Brighton newcomers CIEL and their characterful, kaleidoscopic take on alt-pop have had us drifting away into daydreams throughout this year, consistently developing into a very important part of the city’s vibrant music scene.
With their debut EP Movement having solidified them as favourites amongst key industry tastemakers, the trio’s new cut All My Life sees them capitalising on their success. A rich, lustrous exploration of introversion, it’s yet another sign of everything the band are capable of.
Caught up in the bliss of their heavenly pop, we spoke to frontwoman Michelle Hindriks about all things CIEL.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been making music for?
My name is Michelle. I started playing the classical guitar at quite a young age and started to play electric guitar in bands and write songs as a teenager. I only became a front woman a couple of years ago when I started CIEL. I grew up in The Netherlands and met guitarist Jorge whilst I was on a trip in Brighton. I already had a bunch of songs ready and we decided to work on them together - so not much later I spontaneously moved to Brighton. Later on we came in contact with drummer Tim and he completes the current line-up of CIEL.
At what point in your life did you decide to make a career out of your music, and what influenced that decision?
My dad used to be a promoter of Americana and blues music, so I grew up surrounded by music, often visiting gigs. Though, I think the first time I was really impressed by music myself was when I found out about Nirvana at the age of twelve - I got entirely obsessed. I bought their album Bleach from my little pocket money and borrowed the rest of their albums from the local library. I always wanted to do something creative but I think that period made me really want to play in bands myself.
What is the main source of influence for your songwriting?
Normally I would say the things that happen in my life. Maybe going to a weird party or visiting a gig that impresses me a lot - even if it’s a totally different genre from what I make- could inspire me to write something new. Although in these times that is of course not possible and I think inspiration now comes more from internal things. These days I get the inspiration to write new songs from certain thought processes, during moments when I am spending time on my own in my room and also from the many documentaries about all sorts of odd subjects that I’ve been watching during lockdown.
What is something you’ve learned about yourself through making music?
I learned that I am quite a determined person when it comes to creating music and that I can obsessively lose myself in the process of making music sometimes. I’ve also learned that music is a great way for me to give certain things in my life a place and to accept things that happened in the past better. When I write a song it often feels like a process of reflecting on something - mostly something that I am struggling with at that time. By writing about it I am able to let it go instead of getting stuck in any negative feelings, which is actually very helpful!
What is something you wish you’d known when you first got into the music industry?
Hmm this is a hard one, I actually quite enjoyed the journey from not knowing anything about it, and stepping into it with kind of a fresh mind to getting to the point in which I have the feeling I sort of know what I am doing. There is still a lot to be learned though, so I am always seeking advice from the people around me.
Who are some of your favourite upcoming artists from the city you live in?
Hanya, Demonstrations, Penelope Isles, Lonely Fire, Inky Nite, Holiday Ghosts
What would your dream tour & rider look like?
My dream tour would be a joint tour with Deerhunter or Angel Olsen. I would have a dressing room full of plants like a jungle, and definitely a masseur, so I could fully relax before every show.
If your music was to soundtrack any film or TV show, which would you choose?
The cliche answer would probably be Twin Peaks (although that would be amazing and is still one of my fav shows!), so I would go for something else and say the film Submarine. I think our music fits with the kind of surreal awkwardness that this movie holds. I love the soundtrack in that film anyways, which is written by Alex Turner.
What’s the bucket list goal for you as an artist?
Having our own inspiring studio space with loads of great gear, surrounded by stunning nature, and being in a position in which we are able to create music every day would be mega mega dreamy. And writing and releasing an album at some point will be a thing!