Band Crush: KLOE Is The Nostalgic, Unfiltered Pop Star Of The Digital Age

"i don't want to be another mediocre thing"

Photographed by Alena Jascanka

Chloe Latimer is a pop star in the making, but according to her, "nobody in Glasgow gives a fuck." Under the moniker KLOE, the unfiltered 19-year-old has been branching out of her native Scotland and spreading her infectious tunes across the globe.

Although Zane Lowe, who is known for prematurely spotting emerging talent while their sound is still raw, aired KLOE's debut track, "Grip," on his Radio 1 show last year, the singer has remained refreshingly honest in her music, never catering to mainstream pop. With a focus on universal experiences derived from her own youth, KLOE tells stories about the more exciting things that can occur when you stay out past your curfew on a school night. It's a refreshing perspective, one that's amplified by a sense of curiosity that seems to hang on every note, and an expression of that deep, inner desire for experimentation we've all felt tingled by. 

"I tried to be all cool and mysterious at the start and it was so tragic. I've gradually embraced '' life," she explained. "I'd feel like a fraud if I wasn't being completely honest. And also, do we really need any more bullshit 'I'm too cool for you' girls out there? I don't think so."

During the holidays, we FaceTimed with KLOE while she was visiting family in Cambridge. She talked about everything from Lorde and labels to boys and blogs. KLOE's next single will be dropping sometime this month via Columbia Records (UK) and IAMSOUND in the U.S., but for now read our uncensored interview, below!

How did you get started with singing and songwriting?
I was really into loads of female pop singers growing up—Pink, Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morissette, Taylor Swift. That sort of started it and then I got loads of DJ covers, and that only resulted in me getting totally slagged off in school, so everyone thought I was the uncoolest person ever. I started to do talent shows and everyone was like, “Fuck off, you shit!” [Laughs]. I needed to take a step back from that and when I got to like 16, I discovered The Weeknd, Banks, Chvrches, and Lorde. I was like, “This is like a new wave of pop music that’s interesting and I think I can do this. This is what makes sense to me.” With Lorde, I get the comparison a lot, but it’s like personal lyrics and pop melodies with interest and production. I think it’s kind of funny because any alternative pop singer that comes out these days is compared to Lorde, but I think it’s because she really paved the way for this new sound, and it’s kind of like a movement almost.
I got started recording my own demos and taught myself how to use Logic. We did the first song “Grip” with Lewis from a band called Prides who has been instrumental in helping me do this whole thing. I think as soon as we got “Grip,” that was the turning point. There’s a line in it where I say, “It’s just you fucked every girl in the room”—I was 17 years old, and I thought I was the coolest fucking person saying that. Everyone could start to tell and was like, “Oh, that song’s about him ‘cause he’s a fucking asshole.” It got really good reception, and we just kept going with it, and now I’m here!
The other day, you tweeted about being a waitress and now you’re pursuing music full-time. How did that happen and what inspired you to do this?
Ever since I was really little, I never liked anyone telling me what to do. I didn’t like my parents telling me that I had to go to uni. I didn’t like anyone telling me that I had to get a real job. It got to the stage where I was waitressing and the shit you take on with fucking people and I was just like, “Fuck this.” Columbia was really awesome because they came to my first gig and they were like, “No bullshit, we want to sign you.” Nobody else wanted to sign me, nobody gave a fuck. I have so much trust in [Columbia] and they have left me to do whatever the fuck I want, which is really cool. In hindsight, I kind of knew that I could do it, but I think it was just the not taking shit from anyone and the drive and initiation actually got me here.
Honestly, I’m not even fucking started yet. I don’t think any of the tracks I’ve put out so far even stand up or come close to what I’ve been writing recently, but I think it’s a good start and I’m really proud of it. I’m really excited to see where it takes me. I feel like right now, there are so many girls coming in the music industry and everyone is really great and has a personality, but I think the music industry has been missing that for a long fucking time. I think it’s really good that we’re starting to have these characters now, and I think that’s really important, so hopefully I can kind of show that and people can take from my music what they want to take and relate to it. If you don’t like it, I don’t give a fuck.
What was it like growing up in Scotland?
My dad moved to Redding outside of London when my parents got divorced, so I grew up between Redding, London, and Glasgow, but Glasgow has always been my home. No offense to London, but the people are so much nicer. If you ask someone for directions in Glasgow, they wouldn’t just tell you where to go—they’d take you there themselves. The nightlife, we have this one strip in Glasgow where all the pubs and clubs are. I love it and that’s what the whole album is going to be about, I think—growing up in Glasgow and finding out who you are.
Also, going to London to write the album with a different producer every day—it’s fucking draining and makes you lose your mind. I don’t know how half of these girls do it, I certainly struggle with it, so I think that’s what the album is also going to be about. I think it’s going to be really nostalgic and Glasgow is going to be the center focus of it all. I’m really proud to be there and look at what bands it’s produced over the past few years, like Chrvches and Prides. There’s some new, amazing talent coming up as well, and I think it’s a cool place to be right now and not a city to be underestimated. 
How did you get involved with the BLAKOUT club series that you run? Also, what is the nightlife scene like in Glasgow?
This probably isn’t the answer you wanted to hear, but we were talking about how we could build up the KLOE thing in a different and new way because everyone wanted me to play a residency, and I was like, “You can’t do a residency in Glasgow, it wouldn’t work. Let’s just do a club night.” I just wanted to represent drugs, sex, angst... Everything dark and mysterious and sort of wrong. I wanted it to be a safe haven for people to come and go fucking nuts. It was really difficult getting people on board with it, but we have some big things planned.
Are there any social or political issues that are important to you? I remember the referendum for Scottish independence last year.
For someone who’s so proud of their country, it was hard for me because the country was divided in two sides. Scottish people are very passionate and we like to get our opinions heard. It was intense. Personally, I voted yes. I’m proud of that. I think the U.K. is in fucking shambles right now and I don’t think that’s a secret. David Cameron is a wanker, fuck the Tories. [Laughs] I’m really fucking proud of my country. We’re hanging in there and we’re going to be fine. It is quite incredible to think about what is happening in the world right now because maybe I was just blind or naive, but when I was 15, I didn’t know what cultural appropriation was. I didn’t know what transgender really meant. I probably had some really narrow-minded views and I’m not afraid to admit that.
These kids today, and it sounds really patronizing coming from a 19-year-old, but everyone is so aware of what’s going on. You only have to go on Twitter and it’s fucking there. Everyone is so educated and so fucking smart. I think it’s the Internet, I really do. I keep talking about Lorde, but in her song she says, “The Internet raised us.” I believe that. I was saying this to my dad the other day that a lot of my opinions and my beliefs are influenced by things I’ve learned from research on the Internet versus what my parents have taught me. Sorry, mum and dad! There is kind of something horrific every day in the news, but I think our world is aware that it’s wrong and we’re uniting against it all. Obviously, racism and homosexuality and sexism is still major issues, but I feel like we are working toward a better world. I think that’s fucking incredible.
I loved your single “Touch.” When it premiered, I read that it was about a relationship you had with an older man. Can you tell me more about that?
I'll be honest with you, "Touch" was a track that I didn't really want to do, but I'm really happy with it... I kind of said that it was about an older guy, but now I’m like, “Fuck... Everyone that knows me knows what it was about." This is only something I’ve just discovered, but it was an exaggeration of something that had happened. It was a guy who blatantly took advantage of me. I don’t think it’s cool for a man who’s almost 30 to take advantage of a teenage girl, I’m just gonna say that now because I feel like I’ve grown up a lot in the past year. “Touch” was just about that and the whole we build ourselves up so much and, “Oh, I’m in love, I’m in love,” and age is a contributing factor where he’s like, “Oh, she’s too young for me.”
The song is quite poetic and I feel like looking into those lyrics it can seem a bit cheesy, that’s why I didn’t really want to put it out, but it’s a social commentary on what I was going through at that point and what I was feeling. It was a point in my life where my life was changing, and I was like, “Music is gonna be my job," and music was his job, and we were stuck in this whole—I don’t know if you noticed in the video, but I wrote the treatment and the director was incredible, and we wanted to include the whole stars projector thing to show that we were stuck in our own little world. Sort of parallel universes, and no matter what was going on in our real life, in our heads, it’s just us two and nobody else mattered. That was a couple of months ago and it was fucking great. I went mental and I was going to parties every night and we had a great time. I listen back to that song now and I’m like, “God, that was fun.”
When I listen to your music, I feel like I’m experiencing the highs and lows of being a teen all over again. How do you go about exploring the whole coming-of-age theme?
Everything always, no matter what I do, it all comes back to feelings of nostalgia. For me, watching the video back, I see my best friends in the whole world. It’s just memories. It feels really raw and honest. I feel like for me, exploring that is going out. Sometimes, it’s hard to experience life and to let life happen because I am so busy these days—I am literally in the studio every day, but you just let live sometimes. The best nights are the unplanned nights. The next single is called “Teenage Craze” and it’s like “Touch,” “Feel,” and “Grip” wrapped up into one song. It’s almost like a conversation, and I think that’s the best way of showing that this is my youth, and this is who I am, and this is who my friends are, and this is what I’ve experienced, and I don’t really give a fuck. I’m really excited to keep going and see what happens and see where this album takes me.
In your opinion what types of stories make for good songs? Your music feels really honest and relatable to me, and a lot of people have described it as “candid.”
It was always love for me. Not love, but infatuation. I don't know if I've been in love, but now I don't know if I've just turned into a crazy bitch, but now it seems to be sex, drugs, anger. I wrote a song the other night called “Soz Not Soz” and it’s almost like a hip-hop Lily Allen kind of thing and it’s like, “Stalking him on Facebook/ Got me hating life/ So I blocked the little fucker/ And I hope he dies.” It’s just shit like that. Like I know it’s really morbid, but in the moment, that’s what strikes me. I find it really hard to walk into a room every day and write something random, I can’t do that. I have to be feeling it raw and feeling it right there in that moment. I think it’s really spontaneous and hits you.
Granted you’re still a little under the radar, but is it difficult for you to interact with guys now that your music career is on the rise? I find that a lot of women in the industry often say that they’re at a place where regular guys won’t ask them out because they’re too intimidated and guys in the industry are creeps that only want to get in their pants. How are you dealing with that transition? (“WHY CAN’T I MEET NORMAL BOYS”.)
That is so true. I get into a lot of trouble for being too unfiltered, so I don’t think I’ve got a good rep in the industry, like no one would touch me. [Laughs] As for normal guys, not so much in London or anywhere else, but in Glasgow, it is really easy to become someone on other people’s radar. The other night, I was out and this guy was like, "Chloe, I love your hair,” and coming towards me as if he could kiss me. I was like, “What the fuck are you doing? Don’t touch me.” It’s stuff like that. I hope people are maybe intimidated, because then maybe that will make me feel better. [Laughs] I think it’s so hard, I can’t meet any normal boys. I don’t really know what to do, but honestly I would not want anyone to go through the fucking pain of dating me. Nobody should have to go through that, so it’s fine, fair enough.
I’m assuming that you’re still putting together your debut album, but could you tell me about new stuff that you’re working on now or music that hasn’t been released yet? Will an EP be coming out soon?
I’ve been saying that I’m releasing an EP for about a year now, but I delivered it three days ago, so that means it’s definitely coming out. I think in February. It was meant to be January, but I missed the deadline, so I think it’s February now. [Laughs] The next single is definitely going to be out in January. I’m really excited. It’s called The Teenage Craze EP and I think that single is the one that best represents me, not even just as an artist, but as who I am. I always talk about how personal my songs are, but I don’t really think they are so much in “Touch” and “Feel,” so I think this one will kind of solidify me as a blatantly honest writer and that’s what I want.
I want people to look at this EP and be like, “Cool, I believe everything that she’s saying. This is her life.” I think I’m going to do another EP at some point next year and an album at some point in 2017 if I don’t get dropped. [Laughs] I'm just really conscious about not being another sad story. Sometimes I don't really care, but I don't want to be another mediocre thing, you know? I want to actually do something and I don't think that's a bad thing to want.