Seeking Asylum amongst the madness; in conversation with singer-songwriter Chloe Foy

Following the release of her new single Asylum, Annie Rew Shaw caught up with singer-songwriter Chloe Foy to learn more about her writing process, musical influences and what she’s got lined up for next year…

I can’t stop listening to your new single Asylumit’s the perfect soundtrack for these sleepy, end-of-summer days. What’s the story behind the song?

It started with a really simplistic melody on the guitar. A lot of my lyrics are quite abstract but overall it’s about finding peace in this very frantic world that we live in. I often struggle with low mood and get quite anxious about things – it’s a general ode to that; finding some asylum in the madness.

The music video for Asylum is beautiful. Where did you film it?

We filmed it in Caernarfon in Wales. The guy who did the video, Rich Williams, knew a guy called Trev who’s a retired fisherman. He seemed like the perfect person. He lives this very simple life – he still goes out fishing sometimes even though he doesn’t have to earn money anymore. He just goes out on the sea and has a peaceful time.

I wanted the focus away from me and more on the experience, really trying to capture that feeling of going somewhere to find peace.

You played SXSW in Austin earlier this year. How was that as an experience?

It was amazing! I never really expected to be picked to play and then when I found out I had, it was all about how we were going to get there. It’s kind of insane, because you have to pay your way to get there. We did a Pledge campaign to get there and raised all the money, which was a real confidence boost. You start to believe in yourself when you realise other people believe in you.

The actual week there was incredible – I wish we could’ve stayed for way longer. I really want to go back to America. I managed to take a few band members with me, which was really good, and we just had a load of fun. I’d gone out there without too many expectations of what I could get out of it, because I’d heard various things about it being quite a cut-throat place, but my song Flaws was played on NPR radio by Bob Boilen and that meant that quite a lot of people came to the gig.

Chloe Foy performing at SXSW 2018

What’s coming up for you next? I’ve seen you’ve started to announce some more UK shows…

Yeah, it’s a mini tour. We’ve got shows in London, Manchester and Bristol. It’s my first headline tour, which is exciting.

Who’s been your biggest musical influence?

Lots of female singer-songwriters… I first picked up a guitar because of KT Tunstall. She was the first person that I saw and thought, ‘oh right, girls can do that too, and do it well.’ Then I heard Laura Marling and loved her sound and vibe, and that led me to delve deeper into her influences – Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young…

More recently it’s been Sharon Van Etten – I really want her to bring out another album!

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?

I think I’d be an arts producer. Someone who puts on arts events.

What advice would you give to other aspiring artists?

It sounds really cheesy, but believe in yourself and don’t give up, because that’s the one thing that I struggle with quite often. One thing that makes things harder for me is me. I think that can come with being a female artist sometimes. There’s a lot more against us – we’re not given those platforms as easily, which can deter you, but try and let those setbacks drive you even more.

Have you had any significant mentors?

Jesca Hoop’s been very lovely to me and invited me to join her on tour. She has given me some good advice along the way. I really respect what she’s done in that she’s not always been with a major label and has always crafted it in her own way. Just seeing how she’s done things in her own way and not compromised on the sound that she produces… she just lives it.

Have you got more music on the way?

There will be another single before the end of the year and I’m hoping to release another longer record – probably an EP – in Spring 2019. I’m really looking forward to that.

When you write, do you ever have a concept in mind?

It comes together as a I go along. I’m writing the EP at the moment… the songs come out individually. It comes together more in the production process, that’s when the songs become more cohesive.

You end up writing in a theme anyway, because you’re writing around a certain time in your life and are influenced by those things. That’s the beauty of it, I guess, everything comes out abstract.

If you could recommend one album for our readers to listen to, what would it be?

I’m going to recommend Memories Are Now by Jesca Hoop, because I think it’s an amazing record. The more I listen to it, the more I’m amazed by the really intuitive musicality in it. I’ve been very inspired by it over the last year – I think it’s brilliant.


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