Although she was affected by Hurricane Sandy, Charlene Ava (a.k.a. "Sun for Moon") agreed to answer several of my questions at length. Which is cool! So see below to see what she's up to, her plans as well as why she's been taking acting classes:
UC: What are you currently up to at the moment?
Charlene: I just finished doing a show in a cathedral in Gramercy Park in NYC. It was a lot of fun to play in a beautiful old space with lots of natural reverb. I think it's important to remember that the exchange of energy between the artist and the listener is very real and very much a part of the show. So it was a lot of fun to create an event in an interesting space for people to come experience. We had video projections on the giant wall and the whole thing was sensitively crafted for people to feel a part of it all. It was challenging cause I made the video projections myself and that was new for me.
I'm hoping to get into the studio soon and start recording, I have a mountain of new songs and still deciding what city or country I want to record in.
UC: How would you describe your sound?
Charlene: It has been influenced and changed a lot through the years by all the cities/countries I've lived in. I would say it's folk rock/experimental. I enjoy a structured song with a story and feeling, but I love to improvise and experiment and even find that feeling in recordings, not just live.
UC: How was your cathedral concert? That sounded pretty cool!
Charlene: It was an amazing time. We had a nice turnout and it was especially fun to have a little reception after and actually get to talk to everyone who came. You usually play a show and leave, but for this one, we all hung out, met new friends, talked, had a glass of wine. It was really a great experience. The show was a lot of hard work because the space is not a typical music venue. We had to struggle with the sound a bit and work on getting everything right. But it worked out in the end. It was a full band show and we did a lot of new songs. The space just inspires you so much. We had some beautiful improvised moments. You can't help but get caught up in a gorgeous historic NY cathedral. I'm very thankful for all those who came out and supported us. We're hoping to play more shows like that.
UC: What influences your work the most?
Charlene: I thought a long time about the answer to this. I have never been able to respond to a question like this with a list of favorite bands or childhood heroes. When I really dig deep, I know what drives me as an artist and what drives me to create. I would say I'm greatly influenced by pain. I think many artists have some sort of pain driving them. I've had to overcome a lot of difficult things in my life and I've found that creating, singing and writing is a way to use all that, to recycle it, to have a place to transform it. Pain can make you so ambitious.
UC: What was 2012 like for you?
Charlene: 2012 was great. I got to work with some great people and I felt like I finally came out of a very long writer's block. I spent a little time in London at the beginning of the year and did some writing and hanging out with William Orbit. He's a very cool guy, unbelievably creative, down to earth, friendly and has such a pure heart about music. Also this year I got opened up to a lot more new listeners through a Smirnoff commercial I had sung on in 2011 that was running around the world.
2012 was also important to me cause I felt a shift in what I do as an artist. This sort of career can start to be about self-promotion only and getting yourself out there, being heard, being seen, being applauded and for some, having the end goal of fame which I think is a lowly goal in and of itself. I have felt this year such a return to a more spiritual approach with what I do. And realizing that songs and singing are worship. When you bloom and do what you are created to do, you are connecting to a creator, something outside you. I have realized more and more that I am spirit, not just a body. We are so much more full of life than we think we are, we're so mysterious and complex and connecting to that more in my personal life has helped me find a more personal voice in my art. And art should be personal. It must spring out of you internally, it's subjective, not objective. You can tell when it's not created from the inside out.
I also finished a two year intense acting program at William Esper Studio in NYC. Studying the Meisner technique for the past two years was so helpful to me creatively. It cultivated a lot of spontaneity and improvisational skills and I learned so much about the richness of personal response. An actor doesn't take text and simple do line readings, anyone can do that. The text rides on the emotion and the richness of personal response makes for a vibrant performance. In the same way, a singer can do more than just standing up and technically hitting notes and going through it, there's meaning in the lyrics that need to be expressed personally. And when you connect to that and let it rise out of you, the result is honest and powerful.
UC: Reading your bio- it sounds like you've done some cool stuff (performing for Carla Bruni, for example). What is the most important thing you've done as an artist thus far?
Charlene: I would say the only thing I count important as an artist is when I have a break through in what I'm doing creatively. I never count work with celebrities as top of the list. This doesn't mean I'm not thankful for some of the amazing people I've had the chance to work with and collaborate with. I guess I'm more simple when it comes down to what's the most important thing as an artist. In the quiet of my room, with my studio headphones on, the mic on, my old classical guitar in my lap, my lyric book open in front me, when I find new songs, new moments, things that define me more as an artist, that's when I feel like I'm breaking ground and going somewhere. Even if no one hears it.
Studying acting for the past two years was one of the most important things I've done as an artist too. It's great to develop other crafts besides music/singing, it really added so much depth to what I do as a music artist. I think it's so important to take in other forms of art, to train, to learn, to keep adding to what you do.
UC: Lastly- what should people expect of you next?
Charlene: Hmm. Not sure. :-) I am unpredictable even unto myself. Keep following on facebook.com/sunformoon to find out about upcoming recordings, shows, videos and more.