Chantel batty about album

Multi-award-winning musician Chantel McGregor may only be 29 – but is already a veteran in the industry.

The Yorkshirewoman – Chantel hails from Bradford – became the youngest person in the UK to pass a rock school exam when she breezed through it aged eight.

At 14, major labels told here she had “a great voice, but girls don’t play guitar like that”.

She enrolled at Leeds College of Music and became its first student to achieve a 100 per cent pass mark, with 18 distinctions.

She graduated with a degree in popular music and a prize for outstanding musicianship.

And the prizes have kept on coming for the British blues star.

In 2011, she was crowned young artist of the year at the British Blues awards, before being named best female vocalist in 2012.

She retained that title in 2013, when she was also named guitarist of the year, an award she won again last year.

And now she is back, with a Gothic-themed second album, Lose Control.

“The album title makes my friends laugh,” she says, talking from her front room in West Yorkshire, surrounded by 5,000 copies of the new record she is preparing to mail out.

“I’m a control freak, so it’s a bit of a joke that I can’t lose control.”

The latest album channels Chantel’s interest in the darker side of life. Although, she admits, research for it was less than challenging.

“I have always loved vampires and horror films and I chose something I am really interested in

“There’s quite a lot of things you can talk about in this sort of music – general relationships as well.

“I did a lot research into this, which meant one day a week I watched TV and films and read books – my sponge day I called it.

“I’ve always been interested in the dark side of Southern Gothic literature, artwork and media,” she says.

“I wanted to create an album that reflected the imagery and themes of that genre. I drew inspiration from the TV shows True Detective and True Blood and studied the literary works of Tennessee Williams, Carson Mullers and Mark Twain.

“I also surrounded myself with imagery from artists and photographers such as Walker Evans and Clarence John Laughlin, all to immerse myself in the sinister, dark world of depravation, magic and voodoo, writing most of the songs from the perspective of disturbed flawed characters.

“It’s kind of like writing to order, but it’s how I wrote at university. You had to write for specific genres or themes.”

Lose Control, the follow-up to 2011’s Like No Other, is released tomorow, Friday, October 9, before Chantel hits the road for a string of live dates, including a show in Doncaster.

“Playing live to great audiences is one of the most wonderful feelings,” she says. “I feel lucky to be able to do something that I love, see the world and bring happiness to others through my music.”

Chantel McGregor plays The Dome, Doncaster, on Friday, October 16. Doors open at 7pm.

For tickets, priced from £13 in advance, visit www.the-dome.co.uk