Chilli Gold
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Chilli Gold


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Chilli Gold biog

Let's be honest, it's always difficult introducing a new act with genuine fanfare. Mostly, there is so little to say, and never very much in the way of tantalizing backstory. It's a little like paddling in the shallow end when all you want to do is dive into the deep. But Chilli Gold is something else, a British country-pop singer positively voluminous of character, and as entertaining in person as she is sublime in song. 'Waterfalls' is her debut album (out in January) but is despatched with such heart and soul and, occasionally, blood and guts that it could be her fourth, her fifth. And she has lived a globetrotting life so stuffed with incident it could fill more than one autobiography.

"I suppose I have lived a lot of life in a few short years," says the 27-year-old, "which is why I want now to sing my songs and reach as many people as possible. I've got a lot to say."

'Waterfalls' is not only likely to find her just that, but could also be the most assured new release of 2009.

She was born in Brighton, relocated to Bournemouth, and by her early teens was a natural, vivacious performer. She had a voice on her that was all volume, she says: "all power, but no control." At home, she and her younger sister would immerse themselves in their parents' record collection, singing along to everything from Queen to Bread to Barry Manilow, "but
also," she adds, "Dolly Parton, Barbra Streisand, Kenny Rogers. I loved country music." And not just country music, either. She had a soft spot for Wham!, for A-ha and, later, Aphex Twin, her tastes as eclectic as she was enthusiastic.

By her mid-teens, she and her sister were performing under the name of Caz and Sam, so assured of their talents that they started making demo recordings and sending them out. Their mother sent one into a talent competition held by a national paper, and though she remembered to attach a photograph of the pair, she forgot to send any contact details. Several weeks later, she happened to be walking past a newsagent's window when she saw herself staring back.

"We were on the cover of the paper underneath the headline reading, Do you know these girls?" she recalls, laughing at the memory. It transpired that they had won first prize, the paper desperate to track them down. Within weeks, they were signed to Polydor Records and, at the tender ages of 14 and 15, were officially professional recording artists, their label flying them to Germany to record with the infamous Frank Farian (Boney M, Milli Vanilli) and to Los Angeles, where they recorded a succession of frothy pop confections, one of which was entitled ‘I Like Boys.’ Back home in the UK, they were playing Radio 1 roadshows, and
amassing a legion of fans. But just as fame started to find them, the dream abruptly ended.

Though a sour experience, it nevertheless gave Chilli a taste that she became instantly addicted to, and from here on in it was music all the way. Mature for her age and with an ambition that wouldn't be held back, she left school desperate to see the world. Weeks later, she arrived in
South Africa where she played in clubs and casinos, met the locals, fell in and out of love, got a suntan and had the time of her life. From there, she next found herself in Malaysia where, because she had absolutely no experience of being a DJ whatsoever, became a DJ. Later, upon her return to England, she would end up DJing alongside the likes of Carl Cox and Laurent
Garnier: "I was a quick learner," she deadpans.

From Malaysia, she went to Spain and Mexico, where she sang her way around tourist resorts and local hotspots. In the UK, she spent five minutes as a Red Coat in Bournemouth, before finally settling in London to work on 'Waterfalls.' And if globetrotting hadn't proved a sufficient inspiration for her songwriting, her love life certainly did.

"I used to find damaged men terribly attractive," she sighs, "convinced I could rescue them. Of course I couldn't."

Though London would remain her base, she never did lose the travel bug and, convinced she needed to fully immerse herself in the heart and soul of her beloved country music, she headed to Nashville and the Grand Old Opry where, through sheer chutzpah, she managed not only to contact legendary songwriter Charlie Craig, but also to work on some songs together.

Back in London, this remarkable young woman was now positively supercharged. Her decade-old experience with Polydor still very much in the forefront of her mind, she decided to go to the independent route and complete 'Waterfalls' entirely by herself. Though recorded on a budget, it sounds sumptuous and lavish and rich in lyrical incident. 'Ships', for instance, beautifully describes her craving for mental space, "to a place where I can get my head together", while 'Out Of My Mind' her compulsive first