Sylvester Sessions #89
Los Angeles, United States.
Chelsea wears Stripey Knit Polo Stripey Knit Polo.
Has living in LA merged into your song-writing and practice?
I don’t feel lethargy here and I think you can hear it in my work. I don’t have any qualms about not ‘belonging’ and that has liberated me across the board.
We enjoyed your recent show at Wondergarden, tell us about the movement aspect of the show and how this has developed.
I’ve wanted to formalise my physical impulses for so long. I walk home from friend’s houses listening to my songs both restraining and indulging in my own twitches. When I’m alone in supermarket aisles I give in a bit. Finally with some encouragement from the girls I get to have onstage with me, I started implementing the choreography I had always imagined. They let me know they were game and now I get to explore the possibilities. I love small movement that erupts when synchronised. When the common gesture is given a pattern to follow.
How do you approach getting dressed for a performance?
Physicality is always my first consideration. How unobstructed can I be? How low can i crouch and how deep can i lean without restraint? Then I think about how to implement a team vibe. I want everyone on stage with me to feel as vital to the show as the next person. So lately we’ve all been dressed exactly the same. One big organism.
Do you have any rituals before a show?
I try to get loose and limber, stretching my voice and my body. I’ve got a little playlist with ‘Vroom Vroom’ by Charli Xcx, ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ by Rihanna and ‘Primadonna Girl’ by Marina and the Diamonds on it and I listen before I go on. Those songs and those women make me feel formidable.
What are you watching / reading / listening to that is feeding you at the moment?
I’m reading ‘Sour Heart’ by Jenny Zhang and ‘Baby’ by Annaleese Jochems. I find myself reacting with pantomime severity to the emotional highs and lows in both. With music I can’t get enough of Charli Xcx. I listen to her and I feel so happy to be a woman doing music.
Are there any books that have stuck with you?
‘Bluets’ by Maggie Nelson just really punctured me. I’ve got a big appetite for that lateral format. It’s written in a sort of bullet point form but each is so rich that it took me some time to get all the way through.
It was exciting to see you amongst the line-up of all female songwriters for the Silver Scrolls last year, is there a sense of community amongst female musicians in New Zealand?
Completely. Everywhere I’ve been in the past year I’ve encountered incredible and supportive women. Sitting at a huge dinner table in Paris with women of all ages talking about music, sitting in a Los Angeles living room with a small group of women assembled specifically to talk about our experiences in the industry, sitting in my best friend’s car driving from K Road to St Heliers listening to what we’ve each been making. The camaraderie is everywhere and it’s the best.
What excites you most about starting a new year, is there anything you're looking forward to in 2018?
I’ve been saying the phrase “not down to lounge” aloud a lot and that’s how I feel about 2018. I’ve been working inwardly and now it’s time to get extroverted. Needless to say, I’m fizzing about the release of my first record ‘Personal Best’.
Interview & photography by Greta van der Star.
Check out Chelsea Jade here.