullets," and "I Wanna Do Drugs" – that last song is the memorable, high-energy single from the band's debut EP, "Wake Up."

EDGE: You're the frontperson for the band Chanel and The Circus. What's that experience like for you? Is there a synergy in a band that a solo artist might not enjoy?

Chanel: I was a solo act for a while and it's not nearly as fun as having a band. They inspire me so much and we make some sick tunes together. Collaboration is deeply human, and it shows in the music.

EDGE: You recorded your EP "Wake Up" during the pandemic. Was that a solo project, or was the whole band involved? And how does working on something by yourself versus with the group lead to different creative revelations and inspirations?

Chanel: Yeah, we really went on a journey with that one. It started out just me and Leo Zarucky producing it from our bedrooms, then we got other musicians to track from their homes. As restrictions lifted we went into the studio to record live drums and piano, which gave it more energy. I think this EP reflects my mind during the pandemic, but the new music is raw and rock and that's a result of jamming with the band in person.

EDGE: You identify as non-binary. How has that identity influenced your work?

Chanel: Oh, it influences every aspect of my life, so naturally it's in the songwriting. "I Wanna Do Drugs" says I used to be a "catholic school girl now I'm a party city boi" and uses "they/them" pronouns in the chorus. The more people heart those pronouns being used, the easier it will become. I play both the male and female characters in the Visual Album and fall in and out of love with myself. I wanted to share the complicated relationship I've had with gender, so people know they're not alone.

EDGE: The Circus isn't just the band's name – the band also headlines a real live circus! Are your performances in that context more spontaneous and unpredictable than they otherwise might be?

Chanel: Oh, what a wild time! Honestly, the more we play the more those two worlds merge. Our music is bold and loud wherever we go, but there's definitely a comradery at our circus shows because we are all unique individuals who don't fit in and don't want to fit in.

EDGE: You also play queer festivals. Is that as rowdy.. or maybe more rowdy?... than headlining a circus?

Chanel: If we are playing to a new crowd, they usually take some time to warm up, but we always get them dancing. Whereas the circus has been warmed up by burlesque and fire dancers so they're ready to jump in. I hope the more people hear about us, the more they'll be able to let themselves go wherever we play.

EDGE: The single you mentioned, "I Wanna Do Drugs," has a great dancey, '80s vibe, almost like a Julie Brown track. Were you looking to shake things up a little, maybe get some conversations going with that song?

Chanel: Yeah, there's a lot of conversations in that song. I am all for drugs if they work for you, but I'm sober because of my health. Being a sober party person, I notice a lot of people want to go out and dance without drinking but feel peer pressured into it. I wanted to give a party anthem to everyone who is sober and say it's okay, you can still have a great time. At the end of the day, everything is a drug to varying degrees: Food, coffee, love, and you just have to find a balance.

EDGE: What is your hope/wish/goal for the LGBTQIA+/Queer community in the next 10 years?

Chanel: OH SO MANY. We have come such a long way with acceptance ,and I can't wait until being queer is normalized. Not having societal pressure will allow people to explore themselves more freely without fear. And that's what it's all about...self-discovery and self-love so you can then help and love the world.

Follow Chanel and The Circus at their website and on Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, and YouTube.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

This story is part of our special report: "Lexus NX Beat". Want to read more? Here's the full list.

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