Photo: Julie Balgavy
Coming off the release of her latest single “Cut Off,” Lana Chalfoun is the newest up-and-coming artist who is quickly rising to the top of our radars. With an album and two singles out, she’s proved to be not only an amazing singer but also a mature and powerful songwriter.
We had the chance to catch up with Lana through video to talk about her musical aspirations, balancing school & music and songwriting.
Could you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard of you before?
Chalfoun: I would say it’s chill pop. I’m getting more into acoustic stuff the more I keep writing so I’m trying to head in that direction. But I’d say my last couple of songs are definitely like chill pop. That’s the genre I’d describe it as and I try to write with meaning and so a lot of my songs are pretty deep and have a deeper meaning.
BTS: I saw you play the guitar in one of your songs.
Chalfoun: Yeah, I do play the guitar. I play guitar and piano. My guitar string recently broke actually. I have to go get that fixed. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 10 and that’s actually when I started writing music too.
BTS: At 10? You started writing at 10?
Chalfoun: Yeah, I released my first song when I was 10 and then kept writing from there.
BTS: How did you get into music?
Chalfoun: I’ve always been into music. Like it’s always kinda just spoke to me. But I’d say that I really started getting into music when I was about 10 because that’s when I met my guitar teacher who inspired me to take my songs into the studio because I had been writing for a while but it was nothing serious. Then I showed him my first full song and he was kinda the one who pushed me to actually go somewhere with it. But I’ve always wanted to be a singer, I just didn’t know I wanted to be a songwriter.
BTS: For your songwriting, where does that inspiration come from? Where do the stories come from?
Chalfoun: Honestly when I was young, I just had a really overactive imagination. So, I started incorporating that into music. I’d just go around the park at recess when I was younger and make up songs. But now I use music as more of a therapy because most of my songs now actually relate to my life. So it’s not just when I’m really sad is when I write songs but even when I’m really happy or something really good had just happened or I like someone or I just got my heart broken, you know what I mean? I’ve just used it as a way to talk through what I’m going through and kinda be able to relate that to other people.
BTS: Is that how your song “Cut Off” came about?
Chalfoun: “Cut Off” is kind of an interesting one because I wrote it like nine months apart. I wrote it coming out of a relationship, and at first it was “Now I’m cut off” instead of “No, you’re cut off” because I had broken up with a person. Then I finished it like nine months later coming out of another relationship and that was when it ended really badly and so then it was like “You’re cut off.” It was not particularly an exact situation in my life but it was still relevant emotions that I had to play into a storyline.
BTS: Could you take us into what your creative process looks like?
Chalfoun: Like I said, I usually write when I’m in some sort of deep emotional state. But I usually start by sitting down at my guitar or piano and just like playing chords and then I usually come up with the chorus first but a lot of the times my chorus turns into a verse, depending on how it sounds. Most songs only take me 45 minutes to an hour to write because I don’t like to come back to a song. I like to finish it while I’m in the same emotional state and I kinda just like let everything flow and then record it and send it to my producer and he gives me his opinion.
BTS: So does writer’s block happen a lot to you?
Chalfoun: Not really. I’ve been through writer’s block before but it never lasts more than a week. I feel like there’s enough times where I’m inspired to write. Like I don’t need to be writing all the time, I probably should be writing all the time just for experience. But for my purposes I’m inspired enough to where I never feel like I can’t write or I’m completely uninspired. Music is always something that I’ll do in my spare time. I haven’t had it bad yet.
BTS: Who are your musical inspirations that you looked up to growing up?
Chalfoun: Definitely Adele. I love her. She inspired me to start singing for sure. Like her writing style I also really love. Selena Gomez is a really huge inspiration as a personality more than even a writer or singer. I mean I like her music. She’s just kind of an idol of mine. Then Ed Sheeran, I thought his writing was really good growing up. I mean I still do but he doesn’t really release stuff anymore. But yeah I’d say those are my top three.
BTS: Have you gotten the chance to perform live?
Chalfoun: Not since COVID. But I was in a band for 3 years so we performed live a lot. But then I had a release concert for my last album. So not my two singles that most recently came out but I had an album called Aware that came out and I had a release concert for that. There was about 500 people there. I’m not really sure. But that was the last time I performed. Then a couple years ago I performed in front of maybe 2,000 people for this competition thingy that I won so I mean, I used to perform a lot more.
BTS: If you could perform or work with any artist, living or not, who would it be?
Chalfoun: I’d probably say either Adele or Billie Eilish. I forgot to mention her in my inspirations but I just think that Billie would be super fun to perform with and I think our voices would go well together. But also I’ve always wanted to sing with Adele so probably her.
BTS: What’s one of your favorite songs right now that’s been in your rotation lately?
Chalfoun: Okay I know the song but I’m forgetting the artist. It’s called “Brazil” by — his name is like [Declan] McKenna or something and I’ve listened to it like ten times within the past two days. So yeah that song.
BTS: What are your hobbies outside of music?
Chalfoun: I play golf and tennis, so like the preppy sports. But I love art. I mean music is art but I’m talking physical art. I love to draw and paint, I’d say that’s my biggest hobby outside of singing and songwriting.
BTS: Do you ever anticipate that you would use your drawing skills to make your album cover art one day?
Chalfoun: Yeah I almost did actually. It was for “Be Ok” and we ended up just doing a photo shoot. But yeah I came up with a concept. I usually draw out my concepts even if it’s just a photo shoot before I actually go into the shoot. I haven’t actually done that much album art yet rather than just pictures of me with some graphics on top.
BTS: I wanted to talk about your song “Bring Them Home.” What does that song mean to you?
Chalfoun: So my dad fled from Lebannon when he was like six or seven and because at the time, the war was really really bad and there was bombings and stuff so they left and they came here. Basically we had a school project back in seventh grade, I’m a sophomore now, so four years ago. But we basically had to create a piece of art based off of immigrants. That was the theme and so we learned a lot about it and it was like this national competition that we entered in. I created a song because that’s my form of art and I ended up winning, which was cool. So I went out to Florida and performed in front of a bunch of people and it was really fun. I think the song just hits kinda home. Obviously I haven’t been through anything like my dad has but he’s told me a lot about it so I have a soft spot for that subject.
BTS: What has been your favorite accomplishment this far?
Chalfoun: It’s kind of a stupid one but I think hitting like a 100,000 streams on “Be Ok” was really cool for me because I didn’t think it was possible and obviously my goal is to keep growing. I want to hit a million at some point or whatever. It’s just cool to see that people genuinely enjoyed it. I guess this is like one big accomplishment, but there will be people that DM me, random people and be like “Your song is on all of my playlists,” “I cried to your music.” Not saying people crying is good, but the fact that people can relate to it and they message me, that’s when I’m like “Okay, this is worth it.”
BTS: Do a lot of people that you go to school with know about you?
Chalfoun: Yeah. They all know I do music. At first it was kinda hard because when I started in middle school, people would make fun of me. Now that I’ve developed and they know that I take it seriously and actually putting a lot of time and effort into it, I think people respect it a lot more and people actually enjoy the songs now.
BTS: How are you balancing both school and music?
Chalfoun: There are points in the month where it’s really hard. If I’m dropping a song, there’s so much prep and work that goes into it. Right now, I’m not anywhere near dropping another song because I’m on a little break because I just dropped two songs. You just have to really use time management and I was online for most of the year because of COVID and that helped a lot. But like right now, I’m in tennis season and I go to school, so any music stuff that I have do has to be after I get home from both of those and then homework on top of it. It gets to be a lot sometimes but I’ve learned how to handle it since I’ve been doing it for a while.
BTS: What are music or even personal goals that you’d like to accomplish for the year?
Chalfoun: I definitely just want to release more music and improve because I think I’m still young to the point where I have so much room to grow. One of my goals is to get a million streams on a song but that can come later. But I really want to get back out to performing, so I really hope COVID is handled soon because I miss it so much. Just being able to sing my songs to a crowd of people is one of the best moments and things for me and not having that has been kinda sucky.
BTS: I know that you said you’re taking a little break from music. Is there something we can expect from you maybe later on in the year?
Chalfoun: Yeah for sure. When I say “break,” I mean I’m not currently producing something. I’m always still writing and playing and still constantly doing music. But I’m not currently working on a project right at this very second. But I’m definitely gonna be coming out with more music at some point this year, just probably not within the next month or two.
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