Chi Virgo

Selected by: James Keith
Photography: Nancy McNulty

Name: Chi Virgo

Where She’s From: Born in Nigeria, raised in Cheltenham

When She Started: “I started actually making music in 2018. I started writing in 2017, though.”

Genre: R&B/Neo-soul

File Next To: NAO, Joy Crookes, Ray BLK

Sounds Like: “My music is very much pop sometimes with a bit of soul; a lot of the time with a bit of R&B, and sometimes with a bit of funk. I guess it depends on my mood at the time. I find this question so hard to answer! It’s like trying to define yourself, you know?”

First Music That Inspired Her: “I think probably ‘Bootylicious’ by Destiny’s Child. I remember watching that music video so vividly and thinking ‘Wow!’ I must have been around 7 years old, but that whole era was when I fell in love with music.”

London-based singer-songwriter Chi Virgo has been praised in the past for her delicate delivery and use of gentle, laid-back instrumentals, but don't let that fool you—there’s a formidable power in both her writing and the music itself. Take her most recent single, “Bye Bye”, for example: on the face of it, the song is a wry dismissal of a lover who’s let her down one too many times, but there was something much deeper at play. “When I first moved to London, for a time I felt I was a little bit lost and directionless,” she tells TRENCH. “I had to take on a job that I wasn’t happy in to make ends meet, and for a while I wasn’t sure about how to move forward. Although on paper this song is about a relationship, it also feels special as it’s a symbol of me saying goodbye to that time period and coming to truly understand myself.”

What’s more is the accompanying video also gave us another side to the singer. Created by herself at home during lockdown, the DIY aesthetic showed just how resourceful she can be when left to her own devices. While many of us have been slacking at home in front of the TV, Chi Virgo doubled her efforts, creating the whole thing herself and using that home-made aesthetic to her advantage. In fact, there’s a lot about Chi Virgo that’s layered, even her name has several references woven in. “Chi Virgo was my first alias,” she explains. “My name is Rachel and my family and some of my oldest friends call me Rachie as a nickname, so I took the Chi from that. It also has Nigerian origins, which I love, as I am half Nigerian. It means life source or energy. I also happened to be 22 when I chose it and chi is the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet, pronounced differently, but at that time I was like ‘this is fate!’ Virgo, is pretty self explanatory: I’m a Virgo.”

If the determined purpose of “Bye Bye” or the know-your-worth empowerment of “Too Good” paint a picture of a forthright artist brimming with self-assuredness, she confesses that wasn’t always the case. Chi Virgo’s proudest achievement? “In all honesty, I’d say actually plucking up the courage to release my first song [“Thinking”]. I can’t tell you how petrified I was to actually start releasing; it made me so nervous beyond belief. I remember when I was around 12, I uploaded a video of myself singing on YouTube. It was a cover of ‘Take A Bow’ by Rihanna, and it did a couple thousand streams in the first few days, but I deleted it as soon as people at my school found it because I was so embarrassed for some reason. So getting over that initial fright of people sort of seeing me vulnerable was huge for me.”

That debut was released just last year, but buoyed by the track’s six-figure streams and the lessons learned from heroines like Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Beyonce and Sade, Chi Virgo now stands before us as an artist entirely comfortable with herself. That comes across in the more uptempo, vibrant energy of her last two singles and it’ll no doubt be a staple of future releases too. “Releasing my debut EP is the next big thing for me,” she says. “It’s been a long time coming and so many years of work have gone into it, I really can’t wait for it to be out for everyone to hear!”

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on June 04, 2020