Chelsea Cutler is far from your average 21-year-old. You may have discovered the Westport native, jersey-wearing enthusiast, on Spotify’s “New Music Friday” playlist, or in your basic indie electronic music search; but with a light voice backed with power, you probably stuck around to hear a few more tunes.
Long gone are the days where Cutler made her claim to fame by covering songs on SoundCloud. As a singer, songwriter and producer, she has surpassed the expectations of any girl her age.
Now featured on songs by top indie-electronic and EDM artists such as Louis the Child, Quinn XCII and Kidswaste, Cutler is slowly moving her way to the top and was named part of Refinery29’s “Next Generation of Music Superstars.” Garnering more than 2.7 million Spotify listeners monthly, Cutler gaining followers one sweet melody at a time.
In an unconventional way, she found her niche for music through her boarding school where she was encouraged to join an acapella group and learned how to use a recording studio.
“I think boarding school had the biggest influence on me,” said Cutler. “Music was super important to our community [and] was always encouraging us to pursue things we were interested in.”
Paying little mind to the music industry as a probable career, Cutler later attended Amherst College in Massachusetts where she played soccer and studied history. However, she never let her music passion die, and with her unique sound and Bon Iver-inspired vocal layering, she soon began to attract attention from big-name management teams.
She signed with Sony affiliate Ultra Records in 2017 and began writing and producing her own music, releasing her first EP, Snow, in October. With only six songs, Cutler’s career took off from the albums lead single, “Your Shirt” which has now harbored a whopping 36 million listens on Spotify.
As a student playing collegiate soccer while simultaneously writing and producing music for millions across the globe, Cutler soon had to stop the juggling act and decide which path she was going to choose.
She was offered the opportunity to open on tour for fellow collaborator Quinn XCII, which would cut into the spring semester of her junior year. She then sat down with her parents for a conversation that would determine her fate as a music sensation.
“It was seriously one of the hardest and one of the easiest decisions I’ve had to make because leaving school meant leaving what society views as the traditional path,” said Cutler. “I was leaving my team and leaving a collegiate sport is tough to do when you’re passionate about it. Those factors definitely made it difficult; but when you have a community like this, and a passion this strong, as difficult as the decision is, it’s also the easiest ever. To just take the leap and do it.”
Cutler finally made the decision to drop out of college, and she is now on her first tour across the U.S. While her stage presence is timid and it’s obvious to any seasoned concertgoer that this is her first go-round, there’s a fire in her eyes that exudes a child-like glee while she performs.
“Tour has been amazing,” said Cutler. “I’m really fortunate. It’s not a usual circumstance for the opener to be on the bus with the headliner and the crew, so they made me feel like part of the family.”
Cutler expresses her gratefulness to be travelling and performing with Quinn; a close friend with a similar mind, as well as a frequent collaborator on tracks including “Flare Guns,” “Giving Up Ground” and “The Story Of Us.”
“We’re such good friends,” said Cutler. “We write really similarly and we push each other to think more innovatively with our writing. He was already one of my favorite people to work with prior to the tour but I think that being on tour has reaffirmed for us how much we vibe together as co-writers and producing together.”
While speaking of songwriting, Cutler shared her secrets about what’s actually hidden underneath the happy-go-lucky-looking 21-year-old’s style of writing. If you were to attend any of Cutler’s shows you would find boys and girls singing their hearts out to her songs about heartbreak and relationships. With lyrics like, “And now you’re going out of focus, and I’m losing you I know, cause I don’t know how to forget all the ways I hurt you so,” from Cutler’s newest release and career favorite, Out of Focus, it’s fair to think that any person would imagine such statements are about another person, right? According to Cutler, that couldn’t be more far from the truth.
“[In] 99% of my music, I write about my mental health,” said Cutler. “A lot of times I frame it as a romantic relationship because I find that to be more applicable and more easily interpreted. It’s really more about the relationship between me and myself and figuring out how to deal with my own anxiety and depression.”
Cutler has long dealt with feelings of anxiety and depression, first realizing it in her freshman year psych class, recalling the emotions she felt weren’t considered the social norm.
“My favorite lyricists are the ones who share a really personal story and make it super relatable so that it appeals to a lot of people and really hits home,” said Cutler. “For me, the biggest part about growing as a writer and an artist is challenging myself to be more personal and more honest. Even if that’s hard.”
And anyone out there who also deals with feelings of anxiety and depression can relate to the tight hold it can have, especially when surrounded by thousands of people everyday. But Cutler says that since making it big time, the industry has provided her means of achieving happiness in ways she never could before. And with all the hush-hush about mental health issues, Cutler shys away from such stigmas and uses her voice to inspire the masses; unaware that it’s simultaneously helping herself and thousands of others get through life’s hardest.
“I come out after the shows and talk to whoever wants to hang out or get a picture and I’ve honestly been floored by some of the stories people have told me about how much my music has helped them through their own mental health struggles,” said Cutler. “As long as I can help them in some way or another, then I’m doing something right.”
While music is her biggest outlet, Cutler makes sure to never forget those who stood by her. While travelling alone, meeting dozens of new people each day, she has found peace with being away from her loved ones, knowing they’ll be right where she left them.
“I try to keep up with everyone as best as I can,” said Cutler. “I really value my friendships and relationships and if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t feel so supported and surrounded with love as I [am].”
Being only 21 with a fanbase continually rising, Chelsea Cutler is only just beginning.
“I’m always writing,” said Cutler. “I’m always working on growing as an artist and this tour has been super addicting so I definitely want to get back on the road as soon I can.”