As the thirteenth year of the new millennium has drawn to a close, we find ourselves in a time when music is more attainable than ever, both to produce and access. That accessibility has in turn opened the musical landscape allowing artists to experiment to further degrees and be more adventurous in their craft than ever before. Such liberties have spawned a new generation of artists and musicians that possess a quality of free-spiritedness and a hunger to make their passions heard. These are the qualities we at Cause A Scene are drawn toward, and these are the qualities that we believe are pushing music forward.
I recently had the pleasure to sit down and chat with Chelsea Lankes, an up and coming pop artist with a big sound who in many ways embodies the above listed qualities. Having grown up in Fort Worth, TX, Lankes has spent the last several years of her life in Nashville and in that time she has found herself moving through a series of events that have culminated into a blossoming career in music. The release of her debut EP, Ringing Bells, in 2012 would lay the framework for a sound that is grounded in catchy, popcentric beats and melodies but where Lankes really sets herself apart is in her lyrical focus. A shining example is her recently released single “Ghost” from her forthcoming sophomore EP. The skilled production on the track gives “Ghost” a glowing sheen and induces entranced head nods. This coupled with the depth of the lyricism and the mood of the song that resemble something closer the ballad of a moody singer songwriter that makes “Ghost” stand out among the cookie cutter pop tunes on your local top 40 station.
Like most music lovers and musicians, Chelsea traces her passion for music back to her childhood, recalling nights spent backstage at the Grapevine Opry watching her mother sing. While she continued to progress her talents as she grew; learning piano and guitar, writing lyrics, and even playing open mic nights at bars in her days at Texas A&M, it wasn’t until the end of her collegiate career that she even considered doing music professionally. It was with the sort of blind resolve and dedication to pursue one’s passion, which I believe can be sensed from the moment a musician strums their first chord or sings their first note, that led Chelsea to Nashville.
While her Texas childhood shaped her love of music, it is her time spent and the people she has crossed paths with in Nashville that Lankes credits with her development as a recording artist and the development of her sound. “I didn’t know how to write songs before I moved to Nashville,” said Lankes. “Lyrics have always come naturally to me, but it wasn’t until I began working with other songwriters here, people much more talented than me in that area, that took the time to work with me, that I began to understand how to properly structure a song.”
That proved to be not the only obstacle Chelsea faced as she was trying to be heard in one of the most talent saturated cities in the world. “It took me a while to find my way when I made the move to Nashville,” said Lankes. “I worked a country label doing promotions, hoping to get a feel for the business, but after about 8 months I said, ‘Nope. I’m not cut out for this,’ and I quit.” It wasn’t too long after that Chelsea sold her car for parts in order to pay for demo recordings. In the time following, Lankes focused all of her efforts towards recording her first album, the result of which she attributes to the supportive artist community of Nashville and to Seth Jones, who produced Ringing Bells and helped her discover her pop-based sound.
Despite the earlier struggles, it seems that her commitments have paid off, as Chelsea has recently been spending time in Los Angeles working to finish recording her new EP, due to release early this new year. Lankes went on describe the sound of her new material as being within the same vein as Ringing Bells, but possessing a more eclectic range from track to track, drawing specific influence from 80’s pop, while also noting that she believes it displays the maturation and growth she has felt as an artist since her first release, specifically in regards to the songwriting.
Along with the release of her new EP, 2014 holds more changes for Lankes as she plans to relocate to LA, where she believes she will have more opportunity to grow, especially in the avenue of pop music, as she continues to develop her sound and career. When asked what she felt the release of her new EP held for her future as a musician, she replied, “I always want to change myself. Whatever I put out is going to be better than ‘Ghost,’ and whatever I put out after this next EP is going to better, otherwise I won’t release it.”
– Christian Lerchenfeld