LA native Chandler Juliet plots a course through the uncharted terrain of adulthood with her personal, probing EP ‘Elements’ and empowering new single “Take It or Leave It.” Her music leads like a guiding light through the trials and tribulations of tumbling out of adolescence and attempting to land on both feet.
Listen: ‘elements’ EP – Chandler Juliet
Indie pop singer/songwriter Chandler Juliet is no stranger to the detached demeanor of many who stalk the streets of Los Angeles. Having grown up amid the bustle of one of the world’s largest cities, that disconnection always seemed a part of the backdrop. “Everything is so impersonal nowadays,” she says. “I just want to look someone in the eyes and feel something real.”
That’s the irony of life in LA. Though it sprawls to the horizon in every direction, living here can feel profoundly lonely. How does one reach through the noise and make a real connection when everyone is tucked into their own bubbles?
Listening to Juliet’s music lays a great blueprint of where to start. An EP and a feisty groove of single into her solo career, the young artist already tackles many of adulthood’s feverish anxieties with a wisdom far beyond her 25 years. 2018’s Elements saw her dishing out head-bobbing self-care exercises in a brisk four track package. Her latest single, “Take It or Leave It” (a taste from her forthcoming project), continues that trend with a generous dollop of pop sensibility. “All my songs are kind of spiritual,” she explains. “They talk about distinct challenges, but also revolve around refocusing and get back to oneself. We’re all going to be okay.”
It’s not the most novel of sentiments, but it’s one we tend to forget more often than not. Millennials and Gen Z-ers are coming of age in a world that demands more of their time for less compensation. Everyone has their hustle, their side hustle, and their fringe hustle (coining that phrase now). Leisure time doesn’t even enter the conversation anymore. No wonder so many of them are burning out in record numbers.
Perhaps because of her roots in one of the busiest and most disconnected cities, Juliet navigates her way through the muck with the grace of a dancer. The child of studio jazz musicians, she started playing music from the age of 5, jumping from piano to violin, clarinet to cello, and performing in orchestras. When she was 9, she started writing pop songs on the guitar as a form of self-expression and examining her emotions. Pursuing songwriting as her primary form of artistic expression didn’t come until much later though.
After graduating from college, she found herself grappling with the same questions many people do when faced with the stark reality of adulthood for the first time. Of course, there are the issue of how to pay the Internet bill, but perhaps more importantly, they’re confronted with themselves. Who am I? And what do I do with that knowledge?
Juliet doesn’t have the answer, but her music contains keys to finding out. “Burning Sage” is a smoldering R&B fever dream that reminds one to refocus when the cacophony of life gets too loud to handle.
If I remember to breathe
And just let it be
It’s part of the design
It’s okay not to know everything
“Tidal Wave” likens a new life stage to its namesake. Adulthood never stops throwing challenges at you, wave after wave. But Juliet and her stripped-down guitar chords press through, floating upward. It’s more than practicing perseverance. It’s about understanding equanimity and remembering that if you show up for yourself, you can meet each challenge with the same levelheadedness.
Coupled with “Gravitational” and “Hide and Seek,” Elements encircles themes of letting go through the lens of classical elements water, fire, earth, and air. “I’ve been feeling these things for so long and I think that Elements helped me graduate from the struggle so to speak,” she confesses. “I embraced that I’m not a kid anymore and started the process of accepting that I have to be the one to take care of myself now in every way.” Making sure you have a roof over your head and a fridge full of food is a part of that for sure, but the other prong is practicing self-care before the demands of Millennial adulthood cause you to combust. “I’m very spiritual,” she confides. “I meditate and practice mindfulness. It helps me look down on myself and see where I am on my path. Where am I in relation to where I want to go, and am I in danger of asking too much of myself?”
It’s a matter of constant course correction, checking in with oneself to see how far you’ve drifted. In Elements, Juliet acknowledges that path is never linear, but leaves a road map for when the way gets hazy.
I’m gonna do my own thing. Love will come when it’s meant to.
Dating in the modern world can be a bit of a beast. Take the word of a Millennial who’s leapt from app to app over the years searching for a connection. When it seems like a better option is just a swipe away, no one has time to hunker down and commit. “Sincerity is Scary,” as a wise pop band once said.
The perpetually flakiness of dating humans on the Internet takes its toll. Eventually you just want to shout, “ENOUGH!” No more of the wishy-washy back and forth. No more refusing to put both feet in the boat because Tinder is full of maybes. Take it or leave it.
That’s where her new single strides confidently center stage.
Abandoning the moodier atmosphere of Elements, “Take It or Leave It” rides bounding guitar licks and a propulsive beat that soaks up the tears and drags listeners to the dance floor.
“It’s really more fun and upbeat,” says Juliet of the song. “That’s more how I am in person – really bubbly and positive. I’m really pumped for everyone to hear the music I have coming up because it feels like more of a celebration.”
And that celebration smirks in the face of the shrugging bodies content to keep her on the back burner instead of taking a risk and a leap. Chandler Juliet has crafted a self-love anthem for a generation worn-down by swipe culture. It’s an infectious bop that begs you to shrug off the clowns who can’t see your worth. Smash the repeat button and shout “Take It or Leave It” instead!
“That’s what “Take It or Leave It” is about,” Juliet affirms. “It’s realizing that I’m good no matter what and I’m gonna do my own thing. Love will come when it’s meant to.”
But that’s not all there is to look forward to from this quickly rising star. With another EP and a volley of new singles on the horizon, her musical journey of self-discovery seems to only be beginning. Luckily, Atwood Magazine got to sit down with her before liftoff to discuss her creative process, the conundrum of coming of age in LA, and the spiritual underpinnings of The Last Airbender of all things. Buckle in before she changes pop music as we know it.
Stream: “Take It or Leave It” – Chandler Juliet
A CONVERSATION WITH CHANDLER JULIET
Atwood Magazine: So why don't you start us at the beginning? When did you first start playing in writing music?
Chandler Juliet: I taught myself how to play guitar around age nine. I think I started writing pop songs on guitar just for my own expression and figuring out how to feel about things I was going through. Looking back now, it feels like that kind of expression has always been such a prevalent part of my life.
Deciding to be an artist and deciding to just fully go for that as my main passion kind of came out of the blue a little bit. I always wanted to be an actress and acting was my main thing for the longest time.
But then I worked at a camp this one summer and took care of the cabin of twelve-year-old girls. I was playing covers with them on a guitar, and one of them asked me if I ever wrote any of my own songs. I said, “Yeah, but I just don’t really perform them for anybody.” But I played them a song and they like screamed when I was done playing.
They were like, “Oh my god! Play it again! Play it again!” They learned the song lyrics to my song and then taught it to the other cabins. I would hear the kids singing my song all summer long. After that it was just like, okay, I think I have something here. I have a contagious songwriting ability. And it felt so good and so validating for the first time in my life to sing a song and hear these little girls singing it back to me. It was so crazy.
I came home that summer and started recording my songs. I kind of haven’t stopped since.
How would you say that growing up in La has affected you as a songwriter?
Chandler Juliet: Well, I think I only realized I grew up in LA couple years ago after I graduated college. Like, Oh wait, everyone else comes here, but I’m already here? Weird!
Now that I’ve really gotten involved in the music scene, the indie songwriting community, and the pop community out here over the past couple years, it’s all kind of come together. I know I’m not the only one going through all this. There really is a support system here even though it feels so massive and like you’re swimming against this sea of talent.
Growing up in a place like LA – which can be kind of detached and a little bit fast-paced – has really made me an independent person. That made me turn my music and writing songs as my escape.
Yeah, for being such a big city, LA can feel really isolating.
Chandler Juliet: Definitely. Elements talks a lot about those themes. I kind of recognized that I grew up in a very isolating place. Each of the four songs on that EP were speaking to that – the loneliness of that transition and how to de-stress from the rat race.
What do you find that stimulates you creatively?
Chandler Juliet: I think being creative is such a spiritual experience. I don’t just make music. I kind of treat everything I do as creating.
But it can be hard, you know? Sometimes you have writer’s block and things like that. Often I remind myself to write without editing and just have fun with it. I’m kind of a fun-loving person, and I want to hold onto that sense of joy when I start writing.
How would you describe the sound of Chandler Juliet as an elevator pitch?
Chandler Juliet: I would call it indie pop R&B. Emotional intelligent lyrics, but with some sass and some groove and empowering female badassery.
It’s gradually developing too. I think that Elements feels a little bit stripped because I wanted to lay down a foundation for my songwriting and lyrical ability, and explore some introspection and depth. And then the forthcoming stuff is really more fun and upbeat.
After the introspection of Elements, “Take It or Leave It” feels like it's coming from a more self-assured and positive place. How have things changed for you since penning your EP?
Chandler Juliet: I think for a while I was feeling discouraged. But after putting out all these songs independently, doing all my own PR, and pitching and marketing, they seemed to take off organically. That was such a confidence boost for me.
I’m also a big live performer. I’ve really made a point to perform multiple times a week, every week last year. That and watching the songs perform so well just skyrocketed my confidence in myself and my ability to write a song and connect with people through my personality.
“Take It or Leave It” was a really fun song to write. I sat down to build on a basic track that was kind of already there with this other artist named LeyeT. She and I are friends in the community and have been wanting to write together for a while. Immediately we were like, “This is so cool!” It’s kind of sassy and fits my vibe. We talked about dating in LA and how messed up it is. Sometimes it makes you frustrated and you just need to say, “Take it or leave it!” We just dove into the song and added to it from there.
It was different because I didn’t write the song on guitar and bring it in, or write the song while I was working with the producer. But I still think my melody still ties everything together.
It’s kind of an earworm too. I've had it stuck in my head all week.
Chandler Juliet: Honestly, me too! I hate to say it because I’m trying to take a little break and watch episodes of Chopped, but I keep hearing it in my head. What can I say? It’s kind of a catchy one.
What drove your decision to theme Elements around earth, air, fire, and water?
Chandler Juliet: “Tidal Wave” was the first song I wrote that year. I had graduated college at the end of December and was on my own trying to figure out what I was doing. So, I wrote that song about navigating the waves of life. You learn to trust the wave that you’re on whether it’s a good one or a bad one. You know you’re going to be okay. You’re right where you’re supposed to be and it’s all part of the process
I wrote “Burning Sage” next with these other producers and thought, “Wait… Fire, water. Oh my God! I should do fire, water, earth, and air.” And I challenged myself to write the other two under the theme. I penned a bunch of songs, but the ones that made it work were “Gravitational and “Hide and Seek.” That last one really tied up the theme of letting go of adolescence and being ready to face whatever comes next.
You touched a little bit on Elements’ themes of letting go. What did you find yourself letting go of while you were writing it?
Chandler Juliet: It’s mostly about letting go of adolescence. You have to start taking care of yourself, be your own parent, and love yourself first. It’s been a challenge, and I think that writing this EP was such a culmination of that.
I remember my first year out of college and all the uncertainty that came with it. It's kind of scary.
Chandler Juliet: Oh yeah. You come out of school and it all kind of hits you like a wave. You really don’t know what the hell you’re doing. All I knew when I graduated was that I didn’t know what I was going to do for money. I have this degree – big deal. I’m not going to a job in this field. I’m just going to get some freelance side-hustle job so I can keep making music. That was the one constant I knew I could rely on.
I’m reminded of something Matt Groening once wrote that I’m going to paraphrase a bit: “You only realize you’re an adult because you’re not a kid anymore.” Was there a moment like that when you knew your adolescence was over?
Chandler Juliet: I don’t know if I can think of a definitive moment. I think they just keep happening again and again. There are always people coming to LA fresh every year that are a little bit younger than me. I just turned 25 in August and I’ll meet these 22-year-olds who don’t know all these things that I’ve learned yet. I think meeting people younger than me triggers that feeling of adulthood more than anything.
I don’t want to be an adult. There’s always a fear of that I’m getting too old to do this. It’s so ridiculous, but it’s real, especially as a woman where youth and naivety are these things that society and the industry expect of you. It’s bizarre, but I’m never going to stop making music.
So, you have earth, air, fire, water and the challenges that they represent. How do you find yourself balancing all these elements in your life?
Chandler Juliet: Oh man. I’d say it’s a challenge because life as an artist is not linear at all. It’s essential to always keep a bird’s-eye view of where you are in relation to your goals and where you are like in life. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing where you are to others on your same career trajectory. Plus, LA is such a fun, distracting city. I go out all the time to support other artists’ shows. You tend to get sidetracked from your own path.
Yeah, I think it’s about checking in constantly, right? Not just going after your goals, but investigating how you’re taking care of yourself in the process.
Chandler Juliet: Exactly. All of that and incorporating the tools that I’ve used to help me out. They can be eating well, working out, and taking care of me mental health. But I’m very spiritual too. I meditate and practice mindfulness. It all works in service of that bird’s eye view.
That's one thing that I think about a lot when I listen to your music. Elements seems to be all about refocusing.
Chandler Juliet: I love that! That makes me so happy. Now that you mention it, all the songs are kind of spiritual. They all talk about distinct challenges, but we’re getting back to we’re getting back to me. We’re going to be okay.
It’s crazy because we don’t really do that out here. As much as people from New York say that LA is a laidback city, it’s really not. The hustle never ends. We tend to burn ourselves out and we forget that our bodies and our wellbeing are all that we get.
Chandler Juliet: Yeah, and we only get so much energy in one day. You only have so much to give and you have to decide what your priorities really are. Are you able to skip the money now, but feel really happy about something you worked on?
I’m about to take a trip to New York and I can’t imagine the pace being worse than LA even though everyone says it is. LA is not that laidback. People take days off, chill, and go to the beach and stuff, but it’s still a grind city. You go there to make a career.
So I feel like Elements begs the question: which of the Last Airbender Nations do you identify with the most?
Chandler Juliet: Of course I want to be an Airbender or a Waterbender because they’re the good ones. But I am a Leo. I’m a fire sign. I’m very fiery and intense and passionate. I’m very true my zodiac sign. But they’re supposedly all connected, right?
Let’s talk about your new song, “Take It or Leave It.” Was that a bit of an autobiographical story for you?
Chandler Juliet: I mean, yeah. I wrote that song about this dude I was seeing in LA who was kind of being wishy-washy and I wasn’t going to put up with that.
It’s disappointing how often that happens. Dating apps kind of fuel this mentality that a better connection is just a swipe away. At some point you just want a genuine conversation with somebody.
Chandler Juliet: I know. Let’s get deep. Everything is so impersonal nowadays. I just want to look someone in the eyes and feel something real.
People in LA definitely abide by that whole “better connection being a swipe away” thing. You start to wonder how people in relationships even found someone willing to commit. And even then, people in relationships can be very closed off to one another, or still try to appear single and attainable.
I feel like I could talk about dating in LA ad nauseum because it’s kind of a beast. At some point you just tap out.
Chandler Juliet: It’s frustrating for sure and that’s what “Take It or Leave It” is about. It’s realizing that I’m good no matter what and I’m gonna do my own thing. Love will come when it’s meant to.
“Take It or Leave It” recalls the empowering sound of 90’s female artists like Shania Twain or Fiona Apple, but with an indie pop twist. It’s the sound of someone comfortable in their own skin. Do you hope your listeners get something similar out of listening to your music?
Chandler Juliet: Yes! I want my listeners to feel empowered and to feel like there’s no option but to be themselves. Be authentic and the right people will find you. I really want them to feel empowered and happy and carefree listening to my music.
What's up next for you? What can we expect from Chandler Juliet in the coming months?
Chandler Juliet: I have more music coming up and the sound is going to continue to develop. “Take It or Leave It” is definitely more upbeat and more fun than Elements, but the sound is going to continue to peel back some layers and enter a more R&B and Blue-Eyed Soul vibe. That happened on its own. My parents are both jazz musicians so that’s kind of been in my blood.
For fans of Tunes & Tumblers, how would you describe your sound with a cocktail?
Chandler Juliet: The new stuff is a shot of tequila because it’s fun and exciting, but then it gets you in your feels ready to get some love going on.
Stream: “Take It or Leave It” – Chandler Juliet
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