Even if you don’t recognize Chloe Lowery’s name, there’s a very good chance that you know her voice. She has spent the past two decades lending building one of the most unique and impressive resumes in the music industry. Armed with a commanding, exquisitely powerful voice she is equally at home singing classical or classic rock. Her prodigious talents have made her a go-to voice for a wide variety of high-profile acts, allowing her to perform in front of large crowds in some of the world’s most prestigious venues.
She’s performed since 2010 as featured vocalist with the recording and touring powerhouse Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and has toured extensively and performed on Broadway with international sensation Rocktopia. She’s also recorded and toured with beloved keyboardist/composer Yanni on his landmark Yanni Voices album and tour, performed with renowned jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, has been a soloist with the New York City Ballet, collaborated with noted hard-rock guitarist Joel Hoekstra, and even stepped into Janis Joplin’s shoes to tour with her legendary band Big Brother and the Holding Company.
In 2019, she is ready to unveil the latest chapter in her story as a powerhouse vocalist and songwriter with the release of long-awaited debut solo album, “The In-Between.” The 15-track concept album, dropping on April 19, 2019, was written and vocally produced by Chloe and was musically produced by Travis Laws. The songs were born from a journey of self-discovery following a emotional heartbreak and each song and interlude is accompanied by a video. Each track infuses the raw emotion and power of Chloe’s voice to paint a relatable story. “We are told the pinnacle moments of our lives consists of the series of highs and lows that produce a foundation upon which we strengthen our character. This album is born from the usually unspoken moments where everything is at a stand still, the future is unknown, and the reluctant need for change is paramount – ‘The In-Between.’ These were the times that I discovered who I was and what I wanted to say. This record is an extension of my hearts’ loudest cries, its greatest fears, its underlying faith in love, and deepest regrets.”
From the cinematic duet “Giving Up On You” with Nathan James (Inglorious, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), to the vibrant “Crazy” featuring guitar legend Al Pitrelli to the groovy “Dirty Disco,” Chloe builds a narrative that looks at her metamorphosis. The album also includes a unique arrangement of the ‘80s classic “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette. Probably the most powerful and personal track is “Don’t Let Yourself Down,” a ballad that took shape from words Chloe’s mother said to her during one of her saddest moments. The song serves as a catalyst for the rest of the album and has a universal meaning beyond the initial intention. The acoustic closing track, “The Words You Wanted,” is the perfect ending of this story of grief, self-discovery and acceptance.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Chloe Lowery to discuss her journey as an artist, finding her creative voice and breathing life into her debut solo album.
You’ve been a part of the music industry for the better part of your life. How did the journey begin?
I grew up in somewhat of a musical family, although my parents were doctors! [laughs] My mother was very musical and adamant about my sister and I being in the arts. My sister ultimately became a professional ballerina who danced with the New York City Ballet and she just retired recently. I took to the arts pretty quickly. I went to voice lessons, piano lessons, any type of lesson — you name it! When I was about 9 years old, I entered an all-girl entertaining group in Tampa, Florida. We did all of these corporate events and things like that and did pretty well. The director of the group started forming these girl groups and began to get artists signed to record deals. This was around the time when Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera just came out and everyone was getting a record deal because young kids were in high demand. When I turned 12 years old, I got my first record deal with RCA. I’ve been in the business ever since!
What inspired you early on as an artist, as well as today?
I just loved singing so much and it was something that came very naturally to me. It was something that I enjoyed doing and something that I always want to improve upon. When I got into my teens, that’s when I started exploring the songwriting process. Truly, that is one of my favorite things to do, even more so than performing. I love to write songs, produce songs and work in the studio. I find that really inspiring. Great music inspires me as well. Great performers make me want to get up there and do it every day!
When did you come into your own as a performer?
Wow, that’s a very complex question but I will try to answer it as quickly and articulately as I can! [laughs] It’s interesting, I began my career in the industry at such a young age. All the A&R guys and producers kept say, “Who is Chloe?” They couldn’t quite figure out whether or not to turn me into a Britney Spears or a Mariah Carey. Me, being so young, I obviously had no idea because I hadn’t had the time to figure it out. I was lucky, in a way, that my voice catered to a number of genres because I grew up singing everything. I can sing pop, rock, classical to Broadway. Along the way in my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with different artists and bands, so I cultivated this performance style that caters to a number of different genres. That being said, that’s great and all, but it took me a minute to find my voice as an artist and as Chloe the artist. 20 years later, here I am! [laughs] I actually had to go through one of the darkest times in my life and be on my own without any outside influence to find my own voice as an artist and songwriter. What you are hearing in this new record is exactly that!
When it comes to a career in the music industry, things don’t happen overnight. What are some lessons you learned along the way?
Oh my gosh, the business has changed so much over the years. It’s still changing at a rapid pace and we can never predict what’s going to be the next big thing. When I first got into the industry, record deals were still a thing. Nowadays, people are more inclined to go the indie route because you can do it on your own. You can produce a record, get it distributed and get crowdfunding through these platforms that weren’t available to us 10 years ago. It was just such a different world back then. I was lucky enough that I grew up around really great songwriters and producers. For example, Diane Warren is one of my biggest memories from when I was around 13 or 14 years old. I remember getting to sit with her and pick her brain. She gave me the whole rundown on how she writes songs and things like that. I had a very interesting and unique education at young age that helped me as I got older. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world! I think, in some strange way, it prepared me to make the record I made last year.
What are your biggest milestones as an artist?
Like I said, I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of great songwriters from Diane Warren to Desmond Child and so on. My first touring experience was with Big Brother and The Holding Company and those guys gave me a really cool insight to what it was like in the ‘60s. That was really interesting. I think Yanni was one of the first big, big things. That’s where I did my first arena tour and was on a big TV special. Yanni taught me how to hone in on my artistry. From there, Trans-Siberian Orchestra was a huge milestone. Obviously, they are my family now and I am so happy to tour with them to this day. There have been a lot of milestones and I’m grateful for all of them!
The new album is terrific. What made now the time for the record and exploring new territory as a solo artist?
It’s funny because I started out as a solo artist when I was very young. My career has taken me into different areas. In hindsight, I think there was a purpose for all of it. When you hear the record, you will hear a number of influences from the bands that I toured with. There are pop, rock, soul and even classical elements to it. There is a point where I will whip out opera voice as an accent in a song. I think there was a purpose for me doing all of that. I went through a really big life change and I was lost for a moment. I had just gotten off of a tour, left my boyfriend and moved out after seven years of being with him. At that point, I was very unsure of what my next steps were. I just sat in my Brooklyn apartment and wrote a record that was, more or less, therapy for me. It definitely happened very organically. In addition to sitting down and using it as a form of therapy, it was also a challenge to myself to see if I could actually write a record or even a few songs on my own. I had always been one to collaborate. I’ve been in bands or I’ve sang or other people, but I had never really done it on my own. It was more of a personal challenge. At the time, I felt so terrible about where my life was that it was the only thing at the end of the day that was making me feel better about myself. [laughs] It turned out to be the piece of music that I was looking for to launch my solo career!
Tell us about your songwriting process and what goes into capturing your initial ideas.
Each song is as if it is a different child. Each one has its own personality and its own everything. Some songs I have written in 10 minutes and others I have written the idea and then put it away for six months, only to come back to it and complete it, because perhaps I wasn’t ready to write it or have the other words. I write everything from life experience because that’s the only perspective I know and it’s the only truth that I know how to speak. Yes, in theory, I could write about someone else but, for my own personal record, it’s important for me to tell my perspective, my truth and what I’ve gone through in hopes that it relates to someone else. I’m a pianist and a very crappy guitarist, which usually turns out having me just playing a bass line. That’s how I often start ideas. Sometimes I will work with a synth idea; I’ll sit down in Pro Tools and play with very basic ideas. From there I start building out the ideas and they usually come out pretty quickly.
You lived with these songs for quite a while now. Which ones resonate with you the most?
I think the most interesting one is “Don’t Let Yourself Down,” which is one of the ending tracks of the record. That was actually the first chorus and idea that I wrote before writing anything else. My mom gave me the tagline of “Honey, don’t let yourself down … ,” when she saw me completely emotionally distraught. I sat down during a family vacation and wrote the chorus. I was like, “OK, I’m not ready to write the rest of this. I don’t even know what to say. I’m a mess!” [laughs] I put it away for six, eight, 10 months, whatever. Towards the end of recording the record, I thought, “Oh my god, that song! That’s one of the ending songs! I have to finish it.” I went back and, finally, I was emotionally there. It was an easy song to write but it just took a while. Then there is a song like “Shiny Toy,” which I wrote when I was at a gig in Prague or somewhere. I remember being in my hotel room and having two hours to kill before rehearsals. I just started playing a synth thing on GarageBand or whatever it was and that song I wrote in 20 minutes!
What are the biggest challenges of bringing your debut album to life?
I think the challenge was experiences that I was going through. The songs were the therapy helping me get through it. The songs came fairly easy but the actual life experiences were the hardest part to get through while making this record. It wasn’t like I was struggling and saying, “Oh my god, I can’t find these songs.” It was dealing with all of these life things and then here are all these songs helping me get through it in the emotional sense. At first, I didn’t know who I was going to work with as a far as a producer and I was a little nervous about finding someone. Luckily, my manager’s husband, who is close to me and the whole project because I am so close with my manager, came into the picture. He said, “I know we’ve never worked together but can I take a stab at producing some of your music. I think I hear your voice and I think I can help you articulate it.” I said, “Great!” We nailed it with the first track, and I said, “That’s it!” It was truly a perfect pairing.
What did he bring out in you in a creative sense?
He really just made my songs come to life! I know that is kind of cliché to say but it’s hard to find someone who speaks the same musical language as you, as far as soundscapes and understanding certain synths, beats and rhythms. When it comes to the emotional heartbeat underneath the song, it’s really hard to find that match. I had searched my whole life for someone who really makes sense with my music and this just fell into my lap! It was a perfect match down to his synth, rhythm, feel and how he compliments my voice, which is a struggle because I am a big singer and it takes a specific track to compliment the kind of singing that I do. He just nailed it and I’m so grateful for that!
As you said, this was a unique time in life for you as an artist. What are the biggest lessons you learned through the process?
The biggest lesson is that I can do it on my own, I do have a voice and I do have a sound. I think a lot of people over the years had doubted me. They just thought that I was a chameleon in the sense that I could just morph into everything, but I didn’t actually have a voice of my own. I think I completely proved everyone wrong. I have a voice and vocal styling to my voice that are just specific to me. I also think I told a story that, although my story, is wildly relatable. I did it on my own and I found my voice, which was the biggest accomplishment of all.
Now that you have your solo debut, what does the future look like? Where do you see yourself headed both short and long term?
Right now, the focus is on the record and getting as many people to hear it as possible and hopefully tour. That’s the ultimate plan. I really think people kind of get me and understand the music when they get to see me live, which is my favorite place to be anyway! I’m also going to tour again with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in the winter. I’m also going back on tour with Rocktopia for a short three-week stint. For me personally, I’m already planning my second release! I’m already writing the songs for it because that’s just what I do! [laughs] Hopefully, my career will continue to build. Ultimately, my goal is to be able to sing my own music, tour, have people respond and love it! That’s the ultimate dream!
In the past, there were so many things I wish I could change but I don’t know if I’d be someplace different if I had done things differently. I’m really happy with where I’m at. I’m at an age where I’m not super insecure and I took the time to figure out who I was and what I wanted to say. I think everything that I have been through in the past, both good and bad, has led me to this moment, so I wouldn’t change a thing! Everything I experienced served a really big purpose!
I think those experiences really bring something to your work. The album is authentic and you hear that in every song.
Thank you! That’s all I could every want, people to hear a truth in my songs. While it might not personally relate to them, I think there is something everyone can take from the record. I really do.
What is the best lesson we can take from your journey as an artist?
It’s really about not letting yourself down. No matter what life throws at you, know that you can always come out of it. The whole meaning of the record is the in-between. When we are super happy and going through all of these highs, those are the times that we might not learn that much because we are too high on life and we forget to look around. When you’re out in the trenches and going through the rough shit that no one really wants to talk about, that’s when you learn. That’s when you change. That’s when you grow and find yourself. That’s really what happened to me and that’s what this record is about. I know it started with a heartbreak, but it really turned into my entire self-discovery! That’s what I can tell you! [laughs]
What is the best way we can support you at this point in your career and help keeping your art moving forward?
I would say just share and spread the word about the record. If you like a song, share it on Facebook or Instagram. Social media is a gift and I think it allows fans and artists to communicate on the things they like and appreciate. So, I encourage people to keep in touch, keep sharing, keep liking and loving! All the good things!
Thanks for your time today, Chloe. I can’t wait to see where the next chapter in your story takes you!
Thank you so much, Jason! I’m so grateful and thank you for taking the time! I really appreciate it.
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.