Interview: Chelsea Cutler is singing about everything you are feeling right now.
Updated: Jul 16, 2018
All you need to do is go to Spotify and play one of her songs at random. Or better yet, go to twitter and search for her name. The endless fan tweets will immediately tip you off to what I’m talking about. She’s in quick ascension, becoming one of the most listened, new coming artists in the US, and it’s all for the right reasons.
Characterized by her genuine and empathetic songwriting, Cutler blends electropop instrumentations with her melancholic voice, creating viral songs that are able to scratch the deepest parts of your soul.
A few months ago Chelsea Cutler performed in front of a sold-out crowd in Washington D.C. at the 9:30 Club, she was on tour for the first time ever, opening for Quinn XCII.
As we made our way into the green room, we overheard Cutler face-timing with her mom, encapsulating Culter’s essence well. She’s a regular person, like you and I, who is doing what she absolutely loves and making all her dreams come true as she conquers the music scene.
Cutler spoke to Vinyl Lore about what led up to this moment.
Vinyl Lore: This is your very first time on tour, and you have been playing all sold out shows with Quinn XCII. How does that feel?
Chelsea Cutler: Honestly, it's absolutely crazy, I feel really fortunate that Quinn brought me on this tour. Most openers don’t get to have support for an act that blends with them as in a similar fan base, so I’m really lucky to be touring with someone that I have worked with.
VL: How did you and Quinn XCII meet?
Cutler: So Quinn, Ayokay, Jeremy Zucker and I are all under the same management and Quinn and Ayokay are friends from college. Jack discovered me on SoundCloud and sent my stuff to Jesse, our manager, and we ended up doing a session in New York, the rest is history.
VL: How long have you been working on your own music?
Cutler: I began to learn how to produce music when I was 17. Basically, I went to a boarding school that had a 3 sports rule, so you had to play 3 sports a year, and I didn’t want to do that. Instead, I convinced them to let me use the recording studio, and I taught myself how to use Logic.
VL: You produced your first EP by yourself. It is rare for artists to create 100% of their music, especially if they are signed with a big label like Ultra? Do they give you 100% creative control and can you guide us through your creative process?
Cutler: I essentially had full creative control, it comes down to the fact that Jesse really believed in me, and he pushed me to believe in myself, and he believed that I was good enough to do it. My creative process is literally like; I have the studio that’s a little sunroom in my house and I have neon lights all over, and basically, I wait until late at night when everyone else is asleep, and I can turn my phone off. I think there is something to be said about really late at night when you get kind of lonely and overthinking and all these rush of emotions start, and I try to force myself into that to write and just access these raw, vulnerable feelings that you sweep under a rug most of the time.
Usually, I start laying down some production and get into a mode and just write on top of that and then produce it out from there. With the "Snow in October EP," I actually collaborated in a way. I wrote with Quinn for "Scripts" and wrote with Dan Henig and Evan Gartner for “You make me.” So I love collaborating too, but I also really enjoy writing alone in that raw environment.
VL: When you are beginning that process, is there anything you do to look for inspiration?
Cutler: I’m a highly emotional person, and I think that obviously comes across. I’m really good at deriving inspiration from old emotions and summoning up old feelings that I felt from experiences from the past. I think that just being able to sit down and push myself to the brink of exhaustion and isolation and be able to bring those up is my way of getting myself to a place where I feel a lot, and I can channel that. I'm really inspired aesthetically, so I have lights I can change all the colors for different moods so I can put myself in different places.
VL: You play Goalkeeper for Amherst College, how do you balance between being a student-athlete, making music/touring and having a social life?
Cutler: It was really hard at school, I actually ended up dropping out. I made the decision right before the tour in December that it was in my best interest to drop out and be able to go on this tour and take that opportunity. So balancing it was hard and something had to go to pursue my career fully. I balanced it for two semesters, and it was not the easiest thing.
VL: Describe a typical day in the life of Chelsea Cutler.
Cutler: You know it's changing. I’m in a significant period of transition right now because I just went from being in college to four weeks of rehearsal before the tour, and now I’m on tour. So there’s no normal day which is kind of sick.
VL: So we know 1975, ODEZA and Bon Iver are some of your top musical influences. What is it about their music that moves you?
Cutler: The 1975 has always been my absolute favorite band. Melodically, Matthew Healy writes the coolest lines. He’s just incredible, his melody writing is very rhythmic and it's so unique and proprietary. ODEZA is the first band to make electronic music really cool. And Bon Iver? There’s never been an artist to put so much emotion into the music.
VL: Is there any other artist that inspires you?
Cutler: Right now, I’m in a big phase of an eclectic mix. I’ve been listening to a lot of Marc E. Bassy, Chase Atlantic, Lewis Capaldi, and Billie Eilish. Left and center stuff that really hits home, really emotional, really unique. The worse thing, and maybe the best thing, is that I listen to a lot of our people. I listen to Aokay, Quinn, and Jeremy. Jeremy probably more than anyone else, I love them, I love their music, and I love what they are about.
VL: You started performing covers and posting them on Sound Cloud, our favorite cover you have done so far is Hang Ten/ Banana Pancakes. Which is the favorite cover and will you include any in your upcoming EP?
Cutler: I don’t think I’m going to include any covers in my upcoming EP. I definitely would love to do a Spotify singles cover of either the two covers I been doing in my live shows, “I Fall Apart” by Post Malone or “The Hills” by the Weekend.
This is so soft and cliché but in terms of my favorite cover I ever did it was probably the ODEZA cover when I was 17 because that’s the first thing I ever put on SoundCloud and the first time that I put myself out there and even though I haven’t listened to it in years, I have no idea if it’s good, but it signifies the beginning of everything for me.
VL: You are constantly posting working tracks on social media. It seems you work hard and long on them since you have posted songs from their conception through their final product. With all the new mediums that are out there that allow artists to share their personal lives and creative process, how big of a role has social media played for your career?
Cutler: Obviously, in this day and age, social media is remarkably important. Instagram and Twitter are platforms for marketing and just getting content out there. A huge part that makes me, me as an artist is that I’m just a normal 21-year-old girl that went to college. I’m not trying to be anything that I’m not, and I think social media is necessary for showing fans that I’m just like them. I’m just a kid and I’m just trying to make music. I think that the relatability is something that only comes because of social media alongside the accessibility of being able to talk to fans.
VL: Who would be your dream collaboration?
Cutler: Can I name four?
VL: Of course.
Cutler: I would love to work with Julia Michaels, Billie Eilish and Lewis Capaldi. And I would die to do a Post Malone collaboration, just even to co-write with him or something like that would be incredible.
Since our interview, Cutler released her second EP titled “Sleeping with Roses.” Cutler is also headlining her first National tour which is already completely SOLD OUT.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.