By: Chaquis Maliq The EccentroSoul 1 Woman Band
From the idea of playing multiple instruments, simultaneously, while singing, to pursuing a music career without being signed to a major label; I’ve been described as “crazy” instead of unorthodox. I’ve been sabotaged by ex-band members, so-called loved ones, and more. But what would the EccentroSoul 1 Woman Band exist without the adversity and triumphs of my career? Absolutely not. The actual written definition of “eccentric” is where the “Eccentro” derives from; so it’s no coincidence that I’m unconventional. “Regardless of the labels, it’s a compelling synthesis of direct, mysterious, folksy, and full-on soulful.” – Charleston City Paper. And I’m certainly not the only person calling my music “soul.” So, it’s only fitting to have my self-defining sound be called. “EccentroSoul.” I’m an anti-looper. I’ve even had another musician tweet about me in reference to Ed Sheeran, looping on an awards show. I didn’t see the show, but I googled it before liking or retweeting, and ended up not doing either, because I’m simply not a looper. (I’m laughing out loud right now, just as I did reading that tweet.)
Why am I not a looper? Well, that’s simply because I’m not a robotic person. A lot of my songs involve improv and crowd participation. If I’m looping, I have to play a song exactly how it’s programmed, like singing with tracks. And I certainly did not pick up the guitar to compute stunts. I don’t believe music requires that much concentration. For example: the guitar player I had in my band, a few moons ago, practiced a song so hard, instead of actually learning the song. What I mean is that he focused so much on counting, that in rehearsal he missed a count and threw the entire song off with the rest of the band. Have I messed up on stage? Yes. And I’ve learned that most people don’t notice, because I keep playing and have no problem with having fun with improvising. But would I be able to have fun with the crowd during 45-minute set or longer, as a looper? Just the thought of the redundancy is killing me inside. I’ve played three-hour sets, and I can’t imagine doing so with just guitar or as a looper. To be honest, those three-hour sets improved my voice, honed my coordination, and created better versions of my older songs. So, when I’m in front of an audience, I’m not so much putting on a show, but giving the crowd, me. And that can be difficult at times, when shows have restraints and the proper pre-show rituals I need aren’t practiced.
Sometimes having an entourage interferes with those rituals.I refrain from having people who aren’t there to do work, roll with me. It’s bad enough, just traveling. I have plenty of health issues and disorders to interrupt me, so why do I need additional humans that will just make matters worse. Touring is never smooth sailing. Don’t believe any hype about touring. Between last minute show changes in different states, to other circumstances beyond a musicians control, I certainly don’t need folks, who are self-centered and apathetic about what I need, to be in my face asking me questions or questioning my rituals. That’s why I love when I arrive to shows and festivals where the hosts take care of the artist.
Back in July I was booked for a show in Richmond, VA. The dates worked perfectly for me to play at Sofar Sounds Raleigh. And out of nowhere, I got word that the date had been moved. Then later found out that the location had been moved, but not yet confirmed. My travel plans were totally ruined at this point. I like to actually live, while touring. I don’t just play a show and then leave. My plans were to play the outdoor show in Richmond, stay overnight at a hostel, and then drive to Durham the next day to play Sofar Sounds Raleigh. With the date change I thought, well, I can finally go see Van Hunt (a pretty cool musician) live in Durham, then play Sofar Sounds Raleigh. Seems perfect doesn’t it. Well, the time changed for the Richmond show, and I had to be there at 4:00pm on a Thursday, as opposed to 7:00pm. I don’t own a car, so now all the travel arrangements for my rental has shifted, making me spend more money. What did I do? I totally scrapped the Van Hunt show, because it would have been a day of me not making money, but losing money. A lot of sacrifices are made as a full-time artist. I went on to play the Richmond show, and got to get a taste of my first private corporate show to prepare me for some college shows. There’s post show intimate performance video at the hostel where I stayed.
The next day I drove home to South Carolina, rested, and got ready for my Saturday show at Sofar Sounds Raleigh. This beautiful team made the show line-up ALL WOMXN! Of course I didn’t know until I got there, so that made it so much cooler! But, of course I’m not well rested, because I just drove a little over four hours, and as I mentioned before, I’ve got a lot of disorders which I can elaborate on in lecture/workshop/performance. So, my nerves are shot before I even arrived. But everyone was so nice and hospitable.
There were two other bands, Catalina, Striking Copper, and little ole me, Chaquis Maliq The EccentroSoul 1 Woman Band. And we were instructed to be ourselves and BELT! So we did! When it was finally time for me to do soundcheck, someone from the audience came in early, and snapped a sneak shot on their phone. I’m looking like a trainwreck, so I asked if they took a photo of me. They replied, “yes.” So, I simply stated: I don’t want any photos of me right now, so please delete it. They said they didn’t post the photo to social media, but they went on to delete the photo. There was no yelling, and no one was harmed. Approach with respect and it will most likely be reciprocated.
After we figured out how I would be mic’d up for the show, we discovered that I had all the mics. All of them! Yes, I wrote a song about it at that moment. I wouldn’t be me if I had not done so. Then here comes the crowd and I’m not dressed. So, I had to hog the restroom. It was quite interesting how many people came to this establishment needing to use the restroom as soon as they arrived. How do I know? Well, at least half of the crowd knocked on the restroom door the entire time I was getting dressed. Finally, I’m done, and the sound engineer asked if I needed a drink or anything. I told him that I didn’t drink, and that I was fine. But he kept asking what I needed. Finally, I said: TEA! They didn’t have decaf, so I just asked for hot water, because I remembered I had my chamomile tea in my bag. This totally saved the day! By the time I opened the show, all the stress and tension in me had withered away.
I needed to figure out was song I was singing first, because “Another Chance” is the song I perform to introduce my voice to a new audience, especially in a non-listening room environment. But the audio and video engineers were only recording the last two songs. I opened with “Music and Me”, for the first time ever, and we had a good time singing together. So, we had this comedic moment, where I had to announce my second to last song. I said into the mic, “I AM FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS, OKAAAAY. THIS IS MY SECOND TO LAST SONG.” Then there was a nice warm chuckle circulating the room. I wrote the song in 2006. I would tell you the story behind the song, but that’s for live performances only. (I’m laughing, and you might be too. But I’m oh so serious.)
I appreciate you reading my blog entry! Please check out my Sofar Sounds Raleigh video below. Thank you!
-Chaquis Maliq The EccentroSoul 1 Woman Band