Dolled up with a penchant for pop music, CHELSEA SHAG is all jazzed up as she pours out her soul into her debut record and reveals her truest colors to the world.
Hey there! How are you and what were you doing before this interview?
Hello! I’m exhausted, but full and happy. I stayed up ‘til 4 AM last night jamming with a bunch of wonderful musicians at my house. I co-hosted an event at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta and had an after party, because I didn’t want the fun to end just yet. What a wonderful time. I hope you’re well, too!
You started playing the electric guitar at the age of 11, was that the first instrument you’ve played? Who influenced/guided you towards the musical path?
I fell in love with the drums when I was 6 years old. I took lessons and got a drum kit once I put some practice in. I’d always been gravitated towards instruments. My mother was my biggest supporter when it came to my interests. If I wanted to dive into something, she didn’t question it; she and my dad provided. Growing up, I would say to hear, “I can’t sing, I can’t play guitar, I can’t write songs,” and she would say, “Do it anyways.” She’s the reason why I am where I am today. I love you, Momma!
You’re also a fan of Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson. Who else are your musical influences in regards to songwriting?
Yes, I do love them! John Mayer was a huge influence as to why I play guitar, as well as Jimi Hendrix. What can I say? I’m a sucker for pop music. I’ve wanted to be Justin Timberlake since I was 7 years old. Nowadays, I’m very much influenced by neo-soul, like Hiatus Kaiyote for example–obsessed with their sound. I also love Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse. Mixing pop and jazz/funk is my thing. I could name a thousand influences. Okay, one more: Beyoncé.
“We’re reinventing the image of females in the music world because it’s about our music and how it makes you feel. We’re fearless.”
What about your single “Us Kids,” is there any story regarding it?
I’ve had that hook melody in my head since I was 16 years old and never knew what to do with it until I was 22. I got inspired to write somewhere different other than my room, so I went to a buddy’s apartment in Midtown before we were going out for a night of mischief. It all just came to me there with that guitar riff. That was also the first song my producer, and I worked together on to see if we were a good fit for each other. It’s a very special song to me. It also has a lyric in it that my dad had said to me one night during the holidays, “Pick your poison, baby, red or white?” Referring to red or white wine for our Christmas dinner.
You recently had a sold-out show in Paris on Ponce. How did the roaring excitement of the crowd impact you?
What a wonderful night. That was my album release party and it was an absolute riot. People that are so dear to me were seeing my band and I for the first time, so it was very exciting to show them after all these years, this work I have put into my craft. That night will always stick with me; all the love made me high. To finally release my art to the world was invigorating. I’ve been waiting a long time, so I’d say it impacted me in the most positive way [smiles].
Your blog states “Chelsea is reinventing the image of females in the world of music.” What exactly does this mean?
This means GIRL POWER. So much of a female’s image in the industry is determined by who she’s dating or who she’s wearing. My music is reinventing the image because of the shock when people find out it’s me playing the guitar solos–the so-good-it-makes-you-laugh moments when I’m rocking out on stage. I basically went to an all male music college, but the world is changing. With artists like myself, Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes, and Nai Palm from Hiatus Kaiyote, we’re reinventing the image of females in the music world because it’s about our music and how it makes you feel. We’re fearless.
Now that you’ve finished your previous project, what will we be expecting next? What are you most looking forward to in the next couple of months?
Well, I’ll be going on tour! I’m very, very excited to get out of my comfort zone and explore what’s beyond me. I have to get my music out there; that’s what I’m most looking forward to is just hearing more feedback from my record that’s out and getting in front of more people and making more connections. I’m also in the midst of recording a full-length record that will be released sometime early next year. Expect some remixes to come out, and possibly a new single and music video! I’ll be working hard in the meantime to just be the best I can be. Expect great music to come.
By Pola Beronilla
For the full story, check out STATUS Magazine’s September 2016 Style Issue here.