Chelsea Cutler is Navigating Her Twenties Through Music

The 22-year-old singer talks to L'Officiel USA about her debut album, ice cream, and being vulnerable.
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Photo by Meredith Truax

Stop what you’re doing. It’s New Music Friday. More importantly, Chelsea Cutler has just dropped her debut album, How To Be Human. The 15-song LP epitomizes the insanity that is navigating life in your 20s (and the album objectively bops. I swear). It's the ideal soundtrack for dancing around in your studio apartment, perhaps with a bottle of wine and a few tears. Calling Miss Cutler’s music relatable is the understatement of the century—the album feels like you’re listening to a mixtape made by your best friend. 

Cutler, who will be 23 next month, has been interested in music her whole life, having grown up playing piano and guitar, singing a capella in high school, and teaching herself how to record simple songs on her own. She released her breakthrough single, “Your Shirt,” in 2017. She then released an EP, Snow in October, left college, and went on tour with Quinn XCII (❤) at the beginning of 2018. Cutler then released two mixtapes (Sleeping with Roses & Sleeping with Roses II) and headlined two sold-out nationwide tours. 

“It’s the first full body of work that I'm putting out and I'm proud of it,” Culter told L’Officiel USA of her debut album. “I left college when I was 20 going on 21, and I just found everything about the transition into the real world very confusing. It was hilarious how difficult it was to figure out the small stuff, like how to pay for cable and WiFi, how to set up utilities, and how to find an apartment. You figure out how to be a better communicator and how to navigate your emotions. It’s a really formative, transitional period of your life to be in your 20s.” 

Photo by Meredith Truax

Cutler’s music comes straight from her own personal life and experiences, which is likely how she manages to be so (for lack of a better word) relatable. “Deriving from real-life experiences is really important to me,” she said. “I think honesty is the most powerful piece of songwriting. I think it's really difficult to write an honest song about something you haven't experienced firsthand.” 

Honesty and openness are a big part of who the voice-of-an-angel is as both an artist and a person. Lately, whenever she has released a song, she has been accompanying it with a note on Twitter, discussing how the song came to be as well as her thoughts and feelings behind the music. Cutler attributes this to being a perfectionist, saying it wasn’t premeditated, but rather, it happened organically as she felt the need to explain her thought process. 

The singer/songwriter/producer has also been open with her fans about her own mental health. “When I stayed silent about my struggles with mental health, it was pretty detrimental to me,” Cutler said. “I found that the more honest and open I am with my family and friends, the more support, the more understanding, and the more help I received. It's been important to me as a life practice to be pretty honest with people around me about how I'm doing. I think that translates naturally into how I present myself to the world as an artist.” 

Cutler’s willingness to be vulnerable and transparent is part of what makes her and her music so engaging. It’s also something the artist enjoys—her favorite track on the album is “nj” because in working on that song, she pushed herself to be more vulnerable. 

When asked about her creative process, the rising star said she finds inspiration all over the place. “I think my process varies a lot, which is the cool thing about having a creative process,” Cutler said. “It can hit you any time, anywhere. I've written songs on airplanes and in bathrooms, in green rooms on tour, on the tour bus, and in my bedroom.” 

She also finds it helpful to get out of her routine. “If I'm feeling stuck or uninspired, I'll wait until I'm on the road," she said. "When I'm on tour, I usually write a lot. Or when I go to visit my parents' house in Connecticut to get out of the city. Things to shake up your surroundings are pretty important.”

Outside of music, Cutler describes herself as being “really nerdy” (relatable). She likes to read and watch 90 Day Fiancé, walk around the city and try new restaurants, and eat ice cream (same). “Maybe when I was a college athlete I was cooler, but now I run a mile or two and call it a day,” she said. 

Photo by Meredith Truax

In February, Cutler will be embarking on the “How To Be Human” world tour, which includes sold-out shows in New York, Boston, and Seattle. “I've gone to so many shows at Terminal 5 because it's my hometown,” the singer said. “It’s mind-blowing to me. I didn't think in any world that I would sell out two shows there.” Cutler also is excited to play in Boston. “My second show ever was opening for Quinn XCII to a sold-out crowd at House of Blues," she recalled. "I was so terrified. I'm really excited to get to go back and headline there with more confidence and more experience and put on a real show.”

As for the rest of 2020? Cutler said she’s excited about the unknown. “I'm really excited about the fact that I don't know what 2020 is going to be for me,” she said. “I have no idea how the album's going to be received and how people are going to react to it. You never know what can happen. I think that's kind of anxiety-inducing, but exciting at the same time.”  

You can stream How To Be Human below.


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