Chloe Flower is a composer, pianist, and philanthropist who lives in New York. She studied at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music Pre-College and later at The Royal Academy of Music in London. While playing Bach and listening to hip-hop at the same time, she had a revelation and started to blend hip-hop beats and classical music together creating her own style. In 2011, she met industry icon Babyface who became her mentor and producer. Chloe collaborated with artists such as Celine Dion, Nas, Timbaland, and Johnny Mathis. She also has done the musical score for Kevin Hart’s Nike commercial and for a documentary on ballet dancer Misty Copeland. Chloe Flower shares with us her creative process, her involvement in causes that matter to her, the importance of self-confidence, and even her performance sharing the stage with Cardi B at the Grammy Awards. A brilliant and creative artist with a good heart.
Chloe Flower: I live in NYC with my boyfriend and our three pianos, and under normal circumstances, I go back and forth to Los Angeles to record. I can play beginner violin and intermediate cello and speak three languages, trying to get to 5!
“I love you so hard, “I say it all day every day. My friends call it a “Chloeism.” Also, anything from Albert Einstein.
I’ve always been active in music therapy and music education. In fact one of my first performances was at a local nursing home. When this quarantine happened, I knew this was a great opportunity to encourage people to learn how to play the piano. We have nothing but time and it’s also a great way to stay mentally healthy during this very difficult and new period.
Yes for sure. I am not doing them every day though. Since we are social distancing, I had to do everything myself and it sometimes took 10-12 hours to edit and insert text into the videos. I just don’t have time to do them every day but I made it to my commitment of 14 days!
My definition of success is multi-dimensional. There are many goals I would like to achieve before calling myself a “success” career-wise, including a major tour and creating a large and iconic catalog of music. I believe I was put on this earth for a specific purpose, to create music and share it. I don’t think I could be ultimately “happy” with my career without doing both.
I actually haven’t worked with Jay-Z yet, but we definitely tried a couple of times. The other artists you mentioned are true icons and every experience was different. Working with Cardi was so amazing. She is truly a girls girl and given that was her first Grammy Awards performance, I expected her to be more on edge and frankly more diva. She was the exact opposite, she was kind, soft-spoken, incredibly active in the entire creative process, and extremely hard-working. One night we started a rehearsal after midnight, it could have been 1 or 2 am. She was juggling her career, her baby, and this performance simultaneously and handling it like a boss.
Working with Babyface is such an honor, and without him, I would not be where I am today musically. He has been my mentor and producer for over 10 years. I’ve never seen anyone at his level work harder than him. He’s always the first one at the studio and often the last to leave. I know because I am usually working late into the night and early morning. He taught me so much I don’t even think he realizes what an impact he has had on the trajectory of hip-hop and classical crossover music.
I could go on and on about them and Nas and Celine and Johnny Mathis, do you have ten hours? [laughs]
It was inspiring to watch a new artist be so real, so authentic and so uplifting all while under an immense amount of pressure.
I have been working from home my entire life. Pianists often live a much more solitary life than say, violinists, or other string instrumentalists. We don’t have a “piano orchestra” so we are trained from an early age to be disciplined about creating a productive routine and schedule. I do encourage everyone to write a checklist the night before, it’s very easy to do and very helpful for productivity. There’s only so much will-power our brains can handle, so I try to minimize my choices as much as possible the night before.
Absolutely! Currently, however, since all of my concerts and performances are postponed or canceled until 2021 when they reopen group gatherings, I am able to share my work digitally. When you’re kind of creating a new lane or new genre of music, visibility is essential because people won’t be able to discover you otherwise. I always loved the idea of using technology as an expansive tool for classical music.
The first trip outside my house I will make is probably fly to Los Angeles and go to the studio and work with my producers and engineers.
This is an amazing company I am so honored to be part of. Jules is my long time best friend, she was one of my first friends in NYC outside of the music world. We are always bonding over how “Asian we are” and when an opportunity to create a brand together came up, it was a no-brainer. We partnered with Larry Praeger and Greg Fleishman, who are huge in the food and beverage space.
Larry’s company Dr. Praeger’s frozen foods and Greg’s history with Suja made them the perfect co-founders. We were sold out of every Whole Foods for months with only grassroots marketing. The brand is still alive, we have been looking to raise another round of investment in order to expand into all grocery stores. Stay tuned on that!
Before the quarantine, I loved going to Cryotherapy and Infrared Saunas. Currently, I use The Mirror, which is an exercise mirror in my apartment, and try to eat as much fruit and vegetables as possible. I find that when I eat healthy, my brain functions better and when I’m productive at work, I am the happiest. So it’s important for me to stay mentally healthy as well as physically.
I love Disney and Pixar, my dream is to create music with or for them. I’ve always wanted to create a huge epic ballade as well, and if Beyonce sang it, I would be living my best life!
Babyface told me, “Make them cry.” Musically, the best advice ever.
I love fashion, I always have. I constantly style my celebrity friends for fun too, it’s just a hobby that my very stylish mother got me into at a young age. And I choose outfits for performances based on the music, the venue, and the type of event. Because I don’t sing lyrics in my music, it’s important for me to use fashion as a tool of expression. I partner with so many up and coming brands I find online and research. I’ll often be gifted beautiful items, but if they are available to buy, I always try and purchase them to be supportive of their art and show my appreciation if I can.
Do you have another ten hours? [laughs] Human-trafficking is one of those unique industries that prey mostly on our most weak and vulnerable. It is a result of poverty, and I realized very early on that it could have been me, had I been born into a different family. Musicians are here on earth to serve, and if there is a way that I can use music-education as a tool of prevention for human-trafficking, I’m going to do it. While I was working with the United Nations Office on Drug & Crime, I made the connection between learning an instrument and overcoming material poverty, a root cause of the sex-trade industry.
This is why you see me promoting music education so much online and in interviews. I have seen the data, I have seen first hand how learning an instrument changes communities for the better. Access to music should be in every public school and available to every child. I can’t emphasize this enough, as I know degrading industries like the trafficking of humans can be combatted early on with something as simple as a music class.
As artists, we are constantly judged, especially in classical music. In fact, in classical music, our interpretation of a song is judged just as much as our technique. Those critics can be hurtful and even worse, distract you from continuing down your path. I say, whatever you do, own it and do it with love. You cannot please everyone. Once you accept that and do whatever you do with authenticity and integrity, your confidence builds and strengthens. Basically, brush off the haters!
I do meditate when I’m stressed. Besides, I am actually working on a very amazing project with Rudolph Tanzi, the Kennedy Chair Professor of Neurology at Harvard and Vice-Chair of Neurology at Mass General Hospital in Boston. I can’t talk about it too much. But it will be an app and device that helps people like me (non-meditators) meditate using light therapy.
The Dalai Lama once told me to always say “Yes, with conditions” when I told him I was asked to be on a reality show. Ultimately, I declined, but I’ll never say never again. Acting is definitely not a priority on my list though.
Ezinma, she’s an amazing artist. We just performed together recently and I love what she’s doing with her music, her brand, and her youtube!
Editor’s recommendations: If you liked Chloe Flower’s story – A moment with Pop Singer Niia [/mepr-show]
Nice stuff, thanks for sharing.