For a person who just graduated high school, booked a headline tour and released their first major-label debut all in the same year, chloe moriondo is admirably calm. “I’m just chilling!” she says, confessing that she got out of bed at noon: “I’m a little gremlin,” she smiles. She’s rocking a new look that she teased on the first track of her new full-length, Blood Bunny, “Rly Don’t Care,” singing: “I think I’m gonna shave my head soon/I don’t think anyone would be surprised.” True to her word, her head is freshly shaved and bleached, and she’s thrilled to be able to run her hands over her “little kiwi head.” Sitting in her childhood bedroom wearing an oversized cardigan and unnaturally long false eyelashes, moriondo has an easy air despite her mounting success.
moriondo, now 18, began her career on YouTube as a preteen with cutesy ukulele covers of songs by artists ranging from Paramore to Radiohead to dodie. She then began recording original songs, amassing over 3 million subscribers in the years since. With the self-release of her understated, DIY full-length Rabbit Hearted. in 2018, moriondo’s platform grew, and she attracted the attention of producers and co-writers who wanted to collaborate and evolve her talent. In August of last year, moriondo signed to Fueled By Ramen for her major-label debut, releasing single “I Want To Be With You” and garnering major critical acclaim for Blood Bunny.
Recent single “I Eat Boys” is a playful, blood-soaked ode to the 2009 cult movie Jennifer’s Body starring Megan Fox. With a deceptively sweet voice underpinned by a soft acoustic guitar, moriondo sings, “I eat boys/Yeah, I get them bloody.” In the accompanying video, a three-minute-long Jennifer’s Body homage, a blood-drenched moriondo stalks a boy to a cinema and murders him in an abandoned pool for ogling her in the street. With a big, eerie grin and a mouth smeared with blood, it’s a funny, visceral nod to a movie moriondo adores: “It’s fantastic, and it inspired everything about that song,” she says. “I love Megan Fox as the hot cheerleader eating boys!”
That blend of sugary-sweet bedroom pop and murderous impulses threaded together by an unabashed love of pop punk makes Blood Bunny a tender, playful, funny record that offers new surprises on every listen. Over her adolescence, moriondo has built a dedicated fanbase, sharing her vulnerability with her audience. As an openly lesbian artist, too, she’s offered fans a visibility that is still rare. She’s aware of the significance of her candor with fans and is proud of her relationship with them, telling us she’s desperate to get out and meet more of them.
When we speak, moriondo sits in the bedroom she’s lived in for 18 years, but she’s also sitting on the precipice of her life changing forever. She has every right to be nervous, but she can’t wait.
You just signed to Fueled By Ramen for this record, which is a big deal. How does that feel?
This is my first big kid album. I had one technically full-length album, Rabbit Hearted., that I released independently, and I did all of it even though I didn’t even know what mixing and mastering were. I did not know how to produce, but I did all of it. Now, having my first big kid album Blood Bunny come out and having so many awesome people work on it, it just sounds so much sonically larger.
It’s such a great label, too.
Your career started on YouTube, but you mentioned before that you’re stepping back a little from social media. Why did you make that decision?
I can get a really weird, unhealthy relationship with social media pretty quickly, like a lot of teenagers. Especially in these times when it’s really easy to stop taking care of yourself and just devote all of your energy to making yourself look good for other people. I’ve found taking a meter distance from social media has made me feel a lot better and has made it a lot easier to make stuff without comparing myself to others. I think that’s the biggest problem I have with social media. So many people are constantly trying to step over each other at being the best at something or doing it a certain way. Still, it can be a really beautiful place. I love the internet for how it can connect so many people of similar age groups who can talk about similar experiences or things that they like. It’s just a matter of staying in touch with yourself and making sure you’re not focusing so much on other people that you can’t focus on yourself anymore.
Especially as a new artist, it must be so hard because you need that space to promote music and communicate with people. But you’re in such a difficult position of being scrutinized.
There are lots of layers. There are problems with it and good parts about it. I think the best way to go about it is to post what you want and what you feel represents you and just make whatever the hell you want and try not to think about other people too much. I think that’s what everyone says, and it’s corny and whatever because it’s true. You need to do what you want or else you’re going to get so stuck in other people’s styles and ways of life that you’re not going to be able to do your own thing.
The ability to make connections with other people is the best thing about it.
I grew up on the internet. I started using YouTube and Instagram in fifth or sixth grade. It was a really interesting thing, and it’s interesting to think in general about how growing up in that environment can shape you and how you view things. Without the internet, I would be a very different person, and honestly in a bad way. I feel like I learned a lot of compassion and more about other people in general by having access to the internet growing up than I would have otherwise.
I learned so much about so many different experiences that I never would have otherwise, and it can be such an important space to explore your identity and find people who share your experiences.
For sure, and you don’t realize quite how big the internet is and how many people can be on it until you take a step back and realize how much you’ve changed because of it. It’s so awesome to see younger people who are around the age I was when I was struggling with my identity feeling fully accepted in a community and being able to talk to other people who share the same identity. It’s a really awesome thing, and it’s probably one of the best things about the internet.
You had that experience, and now you’re in a position to be out and happy with your identity, which then reaches so many more people. How does that feel?
I agree, and that’s why it’s so important for me to be outwardly a lesbian on the internet. I think there are still people that think being a lesbian is weird and a not-normal thing and that there aren’t lesbians who make music or are outwardly cool with it. I just want other people to be as comfortable with themselves as they can possibly be and hopefully inspire them to do so, if I can.
It’s so important because all you have to do is exist. Even just being visible means so much. When I was growing up, it felt like Tegan and Sara were the only artists singing openly about women specifically.
This specific time period is so good because I’ve seen so many girls and female-identifying people and people of all types just unabashedly singing about queer love, and I think that’s gorgeous. It’s really inspiring as a kid to be able to listen to songs that are written by a girl sung about a girl. It’s a special moment, I think, for every young gay kid. I’m glad that more openly gay music is being released. It’s awesome.
Even just using the word “she” in a love song has such an impact. The album is great, too. How is it having so many more resources to play with?
It was crazy. I feel like this album helped me to realize exactly how big and different my music can be. I always just assumed that my music was going to sound exactly how it sounds when it’s just me and a ukulele. I don’t know why, but I never pictured my music being able to sound like this. I’m so grateful to be able to have so many talented, cool producers and people who mix and master for me since I don’t know how the hell to do it. Having so many awesome people having their hands on my music in a way that I’m comfortable with is the most amazing feeling in the world. It’s really cool, and it makes me so excited to experiment with different sounds and still have it be my own.
Some of these tracks are a lot heavier than your earlier music. Is that a realm you always wanted to step into?
I feel like that’s where I wanted my music to be able to go. I wanted to be able to make super big indie punk rock-sounding songs. I also really wanted to be able to make crazy crunchy hyperpop that’s glossy and produced but crazy and wild and fun at the same time. I think being able to mess around with so many different sounds opens so many different doors for me, and I’m really excited to be able to mess around after this album. There are so many songs off this album that I am so excited to be able to play live.
On Blood Bunny, there are so many personal, touching little details lyrically. Is that intentional?
I think honesty is the most important part of all songwriting for me. Being able to say lyrics and feel as if they would come out of my mouth is really important to me. I like writing silly songs about bands that I like and girls I have crushes on and make heavier emo stuff and more fun dance stuff. I like doing the gory stuff, too, like “Bodybag.” That song was so fun. I’ve always been an edgy little kid. I grew up watching horror movies, and I’ve been growing into my bloody little murder era.
You can read chloe moriondo’s full interview in issue 394, available here.