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Introducing

Chelsea Warner | Showcasing silky smooth vocals and shimmering, slinky melodies on debut EP ‘Drama’

We pick the hottest new acts so you can tell your friends you heard them first. Meet Sydney-based neo-soul artist Chelsea Warner, showcasing silky smooth vocals and shimmering, slinky melodies on her debut EP 'Drama'

If you’re a fan of the silky-smooth R&B delivered by artists like Solange and Kaytranada, look no further than Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Chelsea Warner and her debut EP Drama.

Thanks to her sultry vocal, slinky shimmering melodies, and slick production, Warner is well on the way to leading Australia’s growing R&B scene.

Drama is every part a coming-of-age manifesto. Packed to the brim with honest, vulnerable songwriting, detailing the journey of growing into adulthood ­– Warner not only proves that she isn’t afraid to be vulnerable, she’s also showcasing some incredible songwriting chops making it hard to believe that this is her debut collection of songs.

After years of writing and playing music and of honing her craft from her bedroom, Chelsea Warner burst onto the scene with a delightfully confident debut single, 2020’s ‘How Come You Don’t Pick Up Your Phone’.  Blending contemporary neo-soul and R&B with dreamy pop hooks and defiant lyrics, it set the tone for everything that was to come in the next year.

2020 followed with two more singles, ‘Ignite’ and ‘Back On My Bullshit’, before we were fully introduced to the artist we hear on her debut EP – when Warner stepped into 2021 by releasing its title track.

What you’ll find across Drama’s six tracks is the perfect introduction to Warner’s artistry. Feeling at once both warmly nostalgic and solidly based in the here-and-now, you’ll feel like you’ve been listening to Warner’s music your whole life.

From re-working songs I wrote when I was 16 to starting new tracks completely from scratch,  I was able to reflect on the turbulent formative years of my young adulthood and look back at them with retrospect and nostalgia, while also being not quite yet removed. As I delved deeper into my own experiences, the EP slowly became about the invisible audience of adolescence and the coming of age expectations put onto young girls, with the world constantly feeling like a high-stakes stage. 

CHELSEA WARNER

To celebrate the release of Chelsea Warner’s debut EP, we sat down with her to take us on a deep dive through Drama.

Check out ‘Drama’ by Chelsea Warner:

The Chelsea Warner Story

From the beginning 

Chelsea Warner: “I’ve been making music since I was in my early teenage years, and started producing my own little demos are around 15. I always thought I was just going to hand them off to someone who actually knew what they were doing, but after a while I actually felt like I got the hang of production, and started really backing myself musically. Around this time I started collaborating with other musicians, as an artist as well as a co-writer and producer, which really helped me refine my skills and trust myself to finish my own songs.”

What you’ll hear  

“Alternative R&B; like jazz tinged ’90s hip hop with lyrics plucked from a 20 year old’s brain in 2021. It is just truly me. I love pop hooks and clever lyricism over super musical, interesting and thoughtful production.

“It’s like if Erykah Badu and Ariana Grande hung out and wrote a song, and KAYTRANADA produced it. Or at least that’s what I want it to be.”

Influences & inspirations  

“Ariana Grande is my earliest influence, because I really grew up with her. She has unintentionally heavily inspired my vocal arranging and melody construction, to the point where it’s really not purposeful, but I often find myself making choices that I think she would too.

“My music is really ’90s inspired, particularly in sound selection, and hip hop producers like Q-Tip and J-Dilla have really added to that – I love sampling and finding weird, raw drum sounds. Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse are also two storytellers who I take a great deal of inspiration from. I adore how they both tell relatable stories in such interesting ways that are so specific to themselves. Also, Victoria Monét is such a clever writer, I find myself taking inspiration from her wordplay and style of writing a lot.”

Chelsea Warner – Drama (Official Video)

On debut EP Drama 

“I started writing the EP unconsciously years ago – one of the songs on the record was written when I was 16. Since this is my debut project, there was never really a point where I started creating it. I just had to sift through literally every song I’d ever written, and choose what my favourite were.

“It’s gone through many iterations and tracklists, but I had to make a decision and stick with it. Once I had decided on the tracklist, I made a little list of what each song needed, and then got to work. It took me a couple of months just working by myself on everything to finish it, recording vocals, finishing production, and adding the final touches.

“Three of the songs all came about from me sitting on the floor, or on my guitar amp, and just pouring my heart out. I wrote ‘Opinions’ on New Years Eve in 2017, which is so wild to me. I still connect with it so intensely and remember exactly what I was feeling at the time. ‘It Be Like That’ was on the floor of my home studio when the 2020 lockdown first started, and ‘Nike Sweater (Interlude)’ was just me writing for not even 10 minutes. They all felt so natural and for the second two, hardly anything changed from their first demos. That’s special to me.”

Tell us the story

“The record is about my coming of age, girlhood, the invisible audience of adolescence and feeling like ‘the world’s a stage’. I always write from real, authentic experiences, so I didn’t have any one concept in mind while I was writing it.

“It was only after it was done that I was able to look at it as a body of work, and realise that there were ideas that really tied all of the tracks together. Obviously each song is me trying to make sense of something, expressing how I see the world, and coming to terms with my place in it, but those bigger ideas also shine through.”

Audience Takeaway 

“I just hope listeners connect to my observations and what I express in each track. That they relate to what it feels like to figure yourself out and to be so swept up in the overwhelm of constant introspection.”

Chelsea Warner – How Come You Don't Pick Up Your Phone (Official Audio)

Say It In A Sentence

Drama is…”20 year old girl overanalyses things through pop melodies over intricate ’90s inspired R&B instrumentals.”

For the love of music  

“[Making music] makes me feel like myself. I’m a very thoughtful person and I feel like I thrive when I can figure out, in intricate detail, parts of myself, and express those findings articulately. I’m super introspective, and at times introverted, so I love being in quiet spaces where I can really connect to myself and whoever else I’m in the room with.”

Kicking goals 

“Supporting Eluera as well as Abby Bella May at Oxford Art Factory was pretty cool. Also supporting Hope D was rad! I was super happy when I got my first production cut too.”

Overcoming struggle town  

“it was overall very hard to put a whole project together creatively more or less just relying on my own opinion and intuition. It’s so difficult to know what songs are right, whether they are done, or what the project needs. It’s almost impossible to zoom out.

“I do have to say though, something that actually really helped me finish the project was the 2021 lockdown. It gave me pretty much exactly the time I needed to make the final decisions and finish everything off. It was a real blessing.”

The year ahead

“I’m going to be playing a gig to celebrate the EP’s release on Friday 12 November at the Lord Gladstone as part of the BLOOM. series, which I am DYING ABOUT! Ruby Jackson is on support, so it’s going to be ridiculously fun.”

Essential Chelsea Warner Listening

Chelsea Warner – Nike Sweater (Interlude)

“This is one of the only songs I’ve ever written that isn’t literally about something that has happened to me. It is more so about a feeling I’ve had, told through a story I created.”

Nike Sweater (Interlude)

Chelsea Warner – Not In The Mood

“The second single from the project, ‘Not In The Mood’ was co-produced and mixed by Maribelle AKA Vetta Borne, and as a fan of hers, it was such an exciting moment!”

Chelsea Warner – Not In The Mood (Audio)

Chelsea Warner – It Be Like That

“This is the song I always close my live shows with (or at least, will until the next record’s era). It’s about me wanting to control everything, and the repetition of ‘It Be Like That’ in the outro is such a nice chanty, crowd involved moment that always feels like a little bit of a mantra to me. It’s a lovely way to end the night.”

Chelsea Warner – It Be Like That (Official Video)

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