Chloe Howl: 'Miley is teaching girls that wearing nothing whilst touching yourself gets you famous'

Chloe Howl is having a bit of a moment right now. From a few hit singles under her belt and a debut album coming out this year, to being nominated for the BRITs Critic’s Choice Award in January, it’s been a great couple of years for the 19-year-old singer/songwriter. Even though she missed out on the award to Sam Smith, her candid songwriting style, which perfectly taps into the life of a teenager, and her unique pop style have seen her gain some serious fandom.


With a new single ‘Rumour’ just out and another on the way and a slot at one of the summer’s first festivals, Live At Leads, we caught up with her to talk about how she got started in the industry, dealing with bitchiness at school and navigating around a she-pee at festivals.



FIRST THINGS FIRST, HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN THE INDUSTRY?

I’d always been singing since I was really young and I’ve always enjoyed writing. When I got to about 13, that’s when I put the two together and started songwriting and that’s when I knew it was the direction I wanted to go in.

WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN GETTING TO THIS POINT?

I guess I came straight from being in school to getting signed and having to go and fend for myself. I think school is such a sheltered environment – I had to grow up really quickly and learn how to navigate my way around the city. I had to be confident enough to just turn up at people’s houses and write a song with them. It was just the growing up really fast.

DID YOU HAVE A BACK UP PLAN?

Well because I’d known it was what I wanted to do for such a long time, I always said I wouldn’t leave school until something happened with it. I didn’t really have much planned but I would have just carried on.

HOW HAVE YOUR FRIENDS DEALT WITH YOUR NEWFOUND FAME?

They don’t really notice it – it’s not that crazy yet! I think some of them just think it’s interesting, with all the stuff I get to do, but generally I haven’t really changed a lot. They’re all off at uni so I wouldn’t see a lot of them anyway as we’d all be at different unis, but I still see a lot of them.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE ALBUM? ARE THE SINGLES REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ALBUM AS A WHOLE?

I think the songs that are out already are a representation of the time period that the whole album is written about. I wrote it when I was about 16/17, so it’s all about that period of time when you’re trying to discover what you want to do, learning about yourself and dealing with heartbreaks and bitchiness at school.

‘RUMOUR’ IS THE LATEST SINGLE, ARE THE LYRICS AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL?

At the time when I wrote it things were quite petty within my group of friends. I guess I wanted to write ‘Rumour’ as at the age I wrote it, that’s when you’re trying a lot of stuff out for the first time and trying to discover what kind of person you want to be. By doing that you’re going to make a lot of mistakes and the people who are supposed to be going through that with you end up judging you and not making it very easy. So I wanted to write ‘Rumour’ as a sort of “come on guys, we’re all going through this. Don’t give each other a hard time.”



HAVE YOU HEARD ANY RUMOURS ABOUT YOURSELF SINCE YOU’VE BECOME FAMOUS?

Not really no, I haven’t read any crazy rumours yet. I’m quite excited to see what the first one will be!

YOU SAID LAST YEAR THAT YOU’RE BORED OF BEING A TEENAGER, IS THAT STILL THE CASE?

No, I’m getting to see a lot of the world and do a lot of stuff that most teenagers aren’t able to do, so I’m not quite as bored anymore.

HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR MUSIC WILL EVOLVE AS YOU GET INTO YOUR TWENTIES?

I guess as I made the songs as honest and truthful to what I was going through on this album, as I grow up naturally the topic of the songs will grow up. I will be experiencing stuff I hadn’t experienced as a 16-year-old and I’ll want to write about that, so it will be about brand new things that I’ll have gone through as a slightly older person.

YOU WERE NOMINATED FOR THE BRIT AWARD CRITICS CHOICE THIS YEAR. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE RECOGNISED ON SUCH A VISIBLE PLATFORM?

Yeah it was really nice as I’d followed the BRITs since I was really young, so it just made it seem really real. I’d always thought of the BRITs as like a massive deal, so to be a part of it was pretty crazy, especially alongside Ella [Eyre] and Sam [Smith] who had both had number ones. It was really humbling.

THERE ARE A LOT OF TALENTED YOUNG ARTISTS COMING OUT OF BRITAIN NOW, WHO ELSE DO YOU RATE?

There’s a guy called George Ezra who’s really good, people like MNEK, there’s a lot of people coming through at the minute!

WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON FEMALE ARTISTS CONSTANTLY BEING PERCEIVED AS OVERTLY SEXUAL?

I think there’s a difference between women who are dressing sexily for themselves and to empower other women and those who are obviously doing it for attention. I think that’s a very thin line! I read an interview with Miley and she was like “I’m the biggest feminist in the world as I’m teaching girls not to be afraid.” But that’s not what you’re teaching girls, you’re teaching girls that smoking on stage and wearing nothing whilst touching yourself gets you famous. That’s not cool!

THERE’S A LOT OF CRITICISM FROM THE INDUSTRY ITSELF FOR OBJECTIFYING WOMEN. HAVE YOU EVER FELT PRESSURE TO LOOK A CERTAIN WAY?

I don’t think I ever gave off the vibe that I wanted to dress sexily. I think if I ever feel like I ever want to dress slightly more risqué then I probably will, but it won’t be because I felt pressure to – it will be because I think it looks good. I’ve never felt any pressure from other people to dress that way, to get more attention. I’ve always just dressed the way I’ve dressed.

SO HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?

I guess it’s not very girly and I don’t wear a lot of bright colours. I always wear Dr. Martens every single day of my life, but I think they’re the staple. But generally quite laid-back and understated.

YOU SEEM TO BE A FAN OF THE ODD SELFIE, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CURRENT CRAZE?

It depends, I have a few people that I follow on Instagram that will constantly be posting really posy pictures of themselves, but I don’t really feel the need to do that. Most of the time my selfies are of me doing something stupid! I think it’s quite funny as people come up to me after shows now and they don’t ask for pictures, they ask for selfies. It’s really weird as it used to be like “can I have a photo with you”, and now people are like “hi can I have a selfie with you?” It’s like totally taken over, but I don’t see a problem with it. I don’t think it’s that controversial, it’s just people taking pictures of themselves, which people have been doing for ages – they just happen to be doing it from their iPhone now.

SO YOU HAVEN’T GOT A SELFIE ADDICTION?

I guess one problem with it is that a lot of people take hundreds then just submit the best one. I know loads of girls that post selfies, but it doesn’t actually look like them. You know it’s like their 200th selfie that they’ve taken.

YOU’RE PLAYING QUITE A FEW FESTIVALS THIS YEAR, WHICH ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO?

I think Glastonbury is going to be really good, that’ll be really fun. Then there’s Isle of White festival and I really like playing city festivals. Next month year I’m playing Live at Leeds again, last year it was so much fun, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.

WHAT’S THE MOST OUTRAGEOUS THING YOU’VE DONE AT A FESTIVAL?

It’s always weeing! It always comes down to where you’re going to go to the toilet, as you don’t have very good options at a festival. They give out cardboard she-wee’s at Reading Festival, cardboard! They’re so that you can use urinals, as there’s always a massive queue for the toilets in the arenas as they’re the nicest ones. My friend once couldn’t navigate herself around this she-wee so she just got her entire bum out, sat on the urinal like a toilet and started weeing in front of everyone. I was like “oh my god what are you doing?” It was really embarrassing!

Catch Chloe at Live At Leeds, 2-5 May.



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