Interview with Christine Bilé -By: Niki Kaos
Written by Staff on October 4, 2022
I was taken by the beautiful, rich tone of Christine Bilé’s voice, effortless guitarwork and introspective lyrics. Her recorded work goes even further, highlighting layered vocals, ringing harmonies and rhythms that groove. I need to know more about where her creative inspiration comes from.
RRX: For your latest single, “At Least I know I’m Free” I love the way the song kicks off. The rhythm and then your vocals coming in, in a dual melody. Then synth layers after that. Then the lyrics hit you – I especially appreciate the refrain: “Is it all about the money? Or is it about love? Is it all about the money? Will it ever be enough?” What inspired you to write this song?
CB: I just hear different melodies. If I hear one that is interesting enough, I need to record it immediately. If I don’t, I will not probably ever play it again. With this song, I was just thinking about how we as human beings overwork ourselves. I am one of those people. I work from 9-5, past 5 o’clock. At one point, you just have to love yourself and love the other people around you. That’s what inspired me to write the song.
We need money to survive. I get that piece. But there’s a point where you need a work life balance. That inspired the lyrics.
RRX: What do you do to record the music?
CB: I use Ableton, and I use Focuswrite and my old HP laptop. I think with that one, I really tried to think of a nice bassline. Bass really drives music. And drums. Once I had the bass and the drums down, and then I had the lyrics going. Then I started writing the lyrics that I thought about and go from there.
Once I do that, I pick out the different sounds that make sense. I was in the mood to write something that resembles a Kizomba song. That’s an African dance that I got into doing because I got into partner dancing. I started with that beat and built the song from there, and then the melody came and I just put it all together.
RRX: You self-produce and recorded everything at home? It sounds amazing!
CB: I did it all at home. I had to do a couple of mixes of it to get it to sound the way I wanted and make sure all the harmonies were balanced. I was thinking about the song, “I’m Proud to Be an American”. That song came to mind, and that also kind of inspired it. I think about, what is the American Dream, and how does that relate today?
RRX: I really loved the track. Thank you for telling me how you built it. It’s nice to get the behind the scenes.
Pivoting to something I caught on your social media, did you travel to Africa recently?
CB: Yes. I did take a trip to Africa. I’m a mentor for young African American women. It’s called The Rights of Passage and Empowerment program. What we do is mentor and encourage young African American women to chase after college and careers and just overall be global citizens. Part of that is taking an international trip each year to foster that learning process. We visited an orphanage, and we did some service there. As well as explore the different highlights in Accra, Ghana. It was awesome.
RRX: That’s amazing. What a great thing to do and a great experience!
Back to the music side of things, what got you started in songwriting and playing guitar?
CB: The thing that really got me started was elementary school. I got my first solo in chorus, because we all had to take chorus class, which I loved because I love to sing. I sang my first solo, and I remember I looked like a spider that day, haha. Because I did braids in orange and black. But I sang my solo and I got a good reception back from the crowd and I thought, huh, I could do this a lot more.
I went home and I went online and googled “how to play guitar” and “how to write a song”. I think how to write a song came before how to play guitar, because I took the lyrics that had been written on this template, this instruction thing on how to write a song, and I just put my own lyrics in it. And then, I was like oh, okay. There’s a structure to this. There’s intro, there’s a verse, there’s a chorus and I just kinda followed it.
After that, I was like, alright. I played a little bit of keyboard. Just self-taught. But something about guitar called me and my dad’s a musician so we had a classical guitar with nylon strings. So, I taught myself to play on that, and once I got the format down and learned a couple of chords, I was like let’s put this to work. And I started writing my own music. And ever since then I’ve been writing and performing and playing out.
RRX: That’s so cool! I actually started playing on a nylon string guitar myself. Bar chords definitely take you to task!
I see you have a lot of performances going on lately. And your live music is so enjoyable! What is a favorite venue or performance memory you can tell us about?
CB: I think my favorite performance venue right now is the Apple Tree Inn, in Lenox, MA. It’s this boutique hotel, right next to Tanglewood, and they have this room. It’s really beautiful. Lots of candles, spicy margaritas. The atmosphere is just great.
I actually got to play there because I was in the crowd one day watching Johnny Irion and I just chatted with him during the break. I said, hey, I like that song you played called “Hard Working People” and I told him I was a singer-songwriter. He was like, okay, you wanna play some tunes?
I was not expecting that! I did not have my guitar, and I was not ready. But I was like, okay, I can do this. Why not? This is a good opportunity to play. And then he said, you know what? I want you to join this residency here for August. This was in July before I went to Africa. So, for the most fun and exciting venue, I definitely give it up to the Apple Tree Inn, because the atmosphere is awesome. The staff is great. And it’s been fun to be able to play my songs to a new audience.
RRX: I’ll have to check that place out! People should check out your social media links and keep an eye out for your performances. Your original music is refreshing, and I’m drawn in by your sense of musicality. Readers should sign up for Christine’s mailing list and follow her on your preferred social media formats! This is a singer-songwriter not to be missed!