Rising electro-pop artist based in Brussels CHAiLD is a generational voice for the queer youth in need for self-expression. His unique, soothing, yet intense voice grabs you by the gut and takes you in his melancholic universe.
From heart-felt ballads, to uptempo edgy pop tunes, he compliments his music and art through fashion, mainly 80’s hyper-masculine clothes to modern gender-fluid high fashion.
At only 23 years old, the artist has already added many remarkable achievements to his tally since kicking off his career in 2019 after winning the Screaming Fields Festival, such as his opening slots for his musical idols like Dean Lewis and Mahmood or his various performances at festivals like Sonic Vision Festival (LUX) or Dockville (DE).
We met with CHAiLD to discuss his work and new single “Italo Daddy” and even more queer topics.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What has been your journey?
I am a pop artist based in Brussels. I am half Italian and half Portuguese. However, I was born in Luxembourg and briefly went to live in the Uk before coming to Belgium. I consider myself rootless, I don’t feel at home in only one place, all these cultures made (and still do !) who I am as a person.
As a kid, I’ve always been very creative (even eccentric I could say). I remember jumping on my sister’s bed, inventing melodies and adding lyrics to it. Seconds after, I see myself running in my mom’s room to show her some “magic” trick, and ultimately wearing some of her dresses one on top of the other and making my sister film me as I am dancing and taking them off gradually, revealing those beneath. Anyway- you get the picture. I never really lost this extreme creativity and childish energy, it is something I hold on to very dearly.
Music has always been my thing, there wasn’t a time where I wasn’t doing anything musical. It started with music theory and piano lessons. I like to think that I was quite skilled at the time. To be on stage and perform the pieces I had learned always brought me this bliss I still get today when performing. Things slowly shifted around my 12-13 years.
I was always very aware of my queerness since my youngest age, I just couldn’t put a term on it. I guess I was aware of my difference. I never really felt like I was a part of the narratives going on around me, be it from the other children, nor from the adults around me and their expectations of their “big boy”. So yeah, around 12 years old, I suddenly got overwhelmed with melancholy. It was obviously around puberty. Being more and more aware of the gap, the divide between me and the other boys scared me. So over the years and due to the homophobic surroundings at school, I shapeshifted into what everyone expected me to be. In parallel, meeting my family expectations was very important to me, so every action I was taking from that time on consisted in impressing others in every way I could so that nobody would come too near. So throughout my teenage years, when I came back home, tired and sad of the effort of pretending to be someone I was not, music was the only way to give my soul some rest. That is how I started singing, how I discovered the power of the voice. I started writing like crazy from the age of 13. Consequently, my classical piano skills went downhill, much to the discontent of my teacher at the time. That is how I started developing my songwriting skills. I wrote about everything I felt, which is so funny today because even though I never admitted being queer to myself explicitly at the time, my lyrics said otherwise. I kept my singing a secret until very late. The reason was the other boys at school calling me homophobic slurs as soon as I started singing or playing the piano. At 18, a very precious friend of mine (still is today) who turned out to become one of my biggest musical references, kindly forced me to sing in a show organized by our high school. I got up on stage, blocked out the doubts, opened my mouth and I roared. From that day on, I started embracing my voice fully.
I started taking singing lessons around 16 and integrated cultural initiatives (singing camps etc) available at the time to become more familiar with the industry. Around 18 I had launched my first project under another alias, which I changed two years after for Chaild. Back then in Luxembourg, there was almost no reference for pop acts, yet alone queer ones. I had won a few contests and started slowly knowing some people from the industry.) Shortly after, I met my first management and this is when we launched Chaild together. It all went really fast from there on, I ended up in the charts in the country for the first time and started getting booked for performances. I had the chance to open for some of my biggest idols really early on in my career. This is something I will never take for granted and for which I am really grateful to the people in the Luxembourgish music scene. Shortly after that, I moved to Liverpool to study at LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts). One of my best times so far, I met incredible people who helped me change my mindset in a more positive way. Unfortunately, Covid hit shortly after (so did Brexit) and I decided to move to Brussels. The reason for that choice was me noticing that staying in Europe would allow me to expand my project in the European music market more easily, as I was also more flexible to go from one place to the other.
Over the last year, I travelled a lot and met many people from the industry. I also gained lots of experience while performing. I feel like in this business, experience and patience are key. Sometimes it gets tough and you start doubting yourself all over again. It’s hard to navigate through so many opinions, you can get lost in others’ expectations. Over the last year, I really connected with songwriting as a medium to heal. Being in the studio and create art was the only way to ease my anxiety that keeps me from functioning at times. My personal well-being was a bit rocky, so I completely immersed myself in creativity. To write, I need intention. And in order to have intention I need to open up, not being scared to show weakness and fragility, thus the importance of trusting the people you work with.
So now, I would say that I’m in a place where I start realizing how much willpower and dedication it takes to be an artist. In short, I’ve been running this marathon for enough time to realize that I’m only at the beginning of it.
What are your current or future projects?
I recently signed with BEAST RECORDS, a Luxembourgish based label and management working in partnership with Ada Benelux, which is part of Warner music Benelux. My first EP is also on the way for 2023, for which I am so excited and proud.
On the 30th of September I released one more single before slowly revealing the EP. It is called Italo Daddy and It’s about the impossible love between two boys falling in love with each other who are living in queerphobic environments. Being Italian and Portuguese, I’ve experienced some of that homophobia first hand, the song is a way for me to transmute those negative feelings into art and proudly stand up for myself, something I still struggle to do at times. Concerning the Ep, it was such a delightful process to be able to be vulnerable a 100% and write about my feelings in times where I felt very sad. Again, I am re-learning to transmute energy through the media of the voice, just as I did when I started writing music at 13.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the Brussels queer community ?
When I moved to Brussels and I gradually got to know the people from the community in the city, I remember being surprised by how welcoming they were. There was no gatekeeping, no judging. It really felt like a family. The Brussels queer scene shaped and educated me. At the end of the day, you know, I’m still a cis man and I’m still white. I have many privileges, unlike many of my siblings who have to endure so much more discrimination on a daily basis. So the least I can do is use this privilege to fight for those who don’t have as many.
What are your queer influences?
One of my biggest queer influences is for sure David Bowie, the shapeshifter. Someone who wasn’t scared to play with his sexuality and shock the mentalities. Also, the way he committed to his art so passionately is something I try to emulate every day. His life work is brilliant, it’s pioneering art.
I also have the outmost respect for artists like Madonna, Prince or George Michael, people who paved the way for artists like us.
On a more recent note, I am obsessed with Woodkid, Mahmood, Troye Sivan, Sophie, Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, Years and Years… you name them. I get inspired by people who express themselves unapologetically on the spectrum of queerness.
What Brussels queer initiatives are you fond of?
This is going to sound really funny, but I will say the bar “The Agenda”. Back in Liverpool, I used to spend my nights in a small dragqueen bar called Superstar Boudoir, they would play exactly the music I liked when going out, pop anthems, throwback 2000s Bops etc. When I arrived in Brussels, I was looking for a safe queer space where I could go on a regular basis, just as I did in the Uk and The Agenda is just what I was looking for. The staff is caring and inclusive, there is a zero tolerance for any kind of oppression. I’ve never felt unsafe, nor haven’t I ever been touched or approached by anyone inappropriately. Every time I go there, I love seeing familiar faces, but also meeting and connecting with new ones. It is a place of safety and fun in the nightlife of Brussels, it is so important.
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