KLOE: The Best of What's Next

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KLOE: The Best of What's Next

At 19, scrappy Scottish songbird Chloe Latimer—who records and performs as simply Kloe—would like to make one thing perfectly clear. She has always had a problem with authority, ever since she was a self-professed wild child growing up on the outskirts of Glasgow. “I wasn’t very good at school, and I wasn’t very good at doing what I was told,” she growls, convincingly. “I thought I knew everything, and I was actually very good at not getting caught, and very good at not crossing the line between being cool and rebellious and just being stupid. So I never got into trouble with the police or anything.” Ominous, right?

Ask the lass to expound on these daring exploits, however, and she’s momentarily stymied. She can’t remember any, right off the bat. But wait a minute—she has a solution. “My mom is here with me now,” she reveals, calling from her new home in London, where she moved to record her satin-textured synth-pop debut, the aptly-dubbed EP Teenage Craze. And she calls to her, across the room: “Mom! What’s the biggest, most rebellious thing I’ve done, back when I was younger?” After a muffled response, she’s back on the line with a suitably sinister achievement. “Oh yeah! I used to steal my mom’s cigarettes when I was 13! I’d sneak down the stairs, steal some, then go out and meet boys. That’s quite PG, I know. But—as I said—I rarely got caught.”

Like a small forest animal puffing up its fur to appear larger, more intimidating to potential predators, young Kloe puts on a convincing tough-chick show. But is she really that stereotypical kitten with a whip? Or is her bark worse than her bite? The answer—as spelled out in her songwriting—lies balanced somewhere in between. On the Craze number “Grip,” for instance, she calls out a weaselly beau for his infidelity, as she hisses—over a percolating, jazz-dubby keyboard wash—“It’s like you fucked every girl in the room.” All of the track was true, she sighs, and she was incredibly proud of herself when she came up with that particular diary-honest, parental-advisory-warranting lyric. The guy was a creep, and he deserved to be called on the carpet.

But elsewhere, things get more nebulous. The orchestral cut “Touch,” in contrast, was reportedly penned about an older man of—gasp!—nearly 30, whom she was seeing, who introduced her to cool Glaswegian culture, like art and drama, before dumping her. But when pressed, Kloe admits that there was quite a bit of poetic license taken with the situation, which wasn’t romantic at all. Like all good writers, she just has an extremely vivid imagination. The lad in question was older, true, but he was just a local bearded musician she was infatuated with two years ago, she confesses, sheepishly. He barely noticed her when they bumped into each other at local parties.

“When I was 17, I was that crazy girl at parties that was always the last one standing,” the singer says. “I knew I was going to get a record contract, and I knew I was going to get one soon, and I knew that I was going to have to move to London. So for me, being 17, 18 was all about experiencing as much as possible in Glasgow, and through that, I started to make friends with people in other bands. And a lot of them happened to be older. So I was just totally in complete adoration of this guy, but he didn’t give a fuck. I just loved the drama of it all, and he really didn’t care. And he still doesn’t care. I ran into him a few months ago when I was back home, and I was just so embarrassed.”

Kloe is a chatty, charismatic blonde who bears more than a passing resemblance to spunky Game of Thrones whippersnapper Arya Stark, as played by Maisie Williams. And make no mistake, she’s got plenty of salacious stories—she’s lived such an extraordinary life that many of her friends have classified her as an old soul, someone who knows life’s ropes because they have probably experienced them in a past life. And she does understand that, to achieve songwriting success, she needs to draw upon personal experiences, to simply write what she knows. So listeners don’t necessarily have to view Craze as some diary-of-a-teenage-girl Gospel. “But this record has been about growing up, growing from a young teenager to an adult,” she explains. Then she giggles. “Although I don’t think I’ll ever feel like an adult!”

One number on the kid’s upcoming album is dubbed “Glasgow.” But it’s not exactly a romantic ode to her hometown, which she missed so much she returned there to film her “Touch” video with all of her best mates, just hanging out and smoking in a local park. “It’s about the darker side of the city, about when I used to go out and go on total benders, then stagger home at dawn and get the horrible comedown, and then you’d hate yourself,” she says. “But I’ve been to so many different places now, and nowhere feels better than being back in Glasgow. That’s where I had all my first experiences partying and just meeting people, and every time I come home now and I go out again, it’s just a little bit different.”

How did Latimer become Scotland’s latest cause célèbre? The signs were all there in gradeschool. “I was always that annoying child that craved attention, so at 14 years age, I would stand up in front of all my peers on the school stage and sing shit like Ed Sheeran covers,” she snickers. Kids made fun of her, too, but she got it. “If I saw another 14-year-old doing that, I’d probably slag her off, too. But it’s quite funny, because the people who slagged me off at school are the people who now want to be my friends.” Rather than fraternizing with her foes, she grew more studious, reclusive. She bought a MacBook, learned GarageBand, and started recording her own material. Once she acquired access to more complicated studio programs like Logic, she was off and running. And again, she didn’t like being instructed what to do.

Kloe taught herself production techniques through trial and error, she says. “Which is a good thing and a bad thing—I get so involved in everything, while maybe most girls who are in my position on a major label, who are maybe more like pop stars, maybe they don’t take as much time concentrating on their sound. But I’m happy that I’ve got a producer’s ear, and it means I’m such a bitch, because when I go into sessions and producers are like, ‘Aw! A cute little girl!’ I’m like, ‘Uhh, no.’ I’m not having any of that shit. Then I try mixing, and I show them exactly what I mean.”

One of Kloe’s earliest ditties was the YouTube-posted paean “Weirdo Like Me.” And she groans now thinking back on its awkward wordplay. “It was about the fact that I had a million things that I didn’t like about myself, like when the wind hits my eyes, it makes me cry,” she cedes. “But when I taught myself to play guitar, Ed Sheeran was the biggest pop star in the UK, and that’s what I was listening to. And then my dad was like, ‘Stop listening to all that shit music on the radio! Here’s Joni Mitchell—listen to her!’ And I thought I was a really cool hipster for awhile, because I knew about Joni Mitchell. And then?” She sighs, “Then I just fell in love with songwriting.”

Kloe’s star kept rising. She’s already inked with Iamsound (home to Charli XCX and Florence + the Machine), won a Scottish Music Award, curated her own Blakout club night and started working with the high-end Diesel Black Gold clothing label. “I went to Milan to play a show for them, and it was just like another world of nothing but hot, skinny people,” she recalls. “And they made me feel so comfortable—I’m a normal-sized girl, but they tailor-made all my clothes, and I had never had that experience before.”

And the artist has no need to mythologize a current relationship—she doesn’t have one. And probably won’t have time for one in the foreseeable future. But don’t get her wrong, she cautions. “Sometimes I wish I had a boy, because it does get really lonely. But I think trying to bring someone else into this craziness right now would be a million times worse. Besides, all I meet in this business are men, usually. So I take my best friend out on tour with me now, because I just need that female energy there. I really need the estrogen.”

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