choklate-1-march_13-_2007.jpg When I get a sweet-tooth, two things come to mind: music and chocolate. Okay, maybe three things come to mind, but the former tend to be much more sweet and soulful. I flip through my records or browse my iTunes library for something smooth, rich and satisfying while nibbling on a piece of chocolate—yes, the darker the better—until eventually I end up playing the same classic albums I’ve heard many times over. While these classic soul hits will always be delightful quick fixes, my auditory taste buds have stumbled upon something just as delicious—Choklate. With a voice so delectable, Seattle based writer/songstress, Choklate, has become a regular musical craving. Her self-titled album is richly textured and promises to satisfy any soulful sweet-tooth.

Clutch was able to catch up with Choklate to find out what makes her music so sweet.

Q: You’re from Seattle, how did you get started in the music business there?
I moved in with my brother Mike D, here in Seattle, when I’d first arrived in Seattle. His house had a really nice studio in the bottom level. I always hung out down there while folks where recording and whatnot…one day I bluffed and told them (my nephew and his crew) that they should let me get on a song…they needed another verse anyway. He called my bluff and let me. That’s when/where it started…writing and executing hooks for them, and then my brother encouraged me to do my own project. I did and then later was introduced to Vitamin D at one of Seattle’s longest running jam session nights called Jumbalaya. It was there that we connected and shortly after that recorded our first song, which was “Bigger.” So the story sort of continues to unfold.

Q: In your song “The Moon”, which can be heard on your MySpace page, you say, “I reach for the moon” and “You keep me going.” What inspires you to reach for the moon and what currently keeps you going as an artist?
There are folks around me who really encourage me to continue to do what I do. I’ve often thought about whether or not I could really handle the responsibility of being an artist. My family and close friends continually push me toward the ‘moon’ and stars. So I continue to reach toward the moon because of them.

Q: Who are your musical influences?
I grew up in an environment where I couldn’t listen to secular music. I was only allowed to listen to Gospel and because of that, I rebelled and didn’t listen to much music at all. But when I could, I found myself listening to everything from Brotha Lynch all the way to YoYo Ma and Bach, so I think because I have no real musical reference point I’m influenced by the Ohm.

Sound in general. My ears hear things now that they never would have been strong enough to have detected before I began doing music…so I think I’m pretty much influenced by the Ohm…the initial onslaught of the sound.

My favorites, now that I’ve been turned on to them over the last ten or so years are Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield etc.–cats that infused raw emotion and truth in their music and still made is sound good. I’m a huge fan of so many artist. I’m sure that I’m influenced by all of them.

sometimes_stones_glowchok1.jpgQ: Is there any artist in particular you would want to work with in the future?
I’d love to work with Mos Def, Amy Winehouse, I adore Brandy and would jump at the opportunity to work with her. It’d be an honor to work with Raphael Saadiq, Jazmine Sullivan, Alicia Keys (just because she’s an Aquarian and probably one of the coolest people ever), Mary J., it would be a dream to work with Lauryn Hill.

Q: Your ‘Hustle Hard Tour’ last spring was a huge success. You had two sold-out shows in your hometown, was there ever a ‘Woah, I made it!’ moment during that tour?
There was more like a “Geez, I may just pass out…” moment. I don’t think I’ve made it anywhere but to the next day, to the next challenge, to the next leg of my journey…

There were such pressures that came along with that tour that I didn’t have time to really celebrate the small accomplishments along the way. I’ve paid for every tour I’ve ever gone on. So it was sure fire WORK.

Last year was a true fight to make it the year that it was. Thinking that I’d made it never entered my thoughts because I hadn’t. I still haven’t. I’m right here at the beginning, still. Well, maybe an inch further than last year but just and inch. I’m hoping to take a mile this year.

When you’re respected as a human being and being paid for your hard work and artistry in this industry is when, I feel, you can say that you’ve made it. So, I still feel I have quite a ways to go.

Q: What is your album, Choklate saying through the tracks, what themes are you exploring through the music?
That whatever life hurls at you, and life will surely hurl things in your direction, but basically that no matter what it is, you’re not alone and you can make it through.

choklate-march_13-_2007-15.jpgQ: Sometimes, artists will switch up or compromise their music in order to reach broader audiences. What helps you maintain your music integrity?
I can’t say that I’m established to the point where I’ve maintained anything. But I definitely have a responsibility to myself to make music and not allow it to necessarily make me.

I miss Lauryn Hill terribly. She changed the face of popular music for a spell by saying something in her art. She made an actual message tangible, audibly pleasing, acceptable AND it changed lives. I think there is room for that kind of music and I’d really like be one of those types of forces musically.

I’d like to be one who can find a way to say ANYTHING and it be tangible, acceptable, audibly pleasing and maybe change a life, maybe make a difference or just really give the listener a clue into that they’re probably not alone in the things that they think or feel or are going through. That’s what Marvin did when he had the platform to do so. I’m inspired by the idea of music having a good impact on its listeners internally and being honest. That’s where my heart is…so I guess that’s what’s keeping me at the moment.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring singers/songwriters?

Q: Your sophomore album (currently untitled) is coming out soon. What can listeners and fans expect from that album?
Just a true expression of real life, real feelings. Songs about things I’ve been through, things me, my friends and family have gone through since the last record. Some Hip Hop making whoopie with R&B type music.

Same ‘ol Choklate I think…we’ll see though. I’ve lived a little more life. The journey’s taken me a few places I hadn’t been yet during the recording of the last record, so we’ll see what happens.

Q: Do you have a favorite song from your album, Choklate?
Nah…they’re like kids. You can’t have a favorite…you love your kids equally. You don’t play faves!

Q: If you could describe your music in three words, what would they be?
Real Everyday Life

Q: When out and about, what do you usually keep with you–what’s in your clutch?
Let me look…my planner (I still have a paper calendar), a book to read (currently Awareness by Anthony De Mello), all things MAC, my digital recorder (in case an idea hits me while I’m driving down the freeway or walking down the street and I don’t have anything to write on, The Message: The Remix by Eugene Patterson (thee illest bible I’ve ever read AND small enough to fit in my purse too…gotta love that), both cell phones, my wallet, some Craisins and an apple that I grabbed on the way out the door this morning. You see, my clutch is more like a saddle bag dahlin!

To learn more about Choklate please visit www.myspace.com/listen2chok

{Photo Credit: Shujen}

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