Get to know Chelsea Warner, an artist out of Sydney who today drops her debut single ‘How Come You Don’t Pick Up Your Phone’.
The track is a super-slinky piece of soul/R&B, but there are many more strings to Chelsea’s bow, as you’ll soon discover among the answers to our pressing questions.
So let’s not dilly dally… Let’s crack on and get to know Chelsea Warner in our latest feature.
01. Name : Chelsea Warner.
02. Where are you based? Sydney.
03. How did you get your start in music? I wrote my first (awful, surreal and incoherent) song at age two and started busking in shops and markets in my early teenage years. Having some fairly okay piano and guitar knowledge under my belt, I started writing around that time, and learned to produce when I was about 15.
I can’t remember ever not taking music seriously and knowing it was what I wanted to do, so I feel like it’s always been a part of me.
04. Give us five words to best describe you as an artist. Determined, sassy, somewhat nihilistic, groovy and thorough.
05. Tell us a little bit about your sound and how it developed. I grew up listening to a lot of Ariana Grande – she was a huge part of my adolescence, and her sound has really grown up with me. Her vocal arranging really influenced how I work my vocals now, as well as really inspired me through her virtuosity.
I always had an interest in jazz harmony, loving Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald throughout high school, and so when I started writing, I incorporated chords I found interesting with catchy pop ideas. I eventually realised this was R&B, and fell down that rabbit hole the past couple years.
06. What’s your earliest musical memory? My dad would sing songs to and with me when I was young, and I vividly recall the mixtapes he would put on in the car. One in particular that I remember had ‘Stop’ by the Spice Girls and ‘Blue’ by Eiffel 65 and I have this weird nostalgia about those two tracks!
I sung in primary school choir and did singing lessons since a young age, so that’s when I first remember really getting involved.
07. Who have been your musical influences? I love the musicality of acts like Thundercat, Mac Ayers and De La Soul, as well as the storytelling of artists such as Amy Winehouse, Noname and Erykah Badu. I’m also super influenced by hip hop production by acts like like Tyler, The Creator and Mac Miller.
08. What are your favourite songs of all time? I love the musical intricacy and sass of Erykah Badu’s ‘Certainly’. I also adore the blasé heart-string pulling and Dilla-esque beat of Mac Miller’s ‘My Favourite Part’, as well as the beautiful way he discusses love on ‘Congratulations’.
‘Step Back’ by Milan Ring is divine, ‘Needy’ by Ariana Grande is so hauntingly, achingly beautiful and ‘Precious’ by Esperanza Spalding is so empowering. I also love classic old school jazz standards like ‘All The Things You Are’ and ‘My Romance’.
09. Where’s your favourite place to listen to music? When I’m on the move, walking or on public transport, so I can take in my surroundings. Also in bed.
10. Who are your go-to artists when you’re feeling :
Happy : Anderson .Paak, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire.
Sad : Ariana Grande, Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald.
Introspective : Noname, Flying Lotus, Mac Miller.
Exhausted : If I’m exhausted, it’s probably because I’ve been blaring music all day! So I would probably just sleep… but if anything, I do love Tom Misch for good energy.
11. What was the first album you ever bought? I seriously think it was One Direction or something of that nature. If it wasn’t that, it was Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ when I was in my pop punk phase. I thought that album was the best of all time. It’s still pretty good.
12. Give us a little fun fact about yourself that people might not know. I can’t read 24 hour time. And, I am super lucky to have travelled heaps as a kid with my family and therefore I love Tibetan Buddhism and have played with a jazz band in Cuba.
13. What would your chosen career be if music wasn’t an option? A journalist/writer or academic, at this point in my life. I love reading, learning and analysing.
14. What’s the best advice you’ve been given in your career? I’ve been told to follow my intuition a lot, which is seemingly obvious, but huge. I tend to be a serial saying-yes-er, so in terms of co-writing and production, my friend Hauskey told me to think quality over quantity, which really helped clear my head.
For my own project, I’ve learned through lots of advice that my best asset is what I do differently to others, not similarly.
15. What’s been the highlight of your musical journey so far? Working with Universal Publishing as of last year has been incredibly exciting for me, as I love getting stuck in to as many musical projects as possible, so I’ve loved toplining and honing my production while creating with awesome artists. When I get my first co-write release, I’ll be over the moon.
But honestly, the most fulfilling thing so far has been releasing this single. It’s given me confidence to move forward and provided me a foundation to not be so paralysed to put things out. It’s super exciting, but it’s also pulled me out of perfectionism.
16. What’s been the strangest experience you’ve had in the business? As a young emerging artist and woman in the industry, I’ve definitely had a couple moments where I felt small and uncomfortable… but I feel like my strangest moment is coming.
17. If you could trade places with any artist in the world right now, who would it be? Probably Thundercat. I’d love to walk a mile in his shoes, and brain.
18. Tell us about your latest release. My song ‘How Come You Don’t Pick Up Your Phone’ is an alternative R&B jam about the moment you realise you are orienting yourself around other people’s actions, sparked through something as inconsequential as waiting for a text back. It’s about the desperation of external reliance as opposed to emotional self-sufficiency.
It came from a time in my late adolescence where I was faced with the reality that the only reason I felt so frustrated at the hands of other people was because I allowed them to have that power over me. So I mused on the pathetic image of staring at a phone screen, with blue light making me look and feel almost dead, all while acknowledging my responsibility in my own unhappiness.
I was influenced by Erykah Badu and ’90s hip-hop, and wanted to combine the musicality of acts like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul with the storytelling of artists such as Badu, Amy Winehouse and Noname, while also loving hip hop production like Tyler, The Creator and Mac Miller.
Once I decided I wanted to release the song, at least six months later I touched up the production, beat and recorded extra vocals and trumpet.
19. What do your future plans involve? I’m currently refining my voice and instruments at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music as much as I can, and also writing and producing any spare moment for either myself or other artists. I’m sitting on heaps of demos at the moment, so 2020 will see more releases!
This year, I want to hopefully play shows across Australia and to release my debut EP, while having it all feel very true to me. I’m feeling super comfortable artistically and personally, finally, so I’m keen to explore this confidence and see where the amazing people around me allow me to go.
20. Where can our audience catch you live? Unsure at the moment in the current climate.
WEBSITE : www.chelseawarnermusic.com
FACEBOOK : https://www.facebook.com/ChelseaWarnerMusic
INSTAGRAM : https://www.instagram.com/chelseawarnermusic
SOUNDCLOUD : https://soundcloud.com/chelseawarnermusic
YOUTUBE : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFHfNpBY8iR1ZPgJH3amAaw