Rapper and producer Chloe Hotline has an astonishing creative engine for only nineteen years old.
Since 2020, the Cincinnati native has personally released three full-length albums, over thirty separate releases, and a multitude of collaborations. Her track “chloe 4-ever” with elite gymnastics’ Jamie Brook premiered in Transcendent 2021 and has garnered the young artist endearing reviews since its November 2022 release.
One of two performers returning to the benefit concerts bill, Ms. Hotline took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with the Hummingbird about her musical origins, the past year in review, and what fans can expect for her Transcendent 2022 performance.
HUMMINGBIRD MAGAZINE: So it’s almost a year since the last Transcendent, what have you been up to in this past year music-wise?
CHLOE HOTLINE: Um, I put my album Kinfolk out in May. I’ve kind of just been promoting that and I went on tour in July. That was pretty fun, it was like my first real tour where it was actually set up and everything. I’ve kind of just been working on ideas since then. I’m always working on music. Always recording music.
HB: Tell us a little bit about the tour, how is being on the road? Who all was a part of the ensemble?
CH: It was a small tour, just a few days in Texas. We did San Antonio, Austin, and Denton- it was a great experience overall. It was me, Censored Dialogue (@censoredialogue), Waylin Flaza (@waylinflaza); you know, STKHM, that’s our band. We just hit the road, and it was a pretty fun experience. It was my first time meeting them in real life and everybody just clicked immediately.
HB: Did you learn anything on the road about performing live that you’ll bring back to the hometown?
CH: The funny thing is, I don’t get to perform in Cincinnati a lot, like most of the time when I perform, it is out of town. But the one thing I did learn is breath control, because after those first couple songs the first night in San Antonio, I was definitely out of breath from running around and doing all kinds of stuff on stage.
HB: Those are important lessons, but to change gears for a second, I want to knock it back a little bit to your musical background. Did you grow up around music? Was your household musical?
CH: All my sisters are amazing singers, my brother also. So I always grew up around it, but I never really wanted to sing for real as a kid. I never thought my voice was good enough, until later in life, probably around the time I was a teenager.
HB: In a recent podcast you did, you mentioned a musical reckoning for you as a kid was seeing Lady Gaga perform at the VMA’s and hearing “Stronger” by Kanye West. Is that correct?
CH: Um, those are like two of [many] things. Gaga’s album The Fame in general, like that kind of cracked my egg in a way because, I didn’t know pop music could be this cool. You know what I mean? Like, I didn’t know pop music could be this grandiose. Because when you’re a kid, and you’re listening to the radio, even as a kid you know some of these songs are kind of basic, but a lot of her deep cuts really pulled these emotions for me where I’m like, “I’ve never felt this about a song before”. And at the time, I’m like five or six years old when I see her do a paparazzi performance on the VMAs, and I’m just like, “That’s exactly what I want to do”.
And yeah, that and definitely Graduation and “Stronger”. I mean, it kind of sucks, to talk about at this point– like talking about like Kanye. But yeah, of course, I was a baby when I heard that album and it was just mind-blowing. When you are young like that and you’ve never heard any like that before it really just shifts your whole perspective, honestly.
HB: How important is melody to you and your music?
CH: Melody is definitely an important thing for me. Honestly, I don’t write. Everything is based off melody. When I make a beat and I hear it- I’m singing, like, I don’t write, because I’m singing. I’ll get that all together and then fill in the blanks for the words. Everything is really based on the melody and cadence for me. I feel like those are the two foundations of music.
HB: Absolutely! Now Chloe, another thing you mentioned in that podcast was that the first time you got in a recording booth was age six. Exactly how old are you now?
CH: 19, but 20 in February.
HB: Happy early birthday, but I’m sure the content of the music has changed in those 13-14 years. Recently, where have you found your musical and lyrical inspiration?
CH: Well, now I’m actually out in the world living, I’m going to different cities for shows, I’m just experiencing all kinds of random things that are cool. Sometimes [the experiences] are not cool, like day-to-day life, but I’m just absorbing whatever life gives me. That’s how most of the songs on Kinfolk came to me. Like the song “QP”, I love talking about it because it’s about a situation I had in Chicago, or different songs like “Porcelain”. Like my lyric, “Is it really love or do you want my body?”, I mean, especially as a trans person, but also that’s what most people think when they start a relationship. For this next record, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m finally getting out there in the world. I’m finally getting my own place, getting my life together a little bit. So we’ll just see what the next record sounds.
HB: In the larger idea of the project what does Kinfolk mean to you? What is the importance of kin for you?
CH: Really for me, kinfolk, that’s just slang for family. That’s kind of what the album is about. It’s just pretty much like dealing with fake friends, meeting all my friends from online. Kinfolk is just about who’s really your kin or not. And you can definitely hear those contemplations throughout the album, like “Take my hand, watch me bleed”. It’s kind of like, you think somebody’s your friend, but pretty much means they’re doing some dirty shit to you.
HB: Okay, I have two more questions before we wrap this up. Your producer tag is “I hate you, Chloe”, does Chloe Hotline get a lot of hate?
CH: I wouldn’t really say it was hate, but I definitely think people are definitely a bit standoffish when it comes to me sometimes. Like I don’t think it’s always a direct open hate, but you know, “I hate you Chloe” definitely means something. But yeah, there’s definitely people out there that have been vicious, with like actual hatred in their heart. Like they definitely do hate Chloe. I’m just trying to make myself feel good about it.
HB: Well, despite the haters it seems like you’ve been gaining traction recently, what can we expect from your Transcendent performance this year?
CH: So the song I performed last year, “chloe 4-ever”, just came out on the elite gymnastics record and they’ve been talking about it on Pitchfork and all kinds of shit like that. I’m just like, whoa, like, it’s one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever made and it’s one of my favorite songs ever that I got to cover. The original song “Andrea for Ever” by elite gymnastics came out in 2012 and was a part of the Adult Swim Singles program. When I was a child, Adult Swim singles program would be how I’d find a lot of cool non-hip hop music. So that song always stuck with me.
Then Jamie Brooks (elite gymnastics). In 2019 I had to hit her up because I had sampled one of her songs on a little EP I made in high school. And she was like “Oh, yeah, this is tight!”, looking back the song was wack. But yeah, ever since then, we just kept a pretty good working relationship. I was just telling her like “Andrea Forever” was my favorite song, and one day I just got the stems for the song in my DMs. I was like, “I know this has been coming out for a year so I’m gonna perform for Hummingbird.
HB: Wow, I didn’t even know that was a premiere last year.
CH: And then I’m doing the same thing this year! Like this one I’m performing this year, the song won’t be out for months…