Rife with poetic fervour and delivered with downbeat, saccharine charm, the sweet sounds of Nottingham native, Chloe Rodgers, are a fitting accompaniment to the festive period. Having released singles like the prismatic Faces and December’s strings-flecked The Algea, The Mic’s Matt Andrews takes a look at the young prodigies golden year.
Taking inspiration from a variety of other genres: art rock, dream pop, and jazz to name a few, local label, Crowds and Power’s Chloe Rodgers’ exclusively soft and pensive music falls into a category of its own. Rodgers is renowned for her emphasis on emotion; “I want to articulate feeling in sound,” she says. Her signature sound is one of minimalism, where the space between sounds is often as important as the sounds themselves, and the three official singles she has released thus far all share a puddle-like quality; they’re reflective, sometimes muddy, and often what you find in them depends on the angle from which you approach.
Rodgers’ debut single, A Delphian Lullaby does what a debut should do: it establishes her archetypal
sonic qualities – dynamic instrumentation, vocal harmonies, and silence – and acquaints the listener with Rodgers’ perpetually intimate performance. Delphian by name and delphian by nature, Rodgers acknowledges her deliberate ambiguity in the composition of this song: “I think it’s important that, when I’m singing about such private things, often something that I feel very strongly about, that I leave room for the listener to create or recognise their own more personal meanings.” Such obscurity is therefore important in ensuring the effectiveness of the ballad, the emotional release in the listener, something which Rodgers prioritises in her music over almost everything else.
‘It is undeniably empowering to listen to Rodgers’ tales of exploited physical and spiritual vulnerability.’
Faces, an equally eerie soundscape, was her sophomore release. Musing on experiences good and bad, Rodgers’ breathy vocals move from one emotion to the next. Lyrically, Faces might just be Rodgers’ best work yet – her admiration for Radiohead frontman, Thom Yorke, has never been so evident as in her range of contemplations from emotional to existential. Most notably, “Can you taste my sadness?” and “Caught in a dying moment / Tell me, is this all there is?” invite the listener into acknowledge Rodgers’ voice and in turn their own concerns surrounding the self and its place in the universe. The video for this moving single was directed by Anna Tiana, someone Rodgers admires for her consistency in creating apt visuals for such complicated and difficult material – “she has synaesthesia so when she hears a sound she involuntarily sees colours that she associates with it – that’s what she bases her colour schemes on.”
Saturated with greens and blues, Tiani’s visuals recognise the emphasis on nowness, on an awareness of the “moment”, something which Rodgers has in the past admitted to finding, more than anywhere else, in nature. Rodgers’ third and most recent single, The Algea, though it refers to the divinities of Sorrow and Pain, what Rodgers herself describes as “a bunch of Greek goddesses that basically just feel very sorry for themselves all the time,” is perhaps her most casual expression of hurt thus far. More than ever, Rodgers musings feel bound to the changing instrumentation which this time is accompanied by strings and guitar. It is undeniably empowering to listen to Rodgers’ tales of exploited physical and spiritual vulnerability, and indeed her untamed response to such in sound – such power has never been found in this pensive of a voice.
As a solo artist, Rodgers was able to recognise the silver lining in the new lockdown status quo: “it was quite nice to have a break in a way, and to have the opportunity to step back and, though I’ve not done anywhere near as much as I should have, to work on some new music that I’m really happy with.” In light of the intended purpose of her music, which she describes as creating, “that indescribable feeling when someone articulates an emotion you thought was unique, that you didn’t know anyone else felt,” as communicating with that human sensibility for beauty, the continued pause on everything normal has allowed for some room to breathe, and to think about how such abstract concepts can be accessed through sound. Chloe Rodgers is pensive and powerful. This is some of Nottingham’s most unique and rousing music to date.
Written by: Matt Andrews
Edited by: Olivia Stock