night swimming with the intriguing songstress chelsea jade

Forget 'Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego', there’s a new globe-hopping femme mystérieuse in the picture. Her name is Chelsea Jade and her new EP 'Beacons', which was recorded in New York, mixed in London, and mastered in Melbourne, is on the...

by i-D Team and Adam Fletcher
25 September 2014, 7:00pm

Photography James K. Lowe

Photography James K. Lowe

Tell us the tale of Night Swimmer!
This song was recorded in Brooklyn. I was guarding a friend's house while she was in Belgium, getting her tarot read by Alejandro Jodorowsky. I was actually looking after her demon bunny rabbit, and the only safe place in the apartment was her bed, because the bunny couldn't get up there. But if you even just dangled a foot down the rabbit would attack. So I stayed up... quivering in fear over this beast circling the bed, and I wrote Night Swimmer through the night.

For those reading this before watching the video, the clip features you hugging a monolithic ice sculpture in what looks like an abandoned swimming pool. How did this beautifully unusual concept come about?
I happened across a friend's art; this woman called Zainab Hikmet. Who creates formless sculptures made out of concrete powder and ice. She had this one piece, Object 22, and it was a large column of ice with cement powder packed into a hollow in the middle, and as the sculpture melted it created this gnarled cement structure. I liked that it was this kind of performative sculpture, so I asked her if she would like to be involved with this video. I should also mention that the dress was made by Emily Miller-Sharma from Liam. We talked about what an Amish wetsuit might look like, so that's what that is!

Night Swimmer was directed by Auckland film maker Alex Gandar. How was it working with him?
Alex and I have a long standing rapport. The thing I like about Alex is that he has no ego about making things, but a lot of ideas. He's got really great taste. I think anyone else would have been like, "You're insane for hugging an ice sculpture!"

Obvious question time: that must have been a really cold shoot...
I started off by touching my actual face to the ice, and it started burning pretty much immediately. I had to make the decision to have only my palms really touching it; everything else had a layer of fabric in between.

Before the interview you were discussing your borderline obsession with Gilmore Girls, and lamenting your inability to convert people to it on the grounds that it lacked "deep drama". Do you think you're a deep writer yourself, or more of a light-hearted storyteller?
I think I am none and all of the above. Something about a "storyteller" makes me sound like a troubadour, and I reject that. I don't like the form of a narrative in song, that doesn't appeal to me… so I don't do it. I want to go deep - but I want other people to understand the depth, rather than shrouding things too hard…

So, you're trying to "unshroud" yourself?
A little bit! If I write a song, I want to be able to understand what I meant, myself, six months later. Which at times, I'm ashamed to say, I've struggled with. I was finishing a song that's going to be on this EP - there are like, five different versions of this song - and I had to labour so hard to say what I meant. The first line of it is, "We're catching death from your detachment"... To me that says a lot. That's fucking nailing it, that lyric, for me!

In this single-driven market, EPs seem to make a lot of sense, what made you decide to release an EP over a perhaps more traditional full album?
I think they're a nice introduction, and that's what this is. Honestly, I've just realised there aren't really any real rules. Just do what you think is right… maybe?

Watch the premiere of Night Swimmer here.

Chelsea Jade's Beacons EP is out late October
Night Swimmer is available now in NZ and in AU.


Text Matthew Crawley
Photography James K. Lowe

Chelsea Jade
james k. lowe
music interview
night swimmer