Singer-songwriter Chloe Wilson tells Andrew Gibbs why she's feeling so high... and is aiming even higher in terms of her music career.
SONGWRITING has to come from the heart, inspired by emotion, experience, reaction. They are all the better for it, says young musician Chloe Wilson.
Her debut single Have You Ever Been So High? has hit 10,000 streams after being featured on the BBC Introducing radio show and the music career of which the Leeds University student from Milton Keynes has dreamed is set to take off.
“I really struggle to write music about anything I haven’t experienced myself,” she says. “I don’t feel a song is as personal if you’re writing it from another person’s perspective. It’s my way of getting over things, of processing what has happened in my life.”
Chloe has been writing songs since she was eight and performing since she was 14. Now 20 and in her final year of a music degree, she is preparing to take her singing career to the next level. Emotion is a strong driver in her songwriting and has been since she began some ten years ago.
“When I was ten, my parents went through a divorce and I dealt with it by writing songs,” she says. “I was frustrated, wrote a song and thought ‘I’m all right at this’. I can only move past things once I’ve written about them.”
Her debut single Have You Ever Been So High? is a song about social anxiety, inspired by an experience Chloe pictured above went through at a party. “I was feeling uncomfortable so I went outside for a while, came back in and felt there was just a gulf between me and everyone else there. I felt socially nervous, this was the first time I had experienced social anxiety and I guess the song is about that experience.”
Her music style has evolved over time. There is little musical talent in her family, she admits, but she was inspired by her grandfather who introduced Chloe to bands such as Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin. The music of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s is still her preferred sounds rather than more recent.
“Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is one of the best albums ever created. They are just brilliant. I wish I could create music in the way they do but I don’t think ever do enough drugs – not that I want to! – to create sounds like that.”
Mainstream school and Chloe did not mix well, to the point that she was one of only a few teenagers from outside catchment to earn a place at The BRIT School in Croydon, which specialised in the performing and creative arts. Aged 14 and catching the 6.35am train from Milton Keynes every day for classes, Chloe was following in the footsteps of alumni including chart-topping singers Adele, Amy Winehouse and Leona Lewis. She recalls visits by “amazing” artists, a lecture by Nile Rodgers of Chic.
“It was awesome, one of the best experiences of my life. It was so different to traditional education. I never did that well at normal school but at BRIT the teachers tailored their teaching to us students. It was always a creative time, even maths was taught in a creative way.”
Music is Chloe’s career ambition and she has been performing in bars and clubs across Leeds as a solo artist and latterly with university friends as her band members.
“My music career has been a slow burner, for sure,” she says. “I’ve had lots of opportunities but people who’ve been in the music industry warned me that I wasn’t ready. The music industry is notoriously horrible for anyone at the age of 16 and I’ve been performing in bars and pubs since I was 14.
“I love performing live but getting a full-time band is difficult at uni. Fortunately I’ve got four or five uni mates helping, which is a big thing.”
Her career moved up several gears when, after uploading Have You Ever Been So High? to the BBC Introducing website, the song was picked for a show and has been streaming since late August.
“That was awesome in terms of getting my career off the ground. It was so nice for me to know that someone who listens to music for a living thought that my music was worth playing on the radio.”
She doesn’t set high expectations for herself. “I like to be realistic and had a target of 2,000 streams in mind.”
At the last count, the number of times the song has streamed across the various channels – YouTube, Spotify, iTunes – has topped 10,000. “That makes me so happy.”
Plans to release a second single are under way and, says Chloe, still under wraps. But she realises that for her career to develop the way she wants, she needs professional support. “I’m a bit of a control freak but I’m getting to a point in my career where I’m seeking some kind of management support. I have to do everything I can to get where I want to go.
“I want to get to a place where I can do what I love for the rest of my life. Write, record, release, repeat… that would be my dream.”