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CloZee Soars Past the Limits of Bass | Interview

by Tigerlily

To say that I was nervous for my first in-person interview, and with CloZee no less, would be an understatement.  I’d prepared by watching hours of interviews with her, put all my questions on notecards on a keyring (heaven forbid I drop them), packed my bag of gear, and got to the Crystal Ballroom early.  As it turned out, I didn’t have to “fake it ‘til you make it” for long as Chloé Herry, better known as CloZee, is gracious, kind, and funny.

Hailing from Toulouse, France, at 11 years old CloZee began taking classical guitar lessons, and by 16 she was producing electronic music inspired by the likes of edIT (of The Glitch Mob) and Amon Tobin.  As France has a long history of taking in refugees, CloZee was exposed throughout her life to the sounds of cultures around the world.  It’s no wonder she produces Bass music that doesn’t just embrace unusual instruments and sounds, she puts them on display, and makes you fall in love with them.  CloZee’s World Bass is uplifting and moving, yet somehow also calming. From the brief time I spent with her, I’d say that the music of CloZee is a reflection of Chloé herself; thoughtful, passionate, and sophisticated in its simplicity.  

Following the interview, I had the pleasure of seeing her perform for the first time.  I can’t say enough great things about her set, and I’m a House and Trance lover! Make sure you catch this immensely talented woman on her U.S. Spring tour, going on now.  

The following transcript has been edited for readability.

FMF: My name is Sandra Huitt, I write as Tigerlily.  I’m here with Chloe, better known as CloZee.

CloZee: Hello.

Hi!  It’s a pleasure to be here with you.  

Same here.

As someone who grew up in an ashram singing Sanskrit chants accompanied by clapping, the kaimani hand bells, the sitar, guitar, and things like that, your songs really bring me back to some great childhood memories.  Cause you incorporate so many of those sounds, in particular “Baiana”, “Sankar’s Lake“, and “Apsara Calling”. Those three in particular. So speaking of childhoods, your musical childhood, did you get to pick the guitar or was that something that your parents chose?

I picked it, yeah.  I was a big fan of flamenco music.   Big fan of Vincente Amigo, Paco de Lucia, and I was just obsessed with it and so I was like, I want to play the guitar.  I want to try it.

Yeah, I had one of my best experiences in Spain at an underground flamenco show.  And by the end of it, the lead dancer had spun every single pin out of her hair into the crowd.

That’s pretty intense.

Yes!  Absolutely!  What did lessons look like for you?  I know for me, mine were taken grudgingly.

Ummmm… it was tough at the beginning, that’s for sure.  But, I don’t know, I really like the challenge. I started to learn the classical guitar which was not like, something I particularly wanted at first.  But it taught me so much technique and things and uh, now I definitely don’t regret to have struggled with lessons.

Yes, absolutely.  And I know that you’ve said Rodrigo y Gabriela were some of your favorite artists and I’ve had the immense pleasure of seeing them several times actually.  What’s one of your favorite tracks of theirs, and do you play the percussive acoustic guitar?

So my favorite song is “11:11“.  Which is the last track of the “11:11” album.  It’s like, perfect. I love it. And yeah, I tried the percussive guitar.  It’s a whole new technique, difficult technique, but I tried it. I think I lose everything cause uh, when I first tried it I was like, maybe 16 or 17?  I don’t know about now, I haven’t tried it again.

Okay, and have you thought about remixing any of their tracks?

Yes I did, I don’t know why I didn’t dive into it yet.  I will! When I have time.

I can’t wait to hear it.  Uh, it was easy for me to pick the sitar out of your “Revolution” EP, as well as the koto out of the “Evasion” album.  Have you tried those instruments yourself?

Most of them, no, because some of them are so specific.  So it was a bass that I played with a keyboard, a MIDI.  And some of them are samples, some of them are recordings. But yeah, I tried some of those instruments, but I don’t have them at home.

Yes, well, few of us can.

Maybe one day.

You said you made the decision after school to struggle with music rather than a job.  And you also make your music free or by donation, which is very admirable. It shows you to be a generous person cause I know that costs you something to do it.  Can you tell me about the struggle in the beginning, especially as it relates to being a woman in the male dominated EDM industry?

So the music industry is hard for everyone, male or female.  The trick is to definitely have the trust of the promoters that have your first shows.  So for me, producing my music was something I did before trying to have shows. So I could have something to propose to them, like okay, I don’t just want to go to a show and be on the stage and play whatever, I’m here to present my music, I’m here to share my music with people.  So it definitely helped I think, in my hometown, at least, to uh, how do you say, stand out a little bit. But yeah, I mean, I worked 16 hours a day once I graduated.  I just stopped everything else and I just focused, focused, focused.  I did a lot of things for free, unfortunately, that’s how it works. But yeah, at some point it all paid off.

Oh yes, absolutely.  Do you feel you’ve made it past that struggling stage?

Yes, oh yes.

Fantastic!  So speaking of struggling, do you get writer’s block?

Yeah, always.  It always happens.

What do you do to get past that?

I usually do something super different.  Hike, go in the mountains, go see nature, friends, yeah, something very different.  And then I go back to it. Yeah.

So I read that you really love Hawaii, which is where I’m from. Did you get to go on any hikes there?

Yes I did, I don’t remember the names of them.  

Yeah, that’s okay.  Do you remember which island?

Uhh, Oahu.  I did another one, but on Maui.  But I never remember the names.

Well, yeah, they’re hard to remember if you’re not used to them.  

Yeah, exactly.

Do you have any new projects coming up?

So I don’t have anything precise yet, but I finished a side project called CloZinger and the new EP is done and it’s going to be released soon.  This month or the next month. So this is the newest project that is going to be released. But after a while I’m just working on a new EP that’s going to be an album.  And of course touring, so always trying to put on live shows. And this is a whole other project.

Gotcha, so are there any new sounds or instruments that you’re sampling lately?

Uhhhh … I don’t remember really… Any new sounds?  

New instruments?

That I’ve never used before?

Yeah.  Or maybe ones that you don’t use so often.

I can’t think of anything…

That’s okay.  You seem to focus some of your albums or tracks on certain areas of the world, or certain countries.  Are you doing that with your new album or EP?

Ummm.  Not really actually.  I’m very, I dunno, I pick the sound that I think would fit well.  I’m not trying to like concentrate the song with just the sound of a particular zone of the world.  Just seeing if this and this goes well together, it could be China or Japan or the sitar. I just want to hear if it fits, if it sounds good together.

If it works, it works.  Perfect!

It’s music!

Yeah.  I know you like the United States, you’ve said some good things about it.  Do you have any particular places that you really love?

It’s always from memories, or experiences that I had, like from shows, when you have an amazing show and you feel great about them, it makes you like the place even more.  So I really like Denver, New York, mmmm, Austin, of course San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, pretty much all of them.

So many places.

Yeah, so many places.  

There is much to love.  

Yeah, for sometimes many different reasons.

Oh yeah, for sure.  And at a meet and greet last year, you mentioned that it was easier to get gigs here in the United States whereas Europe was much more competitive.  Tell me a little bit about that.

About Europe, it’s more because my style of music is not really represented.  There is no one doing this kind of music. So I’m unique. Which is a good thing, but also a bad thing because nobody knows how, or where to put me in lineups at festivals because it’s like, oh, what is this?  Where are we gonna put this on the stage? So it’s always a mystery, it’s not a thing in America. I dunno, cause I think my music is similar to some of the bigger acts like The Glitch Mob or Bonobo. So yeah, it’s more about the style of music. Oh, and the competition… (meaning how much competition there is in Europe due to how many amazing DJs live there)

Right, and I see how it would be difficult to go from a Trance artist’s higher BPMs to what you do.

Exactly!  

Do you attend shows, like in the audience now?

Yeah!

What have been some of your favorites really recently?  

Really recently I went to see 2 Shadows, like a few days ago, it was great.  It was different. I saw Hans Zimmer, uh, it was amazing.

That does sound amazing.

The most recent that I really loved, Vasil also, in France.  Some people in America say Twentycil but we say Vasil.  Yeah, Chinese Man. (I’m not sure who Vasil is, if I heard, or spelled it correctly?)

Okay.  And where do you… So I know some people love to ride the rail.  Some people love to be in the middle of the audience. Me, I love to dance so I go on the outside, on the side, where I can still see, but have room.  Where do you tend to like to be in the audience?

In the middle, middle, and I’m just standing.

Yeah, I did read you don’t like to dance.

I just do this.  (Demonstrating feet firmly on the ground.)  Just not moving at all.

Just taking it all in.

Feet are pkkkk (Again demonstrating her feet not moving.)

Planted.  Got it, okay.  And something that I have particular passion in because I work in the mental health industry; we’ve lost some amazing artists to suicide over the last year.  What do you do for yourself to keep your sanity when you’re doing back to back shows. I know that sometimes if I check out your tour schedule, you’re in a different city five nights in a row.  How do you come back to yourself and keep your calm?

I think it’s passion.  Passion is my main, um, how do you say… motor?  No… how do you say?

Motivator?  

Motivator, yeah.

Yeah, okay.

Motivateur.  

Right!

I try to eat, as healthy as possible. I try to sleep as much as possible.  I don’t after party when I play shows the next day.  I just, I dunno, I go with the flow.

So it sounds like keeping your physical health helps with the mental health.

Yes, definitely.

So at Fresh Music Freaks we try to ask five final questions to get to know Chloé rather than CloZee.  We want to know who you are as a person, not just the artist. So what was your favorite thing to pretend as a child?

Oh so, edit.  (we both laugh)  Um, I didn’t understand the question.

Oh!  Okay!  

What is, uh…

So, for instance, I liked to climb a tree and pretend it was a castle. Or I pretended that it was a spaceship and I was the captain of the spaceship.  That’s pretending. What did you imagine yourself as for fun?

I was always imagining how it would be if I would fly.

Yeaaahhh.

But of course it was only in my mind, I wasn’t… Flying.

That’s amazing!  Did you ever have dreams of becoming a pilot or…

No, it was really flying with my body, it was not with an engine or anything else, it was very like… (Demonstrates herself flying with her arms.)

That’s fantastic!

This. (Demonstrating again and we laugh.)

I’d read that you have some pretty vivid dreams.  I had one myself where I had wings explode out of my back and I flew.

Wow.

Yeah.

I never had that.

That’s really cool; flying has been a passion of mine for a long time as well.  That’s awesome!

Mm-hmmm.

If money were no object, you could have the original of any piece of artwork in the world, just for pleasure, what would you pick?

Mmmmmm… (thinks for a while) I think I would pick, uh, Monet.

Which one?

Aaaaahhhhh, no idea how to choose because it’s not possible.

You’re killin’ me!  That’s mine!

Really?!?

I want the Water Lilies because I want to be able to touch it anytime I want!

Wow!

I love that!  In your life, what’s something that’s been lost or destroyed that you really wish you had back?

Um, my uh, reckless…ness.

Your recklessness.  Aaaaahhhh.

As a child.

Okay, so your lack of fear?

Yes.

Like fear of bodily harm?  Or fear of embarrassment?

Fear of everything.  

Okay.

Fear of y’know, how the world is going, and you’re always like, I don’t know, I’m always uh, anxious about something. Of making a living, when as a child you’re like, ehhh, I don’t care!

Yeah, adulting is hard.

Yeah.

Uh, and you said you love eating, you’ve been trying new foods, and you want to learn to cook a bunch of stuff.  What’s the next dish you’re going to try creating?

Well, I have so many.  I dunno. I would love to know how to make good tajine.  It’s like Moroccan, uh, dishes. With spices and delicious.

Alright.  What event or activity in the next couple of months are you most looking forward to?

Ummm, Coachella. Tomorrow.

Tomorrow, wow, okay.

I’m so stressed!

Oh noooo!  That doesn’t sound like you’re much looking forward to it!

No I am, it’s a good stressed.

Okay.  Good stressed.

Yeah yeah yeah.

Okay.

Uhhh, no, I just, I dunno, life in general.  I’m just, I’m just excited about every day.

Yeah, you do live a very exciting life.

Exactly.

So I can understand that.

Yeah, it’s like, the next month is full of projects and plans.  And I’m just happy!

Perfect.  Well, I so appreciate you doing this with me!  

Thank you.  

And I loved your answers!  

Thank you so much!

You are very welcome.  

Merci!  

Thanks Chloé!

This and all Fresh Music Freaks interviews are available on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube for your viewing and listening pleasure.

Tigerlily and CloZee post interview at the Crystal Ballroom
Click above for more info on CloZee and her upcoming tour stops!

*Featured Image of CloZee Playing Guitar Via Tekprod Photographies*

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[…] aura of calm put me at ease right away.  You can read the transcript and watch the interview HERE. After all those jittery nerves, I was starving, so went out for some dinner and a bit of […]

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