Interview With Chellcy Reitsma

What was the beginning point for your music career? How did it all start?

I used to be a professional touring dancer, teacher and choreographer. I started my musical journey in 2015 after some major dance injuries forced me to retire from dancing permanently. I spent a year pretty much bedridden or in a wheelchair.  I had always wanted to try my hand at singing-songwriting but never had the time, so I quickly seized this opportunity to start a new chapter and follow my music dreams. Songwriting and poetry helped me cope with the depression of losing my dance career and my whole life changing.
I started off as a solo artist. Songwriting came naturally to me, and I released my first single ‘Blue’ in 2016: Singing-songwriting and performing has been one of the best experiences of my life and I’m so happy I found it. I might even enjoy it more than I did dancing! 

Then I started the band in February 2019. We kept my name because it’s too expensive to start over with re-branding and I already had a decent sized and committed fan base started.  So we are quite new as a band.

About the band members: 
I am Chellcy Reitsma the singer-songwriter and I’m originally Dutch-American from California. I lived in Chicago for a long time and for short stents in Italy, Sweden and Canada before landing in Malta. Now I also have citizenship in Malta so I’m Dutch-American Maltese lol! I might have identity issues lol! Alan Degabriele is the bass player who’s been with the band the longest and also plays for the popular local band Skarlett with his talented sister Sandrina. Simon Cutajar is lead guitarist also studying graphic arts and marketing. Edward Mifsud is the rhythm guitarist and a science teacher at Junior College. He has been in a number of bands and duos since the 90’s. Adam Cutajar is the drummer studying to be a doctor and obsessed with polyrhythms. All the other band members are Maltese from Malta. 

Were there any bumps on the road? What kind of challenges did you have to deal with?

Many challenges! First over coming my fear of singing in the first place. Lol! I was so used to expressing myself silently with dance that hearing my own voice and vocalizing my thoughts and self expression were terrifying for me, especially so loudly! Learning all new skills, learning about the music industry, over coming imposter syndrom and the feeling that I needed to do everything as quickly as possible since I was having to recreate myself and build a new career at 40 years of age. It was all a bit overwhelming and still can be. There is much more to say but I’m sure you don’t want me to write a book here! Lol! 

What was the most fulfilling and satisfying moment so far?

There’s a couple of moments. Headlining our first decent sized concert last fall in Malta was amazing and the audience had such a good vibe and seemed to really get into our music. Then more recently our single and music video, ‘Happy New Year’, hit #6 in the Maltese music video charts and has stayed on the chart for 10 consecutive weeks now and was in the top 10 for four of those weeks. You can watch it here: 

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

From sad lullabys to feminist anthems with smooth stanzas, galloping mid-tempo sonic escapades and an eolving energy that creeps up from behind. Our style is a bit eclectic because we write the music to fit the song without concern for genres. Our fusion style is a bit poetic with a warm vintage sound, smooth and mellow, but still fresh, a sound reminiscent of the late ‘70s. From harder alternative rock to blues rock, from Americana to adult contemporary. The vocals are delivered with an elegist-like cadence, amalgamated harmonies, and empowering lyricism. 

What is your creative process like?

My surroundings certainly facilitate my songwriting though. I get the majority of my ideas while driving or traveling and I do most of my songwriting initially in the car. Sometimes I record a lyric or melody line on my phone while driving or I pull over to the side of the road to write something down. In Malta, where I live, I also have a few places I go to park and write near cliffs overlooking the sea. I do not play an instrument at a professional level myself. Later at home, I sing and songwrite and record my melody lines, maybe some basic rhythm on my cajon or a few chords on my keyboard and then work with a guitartist (preferably) to find the chords. So I need someone that can work like that from the lyrics to the compositions. Usually I send my demo to one of my band members. Later, when I know exactly what I want, I work with a producer to develop the song further and produce the song. For example, I’ve done a lot of songwriting and producing with Peter Borg. Like my first concept EP ‘Black Water’ which tells a story. Peter just got me and knew exactly what I was looking for. 

I had similar experiences with my bass player Alan Degabriele and producer Mat Leppanen at The  Animal Farm Music, whom I did my most recent releases with including ‘Happy New Year’. 

We just jived and it worked for the music. 

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

Besides more women, minorities and lgbtq artists getting the recognition, respect and air time they deserve; I would want digital platforms to pay higher royalties to artists (at least 1 cent per stream) and I would want physical album sales to be in higher demand again. 

If you were asked to give a piece of advice to upcoming bands, what would that be?

Leave your ego and low self esteem out of your band it will destroy everything you’re trying to build. Respect your fellow band mates opinions, contrabutions, time and efforts. Making music is a very small part of having a band, work hard on your branding marketing and networking, if you won’t invest time and money into your band then why would anyone else? Believe in yourselves, your music and your message. Lastly, don’t let rejection get under your skin. Expect 100 rejections per 1 acceptance. 

What has been the best performance of your career so far?

Our performance last fall at a music festival in Malta. We were really gelling as a band and the audience was amazing. So much positive energy was exchanged between the band members and the audience, going out and coming in like a circle. 

If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing now?

Well I am also a visual artist and poet. I graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Art has been a passion of mine since childhood so I wpuld definitly be persuing a career in art. I love to blend my visual art and poetry too by creating short stop motion animations or simply illustrating my poetry with painting and drawings. You can see some examples here on my poetry page:

Had I not been injured beyond repair at age 40 however, I would most likely still have my dancing career going too. 

What is new with the band at the moment? 

‘Fleshbot Prison’ which just released on the 4th of March. An angry, hard, alternative rock song with a creative theory about human existance. You can listen to it here:

We also had a couple of interviews and live performances for Maltese TV and radio which will be coming out soon on ‘A Day in the Life’ and @Magic with Dorian and Amber both on the national station TVM. One of the live songs was recorded and will play the week of the showing on Magic radio too. 

What are you currently working on and would like to share with the world?

We are working on a number of new songs in preparation for hopefully producing our first full  LP.  It will also include some poetry as my Black Water EP did. ‘Fleshbot Prison’ and ‘Happy New Year’ will both be included on the new album so you can get an idea of what’s to come. We are nearly finished writing the demos and will hopefully send them to the producer soon at The Animal Farm Music in the UK and Railway Studios in Malta. 

Please check out our music and videos and follow us on social media. It’s all here:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share our music with your readers Metal Head Forever! Peace, love and rock!