With well over 550K streams for last year’s track, Magnetic, and her first show in two years selling out, Chlöe Howl is back in a big way. Not that she actually went away, but in these fickle pop-music times two years is a lifetime – others have split up and completed a reunion tour in that time.
Rumour has it she’s heavily influenced by the New Order and Smiths records her dad used to play, and while it’s more than evident in her early work – the Gillian Gilbert-esque industrial synths merging with quick-witted Morrissey-like lines – most recent single Do It Alone mixes in a little classic hip-hop. Add in her trademark vocal – half harsh spoken word, half sung with heartfelt angst – and it’s the recipe for the sound of 2018. In short, you can dance guilt-free while she airs her dirty laundry. No doubt it’s a sort of therapy – perhaps we should all have a go.
We had a quick chat with Chlöe to talk new music, covering old music, and who else we should be listening to this year:
This time four years ago your name was all over the ‘Sounds of 2014’ lists – fast forward to today and despite some EPs we’re STILL waiting for your album – what’s been happening?
I’ve just been working and writing an album with Chris Zane (Bat For Lashes, Passion Pit…). It’s been a long time but it’s been worth it to rediscover what I wanted the music to sound like and learn the ropes of being an independent artist along the way.
Do albums even matter anymore?
I think that albums aren’t as relevant anymore now that music is so easily accessed on streaming sites. However, die hard fans still love hearing and being given that final body of work. It’s a good conclusion, for all the singles to merge together into one big piece.
How do you like to listen to music?
It varies! I have some amazing speakers at home so I just listen to music through them as much as poss. I used to never use Spotify but now it’s pretty much impossible not to, since the majority of physical music stores have shut.
Clearly fans are holding out for you, as you recently sold out your “comeback” (of sorts) gig. How was that for you?
It was great! To hear the new songs in a live setting was really cool. And to get to meet fans who have been following me for so many years was amazing.
You’re playing The Pickle Factory next month too, will there be anything different or new on the set list?
Yes – on February 7th. There’s gonna be a few more new songs, and maybe another oldie. We’re just sorting it all out now!
What are the plans for the rest of 2018? Any particular festivals you’d like to play?
My only Glastonbury set was ruined in 2014 by a huge storm. They had to shut off the power before my set and I got pushed 45 mins back. I love Glastonbury so much so I’m determined to go back (albeit in 2019) and do it properly. This year we haven’t discussed my festival plans yet so, watch this space!
There’s a stunning, acoustic version of Magnetic available. What made you record it this way, and is it a musical style you’d like to showcase more?
I have worked really hard on my voice so I liked the idea of showcasing it a little more, which is easier to do in an acoustic track. I also think it’s interesting for fans to hear the bare bones of the song, not hiding behind all the fancy production and instruments.
Any plans for future acoustic recordings? Maybe a Live Lounge-style cover version?
I cover Supermodel by SZA in my set and that’s super fun to sing! So that’s one thing people have to look forward to if they see me live.
If you was to cover a non-Christmas track for this year’s John Lewis ad what would it be and how would you do it?
Definitely Waiting For A Star To Fall – Boy Meets Girl. That is such a BANGER. I’ve actually recorded a cover of it but it’s not as twee as John Lewis would like it! We’ve made it a bit of a modern pop anthem.
2017 was almost a month ago now, was it really all bad?
I don’t really know anyone who had a good 2017. Everyone’s found it to be such a filler year. I think a lot of crap has gone on around the world which hasn’t made it the cheeriest year either. I’ve definitely felt like I was trapped in the waiting room for all of 2017. I feel like there are a lot of loose ends that I’m hoping will get tied up in 2018. I am ready for it!
And – aside for yourself – who should we be listening to this year?
I’m really looking forward to Rae Morris‘ album and I love all the Superorganism stuff I’ve heard so far! They’re what I’m waiting patiently for.
Get tickets for Chlöe’s Pickle Factory show here. (For an absolute BARGAIN price of £11. You can barely get lunch for that in London!)