Unwrapped: Joelle Charan – Forgive Me

We had a chat with Dutch-Asian artist Joelle Charan about her poignant and cathartic new release ‘Forgive Me’

From the smoothness of her jazz-influenced sound to the nuanced, multi-faceted approach to her writing and style, Joelle Charan has forged a path for herself as an exciting artist to look out for thanks to the honesty, creativity, and soft power of her sound, continuing to reinforce that point as she adds more tracks to her arsenal.

The latest release from the artist is ‘Forgive Me’, a cathartic and resonating new single that sees the artist looking for forgiveness following an argument, with the artist’s emotion and composure effortlessly seeping through both her vocals and her gorgeous self-produced soundscape. The track feels as immersive and thoughtful as anything that you’re likely to hear anytime soon, blessed with Joelle’s captivating sound and intricate, endearing approach. We love the new release and figured that there was a lot to unpack within, so had a chat with Joelle Charan to find out some more about it.

Hey! We love your single ‘Forgive Me’, what more can you tell us about it?

‘Forgive Me’ was co-produced in London with John Reynolds (Sinéad O’Connor, Brian Eno, U2, Damien Dempsey). I wrote the song in New York, a long way from home in the aftermath of an argument, seeking forgiveness. I also arranged, recorded and produced it on my own. The verses have a smooth-jazz feel and the choruses are layered with vocal and instrumental harmonies, leaning towards a new and more experimental direction with an outro provided by French horns.

What was the process like putting it together?

The French horns voice how lonely I felt in New York with their mellow, soft lines. They also portray the old-world elegance in modern Manhattan that I saw around me while walking down the rainy avenue that inspired ‘Forgive Me’. The outro for solo French horns was influenced by Laura Mvula’s ‘Father Father’ as performed on her 2014 album with the Metropole Orchestra. The high piano and celesta depict human fragileness, while the backing vocals resemble a church choir. I chose acoustic rather than electronic instruments because their sound felt rawer and closer to the song’s core emotions. The vocals hold back for a long time until I cry out about halfway. This felt similar to holding back a strong emotion as long as possible, until crying out at last.

The overarching theme of my forthcoming debut album is my coming-of-age story. It is a recollection of all the memories and struggles I have gotten past that have transformed me from the girl I was to the young woman I am today. The album has two acts, mirroring the two phases of my coming-of-age story. ‘Forgive Me’ will be the first song on the album, because overcoming the loneliness I felt living in New York was crucial for my growth.

What were your biggest influences when creating the track?

Laura Mvula, Norah Jones and Alicia Keys were my influences.

As a Dutch-Asian artist who has spent time in a few different places and around different cultures, how do you think that has informed your unique style?

In the past few years, I absorbed many different sounds, from the jazz I heard in New York nightclubs to the classical Indian instruments resonating from my roots, to the magnificent orchestras echoing through European concert halls. I try blending all of these different, seemingly rigid instruments I hear in my songs. By doing so, I hope to delight listeners by showing the beauty of unexpected combinations, such as mixing the Eastern sitar with the Western harp.

What else do you have planned for the near future?

I return to the UK and Europe this autumn for several live performances. Also, I’m organising a 2023/2024 tour, with more dates to be added soon in addition to the ones below. Finally, I plan to release the next single in the near future and my debut album in due time.

Tour Dates:

SOLD OUT Sep 24, 2023: “Joelle Charan Sings The Beatles” at Teatro Munganga, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Nov 5, 2023: Live at Station West, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Apr 12, 2024: Live at The Acoustic Lounge, Poynton, United Kingdom
Apr 14, 2024: Live at Lincoln Jazz Cafe, Lincoln, United Kingdom