Sophie speaks to Chloe Carrubba, Plymouth based musician about her newest release, Bittersweet
"Working with Liam Roberts and Benny Lau Crispin who run The Granary Studios, I feel that they speak to me and respect me on a very significant level. They take me seriously as a musician and that we make the music that I’ve always wanted to make together. "
To kick off our artist features, we are speaking to the talented Chloe Carrubba. Full time English teacher and songwriter, it is no surprise that she is a lyrical goddess. Chloe sounds like a mishmash of Phoebe Bridgers, Lana Del Ray and Saint Vincent. Her single Bittersweet has just been released via TGS Recordings.
"Just because your music is not paying your bills or bringing you in thousands of pounds each month, does not mean that your music is not valid, it does not mean that your music is not credible and good."
Firstly, how did you get into music?
I got into music the same way many young female musicians today will tell you, by constantly listening to Taylor Swift. I got myself a guitar aged 11 and from then on began songwriting and never stopped. It was when I went to university that my music really began to flourish and I started to play live shows which I’ve been doing for about the last six years now. I have always written poetry and I currently work as an English teacher in a secondary school in Devon and so my writing has always been important to me therefore it was a very easy transition into songwriting lyric writing from the poetry works I’d always been writing throughout my life.
"Songwriting is always a cathartic experience for me. I don’t really hide what I’m feeling or avoid specifics. I think that’s alright and is genuine in that sense and for that reason people love it or hate it."
Did you have any one moment when you realised you wanted to do music?
I feel like I’m still living in this moment of realisation, unfortunately I’m not in a position where music can be my full-time job I have a very large side hustle full-time job as a teacher of young people so I feel like I’m constantly still living out this fantasy dream of one day being able to do music forever.
Seeing Lorde live was a very transformative experience for me as a musician, performer and a songwriter. I really saw this woman cohesively bring together many different art forms and to me she symbolised what it was to be a true authentic performer so you could say in that moment it reaffirmed that this was a career I’ve always wanted.
When describing her style of music she described it as ‘songs you wouldn’t like written about you or your son’, she is brutally honest with her songwriting which makes for an authentic, real song that creeps from the realms of synth indie folk pop.
You’ve delved into a more electronic infusion of folk with Bittersweet, compared to your other songs which are more traditional to folk instrumentation (acoustic, stripped back guitar and vocals). What inspired Bittersweet?
Musically Bittersweet is the most diverse in terms of songs that I’ve released. I have always in my songwriting process heard of visions and versions of my songs which I cannot translate simply through the folk genre or just myself and the guitar.
"It’s only since working with Liam Roberts, my producer and my label at The Granary Studio is that I’ve met a producer that’s able to really meet me on the same level with that vision and translate the songs into things which are much bigger which is what Bittersweet sounds like, probably why I’m so proud of it as well. "
I would say that the strip back focus is definitely my comfort blanket and my safety zone. Putting out something like Bittersweet has been extremely nerve wracking and any time anybody tells me that they like it, I’m blown away because I’m so proud of it. But I do think sometimes we live in our own heads. (Talking about songs) When they go into the real world that’s when you have to give them over to other people to see what their perception is. I do think that although this song sounds different production wise it maintains my authentic storytelling lyrics which I really like the combination of.
Where is your favourite place to record music and why?
My favourite place to initially record music is completely alone through the notes page and voice note function of my phone in the bedroom, half husky scratchy ideas that I then sent on to my producer, Liam Roberts. I have a home now at The Granary Studio’s where I am putting my music out through their label. I've never felt so accepted and heard and listened to in a recording space until now.
I’m sure this has been spoken about many times and I know the Haim sisters speak about it frequently, but recording spaces for women can feel like a very daunting, isolating space where we're sort of allowed to go in on a Willy Wonka chocolate factory golden ticket basis but not really have any say in. But working with Liam Roberts and Benny Lau Crispin who run The Granary Studios, I feel that they speak to me and respect me on a very significant level. They take me seriously as a musician and that we make the music that I’ve always wanted to make together.
What has the response from Bittersweet been like?
I don’t think people were expecting me to put out a song like Bittersweet now, especially since there’s been such a long space of time between me performing live. Bittersweet is a standalone and stands out amongst my small music catalogue. On the whole, people seem to really be enjoying the shift in general from me thank God!
How has the pandemic affected your music?
The pandemic gave me space and time to stop and take pressure off where I was within my music career and stop gauging success based on streams and performances. I'm just really sick with the part of making music that I love, which is some writing and creating. It also meant I had a lot of disruptive time in the studio so I actually began making the songs which will eventually be out on a full EP at the end of August. I began making them last October so it will be nearly a full year before anybody hears those songs. This gave me time in the studio to develop other ideas. For example, Bittersweet is an idea that I brought to the table at the end of a studio session one day and we loved making. So it really gave me space between recording writing and getting out of my own head.
I love how open and honest your songwriting feels. How did you find the recording experience?
Songwriting is always a cathartic experience for me. I don’t really hide what I’m feeling or avoid specifics. I think that’s alright and is genuine in that sense and for that reason people love it or hate it. I really love this song because not only does it sum up how I felt about that person in that moment, it also sums out for me how I felt during lockdown and to have that in written word is something I can take forever and explain to my grandkids one day when we talk about this pandemic. The notion of Bittersweet was being stuck in this sweet memory of the past but feeling so tense with sadness because that person didn’t reciprocate my feelings. It also really stands out as a metaphor for that feeling that we all had during lockdown, where we were reminiscent of things we did that we took for granted in the real world, for me that was festivals and anybody who knows me knows I fall in love every festival I go to! This song was quite a tricky one to write because it is so honest but also because it meant I had to take up a lot of the bit of feelings to go alongside this week's feelings, but this song really did allow me to draw a line under all of that.
What are your future musical plans?
I have an EP coming out at the end of August which I’ve worked on with The Granary Studio’s. And then I guess when we ever return to normality I will begin to gig a bit more in venues that are right for me and continue making music with Liam and Benny because it has been the most joyful musical experience I’ve had in such a long time.
"The notion of Bittersweet was being stuck in this sweet memory of the past but feeling so tense with sadness because that person didn’t reciprocate my feelings."
What songs/artists are you digging at the moment?
I am listening to a lot of Fontaines D C I love them. I love their writing. I love the sound. I’m also listening to the new Sam Fender stuff, which is phenomenal as always. Sam fender does not miss the mark. I’m also really enjoying new stuff from Lorde and Griff. I won’t lie, I adored the Olivia Roderigo album despite the fact it makes me feel extremely old! I read somewhere that people were suggesting she was an alien because the songwriting is that good and I have to say I agree! And finally digging into the new stuff, Big Red Machine are bringing us with Bon Iver and Taylor Swift, a combination which still to this day makes me die!
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
A piece of advice I wish I had when I started music would be that you do not have to make this your career. You can live a fully flourishing life and make music, music does not have to pay your bills. When I put the pressure on myself for music to be my main source of income, that was when I really started to resent what I was doing. I started to question the things I was making, trying to make myself more likeable and more interesting.
Just because your music is not paying your bills or bringing you in thousands of pounds each month, does not mean that your music is not valid, it does not mean that your music is not credible and good. I love making music and since I’ve come to terms with the fact that I need to do a pretty big side hustle in order to make music forever, I’m finally making music I want to make.
Stream Bittersweet now:
To follow Chloe on instagram, click here.