By Kariann Tan
This year proves to be a fiery start for synth-pop trio SHAED, as they kick off their tour, opening for Coast Modern in less than a week and the X Ambassadors not long after that. Luckily enough, I was able to catch up band members Chelsea Lee (vocals), Max Ernst (producer/instrumentalist) and Spencer Ernst (co-producer/instrumentalist) on a bright Wednesday afternoon. Sharing an appreciation for the iconic 9:30 Club in D.C, we also managed to breeze through a couple of things not excluding writing, music and what’s in store for them this year.
First off, talk to me about the beginnings of SHAED. How did this musical collaboration start?
CHELSEA: So, we’ve been friends since high school; we went to different high schools but we met at the 9:30 Club. I didn’t drive back then so they became my chauffeurs, picking me up and stuff, as we were hanging out all the time. We’ve basically been friends forever and then a couple of years ago, we were able to kind of leave everything else we were doing on our projects and come together and start SHAED.
That’s pretty neat! Bringing up the 9:30 Club is special to me as I’m a D.C person too. Seeing artists coming out of a place that I’m from doesn’t fail to inspire me as a creative person. So, how has D.C as a whole inspired you as a band and as artists personally?
CHELSEA: I think that, you know, we started in DC obviously and we’re still here! We love this community, it’s so supportive of local artists and talented musicians. But the reason we’re where we are right now and the reason that we’re getting all this hype is because we were playing DC clubs. We were playing DC9, other lounges, and kind of like, getting our feet wet in DC. And you know, we’re spoiled because it’s such an incredible city that we are in. I think just being able to play and have local people just so invested in things that are coming out of their city and be so supportive was very inspiring for us.
I’d imagine! Was making and performing music something that you wanted to do growing up or were there any other ambitions in mind, before SHAED?
CHELSEA: No, we always somehow wanted to be doing something with music. We’ve always been in different projects - I was a solo artist for a bit and Max and Spencer have just been in a bunch of bands so we always wanted to do this. School and college and all that was kind of a secondary thought. So we’re doing this full-time and we love it now and it’s really, really great.
Speaking of music, how do you see your musical style as a band evolving over time?
MAX: Hmm, it’s hard to say when you’re in the middle of it - we’ve been writing for the past four or five months now. Before then, my brother and I lived together and Chelsea lived separately, and then we all moved into a house together. So, it’s been a lot more collaborative than it was before; we’ve been working on everything together. Before that, Spencer and I would work on something then it’s Chelsea and we’d go back and forth. I guess that’s kind of how we’ve been writing which may influence our sound. It’s hard to say! But I think that after touring a lot, we’ve realised where she can really connect with her audience, what songs that she could sing and the range of her voice, night after night on tour. That’s definitely influenced how we’ve been writing.
In a week or so, you’re going to be opening for Coast Modern which is going to be super great. Is it exciting to be finally back on the road again performing for so many people?
MAX: Definitely! We love being on the road. It’s funny, after touring for like a month, you’re looking forward to being home and writing but after writing for a few months, you’re looking forward to getting back on the road. So there’s that kind of thing going on, we just love playing for people and we really like Coast Modern and we’re really excited for the tour.
I’m actually seeing you guys next week for your show, so it’s going to be really exciting.
MAX: That’s cool! Which show?
I’m from D.C, so I’m seeing you all at your first show at the 9:30 Club, ironically.
MAX: Oh, sweet! It’ll be awesome.
Yeah definitely, I love Coast Modern as well so it’s going to be fun. As that’s so, do you have any pre-show rituals - things that you’d like to do prior to performing?
MAX: Honestly, Chelsea kind of has a ritual. She puts on her headphones and sings along to her favorite songs. She warmed to LÉON, and this group called Her. She’s got a whole lot of playlists and but we’ll huddle together. Sometimes if we have a green room, we’ll blast some music, dance around and get all loosened up. That’s what we do.
Considering that you all live under the same roof and work together, has there been any memorable stories or anything that is worth mentioning during this time spent together?
SPENCER: The great thing about this [upcoming] EP is that we recorded it at our place that we moved into last September. That, in itself, has been pretty cool. You know, having all of our keyboards and guitar amps and microphones ready to go so whenever we’re feeling inspired to record something, we can just do it. That’s actually a first for us, so it’s great.
About SHAED’s upcoming EP, would you mind sharing with us a little bit about it, what it’s influenced by, and how it’s different to your previous release?
SPENCER: Yeah! I’d say that for this EP, the process has changed a bit just because everyday we can just wake up and work on music. And it has been pretty interesting because we’ve actually made a schedule that we try to adhere to everyday. So it’s like, we all get up super early and we’re all on a healthy schedule, and we’ll start working on music at 9:30AM. It’s definitely different from our first EP where we were definitely working on stuff later in the day. Now that we can do this full time totally brings a different vibe. I think that a lot has changed too, and that’s influenced by what we talk about and our perceptions on everything. Chelsea and I got engaged last September and I think that’s influenced how we think about lyrics and stuff like that.
That’s amazing, and congratulations on the engagement! Just to wrap things up, what can we expect from SHAED this year?
SPENCER: You can definitely expect a ton of new music. We’ve been writing for a really long time and we’re definitely going to be releasing some singles. I think we’re releasing one track before the X Ambassadors tour which is little over a month from now. Just a lot of new music, as we’re really, really happy to share of the work we’ve been doing for the last couple of months here.
I’m looking forward to that!
SPENCER: For sure.
Catch SHAED opening up for Coast Modern in Washington DC (3/19), Massachusetts (3/20), New York (3/22), and Maine (3/4). You can also listen to them on Spotify by clicking here.