It’s days until her sophomore album "Phases" officially comes out and alternative singer-songwriter Moonchild Sanelly is hyped up. But she’s not hyped specifically for the album, this is how she is.
“I’m always high energy, that’s why people always offer me cocaine, thinking I’m high.”
When we speak over the phone, a bubbly and spirited Moonchild tells me she is currently in Paris doing an international media run in support of “Phases”.
It’s 6pm Paris time and she has another interview after this before she heads off to dinner, then tomorrow morning she has more media engagements starting from eight in the morning.
It’s a taxing schedule, but in the midst of this Moonchild has a formula of sorts to stay on the ball.
“I remember what the f*** I fought for and I have to remember why I’m here,” she says. “Bad days exist, but I have a switch for showtime, literally.”
She references a recent Instagram post as an example of how she’s able to flip the switch. In the post, a short video which was shot during a recent London show, she’s seen chilling leisurely backstage having a drink. Then, suddenly, when her name gets called up she quickly puts her drink down and runs onstage.
“I stay ready, I think that video is a good depiction of what I’m explaining. Performance doesn’t get affected by my personal feelings, period. I was born for this, I’m a whole moon."
Ahead of the album’s release, a month ago Moonchild released a new single titled “Cute” featuring Trillary Banks.
“’Cute’ has been doing very well, especially on BBC Radio,” she says. “It’s been crazy because it plays on BBC Radio 1 a lot. It’s basically in the commercial charts and that’s always my mission.”
When she was working on her album, Moonchild originally wanted to record 50 songs and filter through them to pick out the best ones. Her label advised her against that because of the difficulty that would come when it came to narrowing down the list and choosing the final songs for the album.
“Cute” was made during this recording process and initially she didn’t think it’d make the cut.
“I felt like there was something missing. I knew I had a strong message in there, but I knew I needed something, so sent it to the label. The label loved what I did and they thought of someone that would make it make sense and make it a song.
“So they called on Trillary Banks and when the song was sent back to me I was like ‘who the f*** is this, she’s a badass’. I loved what she did with it and I was happy to have it on the album, and we won.”
“Phases” sees Moonchild working with some great artists and producers like Blxckie, Sir Trill, Sad Night Dynamite, Wesley Joseph, Xavier Thomas (Débruit), TOKiMONSTA, HOLLY and Aramboa.
“I just went off,” she says about the recording process. “Every type of personality I can re-enact, I re-enacted on this album. Every personality I have experienced and every personality I’ve been called, I re-enacted.”
Sonically, through its 19 tracks the album veers between amapiano, gqom, grime, pop, house and R&B and sees Moonchild documenting the varying chapters of a toxic relationship and subsequent freedom.
“The album is basically about the phases I went through with the relationships I went through during lockdown,” she explains.
“One of the things I'm super appreciative for with lockdown is that it allowed me to go through feelings that I would otherwise not have time to entertain because things are moving.
“I appreciate the fact that it allowed me to show my vulnerable side because I literally had so much time. I couldn’t run, where would I run the streets were closed? So I ran into my diary and I wrote and put it on a beat.”
The album is also about celebrating “all shades of women”, she adds. She references a song on “Phases” titled “Too Late”, which she says is a song for all the girls that know their position and what they want.
“And please bear in mind, all the girls that want to be with married men aren’t necessarily broke, they just want to f*** on schedule.”
“It’s women owning their narratives, strippers owning their narratives. So this project celebrates every type of woman because already as a woman it’s an adventure sport to be alive, let alone win.
“So wherever you’re winning, own it and celebrate it. I’m a celebration fairy and I will remind you that f*** people, you are who you are and you’re great at what you are. So just do you.”
In 2019, Moonchild wrote on and contributed to several songs on Beyoncé’s Grammy Award winning album, “The Lion King: The Gift”.
With the sheer size of the album and the global attention that came with working with one of the biggest artists on the planet, I ask Moonchild if she feels pressure knowing that there’s so many people watching her every move now.
Her response is right on brand: “I dont give a f***. It’s me living my dream. I don’t operate on pressure. If I operated on pressure first of all I wouldn’t look the way I look because I’ve been rejected for how I look for years.
“If I operated on pressure I’d be affected by what’s said on social media. Instead, I use it as a study and that’s why I’m dropping some sex toys. If I operated on pressure I would not be Moonchild.”