Nothing drives musical creation more than the relationships and previous experiences of the artists, so “Ego Pleaser” arrived just in time to close the cycle that Chloe Florence opened with her single “Radio”. The truth is that to give this song its proper dimension it is necessary to review the other songs since it is the same story told in different fragments.
In this song, the ego and the soul fight a battle and it is not the first time that it happens. In previous songs, Chloe has faced emotions such as hopelessness, the need to feel free, to not care what others think, and to be a little tired.
This track comes with more of a pop beat that still preserves the musical and rhythmic harmony that characterizes Chloe’s previous songs. Ultimately Chloe spends a large part of the EP shedding her skin, and that makes it very interesting.
In this interview Chloe was quite generous, she did not spare words to tell us about her projects, tastes and expectations.
Chloe, many of your songs are transversalized with themes like self-confidence, acceptance, setting limits, and having courage. At least is what we could identify. Is your music a reflection of yourself or it came from different sources of inspiration?
Honestly, it’s definitely a bit of both. I wrote most of the songs on the EP during the pandemic so there wasn’t much going on in my life that I could draw inspiration from. I knew I had to change my perspective on songwriting, so I decided to create a character and build her world from my past experiences surrounding relationships and identity, pre-pandemic. I created this strong independent female lead within a contrasting old Hollywood/old Western setting… I wanted to tell the story of a damsel in distress turned into a powerful self-assured woman.
How did the idea of Ego Pleaser come to your head?
The idea of Ego Pleaser came about pretty naturally. Each song represents a chapter of this character’s story, and the song Ego Pleaser seemed to be a pivotal moment that I really wanted to highlight, so I decided to name the entire EP after it.
Is there any common narrative or thread between your latest songs?
Yes, there definitely is. This story is told from my personal experiences as well as those from my friends. It felt like it had been brewing in my mind for a while and when I started writing a lot, the music took on this vintage/film noir sort of aesthetic that I really chose to explore in my music videos.
This is the storyline:
Scarred by the actions of a past lover, she made a vow to remain independent by whatever means necessary. At first, she felt hopeless as her entire identity was lost to him/her (aka “Radio”). She was a blank slate and decided to allow herself to be completely free. People’s perception of her no longer mattered, she was only to care about herself (aka “Insane”). She was tired of living in stagnance and chose to live her life on the road, day by day. She does not think about the future, not anymore (aka “Bonnie No Clyde”).
Ego Pleaser is about the same character, post Bonnie No Clyde crime-spree. Metaphysically, this is a battle between the ego and soul within the human psyche.
She did not want to risk being hurt again so she chose to protect herself. In Bonnie No Clyde, she flips the switch, turning off her more sensitive traits. In Ego Pleaser, she finds herself caught between her ego and her soul. The former craves power and madness, whereas the latter embodies humility and peace. This is a duality strongly at play in her journey of recovery and rediscovery of herself. Up to this point, she has enjoyed the instant gratification and the chaos associated with pleasing her ego. However, now she feels her soul haunting her dreams, telling her to wake up.
The ego encourages denial and avoidance. In her sleep, the soul helps her demons hide, so that no matter how hard she tries, they keep coming to the surface to remind her of what she has not yet healed from. She is host to the metaphysical battle between the ego and the soul.
In the lyrics of the song itself, she is trying to convince herself that her soul is “already dead”. She explains that she is sick of keeping “the surface smiling” as wearing the ego mask at all times is beginning to be exhausting. At the same time, she is so fearful of being vulnerable that she can not open herself up to anyone. The emotion in the lyric “I don’t think you’ll ever see me crying” is suppressed by an egotistical/snarky remark “tears are made of gold baby yeah that shit is priceless”. The truth is she must find balance, rather than losing one or the other.
Do you have any expectations with your new release? Something that you would like to achieve among the public that follows your music?
I don’t have any particular expectations because I find it easy to get wrapped up in those, especially when it comes to numbers, and I really want to avoid clouding my mind with that sort of thing. However, I am really looking forward to connecting with my future audience on our similar experiences and also hearing their personal perspectives on my music. I love exploring other people’s interpretation of my art because it often opens up a world of possibilities within the music itself that I may not have seen or understood prior.
What artists have influenced your musical style?
When I started writing music I was definitely inspired by Lana Del Rey, I think her aesthetic world and songwriting abilities are so well crafted and I always admired that. I am also really inspired by Amy Winehouse and how honest and raw her writing always was. Recently, I’ve been obsessed with Doja Cat’s newest album. I love how she portrays female sexuality and confidence in both her sound and lyricism.
Your videos also have a particular aesthetic. How involved are you with the audiovisual creative process?
I am a very visual person, so when I was writing a few of these songs I had a very particular image in mind. For instance, after writing Bonnie No Clyde, I knew there had to be a music video because the storyline and aesthetic was so clear to me within the writing. I am quite involved in the audiovisual creative process. For both music videos I have released this past year, I created the storyboard and concept which is then tweaked and finalized with the amazing directors and creative team I worked with. It was important for me to have some creative control because I really wanted to be authentic in my videos and have them be as close to my original mental image of them as possible.
Let’s do a projection exercise. If you could choose an artist to do a live performance, who would it be and why?
Oh my, there are so many to choose from. I mean Lana Del Rey is an all time OG favourite of mine so that would just be a dream. I also think that our voices would compliment each other nicely.
It looks like everything around you is about art. Singer, writer, model, working with acrylics… Is it a way to see the world? Does it have something to do with coming from a family deeply linked to the arts?
Ever since I was a child, I’ve always seemed to gravitate towards the arts. I was always dancing, singing, playing instruments… essentially putting on a show everywhere I went. It has always been a part of my life. I was introduced to the piano quite young by my father. I used to sit next to him, feet dangling off the piano bench, while he played and played, and I always remembered being so fascinated by it.
During the pandemic, I was in a bit of a rut musically, and my therapist actually suggested I try a new medium so I tried out acrylic painting. I took an online course with some middle-aged ladies and really enjoyed myself… Now it’s something I gravitate towards when I get stuck in one realm of creativity, namely music. Expressing myself artistically is my life’s calling, it is a necessity. I can’t function without creating, it’s how I navigate and understand myself and my life.
Where you would like to be in artistic terms in a few year?
I would love to be working on an album and performing a lot more.
Do you have plans for coming live performances?
I’m hoping that the COVID situation will improve and more opportunities for performing will come up! I am going to LA in October and am hoping to land a gig somewhere there.
Thanks so much Chloe. See, at the end of some interviews we like to do a ping pong questionnaire to get to know the artists in a more personal way. Short and quick answers. Ready?
The soundtrack of your life:
channel ORANGE by Frank Ocean
Your favorite meal:
any pizza/pasta in Sicily.
Gilmore Girls is my comfort show haha
A fact that has marked your life:
my last two relationships.
The song you are currently obsessed with:
Mystery Lady by Masego
Something you regret:
not being in the moment — not recognizing a good thing till it’s gone.
If you could have a conversation with somebody alive or dead, who would it be?
Three things you like about yourself:
my strong nature, my independence, my devotion to my passions
If you were able to change something in the world, what would you change?
Oh gosh so many things… but how about abolishing the patriarchy? I feel like that’s a good start.
If you had ten seconds for a wish, what would you ask for?
I’d wish for lifelong health for all my loved ones.
CONNECT WITH CHLOE FLORENCE
photos / courtesy of the artist
story / Mariana Gonzalez