CHELSEA JADE: The Full Interview & Shoot from our Spring Issue

We’ve had a major crush on Chelsea Jade for a while now, which is why we had her perform at one of our Remix parties earlier this year. The musician formerly known as Watercolours is one of New Zealand’s most enchanting talents, regularly charming audiences with her ethereal sound and eccentric performances. Her latest track ‘Low Brow’ is a stunning listen. We sat down with Chelsea to ask her about her beginnings in the art world, her good friend Lorde and plans for making music in America... You’ve just returned from Los Angeles. What were you over there doing? I was going to make a joke about being a criminal and facing charges for something but I’m trying to apply for a visa so that’s probably not wise to joke about. In truth I was working on my debut album with Sam McCarthy, who was in Kids Of 88 and is now in a new band, as well as other songwriters and producers. When did you decide you wanted to pursue music as a career? When I was at art school I was in a band. I was totally miserable having to compromise on the amount of time I spent on music by pursuing higher education. I have this feeling that if you are being productive intellectually you don’t necessarily have to engage in formalised education. If you are making a concerted effort to engage with the world in a lateral way what’s the difference if you do it at a university or not? I made all of my art about the politics around doing music at art school. My band at the time was becoming disinterested in what we were doing and I was the one that was like full steam ahead with everything. They were at music school so they had another outlet. Anyway I started making work that was about ego. I’d make an EP in a week and all the credits would be my name. I did a performance piece where I asked everyone in my class to tell me why they deserved to go to a listening party with my music. But then it was just this shitty thing I had made in a week. It wasn’t really cool. [gallery link="file" ids="7666,7667,7668,7669,7670"] Tell me what your influences have been, not just in music, but writers, movies... I feel like at the moment I’m taking a lot of life advice from whatever Tavi Gevinson has touched. I’ve been listening to podcasts where she has been interviewed, because she’s got this really insightful way of looking at things. She’s really interesting. A good one to listen to is Ideas At The House. She did a talk in the Sydney Opera House and it’s about how sometimes when you don’t feel creative energy to make your own work it’s just as valid to appreciate other people’s work. You hang out with a few other musicians – Lorde being one of them. Do you think surrounding yourself with other creative people helps inform and inspire your work? I happen to be surrounded by people who are hyper intelligent in whatever they do. It trips me out when I think about Ella’s age, because I never think about it until someone else brings it up. Her age is so arbitrary. It has come to the point now where it is counter intuitive to align her with a number when there is a body of work and decisions involved. It’s more interesting for your own life if you surround yourself with people who are like-minded, but who don’t engage with things you are engaged in. Like for example my friend runs a website called The Pantograph Punch, it’s really quality writing commenting on society and theatre. Is it scary to share something so personal? Not just music about people in your life, but something that you’ve worked so hard on and is so close to you? I think it’s scary not to. It’s impossible to be productive if you’re working towards something that isn’t authentic. Otherwise I don’t know how you would get started or how you would finish anything if you are constantly pandering to something other than what you actually think. Also, I’ve worked for a long time, really hard, on what I do. It’s like any other job you know. You do the work, you treat yourself like a little industry, and you get better at it. I saw a funny tweet where you said you were playing your parents songs that were mostly about sex... Yeah all my new songs are about sex. I didn’t say anything to them, I was just smiled because I knew they would not appreciate it. My parents are really into my music but there was one song that was particularly overt, and my mum responded ‘It’s not funny’ because I was chuckling. Who’s your musical guilty pleasure? I just don’t believe in guilty pleasures. I love everything. I love Taylor Swift and I’m not ashamed of that. I also love John Luther Adams, who is a classical composer, who makes soundscapes in nature in the middle of the forest. At the moment I really like Alessia Cara, although she hasn’t got much out. She has this great song that samples Portishead. What’s your idea of the perfect day? It sounds really dull, but one in which I successfully execute a routine, which is not that easy for somebody who has to be self- motivated. That’s why it would be the perfect day. Get up early, go for a walk, eat a healthy breakfast, have a coffee, have a shower, and then get to work. And make a song in a day. That’s my perfect day. My song ‘Low Brow’ was made in a day and that was super liberating. What are your favourite New Zealand labels? I’m loving Georgia Alice at the mo. I will always love Liam, from the Ruby and Liam family. In fact there is another subsidiary of the Ruby family called Modern Manners and they sent me this shirt that says daily psychic readings. They didn’t know that I’m obsessed with psychics and horoscopes. If I’m going through a bad time in my life the first thing I do is find a psychic. One of my projects in art school was gathering daily horoscopes and putting them in a blog post and analysing how they related to each other. Images by Garth Badger at Thievery Studio More here.