Another year, another top award for virtuosic rock and blues guitarist, Chantel McGregor (BA (Hons) Pop Music 2008).
Having won Guitarist of the Year and Best Female Vocalist at the 2013 British Blues Awards, she went straight back in and scooped Guitarist of the Year again at this year's ceremony.
It's all in a day's work for the singer-songwriter, who writes, records and performs on a non-stop tour, whilst also running her own record label.
We were lucky enough to chat to Chantel about how she juggles running a business with life on the road.
[LCoM:] So we hear you’re working on a second album, how’s that going?
[Chantel:] I’m currently finishing off the writing process for the second album, heading into the studios in the next couple of months so it should be out before the end of the year. It’s been three years since my last album and I can’t believe how quick it’s gone. The new album is a little more akin to my live performances with a greater rock influence. My schedule is pretty intense for the rest of the year.
How do you keep it up?
Coffee… In all seriousness it is a hard thing to juggle, I run my own record label so trying to balance commitments with the business, record label as well as the writing, touring and self-management presents its challenges but it’s good to know what exactly is going on with your business.
There’s not much balance really. You have to take everything that is thrown at you. For example if an important email comes in, you’ll take a break from your writing to deal with that. Even in the middle of a tour I’ll have the laptop up and running, responding to important emails. It’s pretty non-stop.
Is your solo stuff taking precedence at the moment?
Yeah pretty much, with the album being released so soon. The songs have to be written by the middle of August and the album has to be recorded for the end of September, so I have to prioritise certain things and say I am going to switch off and just focus on my writing – but then something else
will pop up and I just have to learn to slot everything in.
So you’ve been nominated for the BBA, are you going to continue your recent domination?
It would be nice; I’ve been nominated for the Guitarist category again this year. I won it last year which was ace as I was the first girl to ever be nominated and to win it was an amazing achievement.
Do you find it helps to raise your profile, or is it an added bonus?
It’s a bit of both really; it does give you a bit of kudos and recognition for magazines. The awards are industry nominated and then voted for by the public so it’s a great award as you feel that you are being supported by both the industry and fans.
Have you stayed in Yorkshire ever since you graduated?
Yeah I’ve stayed in Leeds since I graduated. I was briefly in London and enjoyed the vibe but it’s very expensive. I think Yorkshire is the best place to be. Everyone tells you: “oh you have to move down to London, the industry is down there,” but I strongly believe the industry is where you make the industry. Record labels aren’t the necessity anymore with self-promotion and self-management opportunities so you can do it anywhere in the world with the possibilities of the internet. My press agent lives in Derbyshire and my agent lives in Grimsby so a lot can be done over the phone.
Tell us more about your professional entourage.
Dad drives the van and sorts out the financial side of things. I have a press agent who does all the publicity and an agent who secures and deals with gigs for me. I’ve got a really nice team of people around me, which is really cool.
So you’ve got a season of summer festivals coming up?
Yeah, most of them are in Europe – quite a lot in Belgium and Holland – but a couple are in the UK. We’ve just got back from Portugal too.
Have you got used to the intensity of travelling?
You do get used to it but every time you do it, it is hard. The travelling thing can be boring when you have a long wait in airports and the lack of sleep can be challenging. However you take on the job knowing that it involves that. You’ve got to love Red Bull and coffee to get you through those times!
You took a bit of an about-turn before you came to Leeds College of Music. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, originally I was considering doing English at university as I took it for A Level. However I had a change of heart and decided I wanted to do something music related. I got in touch with LCoM but because I didn’t have music as an A level, they offered me the chance to do a BTEC for two years before I progressed onto the Pop course.
What else do you have in the pipeline over the next year or so?
Mainly the album which should be launched at in autumn and then touring the album which I’m currently in the process of doing. It’s going to be available on Amazon and iTunes but also available for streaming on platforms such as Spotify.
You can find out more about Chantel McGregor by visiting her website and you can follow her on Twitter.
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