Chloe Moriondo: “Sometimes I forget how many people can be looking at me”

We caught up with the US singer songwriter ahead of the release of her third studio album, Suckerpunch

“I’m alive, I’m awake and I’m well,” laughs Chloe Moriondo over Zoom. It’s a far more impressive statement with context – it’s the morning after her birthday. She turned 20 years old the night before.

Moriondo started her YouTube channel eight years ago. Posting covers from her bedroom turned into writing original music on her ukulele, which evolved into a self-released debut album. Now about to release her third studio album – a sugary, bombastic hyper pop record called Suckerpunch – Moriondo seems like a different artist entirely. Having spent her formative years in the music industry, the rapid shifts from one sound to another aren’t just understandable – they’re part of her appeal. Over the last eight years, her fanbase has been able to grow and change alongside her.

As she gears up to tour her new record, Moriondo is ready to reveal her popstar self to the world.

“I’m very excited. It’s going to be incredibly huge. It’s going to be so much bigger this time around than the past tour was – than any past tours were,” she says. “I’m kind of itching to show people what we’ve done and play all the songs live. It’s going to be really fun.”

We caught up with Moriondo to talk about the shifts in her sound and why she’s grateful to have grown up making music.

Fruity - chloe moriondo (official music video)

How are you feeling ahead of the album release?

I am in love with this album. Everything about it is like my child. And it’s my favourite piece of work I’ve ever made, which is always exciting for me. I always like releasing things that are my favourite every time I make them. So I just it makes me really happy to be able to share this side of of me with other people and to kind of evolve in this way – hopefully in a good way.

What side do you feel like this album is representing?

It represents the core of my Libra-ness teenage girlhood-ness, and the stuff that I grew up listening to. Kind of late 2000s, early 2010s. I feel like that’s definitely the energy that this album brings.

That bubble-gum, hyper pop sound is really nostalgic but then also sounds very new as well. You’ve definitely made it your own.

Thank you. Yeah, I really wanted to channel the nostalgia of radio pop that I really liked listening to growing up and a lot of my favourite pop albums and favourite pop songs. But I wanted to still make them new and fun and still sound like they came out of my mouth.

Were there any artists in particular that inspired you as you were making this record?

Oh, absolutely. I mean, the keystones were like Britney Spears, Kesha and Lady Gaga, I think, because those were like the pop stars I was listening to growing up and they really inspired me to make music like this and have a persona and a character like this. But I’m also really inspired by newer artists who are making stuff that still makes me feel really nostalgic. Food House is incredible. I really love Ashnikko and Rico Nasty. I think they’re really cool. Underscores is incredible. I was listening to a lot of really fun pop music during this album for sure.

Hell Hounds - chloe moriondo (official music video)

I know that while you were making Blood Bunny, you had quite a lot of visual and particularly cinematic influences, like Jennifer’s Body and Midsommar and other female-driven horror. Obviously this album is very different, but were there any visual inspirations?

I think visually, I was super inspired by like, y2k styling – this crazy early 2000s kind of absurd and sometimes tacky styling that existed back then that is now coming back. I think it’s really cool. I love mixing weird cyber styles with cool nostalgic 90s/00s visuals and vibes. And I also just like to make it really weird and crazy and all over the place.

Obviously, all your projects have been so different from each other. That contrast, and the deliberate messiness and playfulness of Suckerpunch, really beautifully represents someone still growing up and trying on different identities…

That makes me so happy, thank you!

How do you feel that this musical journey has helped you with figuring out your own identity?

I think being able to make music as I change has helped me immensely. I don’t think I would be nearly as happy or free feeling if I wasn’t able to make the exact styles of music that I’m really itching to make. I get bored so easily. I don’t like staying in one place. And I think that’s normal for a now 20-year-old. I’ve gone through many changes in the past, like five years of my life, and I really like experimenting with sounds. So it feels really like cool and freeing to be able to make this type of music and just show it to people without worrying really.

Social media occupied a major role in the early stages of your career. What’s your relationship with social media like these days?

Social media is a beautiful and also very terrifying place. I think I used to be a lot more active on social media. And I used to interact with people a lot more while my music was kind of growing and developing and changing. And now I think I’m kind of getting over my fear of it again. I never really had a fear of it until I guess I just started touring and getting really busy, and I kind of stopped posting as much like just for fun and for myself. So I’m kind of relearning now what that means, and also trying to interact with my community more again, because I miss it. And I miss being able to feel like I can just post whatever I want, whenever I want. And so I’m trying to get back on that, for sure.

I Eat Boys - chloe moriondo (official music video)

Do you feel like at a certain point it became more of a job?

For sure. I think I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have my job be my music and creativity and to be posting about my music. But I think it definitely kind of blurred some lines for me in terms of what I’m supposed to be showing of myself. So now with this album, I feel a lot more comfortable with myself and my style. And I’m more excited to talk more and post more and show people more of my life and what this album means to me and what I’m going to be doing on tour.

Is there a particular platform that you’re doing that on at the moment?

I feel like I’ve always kind of f*cked with the slight impermanence of Twitter. I mean, I know it’s permanent, but it feels sometimes like everyone’s just saying things on Twitter. I feel less weird about just like tweeting something random sometimes.

There are few tracks on the album that address fame and the music industry – ‘Popstar’ and ‘Celebrity’ are two of them. What kind of relationship do you have with those words at the moment?

At the moment I am still definitely learning what being a celebrity and a pop star and being – quote unquote – ‘famous’ even really means, as I get older and as I learn and I’m able to observe more people and see more things. I’m absorbing a lot. And I think pop stardom and fame was always something I really craved when I was growing up and listening to Lady Gaga and Kesha – obviously I was striving to be a pop star.

Now that I have the means to make the sort of pop music that I always looked up to, it’s kind of nice to be able to discuss my feelings about being in the music industry through that sound. And what I wanted versus what I’m nervous about, about having people looking at me and wanting fame and wanting people paying attention to me. There are definitely two sides to that, always. ‘Popstar’ I think is very much more like, the glamour, the hedonism of it. And then ‘Celebrity’ is definitely more of the “Oops, oh, no, they’re looking at me all the time.”

Bodybag - chloe moriondo (official music video)

Does that take you by surprise, being looked at all the time?

Yeah. It’s cool and exciting. And I love being able to show people where I am and that it’s cool to experiment and to be weird and to not do what people expect you to do all the time. But sometimes I kind of forget how many people can just be looking at me and having feelings about what I’m doing. But I’m learning to accept that.

When you were first starting out and building an audience, you wrote, mixed, mastered and produced your debut album, Rabbit Hearted, entirely by yourself. What did that teach you?

Oh, goodness, honestly, it very much taught me that you can make anything by yourself. And if enough people connect with it, it can be a really beautiful thing, regardless of how technically challenged you are. Because to be 100% honest with you right now, I think I started making that album when I was 13, and I had no idea what mixing was, or mastering or even producing. Like, I just made the album. And then I was like, “Alright, I think I like how this sounds.” I just like, put that sh*t up there. And for some reason people really liked it. It boggles my mind to this day, and I still feel like my head is spinning about it. But it was a really beautiful and special thing in my life, for sure.

Then Blood Bunny arrived and it was something completely different. What changed between those two records?

I had more tools at my fingertips after Rabbit Hearted. I had no one else working on Rabbit Hearted with me whatsoever, which wasn’t really intentional – I just didn’t have any friends in music at all. So I was just kind of doing my own thing in my little bedroom. And then after that was when I met my friend Robin from Cavetown, and I met my manager, and I started being able to collaborate with people and make sounds that I personally didn’t feel capable of being able to make by myself, which was really new and exciting to me. Even just, like, rock songs that I didn’t think I could shred as much as the people who were in the studio. It was so cool to be able to just say that I wanted to make a sound and a certain type of song, and then be able to write it and have it fleshed out exactly how I wanted it to be with a lot more help and a lot more shiny production, which was really exciting and fun.

I love being in the room when beats are being worked on. I love being a part of the process and making sure that the energy of the song is right and that there are sounds that I like in it. I don’t know how picky in particular I am compared to other artists but sometimes I feel like I am a bit picky. I like to really make sure that that my songs always sound like they come from me and that they’re going to come from my mouth and the lyrics aren’t going to sound like I wouldn’t want to sing them or write them. That’s always really important to me.

What If It Doesn't End Well - chloe moriondo (official music video)

What do you think the threads are between the three albums that keep them very much Chloe projects, even when they sound so different?

I think it definitely is the songwriting process. I mean the first like, ‘big girl’ song that I ever did was ‘I Want To Be With You’ with David Pramik. I met him for the first time in that session, and now he’s done a huge, huge chunk of Suckerpunch. I loved him and I loved the way that we worked together. So I just wanted to keep him close, as well as some songwriters that I really liked… I really like keeping the team of people that I’m making songs with pretty familiar-ish. I really love to work with new people, and I think adding new hands and new ears to a song always changes the perspective and makes it so much more fun and cool. But I think it’s also really important to me to stay comfortable when I’m writing, and to not feel like I can’t share all of my ideas and get out exactly what I want to say, which was something I knew wouldn’t happen if I was with the producers and songwriters that I was already really comfortable with. And I was so lucky that they’re so f*cking talented and could warp and change to the sound so quickly with me.

Was there any track on the album that posed more of a challenge to get the exact sound that you wanted?

I think ‘Celebrity’ actually took me a really long time to get warmed up to fully. That one we did not write in one full session – it was more like we wrote a verse and a chorus. I think it was just difficult to tune in exactly how I wanted it to sound. But there were also songs that were just difficult to write in general because I’m an emotional bitch. You know?

Was it difficult to put yourself in that place and get it out?

Yeah, I was going through a silly, silly little teenage girl heartbreak during this album. And I was definitely feeling it for some of the songs near the end of the album. ‘Cry’ was a song that I literally had to leave the room and cry during at some points, which was embarrassing, but it’s kind of powerful now, I guess.

I mean, teenage heartbreaks are still heartbreaks. They still hurt.

Oh, yeah, I think they actually hurt worse than anything else. But who knows? I’m in my 20s now. Maybe they’ll get worse…

Has it felt like you’ve been finding your sound across these albums? Or have you felt more like you’re just following what you want to do in the moment?

I think for right now, what I’ve felt is that I’m kind of just experimenting and following what I like to do and what sounds good to me and what I like to listen to. I’ve been really into pop recently, and I think I want to kind of continue in this direction. But who knows how I’ll feel by the time this album cycle is over. I love experimenting. I change all the time. And I never fully really know where I’m going to be next.

Moriondo uses she/her or they/them pronouns. This article uses she/her pronouns for consistency.

Suckerpunch is out everywhere this Friday 7 October. Find tickets for Chloe Moriondo’s February 2023 UK tour here.