refineryrevlon07101425209Photographed by Ben Ritter.
For Jasmin “Charly” Charles and Margaux Whitney, Chargaux was fate. The birth of their violin-and-viola collaboration was almost like discovering a long-lost twin: Their looks are strikingly similar. They wear the same shoe size. They are both visual artists, and their musical backgrounds are serendipitously parallel. Their first public jam session on a Boston subway platform was so electric they decided to move to the Big Apple, where the pair is now slaying as the city’s only hip-hop-classical string duo.
Since then, Chargaux has lent its infectious fusion sound to Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q recordings (including the Grammy-nominated album Good Kid m.a.a.d. City), opened for a Darren Criss tour, and performed for an Opening Ceremony presentation. Next up, the duo is self-releasing its EP titled Broke & Baroque later this year and teaching violin at a Jamaican village summer camp. While Chargaux might not feel like it’s been “discovered,” it’ll be at the top of our playlists for a long time.
Chargaux3.refineryrevlon07101425150Photographed by Ben Ritter.

On how we met
Margaux: “I was working for a consulting firm, and I was on my lunch break in Copley Square. I passed by this girl on the corner with blonde hair and crazy red lips, and she was playing classical music. So, I stopped her and was like, ‘I’m a violinist, too. Do you wanna jam sometime?’”
Charly: “That’s just the way of musicians. You get together, talking without talking.”
Margaux: “And, me, I’m just an aggressive person. I wasn’t going to walk by and be like, ‘That’s cool.’ I’m going to speak to them. That’s part of my personality.”

On how we got to New York
Charly: “We played in the subways to save enough money to get out of Boston. For two weeks, we got up at five in the morning to beat out all of the other people and played from 8 to 10 in the morning, then again from 2 to 3 p.m., and again from 5 to 6. We saved $3,000, and that’s how we got to New York.”


The importance of the hustle
Margaux: “We have moments where we’re like, ‘It would be nice to have the security of a 9-to-5,’ but I’ve already experienced that and I know what the hustle is like.The artist life is feast or famine. You have to be very strong to live this lifestyle, because you must know how to maneuver in a way that most people never will. They’ll never put themselves all the way out there like we’re putting ourselves all the way out there.”


On what it means to be daring
Margaux: “It means to be free; it means to live by your own terms that you set for yourself, which I think is so important — especially in this society. To be daring means to have control over your life, how you feel, and what you do, to feel a sense of freedom within yourself.”

Chargaux4.refineryrevlon07101425302Photographed by Ben Ritter.

On being different
Charly: “It’s a lonely walk to be different, but once you find comfort in your differentness, people enjoy you. And, playing in the subway has so much to do with everything we are. We learned that our music appeals to children, babies, older people, any demographic, any combination of people at any time of the day. And, that’s what took that fear away as far as being different.”

How beauty makes us feel confident
Charly: “When you want to talk about feeling confident while performing, we have all this other stuff we have to worry about so our style has to be effortless. We keep our hair done, so that it’s something we don’t have to think about. One of my favorite quotes that Elizabeth Taylor said is ‘I wear perfume even when I’m alone.’ And, I do that. I get dressed up just to go to the art studio and paint all day. I’ll put makeup on even when I have nothing to do that day, just in case someone wants to see me for five minutes or if I want to go to the grocery store and be fly. I’ll do that. I love being pretty.”


On wanting to be represented by a record label
Charly: “What’s a record label? Our EP is self-released. We love our freedom and labels are on their way out. There are certain departments that are still needed right now (you need distribution, you need PR, you need merchandise), but you don’t need an actual record deal to make that happen. At this level, we find ourselves articulate enough to talk to anyone, but some people want to be talked about by a manager. But,
we don’t need a label for that. We’ll just get our grandma to do it.”

Chargaux5.refineryrevlon07101425314Photographed by Ben Ritter.
On Charly: Tanya Taylor top and skirt, H&M necklace and rings, Charlotte Olympia pumps. On Margaux: Jennifer Chun shorts, H&M top, Rachel Zoe bracelet, Charlotte Olympia heels, Jennifer Fisher earrings.
Photographed by Ben Ritter; Makeup by Katie Mellinger; Hair by Adam McClay; Styled by Laura Pritchard.

More from Music

R29 Original Series