“I feel like there’s never been another option for me other than music,” begins Chloe Moriondo, sitting in the sunny yellow bedroom that has been the backdrop for most of her career so far. Sporting a new head of freshly-bleached locks, and Zooming from the familiar confines of her Detroit home, the YouTube star-turned-singer-songwriter is diving into why she was drawn to music in the first place.
“I just remember growing up around music, and watching all those talent shows with my family when I was younger. I’d sit under the coffee table while the rest of my family were on the couch and we would watch American Idol or America’s Got Talent. I’d watch [the younger contestants] and be like, ‘I wanna be that cool and make my own music and perform when I’m older’. It was never really a choice; it felt like this was all I ever really wanted to do.”
Motivated by the YouTubers and cover artists she found online - “I got really inspired by dodie; she was my inspiration when I first started putting up covers” - it was in 2014 that Chloe first took hold of the reigns and began her own YouTube channel, reworking tracks herself. The results speak for themselves: her 2017 ukulele-backed cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ has a staggering 11 million views, while her channel itself boasts a causal 3.14 million subscribers.
But as Chloe grew, so did her musical curiosity. Her first venture into original songwriting came with 2018’s ‘Rabbit Hearted’, ten open-hearted tracks backed by her signature softly-strummed ukulele, before her 2020 ‘Spirit Orb’ EP - co-written alongside friend Cavetown - showed off even more colours in her musical palette.
Now 18, signed to Fueled By Ramen, and with a new and entirely different album up her sleeve, is it strange to look back on her YouTube days and see how much she’s grown, or comforting to have a document of it all? “A little bit of both,” she smiles. “I’m learning more and more every day to accept the fact that I’m no longer 13 and that’s OK, but I find my old videos, and my old music, really endearing. As much as I cringe when I listen to it a lot of the time, thinking ‘Ahh I could do that so much better now’, I have learned to appreciate and really be fully grateful for the start that I got, and for how many people started knowing me when I was like, 13 or 14, and have now followed me through that.”
“Over the past year, I wanted to make music that sounded and felt bigger, that moves people in a different way.”
Chloe’s next move, however, marks a distinct new chapter for the singer. Set to release new album ‘Blood Bunny’ next month, it’s an entirely new sonic look for her, channeling her love of “early 2000s music, like Avril Lavigne and Paramore”. Led by recent tracks ‘I Want To Be With You’, ‘GIRL ON TV’ and ’Manta Rays’, it’s more punked up and dynamic, and a direct move away from the bedroom-pop sounds of her previous work.
“I feel like I’ve always wanted to make the type of music that I’ve been able to make now,” she explains. “It’s crazy that I finally am! I’ve always loved the softer side of my music, and I’ve obviously released a lot more stuff that is softer, or just me and a ukulele. But over the past year, I really wanted to make music that sounded and felt bigger; that moves people in a different way than my older stuff would.”
It’s also the kind of bold, punk-flecked pop that enhances her honest and confessional songwriting perfectly. Unafraid to put her emotions on the line, it’s on ‘Blood Bunny’ that Chloe explores the full experience of being a teenager right now. “I feel like I’ve always been kind of an open book with people, and just in general,” she admits. “I know there are kids and girls and people who are experiencing the same stuff that I do. It definitely has gotten a little harder to be as honest as possible when it comes to so many people watching me… It makes me nervous, and [I think] “Oh, should I be sharing everything or should I be sharing nothing?” It becomes a little bit overwhelming at times, but I love being able to share who I am and what I love with the world, so it’s not too hard I guess.”
As for why the record got its title? “I liked ‘Blood Bunny’ because I think a lot of the songs on the album would fit a bloody scene - there’s bloody imagery in a lot of the songs. And I love bunnies!” she giggles. Gory imagery and cute animals aside, the title also underlines her own personal evolution. “I think it’s a really sweet follow-up from ‘Rabbit Hearted’; I made that all by myself on an illegal version of Logic when I was 14, through to this, which is such a crazy project that I’m so proud of. It feels so much bigger.”
As featured in the April 2021 issue of DIY, out now.