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Chloe Moriondo is from a new age of singer-songwriters. She made her debut as a ukulele-playing YouTuber in her early teens. Before going on to release her first ‘accidental’ album, (Moriondo thought she was making an EP but made it about 5 tracks too long) Rabbit Hearted, at just 14 years-old. Now just four years on, the rising icon and of course, TikTok star, has released a punchier pop punk-centric album to much critical acclaim. Titled Blood Bunny, Moriondo’s 13 tracks balance touching lyricism with headbanging instrumentals.

A self-identified non-binary lesbian, Moriondo weaves her queer identity throughout her lyrics in a truly open and frank way. GAY TIMES caught up with the Detroit native to talk about authenticity in her songwriting, celebrating her queer identity and the iCarly soundtrack.

Your new album, Blood Bunny, we have not stopped listening to it. What was the musical inspiration behind it? We got Paramore vibes, old school Avril, even Clairo.
Bro, that’s pretty much spot on. I definitely was trying to delve into the kind of pop-punk stuff that I grew up with. And old Avril and Riot-era Paramore was everything to me when I was in Elementary School. It’s everything I wanted to embody. I wore my little cargo pants and I wanted to be a skater girl so bad even though I couldn’t skate.

Rabbit Hearted to Bloody Bunny feels like a Pokemon-like evolution. Do you feel like that? How do you compare the processes of putting both albums together?
That’s definitely how I view it, Blood Bunny is the evolution from Rabbit Hearted. I think it’s only in terms of this line, it’s only a two-stage evolution and this [Blood Bunny] is the big one. But it was such a different process, making an album with the intent of making an album. And I went through a lot of big changes too during Rabbit Hearted but I made that whole thing myself. This new album was a very big change for me. And it was really special and cool to be able to meet people and figure out who I liked talking to and who I feel like shares a similar vision as me for music and maybe wants to help me produce some cool stuff.

The way you write lyrics seems really free-flowing, almost, spur of the moment. Is that fair characterization? Do you feel that?
I feel that for sure. I know it’s different for everyone but when you feel an idea, it just happens naturally and you write it down or record it. And that’s that, you can’t, at least for me, personally, I can’t just force something out of myself. I know a lot of younger artists and people who are just getting into working with other people are scared of working with other people because they think you have to write a hit song together in one day or in some hours, that’s preposterous to me. I think you should be able to just do whatever you want and make fun stuff. I’m working toward making more stuff that I like more and more every day, which I hope everyone else is doing too.

What is the core message you want listeners to take away from Blood Bunny?
There’s so much that I want people to take away from it. There’s so much in the album that I feel like I want to say and that I have said but it’s like a whole thing. I want people to just listen to the whole thing. I want the album to be a message to be: “Do what you want and to feel comfortable in your own skin” and maybe try something that you haven’t done before. If you have something you’re passionate about and want to do something different with, do it. Because that definitely, I think got me in a pretty cool place.

Capturing your feelings or experiences in a song seems to come quite naturally to you?
Being honest in my songs is always the most important thing for me. I always want my songs to sound like they would come out of my mouth. Even if it’s a little bit cheesy, I want it to be cheesy on purpose. I’ve always been an open book with people and with the internet. I don’t really see too much harm in sharing a lot of myself with other people as long as I’m comfortable with it. So, I try to write whatever I want or what I’m feeling. One tip that someone gave me in a session that I’ll never forget is, ‘Write like you’re drunk and edit like you’re sober,’ which I think makes perfect sense. Because just do all of it, write all of it down, because there could be really, really cool stuff. And who knows, maybe we won’t even need to edit it. I think that’s the beauty of music, you can sometimes make things that are awesome without even meaning to.

You’ve toured with quite a few queer musicians like mxmtoon and Cavetown, is it important to you to perform with musicians who share similar values and identities to you?
Oh for sure, I think we kind of flock together in a way and also I think more people are just coming to terms with themselves. I definitely don’t like to centre everything in my music about being a lesbian but also I will fucking talk about it all the time because it is part of me and I do love it. But I definitely don’t consider myself just a lesbian musician.

How important is it for you to be able to celebrate all the parts of your identity in your music?
It comes really naturally to me. I think it all ties in with honesty. I don’t want to hide any parts of myself in my music and I don’t want to come across as something that I’m not. I want to make crazy stuff that sounds huge and different. And maybe be like, ‘Whoa, that doesn’t sound like Chloe Moriondo at all.’ But at the end of the day, I’m just a silly little guy making music in my room, and I want it to always be that way. I just hope people can see that through my music. Hopefully, other lesbians and gay kids, who are growing up and learning stuff about themselves, will see that and feel like they can do the same.

How does it feel to make music and be part of Generation Z, a generation that has never experienced life with a mobile or social media? Does it influence the kind of artist you want to be?
I feel like there’s so much coming from this wave of artists and it’s so awesome. It’s inspired me to just do whatever the hell I want even more. Growing up in this new generation, a new environment of music can be a little overwhelming, but it’s super encouraging to be able to do whatever because there are so many people doing different things and mixing different genres and styles.

Every artist has a close relationship with their fans. But I feel like with your generation more so than ever, you’re so reachable.
I think that’s really important for a lot of artists who are around my age. It’s always been really important for me to feel connected with people who have supported me because a lot of them are really similar in age to me. I don’t want to feel like I think I’m better than any of these kids, I just got lucky and now I’m able to do this as my job. If anything, I want to be able to help and inspire other people to do this as their job too. I love being able to make music and to be able to say what I want to so many people. I will always be keeping in mind some people who support me and the community of solid people who have been there since early covers. And I hope that they know how grateful I am for them because I don’t think I would be anywhere without them.

Who can you not stop listening to right now?
I’ve been listening to a lot of old Paramore because that’s constant for me. I’ve also been listening to a specific song on repeat. I don’t know if you ever dabbled in iCarly, but there’s a song that was a deluxe thing for iCarly that was a cover of another song. But Miranda Cosgrove sings it and it’s called About You Now and it’s so unreal — I don’t know what they put in that song, but it is addictive! I’m constantly blaring it. If you haven’t heard it, I recommend a listen. It reminds me of being nine and on my desktop on the iCarly website.

What’s next for you?
I’m excited to keep making stuff. I want to try experimenting with more industrial hyper pop. I think it has a lot of weird, crazy energy that I want to tap into because I’ve never really tried it. I have an EP that I already wrote and almost fully recorded and that’s going to be coming out before I make more stuff. I’m excited to keep going and going and show people new music.