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Interview: Princess Chelsea Talks About Her New Album 'The Loneliest Girl'

Interview: Princess Chelsea Talks About Her New Album 'The Loneliest Girl'

Interview + photo of Kermath & Princess Chelsea by Kermath / Wednesday 5th September, 2018 1:25PM

Auckland writer, filmmaker and 'Frasier' hat wearer Kermath recently spoke with friend and collaborator, internet pop star Princess Chelsea (aka Chelsea Nikkel) about her new album 'The Loneliest Girl', which is out now via Lil' Chief Records.

It’s here. It’s finally, finally here. If you’re a friend of mine, you’ll be very aware that I am worryingly obsessed with synth sounds, dark humour and 90’s fashion; it’s definitely played a role in Princess Chelsea and I becoming close friends. It turns out, its also played a huge role in her upcoming album The Loneliest Girl which I am just as equally obsessed with.

The album lends itself to a lighter side of Princess Chelsea, without losing touch with the internet culture she’s managed to procure over the last few years - a smorgasbord of fantasies and experiences. I spoke with Princess Chelsea about her new album and her upcoming tours around the globe, as well as New Zealand in October and November.

Where does the inspiration for this album come from?

I did this covers album called Aftertouch, I kind of did it as an in-between album exercise, between my second album (Great Cybernetic Depression), and what was to come next. The second album really took it out of me. It took nearly three years to make, and all this touring; it was intense. By the time I got home I was drained, so I made this covers album which was really fun. It was a collection of covers I'd been working on for the last five years or so. When it came time for the next album , I wondered, what do I do, because I didn’t want to do the same stuff I’ve always done. So, i just did whatever the hell I felt like. Every day going into the studio I sat there writing and recording for like a year, and my only goal was do what comes naturally and don’t over think it. I ended up with about fifteen or sixteen songs. I picked twelve of them, and that’s the album. I think the songs sound quite a lot different to each other they're all their own moments. Sonically it's more eclectic like my first album.

The album is way more uplifting compared to Great Cybernetic Depression.

Yup, I wanted it to be quite different.

It’s way gayer.

Hahaha is it gay? Love it!

Yes! It’s fucking gay haha, especially the track 'Loneliest Girl'.

Yeh it’s much more celebratory and happy and maybe bashfully fruity is the correct term. At least in parts. Yeh I like that. You know, I’ve done dreary, twee, chamber pop, and this album has some kitschier exciting tunes. Big choruses as well, that's a point of difference. Having worked on all these covers and having done two albums I’ve become almost a student of pop music and the best songs always have this amazing chorus. Every shitty 90’s one hit wonder has an amazing chorus so you remember it twenty years later, and I was like, could I do that with my choruses. I tried my best haha.

Is there a specific part of the album that you really like? For me, I think the first track, which is like an intro track really makes my heart race, I’m not sure why, but it sets the tone for the rest of the album.

Yeh that’s classic Chelsea, me just riffing on my synths, that took like half an hour that song. It's the sound of tension hope and excitement I was feeling one night filtered through DX7 Casio and a Prophet. It was cool. This new stuff is for the most part pretty spontaneous. My favourite is the song, 'I Miss My Man', it’s got like a huge chorus with like ten Chelsea’s screaming into a mic [sings the chorus]. I love that one. Oh yeh and 'Respect The Labourers', those two songs are my favourites and are both on Side 2. Its like political Julie Andrews twee street band, very original in my opinion and the hi hats emulate construction noises near the end. A lot of hidden pop culture nods in all this shit for the nerds.

All your YouTube comments have always been outside of New Zealand, like Europe, and the places you’re going for your tour. How have you seen NZ’s reception to some of the songs you’ve already released on stations like bFM?

Ah! Really great! Yeh, 'I Love My Boyfriend' is a hit and people seem to really like it. That was a really understated track on the album. It was kind of a sly little first single, and it’s really warmed things up a bit. I think it’s the simplicity of the song that’s so nice.

The ballads on the album are fucking great too.

The ballads!? Oh my god haha.

Do you think you’ll release more ballads after this album comes out? I love them.

I can’t imagine myself doing an album of ballads to be perfectly honest. I’ve got one power ballad on this, ('It’s Nothing') and 'Growing Older' is definitely a piano ballad. I love writing them but I don’t know if I could do a whole album of them to be honest, it’s like... should I? Like a ballad album?? Like adult contemporary ahahha

I think maybe a power ballad album? Your synths are really powerful sounds – there’s a soul within them regardless of the subject of the songs, they’re always powerful.

Yeh, I want to own my songwriting more, get real basic on it and focus on vocal performance and songwriting less techie stuff. Just a simplistic approach at recording, keeping it super simple and seeing how it goes.

This whole album is going on tour with you, thirty five shows to be exact.

Yeh! I’m going to Korea.

That’s fucking wild. Why Korea?

Because they asked ahah. Do you want to come to Korea? Yes. Okay. The end.

Holy shit haha. What’s the first stop?

I’m performing in Jonathan Bree's band in August then begin my shows in September. First stop for me is Poland. And then we go all through Europe, Korea and then we’re coming back to New Zealand.

What do you think draws these foreign people to your music?

I have no freakin’ idea, I'm just writing shit in my room in Glen Eden then walking past $2 Things, JL Fashions and WINZ to get a kebab it’s so weird, then I'm playing a festival in Turkey, honestly, Poland? It doesn’t make any sense to me haha. I just got asked if I could write a song for an modern Italian film noir called One Red Shoe. What is going on?!

No New Zealand band has kind of ever charted those territories the way that Princess Chelsea has, as well as Jonathan Bree at the same time really.

That’s the power of the internet.

It’s quite a common trend in NZ that artists blow up overseas and become really good at their niche, and end up moving to these places in search of bigger and better audiences. Why do you think we in NZ don’t see what the rest of the world sees?

I think for me, student radio and Radio NZ and everyone involved in the music scene in general have always backed me, so I think it’s just more to do with the fact that we’re so [geographically] isolated and a small country. You can’t tour NZ very often as it's so small and expensive but in Europe you get on a bus, plane or train and it’s very easy, because the countries they’re so close together. The music scene in Europe is so much more continent-based in some ways, so therefore niche artists can actually have a functioning career. In New Zealand you have realistically four or five cities to tour, and you tour the alt music scene you’re part of and that’s it. That’s really great, but it’s kind of like a never-ending loop, whereas if you go over to Europe, you can tour twenty “alt scenes” In a month. It’s not like I’m not appreciated in NZ, it’s just a small country, and you can only be appreciated by a percentage of the population before you reach a threshold of taste.

You’ve got your album coming out on vinyl. Why do you think that’s still a good medium to sell your music on?

I mean, it will be available digitally, but vinyl is good for my hardcore fans. I’ve got a cult following and they just want to buy a collectible. It’s an orange vinyl and the cover is really awesome – I’m sitting in a bush with red eyes – love that. I still do CD’s as well because heaps of European and Asian countries prefer it. I feel like I wouldn’t really ever want to make just a digital album because it’s nice to have something tangible and real. Vinyl doesn’t really make money because it’s sold on such a low volume and this shit is expensive to physically produce but I don't care. Most artists will probably earn money from playing live these days and licensing from Spotify and iTunes or whatever.

You’ve attracted ‘pay pigs’…

And ‘brony’s’… yup.

Oh yeh, I think they’re going to LOVE this next album. Your career sprung from the internet and it’s a very freaky place. There are a lot of isolated basement people that live on the internet. Could you give me a memorable example of an experience with one of these fans?

There was a kind of viral brony clip that someone had edited My Little Pony / brony gaming on Twitch or something to 'Cigarette Duet'. So from this, some Brony’s through their brony communities share music and stuff, so they all connected.

OMG so there’s a brony music scene?

I guess it’s just like any community where you just swap music and interests.

I think The Loneliest Girl album is going to be quite a hit I think with the bronys.

You reckon?

For sure, I mean we feature Harry Dickinson as a centaur-cum-My Little Pony in the 'Loneliest Girl' music video, I can’t wait for them to see that haha. So hot.

Actually lots of LGBTQ+ kids love Princess Chelsea.

Yeh, do you think your new album will reach further into the LGBTQ+ community? Also your older stuff?

I kinda think it has already actually. I feel like, the loneliness and isolation that a lot of people in this community feel really connects them with some of my songs particularly the second album I noticed and they’re very devoted fans. It’s real awesome, I like it.

I agree, there’s a lot in your older stuff that talks straight to some of the stuff I’ve been through. What do you mean by devoted?

Super genuine super active fans, always commenting and gunning for me it’s really nice. I SEE YOU <3

You’re also a Twitter fan...

Yeh I like Twitter haha. Coffee Dad.

Has anything from Twitter influenced the writing of this album?

Actually yes, there’s a song called ‘It’s Nothing’ about a girl that’s based on the Internet and has a lot of fleeting relationships with people online and how she likes to talk to people online, but then goes to bed and pretends it’s.... nothing. This song examines, are those relationships real to you or not lady? Its sung from point of view of said lady. She pretends that they’re nothing but maybe they are not.

Fuck, that’s great. Coming back to the tour, how long are you gone for?

The tour is six weeks.

And you’re coming back to NZ in October?

Yes! And then we’re doing a tour in NZ at Hollywood Avondale and Leigh Sawmill [Auckland], Blue Smoke in Christchurch and San Fran in Wellington. Excited to be playing out of Auckland as its it's been three years and I don't tour often. And then Jonathan is touring his show a week after beginning at Hollywood, where he’s going to basically recreate the ‘You’re So Cool’ video like he did at The Others Way [2017] with the scaffolding, dancers, strings, everyone masked up.

Well, have fun on your tour!

Will do – love it!

'The Loneliest Girl' is out Friday 7th September via Lil' Chief Records. For tickets and info on Princess Chelsea's upcoming tour of Aotearoa in October and November head along here.


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Princess Chelsea - The Loneliest Girl Tour
Fri 26th Oct 8:00pm
Hollywood Cinema, Auckland
Princess Chelsea - The Loneliest Girl Tour
Sat 27th Oct 6:30pm
Leigh Sawmill, Auckland
Princess Chelsea - The Loneliest Girl Tour
Sat 10th Nov 8:00pm
San Fran, Wellington
Princess Chelsea - The Loneliest Girl Tour - Cancelled
Sat 17th Nov 7:00pm
Cassels Blue Smoke, Christchurch