Chloe is a Scottish-born master of the evocative slow-burner, with a new single “Slow Fade” that showcases the authenticity and versatility of our new favourite femme fatale.
We speak to Chloe about her influences, her hometown(s), her songwriting process and more…
Hey Chloe, how’s life treating you?
It’s all a bit surreal at the moment, but the sun is finally shining here in Edinburgh so can’t complain!
You mentioned that “Slow Fade” was written and produced from your bedroom. How’d you get into writing and production, and what’s that journey been like so far?
I started learning piano when I was four, and it all sort of spun from that really. I spent the majority of my childhood up in my room messing around with different instruments – some more successfully than others, notably the violin, or the ‘vile din’ as my Dad called it. It was my piano teacher who got me to start composing properly. I used to go to a composition workshop once a month with some of her other students and we would spend hours playing our music to each other and getting feedback on it which really helped me improve both as a pianist and as a writer. I always found myself gravitating towards the piano whenever I needed to vent, and so I guess writing became a cathartic thing for me from quite a young age.
And then like many kids I stumbled across Garageband at school. I used to sit on the bus and record the sound of it trundling along, or the buzz of people chatting around me, and then add it into the music I was making. My production skills are still pretty limited, mostly I just fiddle around on Logic until I find something that works but it’s really important to me that I know the basics. Nowadays we are lucky to have technology that gives us the possibility to produce ourselves, and I really like being able to control the way my songs sound as opposed to handing them over to someone else from the word go. Of course I’m not suggesting that professional producers don’t have a key role to play, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great producers recently who have been really inspiring, it’s just always felt important to me to be part of the process.
Sounds like your new single “Slow Fade” is very personal to you. How would you best describe the inspiration behind the song?
I came out of a pretty difficult break-up a couple of years ago, and I remember feeling really torn by wanting to still be around for that person but also knowing it wasn’t the right thing. Most relationships don’t end in a friendship and so navigating the passage between knowing someone so well to becoming strangers is pretty weird. I guess writing “Slow Fade” was my way of dealing with that transition. I wanted the song to be hopeful and not too depressing, it can be such a strange thing to go through but some of the best things can come as a result of difficult times which is an important lesson I took from it – and definitely one to remember in times like these!
You grew up in Scotland, then moved to Bristol and have now settled in London – how do you find each of these places that are so far from one another have inspired you as an artist?
The creative scene in Bristol is hard to beat, there’s such a mishmash of cultures and genres. When I was at uni I remember walking into these huge clubs filled with people of all ages and backgrounds and feeling so inspired by it all. There were these weird sub genres of dance music I’d never heard before, clubs playing six completely different styles of music across each of their six rooms. You could float from one room to the next, going from some bonkers mix of Drum and Bass and Psytrance to a load of students dressed head to toe in vintage clothes dancing to 60s pop music. There’s also so much live music all across Bristol, the best gigs and open mic nights I’ve done have been there and the city is so receptive and supportive of new music. And then London is just mad. Electric, overwhelming and bursting at the seams, but so alive – it’s a very exciting place to be in your twenties. Scotland will always be home though, there’s nothing quite like coming off the motorway at the border and taking the scenic route back into Edinburgh, winding your way through the deserted country roads with the heather rolling down the hills on either side of you. It’s pretty hard not to feel patriotic in moments like those.
Would you say you’re a prolific songwriter, or do you prefer to take a slower and more methodical approach to writing?
It’s funny because although I am writing all the time, it can take me an obscene amount of time to finish a song in full which can be pretty frustrating. I’ll have an idea and think ‘this is great!’ And then two days later another idea will come along and I’ll get distracted. My boyfriend has to drag me back to reality quite a bit when I start my 360th ‘new idea’.
Ok, big question now – if you could only listen to one artist for the rest of your life, who would it be and why?
I’d say Fleetwood Mac – a song for every mood… and so many different albums to listen to!
And if you could write a song with anybody, dead or alive, who’d you choose?
A very hard question as the list is endless for me, but if I’m going off how I feel right now it would have to be Robert Smith or Carole King.
You cite influences ranging from New Order to Christine and the Queens – how do you think these artists have shaped your sound?
Growing up my parents were always playing music from the 70s and 80s, a lot of which was obviously dominated by new wave/synth pop. I remember being in the car and my mum playing me Soul Mining by The The, and thinking of how much I loved that it could be so upbeat and optimistic whilst also feeling quite evocative and melancholy. Then I found New Order. I don’t know quite what it is about them, there’s a deep nostalgia about so much of their music and yet it never feels dated. And Chris is just a bloody icon, she’s come into the music industry at the perfect time. I love how unapologetically herself she is, and it really comes across in both her music and presence on stage. She inspires me to be strong and confident in what I create, and I love that she produces herself. I read an interview with her recently where she said that she had lost track of how many times someone had assumed her music was written or produced by a man – she tells it like it is, no bullshit, and I think our industry really needs that right now.
Of your many accolades thus far in your career, which would you say you’re most proud of?
I just found out that my new single “Slow Fade” was played by BBC radio in Scotland and so that was pretty cool, and definitely something that’s been on my bucket list for a while. It’s hard to choose a gig in particular that’s stood out because I’ve had so much fun at them all! For me it’s not really about how big the venue is, I’ll just never get over the feeling of getting to play to a group of people and seeing them dance around to my music – I cannot wait for this crazy time we are in right now to pass so we can all get back on the dance floor!
And just for fun, how’ve you been spending your time in lockdown? A lot of artists are feeling the pressure to be creative 24/7, any advice on how to cope with this pressure?
To be honest it’s a weird time at the moment, and there are days when all I want to do is lie in bed and watch tv and so I definitely allow myself those. Feeling productive and creative is hard at the best of times, so I think in a global pandemic we have to remind ourselves that it’s ok if the most notable thing you achieve some days is walking from your bed to the sofa. That said, I know I feel my best my when I’m writing and creating, so I’ve done a lot of that and I think if you’re up to it, throwing yourself into things you love does really help to remind you that life doesn’t have to stop. I’m also lucky to have my family at home with me, so a lot of my time is spent either annoying my sisters or throwing the ball for our crazy dog.
Finally, we LOVE “Slow Fade” and we want some more! Do you have any new music being released in the near future?
Thank you, I’m so glad you like it! I’m working on a few songs with Jack Shuter, who co-produced “Slow Fade” with me. We haven’t got official release dates yet but I’ll be posting more about those on my socials soon! I’m also recording an acoustic session for the lovely people at Smple World which will be on their Instagram IGTV in the next week or so!