A handful of great talent comes from the streets of LA, especially at the Third Street Promenade. Walking from the side that houses my beloved frozen yogurt to the end with Barnes & Noble, you’d hear and see random acts of talent lining the path. One of them being Chelsea Williams.
With a sound that captures the brisk feeling of a Southern California day, but also a night out in a country bar Chelsea Williams was able to make passersby fall in love with her skills time and time again. So much so that she sold over 100,000 albums to tourists and locals alike.
Chelsea notes of her second home at the Promenade, “I have met SO many friends (and several boyfriends) over the years on that little three-block stretch. I have met and played for doctors, physicists, celebrities, and veterans. I have received tips from the homeless and the wealthy alike,” adding, “It has been such a huge part of my life the last decade that I can’t even imagine not playing there for an extended period of time.”
After several years there, a record deal made it’s way to her and that’s one of the many things we chatted about. That, busking advice, her multi-genre style and much more.
Kendra: You’re probably one of the most successful to ever come out of the Third Street Promenade. Did you make a plaque for yourself after selling 100,000 copies of your album yourself out there? I would have!
Chelsea Williams: Haha! I didn’t make a plaque. But I did get to make my dream album this year. My copy of the vinyl pressing feels kind of like a plaque.
Kendra: Many head out there, but not many know how to rise above the bad days. What is your best advice to current and future buskers out there?
Chelsea Williams: Don’t take it personally. It’s tough, some days no one will stop and listen or the restaurant you’re playing in front of keeps calling in noise complaints about you. Don’t take it personally, just keep doing what you do. Keep growing and learning (although maybe not in front of that same restaurant).
Kendra: You joke about your “overnight” success. Overnight being 6-7 years. What kept you motivated throughout before your landed that record deal?
Chelsea Williams: I just love playing music for people. I love sidetracking people who are in their way somewhere else. Highjacking them for the length of a song. That still excites me. I guess that’s why I keep going out there after all these years
Kendra: With that, Boomerang is out now. What three words can you use, to sum up, that album?
Chelsea Williams: That’s tough…I can definitely say we were shooting for something Picturesque, Melodramatic and yet still Light-hearted in places.
Kendra: Living in LA can be a very lonely place, was that the inspiration at all behind “Lonely Girl?”
Chelsea Williams: Is some ways, yes. Since I was little I have always had this little void in me that never feels quite full except for some reason, while I’m singing or playing music. “Lonely Girl” was an attempt to capture that feeling in a song.
Kendra: You’re a noted country singer but I hear so much more. You’re like this Colbie Caillat meets Jason Mraz meets Sheryl Crow meets a bar in Texas. Is there a genre you feel closer to when you write?
Chelsea Williams: Well, I was raised on Sheryl Crow’s Tuesday Night Music Club so you’re right on the money with that one. But you know, I can’t say there’s any particular genre I feel closest to. I mean my music listening habits have always been all over the place, from Billie Holiday to Patsy Cline to Elliot Smith…It’s no different when I sit down to write and I try not to censor myself too much.
Kendra: What’s on the calendar for you when it changes to 2018?
Chelsea Williams: I’m looking forward to doing some more touring in support of Boomerang and maybe even starting on a new record. I’m also really excited to be releasing a single with Rusty Young in February. We re-recorded his hit Rose of Cimarron as a duet. So I’ll be doing a couple tour dates with him in support of that single. Sometimes I wonder if I’m dreaming all of this.
Kendra: A lot of buskers do covers, so if you had to make a mixtape of the best songs to cover when you’re performing for crowds at the Promenade…what five would have to be on there?
Chelsea Williams: These 5 are almost always in the rotation when I busk:
“Tonight You Belong To Me” – Patience and Prudence
“Lovesick Blues” – Hank Williams
“Angel From Montgomery” – John Prine
“Miss Ohio” – Gillian Welch
“Tango Till They’re Sore” – Tom Waits