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In Conversation with Chloe Ament

By Dani McKenzie | 08 March 2024

"I just want goodness to exude from the platform I have"

I had the absolute pleasure of attending Chloe Ament’s final show of her headlining tour last fall in Washington, D.C. A few weeks after the show Chloe and I were able to have a conversation surrounding her tour, her career so far, and her connection to fandom. 

The News Stan(d): So I was lucky enough to be able to see your last show on the tour. I think starting there is a good point. How do you feel after the tour? It's been a little bit of time now, but how was it? What were the highlights? 

Chloe Ament: Yeah, I mean, definitely, I've had some time to kind of decompress afterwards. But it was great. And I think that it was just such an out of body experience the entire time, because keep in my mind, I'm just a little girl from the middle of nowhere in Maryland, who's just going to a college in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania. So the fact that I was able to go play shows in Canada, Ohio, DC, and Harrisburg was crazy. All of these different shows- it was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. I think it was connecting with fans that made it so important and so worthwhile to me. I loved being able to talk to everybody when the doors opened to when the opener started. I'd have an hour to just chat with people. And then you know, I'd get up on stage. My favorite part of every single set was when I just got to talk in between the songs. I love that stuff. And afterwards with selling merch and talking to everybody, I loved being able to just connect with people. I think in the same way that it made me feel really real to them; it made all of them feel really real to me. And I know how it feels to be a fangirl over a musician or a celebrity and be like, 'Oh my gosh, she's not a real person. There's no way she's real.' But I also now have this really cool insight of what it's like to be a musician on the other side of that with thousands of supporters. I'm like, 'they're not real.' And then I see them and I'm like, 'Oh my God, they're real.' It's just so wild. But yeah, now that I'm on the other side, I can look at it now and I don't think I will probably have any experience that tops my first tour. There's just nothing, nothing like it. It kind of really solidified for me that I was like, 'Oh, this is real life and not a simulation. And people actually care about these silly little songs that I write.' 

We spoke a bit about how lovely the environment was at her concert, how good the energy was and the intimate feel of a smaller venue.

TNS: I wanted to talk about your personal connection to music and your musical journey. I know you spoke a little bit on stage about your brother being a big part of all of that. I'd love to hear about your creative process and evolution over time. 

CA: So I mean, Patrick has been so heavily involved since the start. It all began the summer before I was a freshman in college. I just graduated high school and I brought Patrick a song. He was in a band before he was my producer. Originally I was going to join their band and be the female frontman and the songwriter, but then his band kicked me out because they said, 'she can't sing and she can't write songs.' When the band broke up, Patrick and I decided, 'let's just do this together.' So, I wrote Patrick a song. This was when I had a secret little following on Tik Tok for a while that was totally Harry Potter related. I was in my Harry Potter phase so heavy, two or three years ago. 

TNS: Tell me more about that!

CA: Okay, so in February of 2021, I was on Tiktok. I had so many ideas for little fun videos. I loved all the little prompts like, 'imagine your favorite characters doing this.' I thought, 'absolutely. I eat that up.' So I started a secret account because I was just a girl and I was still embarrassed just a little bit. So I told myself:, 'You know what, I won't tell anybody unless I hit 10,000 followers.' And three months after I started the account, I hit 10,000 followers. And I was like, 'I'm not gonna tell anybody until I get like, a video that, blows up.' And then I had a few videos blow up. And I thought, 'crap, what do I do now? Because this is super cool.' But, there was just a part of me that was embarrassed because I think honestly, all girls are made to be embarrassed by the things they're interested in, because that is just how society has functioned. And so I had all these followers who liked me for Harry Potter, but I always knew that music was what I was going to do if I ever got any kind of popularity at all. And I know that so many TikTok creators, just try a little music career. That was my biggest fear when I started: how do I get people to take me seriously, when I just started on Harry Potter TikTok, and then all of a sudden, I'm gonna start moving into music? And I was like, 'Oh, I don't have to completely leave my roots behind.' People do that all the time or they try to disconnect themselves, or they try to be like, 'I'm a serious popstar and I sing about real things.' And I'm like, 'Girl, these books have made me feel real emotions. I have really cried over these things before. I have really related to these characters before.' So I think that was honestly where everything started. If I didn't have that following in Harry Potter, I would not have thought to ever release a single song that I've written about a book. But Patrick told me the only reason that he agreed to release anything with me was because I had a following. And I thought, 'Okay, well, if I have this following, the only way we can get them to interact with the music is if we write music for them instead of for me.' I love music. Any music I write I consider it to be for myself as well. But I think that honestly the niche was an accident. We released our first song and it didn't blow up, but it did really well for two little fools who just graduated high school and had no connections in the industry and no idea what they were doing whatsoever. So we stuck with it. And then I mean, we kept playing into it, because we got into it. At some point, every time we watched a movie, we'd think, 'could we write about these people?' Or we'd both read a book and say, 'did you catch this? We should write about that.' And that became something that helped us both. Patrick is also an incredible storyteller. He's published books before, he's really good at that stuff. He actually wrote "The Water Is Fine", which is our most popular song. I was worried that Patrick would make me abandon my little bookish behaviors. At first, I thought, 'He's gonna think I'm so stupid, he's gonna make fun of me. He's gonna tell Mom and Dad.' Thank God, he supported me. He said, 'Honestly, Chloe, whatever keeps the lights on.' And I said, 'period, we're writing songs about Harry Potter.' 

TNS: That is a perfect segue, because I wanted to talk about your personal connection to fandom. And I think like I said before, it's just incredible how you literally became, the unofficial soundtrack of the Marauders fan base. I remember seeing your videos in the POV type styles. And when you started releasing music I thought I had missed something. But it was fully integrated so well into the content you were already creating. Like you said, the roots are still there. You're still very much interacting with your fan base online, while still saying, 'hey, this thing I wrote is kind of perfect for the scenario on purpose.' You're creating out of the things that inspire you. I just love that. So I kind of wanted to talk about your fangirl journey. 

CA: Oh, for sure. Absolutely. So we latched on to the book idea with "Broken Bodies, Broken Hearts" because I have never felt so deeply about a fictional universe until the Marauders. Literally that consumed me for like a year and a half. It was all I could think about all the time. I truly have never felt that way about anything I've heard in my entire life. But yeah, I think that my one concern when I was into this was like- so there would be creators who would dedicate their accounts to shifting. Or I don't know really what shifting is, I just know that they would make these wild POVs. And I thought, 'I'm kind of eating this up, like, tell me why.' And so they had these wild POVs on their account, and then all of a sudden they just don't do it anymore. They switch their content full 180, and expect everybody to follow them. And of course, sometimes that happens, and you should feel free to create whatever kind of content you want, but I know that with myself, I am consistently inconsistent about what I'm interested in. So my fear was that if I were to, like, if I'm going to make music, I don't want it to be separate from who I am online.

 I don't want to have two different personas and then have to navigate two completely separate identities online, I want it to just be what I'm interested in all the time. 

I think with the Marauders thing, why it worked so well, was because I did write songs about myself, and what I was interested in and what was going on in my life, but I was just so real about it. Because I'm such a nerd, literally there was nothing else in my life that I could think about except that and I said, 'write what you know.' Okay, I know a lot about these characters. I don't know, I think the whole thing with my content was just that I was afraid to lose followers, because there's also that kind of addiction mindset. Once you get validation from people, you want to keep getting it. And so I was afraid to lose followers, which is why I believed, 'I need to write about books, and I need it to blend in with my content.' And also this stubbornness that I was so afraid that people wouldn't take me seriously if I left the fandom. And I wouldn't. I was afraid people wouldn't take me seriously if I stayed in the fandom. So in my mind, I created something that worked for both. On TikTok, I could really highlight my Marauders niche. And then on Instagram, I could highlight my music niche, and blend those two together. I think that's why the shows were so interesting. I never really talked about it on stage, how they were written about books, but everyone there was in on the joke. I think that's why there was such a community there, because everyone looked around like, 'you read the books, you know we all have the same interest here.' But no one had to say anything. They just knew that because my music belongs to such a specific community of people that everyone walked in, and I feel like they felt like, 'everyone here is just like me, we all read the same stuff. We all love the same characters. And we all listen to the same music because of it.' I think that was a nice little byproduct. 

The conversation shifted a bit here to how coincidentally Chloe's fandom-related music releases aligned with my own fandom interests. I brought up Shadow and Bone and the song she shared right after the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes movie release.

CA: That was a fluke. I have no idea how that happened twice in a row. I wrote two songs and people kept saying, 'we really liked this.' I thought: 'why? It was just a video.' I don't know. 

TNS: I know there's been a couple of times where you've kind of just dropped a song. Is there kind of a different process from when you have it ready? Is there a difference in mindset of 'I know, this is going to connect with people' versus when you're like, 'I just really really like this song and I want to see what people think?' 

CA: Yeah, so I think it is very interesting. Because for songs that I intend on releasing from the start, I never really share them online; for example: "Burn and Breathe." One thing I did not do at all was tease those songs online before I decided that I was ready for them to come out and everything. But it's so weird, because I don't know, I wish there was a process. I'm a very spontaneous person. I will write a song and if I like it and I think it sounds pretty, I literally just put it out there. And if I don't like it, or if I feel that, 'this doesn't really sound like me' and I'm afraid that if it blows up, people will associate me with that song, and I know I can do better, then I don't put it out there. Most of my content is literally just 'What am I feeling?' 

I've tried to be strategic about it. I know so many singers and especially influencers have content strategies. I tried that. It stressed me out and took all the joy out of posting for me because I was like, 'Well, I want to post a song today, but today's just an Instagram picture day.' And I was like, 'no, what is that?' So now I just kind of post whenever I'm feeling it, or I don't post at all. I feel like that is probably one of the realer things. I've been told that my account is very authentic. And I don't know if that's true or not.  

TNS: I think so. I would say so.

CA: That makes me feel good because the one thing I don't want to do is feed into the whole Instagram highlight reel, like fake filtered stuff. I try to be as much myself as possible, just because I know that when I was the age of my target audience, that would have been so much more positively influential in my life than half of the people I actually followed. 

This transitioned into a more personal conversation about navigating social media, especially as a fangirl and the different reactions you might get from people in your life.

CA: When you see people post [online], you know they put thought into it. Even if it is just a one off shit post. They have thought, 'am I comfortable with posting this kind of stuff? Do I want people to see this?' And that's what they're sharing- what they want people to see and what they're eager for people to see. And they know that that plays a role in how people perceive them. They know that it plays a role in how people associate with them and how people define them. They're cool with that. That's why I think posting is just so interesting, because everybody is out here trying to create their ideal identity. And we all know that it's just a highlight reel, but we're all still buying into it anyways. I do not think that there is a single way to have a truly genuine, authentic social media account. Unless you are live streaming your day 24/7, there is no way for you to be completely authentic. 

TNS: It's also bad because you're deciding what's being shown. You're acting for a camera. 

Our conversation swayed to speaking about the complexities of strategizing in the music industry and also our realizations that most, if not all, people take inspiration from existing art. (This included a special shoutout to Olivia Rodrigo mentioning that she used to write fanfiction-style songs and songs about Percy Jackson.)

CA: When I released my first book-related project, like book related song, I truly thought I was the first person in the whole world to do it. I had no idea how normal it was for people to see something on TV, or to read something in a book and be like, 'let me just jot that down. I like that.'  It's just so normal, because we all take inspiration from what we consume. I don't think that there's a single original thought generated in the entertainment industry, or in just our human artistry in general.

We are all living inspired lives every single day. And because we don't live in a cultural vacuum, it is impossible for us to come up with something entirely by ourselves. 

Watching people pretend like they are [original] is just so funny, because I cant help but think: 'You did not come up with that by yourself.' I just feel like owning it is the best way to get in front of it. Being able to say, 'this is the character that I wrote the song about,' or 'this is the inspiration for this song and here, let me be transparent with you about what the song is about' allows me to kind of get in front of all of the speculation that happens with artists as well. I think it's allowed me to have a very relaxing life as an artist for the past three years, because no one is trying to read into my life. No one is trying to go through my followers and decipher who I wrote my songs about. I can just be so honest with people and save myself a world of awkward pain, and then save all of these other people, their time and their energy. I'm like, 'oh, yeah, if you want to understand it better read a book. Please. Read a book, read fanfiction. Immerse yourself, don't internet stalk me, because you'll be so disappointed.' I don't know, I think that the whole mysterious thing, that's half the interest. And when people are listening to new songs, half of what they want to know is what it is about or who it is about. I just give it to them upfront. I think that's why people kind of vibe with the music because, 'I know what you want to know, because I'm one of you. So let me tell you it all before you even have the chance to ask.'

This segued the conversation into a discussion of publicly connecting songs to certain characters, stories, or personal experiences.

CA: I think that's just so interesting, too. Because also as many times as I've had people be like, 'Oh my gosh, I love this character. I can't believe you wrote about them.' I've had people be like, 'I love this song. I had no idea you wrote it about this character, but it still moved me.' And like, my family are my biggest supporters and they have no idea the characters I write about. My friends at college too, only maybe one or two of them actually have a clue who I'm writing the songs about. Everybody else, they just are able to relate to it. I know, for me, that's how I avoid the copyright thing. Because that was one thing I was really scared about at first was, if the author finds out that I wrote this about their books, are they gonna, sue me? And then I was like, no, no, unless I say, 'Harry Potter' in my song or something. But I got so embarrassed when I first started doing it, so embarrassed that I was like, 'okay, let's just trace that feeling back. Why am I embarrassed? Is it because what I'm reading is embarrassing? No.' Then, clearly there's thousands of people on the internet who love what I'm doing. It's just the people in my own personal life, I'm worried that they're going to look at it and be like, 'This is stupid.' And at that point, I can be like, 'well, it's working, and it's successful, and I'm happy.' And if they want to bring me down, then they can get cut out of my life, because I don't need that energy anyways. 

Art was made to be enjoyed and for me to pretend I don't enjoy it, because of some really loud, negative people in my life is not something I am going to do. I'm just gonna do what I want to do. And  if they don't like it, good. Get out. This isn't for you. You're not the audience. There's been so many people in my personal life who have unfollowed me, or blocked me since I've started releasing music. And at first I was like, 'Oh, my God, no, we were such good friends in high school.' And now I’m comfortable with the fact that I haven't talked to them in three years. I have so many new people in my life. 

I love my past and I don't have any beef with anybody, but I am such a sentimental person. And so I cant help but wonder, 'why did they follow all my siblings and my family, but they don't follow me?' And I worry, 'oh, it's because - I don't know- I'm annoying online?' I'm just unashamedly posting about things that I'm interested in to the point where if you're not interested in the same stuff that I'm interested in, you're not gonna want to follow me. And that's fine. 

TNS: You have an audience, and that's nothing to be ashamed of. That's something to be really proud of.

CA: I think that having an audience is an incredible thing. And it's also something that is so rare. A lot of people now have thousands of followers, but I just know, I've seen it in my life, how many times I tried to get a following before it actually happened. And the second it started happening is the second I stopped trying to be somebody else online and stopped trying to model myself off of the successful people that I was looking at. I was like, 'these people just want authenticity. And I'm not going to stop being myself because somebody I know, in real life, or somebody unfollowed me because I was too much of myself for them.' There's just too much politics and all this stuff that goes into it. I'm just here for a good time. And if you're not on board, then hit the unfollow button and leave me alone. 

TNS: I wanted to ask you a little bit about what you would tell your younger self at the beginning of this journey.

CA: I mean, for me, it's been three years. Honestly I look back at all of the things that I did wrong, learning and getting where I'm at now, growing and having a lot of followers on social media, and losing a lot of followers, and then releasing really popular songs, then releasing an album full of flops. I have zero regrets about the way that I did it. Because if I didn't do it that way, then I wouldn't know what I know now.  I don't think I would tell my younger self anything only because going into it blind, and having no expectations for what was going to happen to me, I think it allowed me to have the most authentic experience with the music; as genuine of an experience as it possibly could have been. I think maybe I would tell myself to just relax. 

I'm not this much anymore, but I was a perfectionist to the point where I saw so much unprecedented success towards the beginning of my career, that I put so much pressure on myself towards the middle. It ruined me for several months. I kind of did not like who I was online, and I just felt so lost every time that I posted a video or wrote a song. It just didn't feel like me. I was trying so hard to be commercial that I was forgetting to be Chloe. And I think my followers saw that too, which is why I just went through a really dry period in terms of content and reaching people and growth as an artist. They can tell when your heart isn't in it. But I wouldn't change a single thing about the way any of this has happened. Even if it means, you know, going through all the same pain again, or wanting validation and then not getting it and then getting so much of it that I don't know what to do with it. I don't know- I don't think I would tell myself anything. I think I would just kind of smile and laugh and then giggle 'hehe see you in three years.' I'd say 'you have no idea what's about to happen.' Because honestly, I didn't. I literally graduated high school and I was like, 'kay, I'm gonna go to college. Probably going to be a writer in four years. If I'm not a writer, I'll be a teacher.' I've never been someone who likes the spotlight ever, which is why my family is so shocked that I'm in this position. I'm like, 'me too.' I do not know why I'm here. Like, I am such a faker. Why am I here? But yeah, I don't know. I think it made the whole experience that much more miraculous for me. 

TNS: Obviously, I don't have much wisdom, because I haven't lived much life, but I think when you see it, especially for me, artists across the board, whether it's actors, you know, or actual, physical artists, or musicians, I think the ones that have the most impact and kind of make the best art never are looking to be in the spotlight for that. I think you see that a lot. 

CA: I definitely get that. I think one of the things like- Okay, I have a great relationship with my parents, which I feel very blessed to have. And it's been really important to me to have that kind of support system throughout the past several years. What I do is very family oriented. I work with my brother and then we started working with really close friends of ours. We have this huge emphasis on community in our lives. Our parents are very invested in us, and we share our music with our families, and everybody in my life that I know personally cares about me in this. Not just cares about the music, they care about me and how I'm taking care of myself. I think one thing that I constantly get encouraged about is people just tell me 'your job is just to share good music with good people. Your job is not to grow, it is not to get famous, it is not to drop out of college and be on a stage or go on tour. Your job is to share good music. And when you make good music and you share it, then you let the opportunities come.' I think that's just been something that's helped me kind of navigate everything, realizing that it's so easy when you see success to be like, 'okay, the success is the end goal. That is what I'm chasing.' But with music and art of any kind that can never be it, because if you're chasing the success or the fame or the numbers you're gonna be a sellout. You're gonna make decisions that you don't really want to make, but you feel like you have to make.  I know this because I've done it. And I'm just a tiny little artist. My best songs are still so small in the grand scheme of things. I don't know, I think that's just something I've had to navigate personally the past couple of years and especially the past couple of months. If you're feeling no, your answer has to be no. People say, 'Oh, treat it like a job.' I disagree: 'No, nope, I'm getting my degree in writing, that is going to be my job. Music is going to be my passion.' If there's a choice, or an option, or any kind of step forward that I'm not passionate about, I'm not going to take it, because then I'm going to be stuck. And then I'm not just going to be letting myself down, but doing that at the expense of thousands and thousands of supporters. 

TNS: That's also another great segue. You talked a bit about your family and that community and we've also been referencing the community you've created around you, your fan base, and people you interact with. So, we just looked back, what about looking forward? What kind of impact do you want to have in your career? Ideal scenario. What are the goals, dreams…

CA: I think honestly, I just want goodness to exude from the platform that I have. I want people to know that anytime they step foot on my page, or they come to a concert, or they listen to my music, that it is pure. I think there's a lot of music out there. Okay so for example, my first show ever. This family came who had kind of DMed me a few times before saying, 'we love your music.' I thought, 'they're so sweet.' They came to my first show ever, they drove several hours to get there. I was doing a little meet and greet and then the dad pulled me aside afterwards. And he was like, 'Thank you for making music that I don't have to hide from my daughters.' And that was the biggest compliment to me. I was like, 'oh my god, that's what I needed to hear.' I didn't know that's what I needed to hear. 

I just want people to feel comfortable. There's some hope in my music, I think, because that is not something that we have a lot of. Hope is just so rare to actually come by in our world. We do such a good job of circulating tragic news stories. We do such a good job of, you know, looking at all the things that need to be fixed. But we only operate out of fear, we don't operate out of a 'look what it could be, look what we have the opportunity to do, look what we have the opportunity to create.' I think that if I have any impact on people at all, I just want it to be that after interacting with me or my name or my music, they just leave feeling a little bit more hopeful. Hope is so strong. It literally has saved lives in different capacities.

 In terms of touring and playing, I don't know. I'll do it as it comes, I think. Right now I have realized that I don't know if I'm going to do any more until I graduate college. It's tough. It's really tough. I think that was one thing that I wasn't expecting to be so difficult during the tour was still having to write papers and turn in homework and then go to class the next day and do discussions and presentations. I was literally living two lives and it was tearing me apart. So I have no idea what the music world holds for me in the future. But I do know that I have control over the kind of message that I put forth. And it will be a hopeful one.

All photos via @chloeamentmusic and on Instagram


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