NME Radar: Breakout

Chloe Slater: the firebrand songwriter that’s about to be everywhere

The Manchester-based indie artist fills her addictive songs with observations of the issues affecting Gen Z, from influencer culture to the state of UK politics

Each week in Breakout, we talk to the emerging stars blowing up right now – whether it be a huge viral moment, killer new track or an eye-popping video – these are the rising artists certain to dominate the near future

For all the debate about TikTok’s negative impact on music, sometimes the algorithm does latch onto some jewels. That was the case with Chloe Slater, a Manchester-based indie artist whose videos teasing her buzzing, sprechgesang-style single ‘24 Hours’ were unexpectedly pushed by the platform, her cropping up on For You pages lip-syncing to its addictive first verse that begins: “It’s not clear if I am ripening or rotting.”

‘24 Hours’, which was released in February, wasn’t the 21-year-old’s first experience of sharing her music – that came in 2023 with the downcast whirl of the indie-meets-stormy-electronics ‘Sinking Feeling’ – but it was her first time gaining an audience. “When I put my first single out, no one listened to it,” she tells NME over Zoom from her bedroom, the wall behind her decorated with a Camel cigarette packet, art prints and postcards.

“It was almost relieving [when ‘24 Hours’ started getting attention] because I’ve been posting on TikTok nearly every day for a year, and I was like, ‘Something’s gotta give here’. I feel like my music is good, you know? Not to toot my own trumpet!”

She’s not wrong, as recent track ‘Nothing Shines On This Island’ – a Tory-lampooning assessment of the British government and the chasm between the upper classes and those below – proves. Slater has been making music since she was growing up in Bournemouth, aged 13. Back then, she says she was “just writing about the boys I fancied at school” but is now turning her pen to bigger issues affecting her generation. “I want my music to make a mark on the world, and I think I’ve always wanted that,” she reasons.

But, she laughs, even her current iteration of artistry isn’t confined to politics and the ills of society: “I still write songs about boys I fancy, and I’m sure there’ll be some more of those at some point when I’ve finished my rampage.”

Ahead of the release of her debut EP, ‘You Can’t Put A Price On Fun’, NME caught up with Slater to talk about her mission to raise awareness for issues she feels are often overlooked in modern music.

Why do you think it was ‘24 Hours’ that struck a chord with people?

“It’s quite relatable in the sense that I was posting the snippets on TikTok, and it was about scrolling through TikTok. So that’s immediately like anyone who sees it is gonna relate to it. But also, it’s about influencer culture and there’s not really lots of music about that kind of thing at the moment. There’s definitely a bit of a gap for those more almost political conversations because a lot of people are feeling quite downtrodden by the cost of living crisis, obviously, and various other horrible things that are going on in the world. I think it is important for music to reflect that sometimes.”

chloe slater
Credit: Hayley Thompson

The song was also inspired by the infamous interview influencer and Love Islander Molly-Mae Hague gave where she claimed “we all have the same 24 hours.” What was it about that statement that compelled you to write a song about it?

“It’s funny because that statement was almost quite irrelevant by the time ‘24 Hours’ was written – that happened two years before. But because before there was no one listening to the music, me and Jack [Shute, producer], who I make most of my music with, were like, ‘We can just do whatever we want, probably no one’s gonna listen to it anyway’. So we were just throwing really stupid stuff [in].

“I just think that whole Molly-Mae thing is horrific, and so insensitive to say ‘everyone has the same 24 hours’ because obviously, they don’t. I’m not living the same life as Molly-Mae. It’s funny because the song is a mix between me being really angry at people like her and then also wishing I was her. I think no matter how good you think your ethics or your morals are everyone kind of wishes that they were an influencer sometimes.”

“I’m not afraid to talk about the things that I really care about”

You’ve said you want to speak about issues that often aren’t spoken about in music – other than influencer culture, what does that include for you?

“Definitely the biggest thing at the moment is class disparities and how massive the gap between the rich and the poor is getting, because it’s actually insane. I was just looking at the Met Gala. I’m seeing it all over my TikTok and it literally looks like the Capitol in The Hunger Games. I found out they all have to pay £75,000 for a ticket, which is insane.

“It just annoys me because I think all these people with this much money, all the things that you could be doing with it – why is it going on stuff like that? But that’s definitely a big one, and then feminist things as well. It’s just mainly all of the things that concern young people today – not necessarily just young people, but it’s from my perspective and all of the things that make me angry about the world and all the things that I wish I could change.”

You have got people debating postcolonial views and misinformation in your TikTok comments. Even if those debates often come from negative intentions, does it feel like your music is starting conversations?

“Yeah, 100 per cent. One of the criticisms I get is ‘you’re not saying anything groundbreaking, this is just the most basic left wing propaganda’. But I think politics can be quite inaccessible in this country and a lot of people were not really taught it in schools – it’s typically private schools that teach politics more.

“So I think it’s also given a view of being a really boring thing – when I was 16, I thought politics was really boring because I didn’t know anything about it or understand that everything is politics. It’s not just like stuffy men in suits,  it’s the whole world and everything that you care about. So if I can make it digestible in my music, it’s like a stepping stone to starting to think more about the world that we live in rather than just having absolutely no idea at all.”

When did you first start getting interested in politics?

“Probably when I was 17. It was when it was Boris Johnson versus Jeremy Corbyn. I wasn’t old enough to vote. I just remember being so angry because there’s so many young people that are so educated on issues – more than a lot of people who can vote. It’s really frustrating for young people sometimes to see people making decisions for the world that they’re gonna grow up in, and they can’t do anything about it.”

Are you hoping you can use your platform to encourage young people of voting age to vote in the next general election, whenever that may be?

“That’s what I want to do with this, so yeah, I’d love to do that. It’s crazy because there were the [local] elections the other day, and none of my friends knew it was happening – they hadn’t registered to vote in time. I think it’s ridiculous how hard it is to actually be aware of these things – it should be on billboards everywhere. The amount of crap that’s on billboards now… why not put actually important things on there? But yeah, I want to be able to really make a difference.”

chloe slater
Credit: Hayley Thompson

What bands do you look up to?

“I’ve always been a massive Wolf Alice fan. They’re probably one of my all-time favourite bands. I really like Fontaines D.C. and I’ve always been a really massive Sam Fender fan as well.”

In your newsletter, you said seeing Wolf Alice live was the best day of your life…

“They had postponed [the original gig] – I don’t know if it was for COVID reasons or something – but the date they postponed it to was my 19th birthday. It was the year I just moved to uni, so I had this massive group of friends and we went to see Wolf Alice. It was the best gig of my life. I was right by the front as well, screaming, crying, all of the emotions. I just went out with all my friends afterwards, and it’s just the most joy I’ve ever felt. It’s definitely the best birthday I think I’ll ever have. I don’t think I’ll be able to top that one.”

You’re about to release your debut EP. What do you want people to take from it about who you are as an artist?

“Just that I’m not afraid to talk about the things that I really care about – which is funny because, in person, I’m actually a very agreeable, quiet, shy person. My music is like my alter ego, the person I wish I was who yells at everyone. I would never yell at anyone, to be honest. I find writing is the only way I can really show how I feel about things. I struggle to put things into words sometimes, but I’ve always found it a lot easier to put things down on paper. Well, not on paper – I put them in my notes app. I’m Gen Z.”

Chloe Slater’s ‘You Can’t Put A Price On Fun’ EP will be released on May 23


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