Chanti Darling Takes Lost Love to the "St*rs" (KEXP Premiere)

Local Music, KEXP Premiere
Martin Douglas
Photo by Lucky BK

Like any devotee and practitioner of any given art form, Chanti Darling singer Chanticleer Trü takes R&B music very seriously. Much like jazz and rock music before it, the genre is currently a very popular mining ground for a lot of indie-leaning musicians, which inevitably leads to quite a bit of whitewashing. A student of composition, musical theater, and opera, Trü spent his formative years devouring jazz, funk, and soul, eventually enlisting the talents of Natasha Kmeto and Damon Boucher to help him craft his cosmic and heartfelt take on R&B.

In a press release for the forthcoming RNB Vol. 1 — out August 3rd courtesy of Tender Loving Empire — Trü notes, "Natasha and I have lots of conversations about unsung heroes of popular music. RNB musicians that don’t get the shine that they deserve because they are women, or black, or queer. Then a blonde-haired blue-eyed dude from someplace trendy literally 'borrows' from this genre and all the sudden RNB is cool. No. It’s never not been cool.”

The 2016 winner of Willamette Week's long-running Best New Band poll, the Portland group is often described as retrofuturist, marrying celestial, star-bound textures with a classicist's reverence for the blend of R&B and house music anyone who ever danced their way to the refreshment cooler at a late-1980s block party would be intimately familiar with. "St*rs," the newest single from RNB Vol. 1, is no exception, beneath the neon grooves is a crestfallen Trü, singing of the debris and mess left behind from a relationship, "swept under the rug," cautiously watching his step as not to slip and fall.

Although clouds don't exist, the silver lining comes in the chorus, which reflects the old adage, "It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." It's a statement tough to come by and certainly very complicated in the midst of loss, but rich in its reward. The sentiment is winningly reflected here in the tightly-packed song structures, soaring chorus and background vocals, Trü's immaculate falsetto — reaching notes so high the elevation can't help but lift a person's spirits — and the fact that it's tough to be too sour in the face of a song so compulsively body-moving.

We reached out to Trü for a few words on the song, and here is what he had to say:

'St*rs' is the very first song that I wrote for this album and I think it remains one of the most potent. Maybe it’s because it’s about love. The passion that comes from loving something so much that you can’t live without it; and not necessarily the romantic kind. It begs the “love and lost” question as it shrugs off the defeat by saying at least “we saw stars” and that alone made it worth it. I hope this song helps someone fall in love with something or someone this summer. It’s a summer jam.

Good luck resisting putting this on your next summertime house party playlist.

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