By: Shayla Lee
It’s rare to find a musician who encompasses what music should always be: pure art. Chelsea Jade’s unique artistry is captivating, her innate sense of lyricism is beautiful, and her honesty as a musician allows the listener to connect with her music on a deeper level.
Today Chelsea debuts the music video for ‘Laugh It Off,’ a track that will make you want to dance but also has a deeper meaning beneath the surface. The video’s stunning art direction and use of light will make you hit the replay button over and over again. After you watch and listen to ‘Laugh It Off’ and are hungry for more, you don’t need to fret because this New Zealand angel has an album coming our way this summer.
Aside from releasing her own music, the Auckland-raised, Los Angeles-based musician has collaborated with some of the biggest names in music as a songwriter, an experience which she describes as vital to for her to gain perspective. We had the chance to chat with Chelsea about the meaning behind ‘Laugh It Off,’ the creation of her music video, and what we can expect from her album ‘Personal Best’ which is coming our way. Watch ‘Laugh It Off’ below!
Femme Riot: Congratulations on the release of ‘Laugh It Off!’ It’s super groovy and I’m obsessed with the art direction and use of light in the music video. The opening scene with the clouds has me in awe! Can you tell us more about this track and the inspiration behind the music video?
Chelsea Jade: Occasionally I’ve resorted to weaponizing my emotions when I’ve felt like I’m not in control of a situation and “Laugh It Off” deals with being on both sides of that experience. I know how it feels to be disregarded at the height of wanting somebody’s attention, but I also know what it is to be manipulated into somebody else’s emotional mess. The attitude of laughing off somebody else’s game plan feels both insensitive and self-preserving.
If I had to select one thing about myself that truly embarrasses me, it’s that I don’t drive at all. It’s such a bratty, fear-based thing about me but it also means I get driven around a lot like I’m someone special. It’s this weird mix of not being in control but also having a delusion of grandeur. There’s such a lack of self awareness in that combination that I love to think about.
The tunnel we kept driving through has a similar angle for me, too. It was recently completed in my hometown and even though it simply improves a commute, there was a ceremonial walking procession through it on opening day and everybody was tweeting about it with reverence. That sense of majesty over the mundane is so amusing to me. I liked the idea that Director Alexander Gandar and I could get in on the absurdity of glorifying that tunnel – and my own backseat self-indulgence – by spotlighting both in this video.
With a push from Lorde, you created your upcoming album ‘Personal Best’ in three months. We can’t wait to hear it! What was the creative process for this album like? What can fans expect from ‘Personal Best’?
Most of the writing took place in a studio behind a vape store covered in Avril Lavigne plaques and I wonder if all of that is audible in the ideas. Something I can definitely hear is my haircut. There was a transitional point in the writing phase where I cut all of my hair off like old ideas about myself weren’t allowed anymore. i think about that as i listen through the record. There’s a feeling of power gained as it moves through the songs. I still have my long braid of hair as a momento.
Aside from working on your own music, you also collaborate with and write for other musicians – The Chainsmokers, So Below, and BOYBOY to name a few. When you collaborate with other musicians on their work, does it feel different than when you create your own music?
It’s completely different for me but both feed each other. I don’t need to feel like the nucleus in a writing room unless it’s for me. When it’s not for me, the song becomes a separate, hovering orb and I’m just trying to help whoever’s it is reach maximum brightness. When I’m writing for myself, I have to be the orb and the light and I want to guide whoever I’m working with to illuminate what I’m looking at. The feeling of the latter is too egocentric for me to operate with at all times and working on other projects helps me to gain perspective. It’s vital for me to learn from other people.
You have such a unique style in your musicality and in your art direction. Who are some of your inspirations?
Somebody recently joked that I don’t appreciate story telling on a grand scale. I think that may be true. Everything that nourishes me is in the minutiae so it’s hard to pin down the whole of anything as inspiration. I get hung up on sentences in books. There’s a Durga Chew-Bose zinger “Secrets stumble out like small talk” from Too Much and Not The Mood I can’t get over. I’m all in on the velvet of an Yves Klein Blue. I think of it whenever I see a blue tarp over a truck bed. Little things get me good.
Your Spotify bio is “Chelsea Jade is an art school drop-out from Auckland, New Zealand.” In what ways did art school help you as a musician and in what ways did it hinder you?
I wasn’t ready for art school but I was always ready to do music. I went to expand my thinking to become more lateral but I ended up just yearning for pop music and not participating in art making with the diligence it requires. I did learn how to get my hands dirty which is everything to me now. it’s how i approach visual accompaniment to the music.
Have you experienced any adversity being a woman in the music industry? If so, how did you overcome it? Do you have any tips for other women going through challenges in their own lives?
I have an incredible support system of female-identifying makers. Luna Shadows, TRACE, Alisa Xayalith from the Naked and Famous, So Below, Cacie from Now Now, Kaela Sinclair, Liz from The Beth’s, Ella. They are all so necessary and give me a sense of fortitude.
What would be the ultimate dream for you as an artist?
To take you all down with me. In a nice way.
What songs are you currently listening to?