During the past three years, Chelsea Cutler has built a reputation as a rising, talented pop artist who writes & sings songs that are unique and personal. She has just released her second album, When I Close My Eyes (on Republic Records), and she’s also had success collaborating with other artists such as Jeremy Zucker and Quinn XCII.
When I Close My Eyes is an impressive album that shows that Cutler is continuing to develop creatively as an artist & songwriter. This album is full of appealing, melodic pop songs that are well-produced and have fresh, EDM-influenced music tracks. In addition, Cutler writes descriptive, heartfelt lyrics that express her insights from her life and experiences.
Prior to the album’s release, Cutler released her powerful ballad, “Devil On My Shoulder.” The song is about recognizing depression and learning to overcome it. Bolstered by her emotional lead vocal, and featuring a dramatic, soaring music arrangement, “Devil On My Shoulder” is a special song that is one of Cutler’s best.
There are several other strong songs on When I Close My Eyes. “Someone Else’s Heaven” is about telling a friend to look deeper and appreciate the blessings they have. The title song, “When I Close My Eyes,” has a super-hooky chorus with rich harmonies, and “Easy” is about being in a relationship where the other person unrealistically wants things to be easy and convenient.
Cutler, who is 24, grew up in Westport, Connecticut, where she learned to play piano and guitar at a young age. In 2016 when she was in college, she gained extensive exposure on SoundCloud when she posted her songs. A year later, she had a breakthrough success with her single “Your Shirt,” which paved the way for her debut EP, Snow In October (on Ultra Records). Soon after, she began touring with pop/hip-hop artist Quinn XCII and recorded songs with him.
In early 2019, Cutler signed with Republic Records, and she released a joint EP, Brent, with labelmate & friend, Jeremy Zucker. Notably, they had hit success with the single, “You Were Good to Me,” which was certified platinum. The duo has since released a follow-up EP, called Brent II.
Here’s the video of Chelsea Cutler’s new song, “Devil On
In January 2020, Cutler released her debut album, How to Be Human, that further launched her career. It contained her catchy chart single “Sad Tonight,” which she wrote with the hit writing/producing team, Captain Cuts. The album also included “nj,” a stirring song that has become a favorite in her live shows.
When the Covid lockdown began in March 2020, Cutler moved back to Connecticut for several months and did some writing there. However, it was when things began to open up that she created most of the songs for her new album, When I Close My Eyes. She went to Newport, Rhode Island and collaborated with close friends Quinn XCII, ayokay and Hazey Eyes. Then she followed that with sessions in New York and Los Angeles for her album.
Currently, Cutler has finished a co-headlining tour with Quinn XCII, and soon she will be embarking on her solo tour to promote When I Close My Eyes.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Chelsea Cutler. She tells how she got started as an artist, and discusses the making of her new album. She also talks about her songwriting, and what inspired her to write “Devil On My Shoulder,” “Someone Else’s Heaven” and other songs on her album.
DK: I read that you’re from Westport, Connecticut. How did you get started with music and songwriting?
Chelsea Cutler: My parents got me and my brother into guitar and piano lessons when we were young. But I think it wasn’t until high school and college that I seriously started to love writing songs. And I think my gateway into the music industry was SoundCloud, which was such an important platform, particularly in that 2016-17-18 era. I was starting to get traction there and I got linked with my manager. Then I got the chance to go on tour with Quinn XCII, which was pivotal for me.
DK: You’ve produced many of your records, and you play several instruments. What instruments do you play, and do you have a home studio where you create demos?
Here’s the lyric video of Chelsea Cutler’s new song, “Someone
Cutler: Yeah, I play guitar and piano, and I can lay down bass. I’ve always set up a desk with some monitors and my laptop. But in my new apartment, we built a studio in one of the bedrooms, which I’m excited to get to use, now that I’m back from touring.
DK: In 2017, you had a breakthrough when your song “Your Shirt” became popular. Can you talk about this early part of your career?
Cutler: Like I said, I think SoundCloud was a huge platform for pop music at that time, and I think I was fortunate to gain a lot of organic traction there, a lot of traction on Spotify, and early support from Spotify playlisting. Everything was super organic, and it was special that my first single was able to have a moment like that.
DK: In early 2020, you released your first album, How To Be Human, which featured your single, “Sad Tonight.” What was it like to create your first album, and writing “Sad Tonight”?
Cutler: Writing that album was awesome. I produced & wrote 14 out of the 16 songs on the album alone, so it was a very introspective experience. I wrote ‘Sad Tonight” with a group called Captain Cuts; they’re awesome dudes. That was one of the only songwriting sessions that I did for the whole album. I love that song…it goes off live and it’s fun. And I think it opened the door for me to the world of promo, and I got to meet a lot of great people through that.
DK: Also on your first album was your song, “nj.” I watched a video where you performed this song live, and it got a great response from the crowd. What’s the story behind this song?
Cutler: I wrote “nj” when I was going through a difficult breakup. I wrote it at 2 am when I was in Brussels, Belgium, and it just came naturally. I was having a difficult night emotionally, and writing obviously is a primary outlet, so it felt natural to write about it. And yeah, that song live is a powerful moment. It seems to resonate with fans a lot, and they really like it.
DK: You’re also known for your collaborations with Jeremy Zucker on your two EPs Brent I and Brent II. Can you talk about your work with Jeremy, and writing the single, “You Were Good To Me”?
Here’s the lyric video of Chelsea Cutler’s new song,
“When I Close My Eyes.”
Cutler: Writing with Jeremy is awesome. We’re really different in how we work. He is very meticulous and patient, and I’m a bit more free and liberated when I’m writing. And I think that combination is great, because I can generate a lot of ideas, and then he can curate and sift through those ideas. When we started to write the first Brent project, we really had no idea what it was going to be, which is why I think “You Were Good To Me” is such a special song. It came at a time when we had zero expectations.
DK: I like your new album, When I Close My Eyes. Did you create most of it during lockdown?
Cutler: Actually, I didn’t write much of it in isolation. With my first album How To Be Human, I wrote that primarily alone. In contrast, I wrote When I Close My Eyes primarily with other people. I think in those months that we were isolated more strictly, I craved collaboration so much. I felt like I couldn’t generate any creative energy until I was in the room with other people, and I was able to feed off other people. I’m super-extroverted, too. I feel like I charge by spending time with other people and feeding off their energy. So the album came collaboratively, which was super fun. It was a more fun way of making an album.
DK: I like your new song “Devil On My Shoulder,” which is a powerful, emotional song. What inspired you to write it?
Cutler: I wrote “Devil On My Shoulder” about recognizing that my depression is an external thing, and this thing that’s like inherently part of me. Which I think was a really important recognition for me. It was important for me to understand that my depression doesn’t inherently categorize me or anything. So writing that song was super important to me. It’s like a song I feel passionately about people hearing, because I think that it obviously could help other people realize things about themselves that it helped me realize about myself.
DK: Another song I like is “Someone Else’s Heaven,” which has a unique lyric idea and theme.
Here’s the lyric video of Chelsea Cutler’s song (with Quinn XCII),
“Calling All Angels.”
Cutler: I wrote that song in Newport, Rhode Island, with Quinn XCII, ayokay, and a producer named Hazey Eyes. We spent a lot of time talking about gratitude, and how fortunate we are to have so many of the things we have. I wanted to write a song to remind us, how we don’t even think on a day-to-day basis about many of the things we have that other people don’t. And how important it is to be constantly grateful for those things, and to remember how blessed we are. Because life is so unfair. There’s no rhyme or reason for why…knock on wood…I’m healthy right now and someone else isn’t. So I think there’s a lot of blessings every day that we take for granted that I wanted to write about.
DK: Besides those two songs, what are your favorite songs on your album?
Cutler: Well I love “Devil On My Shoulder”…I think that song is super special. I also love a song called “Under.” I think that sonically I’m really proud of where the production went on that one. It feels sonically like the direction I want to go in.
DK: You recently finished a tour co-headlining with Quinn XCII. Do you have plans to start another tour?
Cutler: Yes, we’re about to announce a new tour, so we’re excited about that. It’s a headline tour for the new album.