Chelsea Bleach | FReeZA Artist of the Month | Youth Central

Melbourne five-piece Chelsea Bleach eating pizza in a backyard.
Melbourne based five-piece Chelsea Bleach eating pizza in a backyard.

Melbourne five-piece Chelsea Bleach have just unleashed their debut single; a tribute to a person’s private space and property called ‘Public Safety’ that immediately demands attention with its driving guitars and compelling dynamic changes. The Push spoke to Emily from the band about what it was like to record and release their first song and what they like get up to in and around the traps. Read on and listen up!

Firstly, congratulations on the release of your first single ‘Public Safety’. It’s a killer track! How have you found the response to be so far?

Thanks! So far, the response has been really amazing. We’ve been gigging for nearly a year now, and have really taken our time with getting a release out. We wanted to make sure we were ready and felt comfortable with the recording process and our songs, and I think waiting has meant that not only are we more confident as a band, but we have connections to a wider audience than we did when we first started playing. We’re really excited to be finally sharing the song with everyone!

It looks like Chelsea Bleach have been off to a flying start in 2016. Any plans for the rest of the year?

This year is really exciting for us, as we have recordings to release and we’ve also got some other amazing gigs coming up. Our next gig is our single launch (which I’ll talk about more later) on May 20 at the Old Bar. After that, we’re playing Two Steps on the Water’s June residency at the Gaso. We also have an amazing gig coming up over the Queens Birthday Weekend with a bunch of great bands, including Shiny Coin, Hi-Tec Emotions, The Pink Tiles and DJ Emoceans!

Later in the year we have plans to release another single. We’re also playing at the amazing Sad Grrls Festival in October, which basically has a dream lineup! In general, our plans are to continue playing amazing gigs with bands that we love.

How did you all come together to form a band? What made you decide to start Chelsea Bleach and how did you recruit all its members?

All of us are really good friends and what kept happening was that when we were together a large group of us would be like “we should totally start a band!!!” Because none of us were really particularly skilled at our instruments though, we were really hesitant to get anything going. Em had been learning guitar for a little while, and Jess picked up the drums and they had a few jams that got the ball rolling. After that, we put the call out to all the rest of our friends and Emma, Bridget and Prani were the ones who were the most keen! When starting the band, we really just wanted to make a space for all of us to be able to have a go at making music in a judgement-free zone, regardless of sound (which is kinda why we’ve ended up with three guitarists!).

Who’s been some of your favourite acts to share the stage with so far?

There’s just so many good bands in Melbourne at the moment it’s overwhelming really! We love playing with Wet Lips, they’re just such an incredible band and so much fun for unleashing your inner rockdog. We also love playing with Shrimpwitch, Ghost Dick, Two Steps on the Water, Nun of the Tongue, Beloved Elk and so many more! Doing our residency last year was great, because we got the chance to pick our own lineups each week and basically play with all our band crushes.

Some of Chelsea Bleach’s favourite bands or influences?

Because there’s so many of us, we come to the songs with a really diverse range of musical influences behind us. I think that ideologically we’ve all been really influenced by feminist punk DIY bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney, but those aren’t necessarily the defining bands behind our sound. Other bands that were pretty influential on our early songwriting were Hole, Kings of Leon (haha), Kate Nash and Le Tigre.

We so often get compared to other women fronted or dominated bands, which is great because often times they are an influence on the song! At times though, it seems kinda lazy, because whilst we all do listen to those bands, we have a wide range of influences and it’s really only one or two bands that people will pick up and compare us to. Just because we’re also women and non-men doesn’t mean that we’re only similar to one other band with women and non-male members!

When you’re not playing music together, what other things are you doing?

We’re all into doing a lot of other cool stuff in our non Chelsea Bleach lives! Jess and Em play in two other bands Shag Planet and Hollywood Models who are both currently gearing up for single releases in the next few months. Emma and Bridget are both studying at the moment, and Prani makes really amazing jewellery, which you can find at _prani on Instagram. We’re all really interested in a range of creative pursuits, and most of us were just contributors to a poetry zine from our poetry collective The Cooked Poets Society. You should be able to grab a copy online soon!

What do you set out to achieve with your live performances and how do you feel when you’re performing on stage with a live audience?

When we’re performing live, we want to perform our songs really well and let the audience know what we’re all about, but also we just want to have a bit of fun. I like live performances because we’re able to really connect with each other and get a good vibe going, and that really carries over to the audience. When we first started playing, we were really nervous about performing live as most of us had never played a gig before. It’s really nice to be able to see the progression from really nervous and shy on stage to having a lot of confidence and feeling comfortable on stage.

How do you guys come up with your material? Care to take us through a typical songwriting process?

The songwriting process can vary from song to song, and we’re open to everyone in the band bringing songs so it’s a pretty fluid process. Usually though, someone brings in a song that is pretty bare – just chords and lyrics, and then we work on it from there. Sometimes I’ve also written riffs for songs as well, or had an idea for vibes for the other guitar parts. But from there, we just try to jam over the sections and get a feeling for how it sounds with the band. Usually even if the songwriter has written a few different parts for the songs, they turn out completely different than when the song is brought in because working together really adds another dimension to it.

What kinds of things do you all like writing songs about? What comes easiest to you?

I feel as though the easiest thing for me to write about is my life and things that are personal to me. Public Safety is a song about feeling unsafe in public spaces because I don’t feel as though I’m given the space to exist there, which has come from personal experiences of dealing with this. The content of our songs varies quite a lot, from having crushes on people who don’t like you back to to emotional connections with your friends, it’s just whatever I feel as though I need to get off my chest really!

One thing that we’re yet to explore though, is writing a protest song, I feel as though it’s sometimes hard to write about really big, political topics without sounding trite or like you’re trying too hard. So maybe that’s something for us to work on as there’s so much fucked up stuff going on right now!

Tell us more about the ‘Public Safety’ launch coming up!

We’re launching our single ‘Public Safety’ on May 20 at the Old Bar with Two Steps on the Water, Wet Lips and HABITS DJs. We’re so excited about this because we basically curated our own dream lineup and we can’t believe some of Melbourne’s most amazing musicians will be playing with us! The night is going to be a big celebration – we’re so proud of all the work we’ve done so far and that we’ve released a song so we can’t wait to enjoy the night with all our friends!