While she may not be a household name here in The States, British rock singer Chez Kane has spent the majority of her life rocking crowds as the frontwoman for the band Kane’d, alongside her two sisters. An unbelievably talented vocalist, she’s invested countless hours continuing to hone her craft. It was her spirited covers of unforgettable ‘80s classics that caught the attention of Danny Rexon of Crazy Lixx. Once the connection was made, it didn’t take long for the duo to fire on all cylinders. It was a match made in hard rock heaven!
The concept behind the album started with a vision Danny had in mind. “I’ve long felt that the contemporary melodic rock scene is missing an important piece of what I think made the genre, at least to some extent, so great in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and that is the quintessential female rocker. There are tons of bands in the melodic rock genre, but I feel like we’re missing that great female solo artist singing hard rock. A kind of Lee Aaron, Lita Ford, or Robin Beck for the new decade. So, the mission was clear to me from day one: Give the fans a female rocker that will remind them of the powerful rock anthems of the past. Having found Chez and discovering the potential in her voice, I have great faith in this endeavor and no doubt that this album will resonate well with fans both of my own band, Crazy Lixx, and of the retro melodic rock genre at large.”
Chez adds that even, “though I was born in the ‘90s, I have always had a major soft spot for that infectious ‘80s style, so from that aspect Danny’s songwriting fits me really well. We have the same vision, drive and passion to make this album an absolute belter!”
So, what can listeners expect? “If you’re a fan of my stuff with Crazy Lixx, I bet you’ll enjoy the Chez Kane album too,” explained Danny. “I’ve written and arranged every song on the album, so it’s bound to have my signature style to it. However, this album will be a lot more radio friendly (at least if you go by what was considered radio friendly in 1989), a lot more keyboard oriented and, of course, the fact that it’s a powerful female voice singing the songs will give the album a whole other dimension. And if you, like myself, are a fan of Lee Aaron, Vixen, Saraya, Chrissy Steele, Lita Ford, and similar artists and feel like the genre’s missing out this vital component, you’re going to love the debut album from Chez Kane!”
One of the most captivating debut’s in recent memory, Chez Kane’s solo album embraces the melodic rock style that she and Danny admire, while adding a brilliant and powerful new twist to the current takes on the genre. It’s time to crank up the volume and let this sonic dynamic duo take you on the ride of your life. Chances are it will end up being the soundtrack to your summer!
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Chez Kane to discuss her life in music. Along the way she offers up an inside look at the making of her unforgettable debut album, the creative bond she formed with producer Danny Rexon, her connection to her dedicated fan base and much more!
How did music first take hold in your life?
Music has always been a huge part of my life because I have a family full of singers! There was no escaping it for me really! [laughs] My dad’s a singer, I’ve got an Auntie who’s a singer and my grandparents have been in bands. Obviously, my sisters and I went on to follow in their footsteps. We all started singing from a very young age. From the second I could speak, I’ve been singing!
What went into finding your creative voice as a young woman?
I don’t know. I’ve always been told I have a bell on every tooth! [laughs] I just won’t shut up! I don’t know. I have so many influences. I started liking rock music when I was around 13 years old and then I got highly influenced by music from the ‘80s. Def Leppard was my first big influence. I guess my voice comes from listening to all of these bands and taking little bits of inspiration from everywhere! I feel like it’s come quite naturally to me, if that makes sense. My family has always been a huge part of my musical career. They have always been there for me and, obviously, I’ve sung with my sisters all of my life. We are a very close-knit family. They’ve always been there and always looked out for me. My sisters and I went on to be in a band together as Kane’d and now I am doing this solo stuff. We are all very supportive of each other. My family is always there supporting each other, and my parents have been absolutely amazing throughout my whole career!
It sounds like pursuing a career in music was always a clear path for you.
It’s what I’ve always wanted to do! I’ve looked into doing other things, but it always comes back to me because music has been such a massive part of my life. I don’t think I could live without singing. I love it so much. It’s just me all over! [laughs]
With music being a part of your entire life, I’m sure you’ve seen it all. What lessons did you learn early on that continue to resonate as you move forward in your career?
Be careful! [laughs] There are definitely people out there that don’t have your best interests at heart. I’ve met a few people along the way that haven’t been very helpful, but we won’t talk about that! [laughs] I’ve learned a lot of lessons throughout my career, as you can imagine. I feel like all of those lessons have built up to this moment. I feel like I have a good, strong head on my shoulders now and I know exactly what I want and exactly what I’m doing!
Your self-titled debut solo album was released on March 12th and it’s amazing! Tell us about how the ball got rolling.
It was absolutely crazy, and it all happened very out of the blue. I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was just having a casual, chill evening where I was watching some TV. A little bit of Netflix, as you do! [laughs] My phone dinged, and I looked at my email. I didn’t even believe it at first. I thought it must be a random chain letter or something! I read it and it was a letter from Danny [Rexon]. I had never met him before, but I knew of Crazy Lixx. Basically, he had come up with this idea and was looking for a female vocalist to front the project. He had come across one of my videos on YouTube and asked me if I wanted to demo some tracks. Obviously, I was like, “HELL YES!” [laughs] I literally got into my studio the next day and was demoing the tracks. He presented it to Frontiers Records, who were very, very happy with it and it all went from there! It all happened very quickly, totally out of the blue and I was very excitable, as you can imagine!
The covers you put out are amazing as well. How did that aspect of your career come about?
I really didn’t really think anything of doing the YouTube channel at the beginning. I just wanted to sing some songs. They were songs that I love and have been inspired by. When it comes to the channel, I don’t really plan it. I might hear a song one day and think, “You know what? I really want to give that song a go. I like to challenge my voice, and this sounds like a challenge! I want to give it a bash.” Then I will just upload it, so I don’t really think much of it. With that said, I’m really glad that I did it! [laughs]
It paid off in spades and led to an incredible opportunity! Tell us about getting these songs for the album in your hands and building out the album.
When we came up with the plan to make the album, Covid wasn’t in the picture quite yet. Once it hit, we were a little bit worried that we couldn’t get to do the album as quickly as we would have liked. I think the album got pushed back about six months or so. It was a long process, but we managed to figure out a way to do the album where I was doing the vocals in South Wales and Danny was doing the instrumentation side in Sweden. Basically, he would send me a track and ask me if I was happy with it. I always had the option to change bits and pieces if I wanted to. To be perfectly honest with you, everything Danny sent me was perfect. I was like, “I’m not touching that song. It’s perfect!” [laughs] We recorded it that way, which was a long process. I think it would have been a bit quicker if we could’ve been in the same room together. Working with Danny was great and we both had the same vision from day one. When he sent me the idea, I felt like I had the same vision. When I was reading his plan, I was thinking, “This is right up my street. I can see exactly what he has in his mind.” When we were bouncing ideas back and forth, down to image, song and the way I was singing, we felt very in-tune with each other. It was weird! A lot of time, I would send him the stuff over and he would say, “Chez, this is great. There is just one line you need to change.” I was like, “Really?! That’s it?!” [laughs] It all happened very naturally. I really enjoyed the whole process. It’s been really nice to work with someone who is so down to Earth and who has believed in me from the second we started working together!
You’re no stranger to the recording process. Has your approach to vocals evolved over time?
It’s strange with recording because when I first started recording stuff, it wasn’t something I loved doing. I have always been the person who loves to go out on stage and perform live. I want to be on stage! I love the buzz of the audience and I love performing live. When you are in the studio, it’s obviously more challenging in the sense that you want to do your best for that album as it’s going out to the world and it’s going to be how it is for the rest of your life! It’s very challenging in the studio to get all of that across. Over the years, I’ve come to love it! You adapt to how you do it and you know to sing and how you are coming across when recording, if you get what I mean. I’ve learned how to channel my voice for recording. It all comes with experience. It feels different when you are singing in the studio than it does when you are performing live on stage. You put different energy into both.
You captured an amazing energy. As you mentioned, Danny had the original vision for this project that bears your name. Were there other names kicked around for the project?
At the beginning, he asked, “Are you happy with it being Chez Kane? I think it’s a really cool name and I think it works.” I was like, “Yeah, definitely. It’s my name! Let’s go for it! I want to see that name in lights! Bring it on!” [laughs] I was really happy with it, it’s so cool!
The spotlight is solely on you with this album. Coming from a band like Kane’d with a number of members, was being a solo artist a difficult transition for you to make?
I’ve always been the attention seeking one in the family! [laughs] It’s really cool. Seeing my name on festival lineups and in the stores in Japan is just crazy. It’s a really surreal feeling and I’m really enjoying it! [laughs]
This project was a collaborative effort, as is the work you’ve done with Kane’d in the past. What are the keys to a successful collaboration when it comes to creating music?
I think you need to find people that you are really in-tune with and share the same kind of vision. Like I said, that’s what’s been so cool about working with Danny. I’ve worked with a few people in the past where it just hasn’t gelled as well and didn’t end up getting used because you don’t share the same passion. I really believe having that similar vision and passion for the style of music you are working on is a very, very key part of the creative process. It comes down to understanding and getting on with people.
Which songs on this album were the most challenging for you as a vocalist?
The hardest song to record for me was “Midnight Rendezvous” because that one’s right up there! It was probably the most challenging to record. I wouldn’t say any of them were easy because I always put everything I have into each song. I never make it easy for myself! If you were in the studio with me, you would see that I’m not the easiest to work with because I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to hearing my own voice! None of them were easy! [laughs]
Which songs resonate with you the most?
I would say “Better Than Love” because it was the first song that I demo’d and it will always have a very special place in my heart. I feel like that’s the one that got me the project and the song that made me fall in love with the idea of this project as well. “Better Than Love” will always be my favorite and I just love that song! It also has that amazing sax solo!
Yes, it’s next level! Who’s playing the solo there? It reminded me of something off of one of The Midnight‘s recent albums.
You hit it right on the head! That is Jesse Malloy of The Midnight! Jesse did a stunning job. I literally had goosebumps hearing his sax solos for the first time!
Oh, that’s awesome. I’m a huge fan of The Midnight! Obviously, Chez Kane and The Midnight are different genres, but I love the positive energy and soundtrack-like vibe you both have.
The videos released for the album, “Better Than Love” and “Too Late For Love,” have been great as well. I can’t imagine it’s easy to make a video with Covid-19 in the way. What memories spring to mind from bringing those to life?
Yeah, we were lucky. I didn’t think we’d be able to do what we did with the world’s current situation. There was a little gap in between lockdowns here where I was able to fly over to Sweden and do the video for “Too Late For Love.” Believe it or not, the footage for “Better Than Love” was actually filmed for “Too Late For Love” as well. It was going to be part of the “Too Late For Love” video but we felt that it wasn’t needed there. We also felt that “Too Late For Love” held its own how it was. When it came time to do “Better Than Love,” we thought it worked really well. So, all the filming was done in Sweden except for one little section where you see me writing in a diary on a bed. That was filmed here just a few weeks ago! They both really turned really well. Thankfully, I was able to get over there and get these done!
The album artwork is eye-catching and it matches the amazing vibe of the album. The photos of you look great! What went into capturing those images?
Thank you. I remember trying to hold that position I’m in on the cover and it wasn’t very comfortable! [laughs] Oh god, yeah, it was fun! We did all of that at home. It was stressful in the sense of making sure that we had everything perfect. I think I did that photoshoot three days in a row because it wasn’t quite right, and it took a few tries to get the lighting and positioning right. My main memory of that photoshoot is me holding that position and my foot cramping up really badly! I was like, “I can’t do this anymore!” [laughs]
I love the outfit you are wearing, and it evokes the time period this album explores. Did you pick it out or was there a stylist involved?
It was just down to me and Danny throwing ideas back and forth to each other. He would send me something that he thought was cool and I would turn around and send him something. That’s how we came up with the idea. He actually picked out my shoes!
Oh, wow! Now we know Danny Rexon has great taste in music and fashion!
Yeah, he’s very stylish! [laughs] They are really cool shoes!
As we ease out of lockdown, I’m sure you are anxious to go on the road. You’ve put together a band. What can you tell us about that process?
I know loads and loads of musicians that I could’ve asked to be a part of the band. What I felt was right to do was hold some auditions. The reason I wanted to hold auditions is that I wanted to find musicians that were hungry, fresh and were as excited about the project as I am. It feels new and fresh even though it’s hitting on that ‘80s style. I wanted to see the excitement in those auditioning for music of this style. I really feel like the auditions hit on that and I found these guys. I just can’t wait to get together with them. They are really excited as well and are learning the stuff each day. It’s going to be awesome, and I can’t wait to get out on the road!
You have an amazing connection with your fans and there is a positive energy on your social media outlets. What’s it been like sharing this experience with your fans?
It’s been amazing! I can’t believe how many people are reaching out to me. It’s just mad! I’ve got followers from Kane’d and they have all jumped on to my solo stuff as well, which has been really cool. They have been there from day one! I feel like I am encountering new people every day, who are jumping onto my page and saying they just discovered me. It’s been a bit overwhelming, to be honest! [laughs] I love social media for that reason. It allows you to stay connected with people. I feel like it’s very important to try and stay connected to these people. Even though things have been so manic over the past few days, I’m really trying to take the time because it’s so important to me to share that connection. I also enjoy seeing the feedback that people are giving as well, whether it’s good or bad. As you know, not everyone is going to love the same music. To be honest, 99% of the people writing to me have been really, really positive. It’s been really overwhelming! [laughs]
Can we look forward to another Chez Kane/Danny Rexon collaboration?
I think there will be another album! [laughs] I certainly hope there will be!
While Danny Rexon wrote the material for this album, you’ve been making music your entire life. How has that process evolved over time?
When my sisters and I started singing together, we never wrote at the beginning. We had people writing for us. When I was around 14 or 15, we decided to start writing as well as putting a band behind us. We started writing then. It had always been me and my sisters writing together. Then we got introduced to Harry Scott Elliot, who is the lead guitarist of Kane’d, and we started writing together with him. Ever since then, it’s been the four of us writing the stuff for Kane’d. The process hasn’t really changed much over the years. One of us will come up with an idea and we will get together and bounce those ideas off of each other. It goes from there really. It’s very random and never a planned-out process, if that makes sense! [laughs]
What albums had the biggest impact on you as an artist?
The first one is definitely going to be from Def Leppard. Unfortunately, it’s the “Best Of” album as opposed to “Hysteria” or “Pyromania.” Obviously, that’s because I’m a bit younger. “Best Of” was the first Def Leppard album I had, and I’ve gone on to love all of their other albums as well. It really brought out my love of rock music. Then I would say Alter Bridge’s “Blackbird” album. That album has a massive place in my heart. I actually have the artwork tattooed on my back! This is tough because there are so many great albums, but I guess I’ll go with Vixen’s debut album to round out my top three! It’s a good one.
That’s a great pick. I think you and Janet Gardner are cut from similar cloth!
She’s a badass! [laughs]
What’s the best way for us as fans to help support you and keep the momentum going?
The album is available on most digital platforms. You can stream it on Spotify and iTunes. I think you can get the hard copy from Amazon as well. Frontiers Records has a US and EU shop. I believe the album is back in stock. They actually ran out of stock on their shops. It’s mad just saying that! If anybody struggles finding anything, just reach out to me on social media! I am there! When it comes to social media, I guess the best way to spread the word is by commenting, reacting to a post or sharing. The interaction is the best way to spread stuff on social media. That’s what has helped me quite a lot and I’ve had a lot of support there!
There is no doubt your accomplishments will inspire people. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey?
I feel like you need to keep believing in yourself. I’ve had so many down times in my life where I’ve had my confidence knocked by something somebody might have said or the way that I am feeling that day, but I’ve pushed past it. I don’t know how I did but I managed to dig deep and keep going! There were days when I didn’t feel like doing a cover on YouTube, but I thought, “You know what? I’m going to do it anyway.” I’m really glad I did because it has turned out this way and Danny discovered me from that. My best advice to anybody trying to do this kind of thing is to not listen to those things in your head and just keep going because everybody has something to say! Whether it’s good or bad, just keep going!
Thank you for your time today, Chez. We will spread the word and be here anytime you need us! I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in the years to come!
It really means a lot that you are helping us spread the word! Thank you so much, Jason!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.