Cloe Wilder, an indie-pop singer/songwriter from Clearwater, FL, is quickly establishing herself as someone to watch in the music industry with her catchy songs, personal lyrics, and insight into being a teenager in modern society.
At just 14 years old, Wilder possesses a singing ability that’s way beyond her years, managing to create nostalgic yet incredibly relatable songs. Discovering her passion for singing at a young age through taking piano lessons, she would dazzle her friends and family with her talent. She then started her career by creating her YouTube channel in December 2018, where she covered songs by artists like Halsey, Alessia Cara, Billie Eilish, and more.
She kicked off 2020 with the release of her single ‘Crying When I Shouldn’t’, which amassed over 300K streams on Spotify, and followed it up with her second release in June of that year, ‘You & Lonely’. Her debut EP Teenage Lullabies, released on January 27, 2021, is a soundtrack for today’s youth with songs about friends, crushes, and the various issues that make up teenage existence. The lead single off of the EP, ‘I Wanna Be Alone With You’, is an upbeat song that takes listeners through all of the feelings that come with having a crush. Drawing inspiration from artists such as Sasha Sloan, Lana Del Rey, and Lennon Stella, Wilder’s musical style can be described as dark bedroom pop.
We sat down with the pop songstress on Zoom to discuss her new EP, switching musical styles, the pitfalls of social media, and more.
You recently stated that your EP Teenage Lullabies is “the most involved you’ve been in a project”. What has that been like for you?
I think it was just the people that were around. I learned so much, and it felt empowering for me because, before that, I was going into sessions kind of randomly and feeling like I didn’t belong there. I started working with Sam Nicolosi, who produced the whole project, and I feel like he just made me feel so comfortable with myself musically. I still work with him now. We’re working on a lot of new music. It helps that the people I’m around wanted to teach me things. It was mine, and it felt like mine. A lot of the times when I’ve released something, I’d be like, “oh, but I didn’t have a lot of say in this. I didn’t do a lot in this one.” But this one was me, and I made sure that it was me. After we wrote everything, I had a say in production, which I never had before. It was definitely a different process for me, but I loved it, and I really like how it came together.
Your single ‘I Wanna Be Alone With You’ is so upbeat and perfectly captures all the feelings surrounding a crush. What do you want fans to take away from it?
That was me telling a story, and I feel like I’ve felt that way before, but I don’t have many experiences when it comes to that. It’s really about that uncomfortable and awkward feeling, and I thought it was cool to try and make it poetic because it’s not when you’re in the moment. It’s really uncomfortable, that’s it. Honestly, I think it’s a little deeper than that, in a way. Like, I know that we’re just kids, and we’re kinda stupid, but when I’m in these situations, I always try to figure out a way to make it cooler in my head. I feel like everyone should do that. These are important times and important years, and that’s something I’ve started doing more— just romanticizing it over and over again, and I feel like that’s what ‘I Wanna Be Alone With You’ is. I made an uncomfortable feeling into something that sounded cool.
Teenage Lullabies differs from your previous EP OverThinking so much. What was it like to switch musical styles?
It’s so different for me! I prefer the emotional stuff just for my comfort, but I really liked making ‘I Wanna Be Alone With You’ because it was uncomfortable for me. And that was the most storyteller I was on the project. I enjoyed making that one, though, because it was a different track, it was different words, it was not like me, but it was fun because I found a way to make it like me. And I find myself going back and listening to that one the most. So, I think that says something. I’m confident in that one too, and I think people are going to like it. If that’s the case, I’m going to keep making things like that because it was really fun. And I feel like when you have a project that’s so emotional, it’s fun to go that route because when people are listening, it can give them a break for a minute, and they can have fun.
The lyrics to all of the tracks on Teenage Lullabies, along with the rest of your discography, are so personal and relatable. Do you use music as a way to process your feelings?
Absolutely! I’ve been singing since I was 12, and I can’t imagine how I would’ve handled these very important years of my life without it because I write a song about everything that happens to me. Not everyone hears them, but it helps, and it’s helped me become a more rational person, which I don’t think I would be because I’m so emotional (laughs), and it helps me get it out there. And my songs are very rational, they’re angry, they’re sad, they’re dramatic, but that’s the kind of person I am. I try to sing it and make it pretty instead of scream it at people.
You’ve said that you did this entire project in your bedroom. What was that process like for you?
Well, I make almost everything in my bedroom. I very rarely go to studios. Pretty early, I got a pretty simple setup in my room, and most producers are like, “cool, this works.” I was grateful that I already had that because of COVID. It was nice too because it was so comfortable. I like making songs in my room with people I enjoy writing with. It was fun for me. I didn’t have to leave my house ever, and I knew that I was going to get a good song that day because I loved the people I was working with. With Teenage Lullabies, we were adding a new song to it every day, and it was so cool. I really enjoyed that process, and I’m still doing that. I’ve been writing more recently, and I’m just doing it in the bedroom again because now that I’ve realized that I can write from anywhere, I’m like, “you know what? I like it in here,” so I’m going to keep doing it.
You said that Teenage Lullabies is “a romanticization of your life, representative of every stage”. What do you want listeners to know about being a teenager today, especially with the great access to social media that we have now and going through these developmental stages?
I’ve never been a teenager without social media. I’ve had social media since I was like ten and I started properly using it when I was 11, so I think it’s a tool for me, but if I weren’t making music, I wouldn’t have social media. And that’s something I’m pretty open about because it’s just never been something I was too good at, and it’s so out of my comfort zone.
Since COVID has happened, I try to find ways to make myself enjoy social media because it’s the only way right now, and I feel like I would be a little bit of a healthier person without it, honestly. I’ve tried to figure out ways, but it’s kind of my own fault too because I’ve never really used it in a positive way myself, but then I figured out ways to make myself enjoy it. I love doing live streams, and I love talking to people who listen to my music, so, for me, now I’m looking at it as a good thing. I definitely could see why people would look at it as a bad thing. I think it could go both ways, honestly. It’s definitely in moderation, too, because I use social media a lot, but I try not to go on a few hours before bed now. There are little things that I’ve been trying to do, and I think that helps too. It’s hard to get yourself to that point because with social media, everything is laid out in front of you, and you can look at everybody’s lives. It’s a little overwhelming, and you don’t want to stop. So, it’s figuring out your breaking point and allowing yourself to break and step away.
You’ve achieved great success at such a young age. What advice do you have for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
I say this every time I’m asked this question: Don’t sign any contracts. I didn’t, but I almost did, and the only reason I didn’t was that I was with my mom. I had such a trusted figure beside me, and she didn’t want to sign the contract, but I look back at it, and if I were 18, I might have signed it. I would’ve signed 50% of my life away for the rest of my life. So, I wouldn’t have been in the place that I am now at all. So, I would say don’t sign any contracts, and it’s hard, but having a trusted person beside you — mine is my mom — is really helpful. But sometimes people don’t have that. That’s really the only advice I can give.
Also, take the time to figure yourself out before you let other people figure you out through your social media or your music because no matter what you do, no matter what you put out. I put songs and say, “this is exactly what this means to me,” and people would perceive it in any way they want to, and people aren’t going to appreciate you. So you should have a good head on your shoulders and try to figure out yourself before you let other people do that in your comment section because that can get to you. I started doing it when I was 11, so when people would tell me I was a bad singer or anything like that, I would take that to heart because I didn’t know if I was a good singer yet. I was doing something I enjoyed. So, understanding yourself before you put yourself out there is a really good thing to do. It doesn’t take that long, either. It could take really long. For me, once I started putting things out, and I realized, “oh, I don’t really get myself yet,” then I took a year, and I feel like I did figure it out after that. I’ve started writing what I wanted to write, and now I’m comfortable putting myself out there. I feel like that’s an important thing to work on before you do it.
With more singles and videos to be released off of her debut EP and new music on the horizon, this is only the beginning for the prodigious Cloe Wilder. With her relatable lyrics and mature singing voice, she’s making a name for herself. Longtime listeners and new fans alike are eager to see how her star will rise.