Chemical Balance: Childe Interviewed

The pop transgressor on his taboo-breaking debut full length, intuitive process and the sanctity of performing...

It’s unclear, when we speak, whether Childe is indeed stoned and supremely confident, as the title of his debut album states. The impression he gives, rather, is of someone quietly, humbly excited to see the fruits of years of work and a plethora of artistic exploits come into being. In the advent of the release of ‘Stoned And Supremely Confident’, which is a strikingly polished and subtly strutting pop arrival, Childe has been road-testing. “For me, it’s always been about playing shows,” he says. “I’ve been trying to do this for such a long time, and it’s been part of who I am for such a long time, and now I get all of my payback. You’ve caught me at a very good moment!”

Alongside musical endeavours, Childe has also appeared in a campaign for the iconic Vivienne Westwood, which is both an accolade and a cosign to his suitably offbeat, exploratory nature as a creative. He’s been working and developing himself for a long time, so it’s a curious technicality that ‘Stoned And Supremely Confident’ is labelled a debut, but this is something Childe takes pride in, simply by virtue of achieving the complete body of work. “It’s an interesting thing, and there’s two sides to it. It’s funny to call it a debut when I’ve been locked away in a room for like, six years, making music. And I do write songs every single day, it’s what I do. But at the same time, it is a debut, because it is the first time I’ve put together a full offering on its own, and I’m really proud of it.”

He continues: “I’m very self-critical, and I’m very ADHD, so I move on very quickly – thinking, I’m going to strip it all back, I’m going to be this, I’m going to be that, but that’s fine. That’s who I am. I have to accept that, and then I’m ready to move on to the next thing – but I’m incredibly proud of the album.” For Childe, though, the album is “representative of how [he] was feeling right then. It’s definitely a moment.” By his very nature, it has continued to evolve even prior to its release, through discoveries both introspective and collaborative that Childe has made as he rewrites the material for performance. “I’ve discovered that I should always sing big – open the voice up. I didn’t do enough of that on the record! But I have been doing live and I will be doing it moving forward.”

“[Performing] live is like this amazing baptism of fire, and it’s a layer of creativity that I didn’t imagine, because you don’t really get to choose what happens to you. You’re just stuck out there, and whatever you’ve got, you’d better be able to call on it in that moment. And that’s where I’m my best.” As Childe continues, though he’s called himself self-critical, the way he actually describes his process sounds more like a highly-considered, elastic awareness of his own metamorphic creative vision. “Playing [‘Stoned and Supremely Confident’] live, I’ve realised that across the journey of the record, whatever I find most sonically interesting isn’t necessarily what’s going to work best. It’s been a really interesting discovery, and it’s been really good for me as an artist, because it’s made me feel more validated – it’s just me and a keys player, and it’s all about my voice.”

Childe has thought a lot about how he negotiates his process, and what the somewhat arbitrary label of ‘singer-songwriter’ means to him. Performing live, and reclaiming some of the rawer, more personal side of the sound, such as the power of his voice alone, is the most recent chapter of his thinking on this, but certainly not the first. It’s a relationship Childe is constantly evolving with. “Maybe a month ago, I wouldn’t have known at all,” he explains, “but I feel quite clear on it at the moment. I played piano and guitar when I was a kid, and that’s the backbone of how I perform. So I’m a singer-songwriter. That’s the cold, hard, truth of it.”

He continues: “But when I was growing up, and listening to my favourite bands, it felt a bit incongruous, and I didn’t really feel like I could connect to what the palette of expectations were for a singer-songwriter. I was learning to make music, it felt really boxed in as a genre, and the things I wanted to do, and who I was or how I felt at all. I tried to figure out how I could do something more unique, and something I felt represented me better, and it took me into this production-obsessed mindset. I spent the last couple of years with a producer in LA, making this bedroom pop, but now having started playing some shows and figuring out what that looks like, I feel much more comfortable in my skin as a songwriter.”

“I just want to celebrate what I’m best at,” he says. “It doesn’t feel like any other singer-songwriter, but it feels authentically me. Everyone is a singer-songwriter, everyone from Alex Turner to Kate Bush – the never-ending possibility is great for my constant search for stimulation.”

Childe wears Vivienne Westwood throughout. As seen in CLASH Issue 126. Purchase your copy here.

Words: Ims Taylor

Photography: Joshua Davidson

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