Chlöe is always defending herself. Despite the slew of unwarranted opinions flooding her mentions about her sister Halle Bailey, her music, her mentor Beyoncé, her acting roles, her body, and/or style, the 24-year-old rolls with the punches and fires back with poise. It’s a gift for the sensitive Cancer, one that fueled the flame behind her solo debut album, In Pieces.
The riveting conglomerate of sounds, genres, and moods is a physical representation of Chlöe’s versatility. She’s a delicate siren, an intuitive storyteller, and an observant woman full of mystique. Like the Parkwood Entertainment CEO, she lets the rumor mill run freely until she feels something needs to be addressed. And even then, she shuts it down so eloquently it’d make your head spin.
Yes, she claps back—thou shall not play in her face about anything dear to her heart—blame her Libra moon and Atlanta upbringing. This album is the greatest defense; Chlöe’s heart is on front street in her rawest, most vulnerable music to-date. The LP’s title, In Pieces, stems from the idea of constantly having to piece yourself back together, regardless of how whole you may seem.
Some parts may breed more questions than answers, but the most dynamic works of art are meant to be left to interpretation. Throughout our dialogue, the budding actress details the process behind some of the album’s more emotional depths. She also shared how she recorded “Cheat Back” while battling COVID, advice she received from Missy Elliott, and what she hopes fans take away from this project.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
VIBE: On “Make It Look Easy,” you said, “No matter how many times I break/I put myself back together every damn time.” So, what does that process look like for you?
Chlöe: A lot of prayer. A lot of pep talk in the mirror. A lot of talks with my godmom. A lot of just being quiet and playing with my baby kitten where I kind of feel that’s what helps me feel better, and food, lots of good food.
With the album being so vulnerable, would you say that’s part of the reason why your previous releases, “Surprise,” “Treat Me,” and “Have Mercy” don’t appear on the album because they’re more fun and uptempo?
Yes, I definitely would have to think so. I love all types of music, though. I would have to say when you’re sad, you still got to dance away the pain.
Even though you mentioned “Make It Look Easy” was your most personal record, it really seemed like “Cheat Back” was that one. What’s the story behind it?
I feel like as women, we all kind of feel this way. When I got it, I actually had COVID at the time. [But] I heard it and was immediately inspired. I set up my equipment and started recording because I was just left to my thoughts. I was getting over something with another person where I felt like they betrayed my trust in that way. And I wrote the bridge in five seconds and the vocals that are still on the record to this day were my vocals I sang with when I [was sick]. Nobody knows that. Maybe that’s how you hear the extra pain.
It was that COVID pain and heartbreak mixed together. You used to believe that the way you love without question was a curse, but it’s actually your greatest gift. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in and about love?
You got to love yourself first before you can be open to receiving it from others. Right now, I’ve been single for about a year now and I told myself it’s probably because I still have to conquer what loving myself truly means. I can’t expect another human being to love me when I haven’t fully conquered that and sometimes I hesitate. I’m a pretty insecure person to be honest with you. That shocks people for some reason because from the outside it seems as if I have it all together, it seems that I’m so confident because of how I perceive myself on stage and how I’m comfortable with my body and my curves, but in actuality, I’m so in my head. I’m learning to love being alone.
With you being single for over a year, do you anticipate anyone spinning the block after hearing the album?
Oh, absolutely. I feel like I had to go through all these different moments of heartbreak so that I can complete this project. And my heart being left in pieces isn’t just from heartbreak in relationships. It’s people that you feel like have your back, close family, friends. When that trust is broken, it’s like your heart breaks constantly over again. That’s where self-love kind of comes back into it. You can’t expect anyone to believe in you, to fight for you, to love you or to be there unconditionally for you, if you’re not there for yourself in that way.
Speaking of fighting for yourself, you’re no stranger to online controversy. With the backlash regarding Chris Brown on “How Does It Feel,” why did you choose him and not Usher since you sample “Throwback?”
Yes. Well, you never know what could happen [in the future]. I love Usher and I just saw him in Vegas. I’m just so grateful that he cleared the sample. I really wanted the music to speak for itself. I felt like our tones really complimented each other, and I’m really happy with how the record and the music video turned out.
What was it like working with Missy Elliott? What sparked that collab?
My freaking goodness, ever since I was a little girl, I have been so inspired by Missy Elliott. Knowing how she’s not only an incredible artist on her own, but also a well renowned producer. In that way she’s inspired me to want to begin doing that for other artists and branch out. One thing I loved about her is that as much as she has helped people with their sound, she’s also stayed true to herself. And being able to do both is really, really hard.
What advice does she offer you as a veteran?
She told me to keep going, to believe in myself. Even her little notes that she had for the song, the sample after the bridge, that was her idea. When she sent her vocals back, unmixed, it still sounded perfect. That’s how you’re a true vet in the game. She doesn’t rely on the mixing of her vocals for the vibe or the tone or anything, that’s all her. I am just so grateful.
Was it hard to go back and forth between your roles in Swarm, Praise This, and then revert to this vulnerable place for the album?
I’m not going to lie and say it was a walk in the park. The thing about me, I love deep thinking. There’s two sides of me. When you meet me in person, I’m so bubbly and giggly, but when it comes to my performing, I’m very serious, dominant and sexy. I feel like that’s the beautiful thing about being a woman. One day I can be on set for Swarm and be amongst my peers like Dominique Fishback and Damson Idris and play those more serious roles, and also go in the studio and sing that same pain and emotion and put that into the music.
Fast-forward, I’m doing Praise This. And the thing about these roles is that I find a piece of myself in each and every single one of these roles. What I love about Swarm is that I don’t think people are expecting to see how this show stretched me as an actress.
Overall, what do you want fans to take away from your solo debut and learn about Chlöe as a solo entity?
That it’s okay to not have your s**t together, and it’s okay to admit that you need help. I am such a firm believer in mental health and it’s okay to let music be your distraction away from the world, and I hope that’s what this body of work is for people. I hope for the people who are scared to speak up and say how they truly feel, they could put this album on and belt out the lyrics and feel like they’re finally being heard.