Those of you who follow my Music Spotlight column/blog know that I tend to lean more towards the traditional country sound. However, when dark rock music group CHLSY was proposed to me, I was drawn because although their music format was a little different than what I normally covered, lead singer Chelsea Gilliland had something to say.
Featuring Chelsea Gilliland on vocals and guitar, Sean Swanson on bass and Sawyer Dodds on drums, CHLSY breaks down genre barriers with their ’90s-influenced sound.
I interview Chelsea Gilliland to find out how she got into music.
Gilliland’s parents took her piano lessons from an early age. They discouraged playing the guitar because they felt the piano was so much more important. And while the pianist could play a few chords on a guitar, it’s only been in the last year or so that she’s committed to learning the instrument.
What interested Gilliland the most was the songwriting. After her family moved to California at the age of 14, Gilliland was thrust into a new and intimidating environment while attending a co-ed high school, having spent most of her life in all-girls schools. Gilliland describes her high school experience as incredibly toxic, plagued by bullying and sexual violence. It was very unsafe for women,” she admits.
“I didn’t know how to talk to anyone about it, so I turned to music and it kind of saved me. It was like free therapy,” she admits.
Music became Gilliland’s sanctuary as she learned to translate her complicated emotions into song. She admits that the songs she wrote in her early days were “really angry” and expressed her deep fear of men in their lyrics.
In 2017, at the age of 18, Gilliland received the John Lennon Songwriting Award, winning in the pop category for her song “Fire”.
At the time, she didn’t even know songwriting was a viable career choice until she found out about Belmont’s songwriting program.
She says: “My parents were really supportive in figuring out how to make this a lifestyle. I’ve always been into music and it was nice to have the support of my parents.”
This sense of healing and finding her voice through music only grew when she met bandmates Sawyer Dodds and Sean Swanson while attending Belmont University in Nashville. The trio hit it off when they met at a college party, and what started out as occasional jam sessions soon became an official band, originally named American Gothic before landing on its current iteration, CHLSY.
CHSLY’s debut EP, In love in hell, released in 2021, shows a darker side of the band’s sensibilities. It was from a time when Gilliland felt she didn’t know her worth. Being with someone who didn’t respect her showed her where her boundaries should be and provided necessary life lessons that helped her find her voice. With singles like “Cowboy,” “Dead,” and “Sinner,” she admits she didn’t know how to deal with her feelings.
“I just killed everyone in my songs because I didn’t know how to process my feelings,” she admits.
Released today, her latest record, quantum entanglement Finds Gilliland in a better place: “It feels like I’m dissecting my emotions and analyzing them under a microscope in a totally scientific way,” she surmises of the album.
Raised by a father she calls a “genius” who made a living creating renewable energy startups with an endless fascination with quantum physics and mechanics, Gilliland was instilled with a passion for theoretical science from birth. The singer learned the term “quantum entanglement” from her brother, who is studying astrophysics in college.
As usual, several singles have already been released from the new record, including the song “No (Hard) Feelings”, the video of which has received more than 500,000 views on YouTube alone. With texts like Now I know not to settle for/ Boys who become ghosts/ Then write me pretty words/ You’ve been shallow/ You’ve been insecure/ And now I’ve learned/ I won’t take less than I deserve/ In Another life I think/ I could have loved you if you would have let me you can tell the author has learned her lesson.
With the song “555,” Gilliland recognizes that in order to be in a healthy relationship, both people must be committed to working on themselves, not just the other person, but being the best version of themselves. who they can be.
Then there’s “Cloud,” which she calls the most vulnerable song on the project, and her favorite song she’s ever written. She explains, “The song is a metaphor for how you have to change your beliefs or some aspect of yourself to keep someone in your life, and then you come to the conclusion that you’re probably better off without that person. “
In addition to the release quantum entanglement Across all streaming platforms, the band also created a visual overview of the music, which was a student project at Backlot Studios.
While the songs are over quantum entanglement Exploring some of the hurt and brokenness of their past relationships, the songwriter hopes they do so in a much lighter, less anxious way.
CHLSY expects the album to validate those who may be feeling “less than,” helping them be seen and understood while amplifying their newly brave voices.
In addition to writing and music and being a member of a band, Gilliland is the radio host for local radio station YOCO 96.7, where they play all the rock, country, hip-hop and pop hits. The radio station suits today’s genre-free generation, where fans just listen and stream a little bit of everything.
As Gilliland emerges on the other side of years of pain, she learns to love herself more each day as she finds her place with her bandmates who feel like family, and will continue to translate that happiness into the music she shares share with others .
You can follow CHLSY on their website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and all streaming platforms.
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Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. you can follow her to blog, Instagramand Twitter.
Title list for quantum entanglement
- Karmic Debts
- if you know me
- ceiling fan
- Monotony (Live from Maui)
- lily of the valley
- No (hard) feelings