Photography and interview by Christopher Brown
The music and personality of Iranian artist CHAII (چای) is as colorful and sparkling as her origins. We wanted to know more about the young talent and asked her for an interview and exclusive photo shoot.
Your song “Pineapple Pizza” made its debut in Fortnite, of all places—how did that come about?
It was so awesome that Pineapple Pizza was chosen to be on Fortnite. I told everyone to go check it out on the game since the song wasn’t released yet, which was so fire! My label BMG played a big role.
What is the creative inspiration behind the art direction of the EP?
I wanted to keep the visual vibe of the EP similar to the music, light, fun and colorful. Each visual is suited to the songs but overall I wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye with glimpses of surrealism. The sounds in the song and the pandemic played a big role in inspiring the art direction too.
Where was your most memorable show, and why does it stand out?
Man there’s been a few that have been so memorable. I’d have to say my most recent show ending our tour in my home city Auckland. It was sold out and I was just blown away by the love and support from everyone.
How did you link up with the collaborators on your EP? Why did you seek them out?
The EP was made over 2 years so all the collaborations happened naturally over a long period of time. Everyone involved brought something special to the project. I wanted to keep the whole project very collaborative in contrast to previous projects. It was super fun to work on the music/videos with other creatives who are all so talented.
If you could go back in time to your 18 year old self, what advice would you give and why?
Doing so many things at once is awesome but burning out and sleepless nights at uni will catch up on you in your mid/late 20s haha your dad is right.
“It’s really important to me to stay connected and close to my culture, so whenever I have the opportunity to do that it’s a no brainer.”
During the shoot you told us your stylist made one of the looks you were wearing out of Persian rugs printed onto fabric – how did this idea come about and why is it important that your Persian identity is communicated through your music and style?
We were planning outfits for the music awards and my stylist Brooke Tyson had this great idea to make an outfit out of Persian rug prints. We brainstormed the styles and she made a few different amazing sets. It was so fun and it’s my favourite outfit to date! It’s really important to me to stay connected and close to my culture, so whenever I have the opportunity to do that it’s a no brainer.
You recently moved to LA from Auckland, how have you found the cities compare so far?
It’s been crazy going from Lockdown in a Auckland to a big city like LA! Took a while to adjust but the two are complete opposites currently.
You’re set to perform at SXSW 2022 after taking part in their online festival earlier this year, what are you most looking forward to?
I can’t wait for us to play our new live set at SXSW. I also can’t wait to check out all the other acts and to see the tech conventions.
What’s next for CHAII?
I’m working on new music at the moment and planning more shows! Very excited!