Chelsea Cutler is on top of the world right now, and it’s all thanks to her talented pen and candid honesty.
The 26-year-old artist has been carving out her spot in the music industry since 2017, releasing poignant pop that’s as well written as it is soul-bearing. Her new album Stellaria is more proof of that.
Released in October, Chelsea‘s third album is her most honest yet. On it, she sings about the beginning of her relationship with her girlfriend, experiences with depression and the growing pains of life in your early 20s.
It’s another solid addition to her discography, which includes two collaborative projects with Jeremy Zucker and duets with the likes of Noah Kahan alongside countless solo hits.
Chelsea recently wrapped up an acoustic tour of Europe, and she’s gearing up to embark on her The Beauty is Everywhere Tour in early 2024. The tour will feature stops at some bigger venues than ever before, and there’s a lot to look forward to.
Before she hits the road again, we caught up with Chelsea to learn more about the album and tour.
She spoke candidly about how Stellaria differs from her earlier material, breaking down some of its songs and revealing what it was like to unleash such a confessional album.
The hitmaker also opened up about plans for the future, dream collaborations and the importance of being involved in music production as a woman.
Head inside to check out our exclusive interview with Chelsea Cutler…
Just Jared: It sounds like a really busy schedule that you’ve had the last month or so and it kicks off again with your tour in the new year.
Chelsea Cutler: Yeah, it’s crazy. We were just talking, my managers and I, about the fact that it’s already mid-November, which means we’ve got to get the tour production and set list figured out actually really soon. So it kind of dawned on me today. Time’s flying by.
JJ: How did you land on The Beauty is Everywhere as the name of the tour?
CC: It felt like this slogan that kept popping up when we were making the album and shooting all the content for the album and designing the packaging. This phrase just kind of became the slogan we would use, and it just feels really relevant.
It feels like it really encapsulates what the whole message of the album is because for me, the last two years of making this album was this learning experience. Learning to appreciate the process and not get too caught up on the outcome of everything. It just got much more comfortable being in the present and appreciating everything that’s right in front of me.
And we just love that phrase so much that, if it wasn’t going to be the album title, it was going to be the tour.
JJ: How will this tour be different from what you were just doing in Europe?
CC: So in Europe we did all acoustic shows. They were super small and intimate. It was really, really special and wonderful. I wish I could do that in America at some point, too. But this time around we’re doing some really big venues that are some bucket list venues and hopefully going to make the show an incredibly beautiful and immersive experience. I’m just in awe at some of the venues we’re playing honestly.
JJ: Are there any places that you’re most excited to perform at?
CC: I would say there are a few. Aragon [Ballroom] in Chicago, I’m so excited about. I got to play The Riv[iera Theatre] twice and to get to finally graduate, go up to the Aragon… It was mind blowing to me. Doing Radio City and MGM in New York and Boston. And then we’re doing the Palladium in Los Angeles, which I’ve never been to but I heard it’s super legendary. So I’m really excited about that too. There’s just a bunch that are kind of like these bucket list rooms that I’ve been dreaming of playing for years.
JJ: You just released an acoustic version of “Your Bones.” Is that something you see yourself doing more of with the album?
CC: I don’t know. You know, I think the more the merrier, but I think I just get really excited when songs are out to kind of move on and start writing new stuff. Just because you spend so much time working on the same song.
You spend so much time working on the same songs, you know. For “Your Bones,” for example, I wrote that song almost a year and a half ago. So to still be working on a new version of it, it’s kind of interesting. And as an artist, I think you just get excited to kind of look forward and see what’s next.
JJ: Are you already thinking about what’s next musically now or going to get through the tour first?
CC: Totally. I just keep a note on my phone of kind of which, you know, is going to come first. But I definitely know in my lifetime what I want to be making next for sure.
Anytime I have a thought, I just keep a note on my phone of like the most random, like product ideas or companies or books I could write someday. Some of them are pretty far fetched, but it’s fun.
JJ: “Your Bones” is probably a special song since it’s your first love song that’s openly dedicated to your girlfriend. What was that like for you?
CC: Honestly, I feel pretty good because I feel like so many people could relate to the song. The song has become pretty universal outside of romantic love. I think a lot of people have used the soundbite to show videos of their weddings, but also to show their dogs and their cats and their children and their best friends and self love.
So it’s just honestly been really cool to see the way the song has been received by so many different people and how people are interpreting it and applying it to their own life. That’s the coolest part about making art, honestly.
JJ: You worked with your girlfriend on the visualizer. What was that like kind of collaborating together on a project?
CC: Honestly, it was really unintentional. She just bought a Super 8 camera for fun. She works in finance. And just for the summer, she bought the Super 8 camera and went around videotaping with it. She just kept making all these cute videos that were really good. And I was just like, “You’re really good at this. You have all this Super 8 video, why not put it together and see if you could make a video for ‘Your bones?’”
And she crushed it. The first video she’s ever made was… YouTube put it up in Times Square. So that’s a pretty good start to her video-making career!
JJ: That’s incredible. Do you think you might work together again on something in the future?
CC: We were just walking around talking about that this week because she was in Europe with me. And I was kind of trying to see if that’s something she’d be interested in doing in the future.
I was like, “You’re really good at this.” So maybe, but I know she’s very diligent and hardworking at her day job, too. She’s a super creative person. So I think it’s good for her to have an outlet like that.
JJ: There are a couple other songs I want to talk about on the album. “You’re All I Ever Dreamed Of,” you said that it was about the beginning of your relationship with your girlfriend. Can you talk a little bit about it?
CC: I wanted to really address the beginning of our relationship because I feel like I never did. I feel like when I started posting pictures of us together and being open about it with my fans, I just tried to be really nonchalant about it because obviously admitting that you’re scared is hard, and it’s an extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable thing to do. I just tried to really play cool when we first started dating.
And I wanted to be honest and address how scary it was, you know? The first few months that we dated, we didn’t tell anyone and a lot of our first dates were in private. We’d book a room at some hotel and spend a few days together getting to know each other. And it’s such a fragile and also really beautiful thing. And that juxtaposition is just something I found really fascinating and wanted to write about.
JJ: And then “Growing Up is Hard…” It felt like a love letter to like your younger self. How did you feel to look back on the past?
CC: I think it’s interesting, right? Because, you know, on one hand, I look back really fondly, and I romanticized that time where I felt so carefree and I would go out and make reckless decisions. And how wonderful it is to act so recklessly without thinking so much about everything you’re doing.
On the other hand, obviously, you’re hungover a lot. And you’re stressed, and you’re figuring out your sexuality, and you’re figuring out which friends you actually feel your best around. And it’s actually quite a difficult time to navigate. I just think that, again, that’s another juxtaposition that I found really interesting, particularly because I feel like your early 20s are so glamorized. The truth is that there’s not much that’s glamorous about it. It’s really quite messy and ugly and all over the place.
JJ: How would you say that Stellaria differs from what you’ve released before?
CC: Well, obviously I’m biased, but my hope is that it feels much more mature and vulnerable than anything I put out in the past. I really did my best to hold myself to a higher standard sonically and lyrically. I think I was honest in ways that I haven’t been before. I think that’s clear even just in the conversation that you and I are having now – being able to address something like coming out and falling in love and dating a girl for the first time. That’s something I don’t think I would have had the guts to write about three or four years ago. Ultimately I just hope that the sound is matured in line with how I’ve matured as a human being.
JJ: Were there any songs that you were nervous about putting out?
CC: That’s a good question. I’m not sure that there’s anything I was particularly nervous about. If anything, I wrote so many songs for this record that it was honestly kind of hard to whittle down and pick the right ones. I kind of feel like I’m in a place where it just feels good to hopefully be maturely vulnerable and to really articulate these feelings that I think I was scared to before.
Like, again, I don’t think three or four years ago I could have put out a song that’s as brutally straightforward and honest as “I Don’t Feel Alive,” for example. So it’s obviously to some extent nerve wracking, but it’s way more like how cathartic it is really outweighs how nerve wracking it is.
JJ: Are there any songs that you’re like most excited to play live on tour from the album?
CC: Ooh, that’s a really good question. So I’m still trying to figure out what songs from the album are going to make the setlist. Three albums deep into my career, there’s way more songs than ever before to pick for a setlist, which is kind of stressful. I think that if I had to choose something that I’m really excited about, it would probably be… I think “If Not Yours.” For some reason, I just feel like that’s going to be really fun to play live.
JJ: You mentioned you have three albums, and you also have the two brent projects with Jeremy [Zucker]. Do you think you’ll add songs off those to the setlist, too?
CC: Yeah, I’m sure, yeah. I never don’t.
JJ: Do you think that you might have another brent in you and Jeremy?
CC: Yeah, I mean, we talk about it a lot. It’s always at the forefront of our conversations and forefront of our minds. It’s obviously a really, really special thing. And I think if we make a third one, that’ll be the ribbon on everything.
JJ: You mentioned that you’re always coming up with ideas and writing them down. What would you say is something that you really want to accomplish still?
CC: I mean, that’s a loaded question because I think that I’m – for better, for worse – an extremely goal-oriented person. So there’s a million things. I’d love to play MSG someday.
JJ: Speaking about touring, what would you say is the best part of being on the road for you?
CC: Obviously the best part is getting to connect with fans in person because for the most part on a daily basis, all we really see is data and numbers. That can kind of mean nothing after a while.
So getting to meet real people is the best part of doing this job in general. And then that aside, I would say it’s kind of… Like, I went to boarding school and then college and then straight to tour buses, you know? So I’m just a person who’s really used to living around other people. Getting to live on a bus for a couple months at a time with your crew is… It’s kind of like going back to college in the dorm rooms, you know? It’s a lot of fun.
JJ: Are there any dream collaborations you’d like to line up in the future?
CC: There are definitely a lot. Probably the collab I think about the most would be doing something with Flume. Maybe people don’t know this about me, but Flume is a top three, top four artist for me in the entire world.
JJ: Who else do you listen to? Who inspires you musically now?
CC: So many people. I mean, I listen to so much music. Sometimes you just hear a song that’s so different from anything else you’ve been listening to lately. I think the Troye [Sivan] album, for example, just came out. They really just did such a great job of creating something that’s just a bit distinct compared to what else has been really in the mainstream lately.
And it just sonically scratches all the itches. It feels really innovative, fun. He’s just cool. Like, all the visuals are cool and executed incredibly.
There are a lot of times I listen to something like that, that’s so sonically different from anything that I make. And I hear little things, little sonic elements, and I say to myself, “Man, that could be really cool to kind of bring more over into my sound.”
JJ: Being involved in your production is super important to you. Can you touch a little bit on why that’s such a big deal?
CC: I just love making music. So the more involved I can be in it, the better. And I really, really enjoy how sometimes when you sit down to write a song and you’re producing it out, it kind of feels like you’re not even driving the car, if that makes sense. Like, these little happy accidents come to you or you just get an idea out of nowhere that you would have never thought of beforehand. I just love the magic and the spontaneity that goes into it and it’s just so fulfilling.
And that magic is a big reason why I love making music so much. I also just feel like there’s not a lot of women, obviously, in it. So, you know, it’s really important to me as a woman to work with other women. To be a woman in pop music who is heavily involved in it. And something I really want to get involved in is, at Berkley or NYU or something like that, just teaching a production class or starting a foundation or something. Who knows what I’ll do at some point. But I just would love to get involved in bringing more women into the production world.