shaed makes hypnotic pop songs in a tiny family home
The indie pop trio confronts the dark side of signing to a major record label in their haunting new video 'Melt.'
Photo by Nicole Mago
The band SHAED literally grew up together. Chelsea Lee met twin brothers Max and Spencer Ernst over 11 years ago, but they knew this wasn’t just another fleeting high school friendship. They bonded over their interest in music and late nights singing karaoke in Lee’s basement, long before they’d become the darlings of the indie pop scene in Washington, DC. “We always wanted to make music together and SHAED kind of just happened a couple of years ago,” Chelsea explains. “We were all able to put our efforts into one project.”
But, there’s a catch. Chelsea and Spencer dated for nine of those years and are engaged to be married this weekend, at her grandmother’s house in Arlington, Virginia, and the entire band lives together in a tiny house in Silver Springs, Maryland. This is where their latest EP Melt, released September 21, came to be — written and recorded entirely at their in-home studio. While Chelsea admits that most people think living with your fiancé and his brother might be a bit weird, the band is inseparable and they wouldn’t have it any other way. “We have been together for so long that it would be weird if we didn’t,” she says. “It’s a very collaborative project."
Chelsea is excited to finally be making the addictive pop music she’s always dreamed of, with people she loves, largely fueled by the success of their bubbly breakthrough single “Perfume” in 2016. After all, Chelsea had a short-lived career as a solo artist when she signed a multi-record deal with a major record label at the age of eighteen. It’s no surprise, considering it’s easy to imagine Chelsea’s powerful vocals anchoring a radio track. But it wasn’t all candy-coated, pop production. The title-track “Melt” reveals the reality of this specific experience. “This song is about getting lost in that system, not understanding what I wanted to do necessarily, and being very limited creatively.”
SHAED’s hauntingly beautiful new video, directed by Max Haben, captures this feeling of hopelessness. Shot on film in an old abandoned factory in Charlottesville, it opens with the image of Chelsea lying doll-like over leftover wooden pallets. Chelsea feels small in the expansive space, even as she fills her lungs to begin to sing, and she’s spinning around as if losing control. Moody, technicolor shots full of fury are interspersed like lightning with ones of Max and Spencer playing keys and drums in a sun-soaked room. The filming gets more erratic as the music builds, effortlessly simulating the bottled-up frustration that Chelsea experienced before SHAED came to be. It’s dark and kind of eerie.
There’s a built-in emotional comedown to both the song and video when Chelsea steps out into a field at sunset, comforted only by her drawn-out, hushed vocals, to confront her demons once and for all. Watch the video below.