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Meet Chinchilla, the pop artist who wants to celebrate empowerment at every turn

Through her defiant music and mantra, Chinchilla is already proving to be a champion for the oppressed.

By Nick Reilly

Chinchilla (Picture: Press)

“You’re so f***ing bad for me, still I censor every feeling and profanity,” comes Chinchilla‘s defiant cry on ‘Cut You Off’, which has become a breakout hit for the rising London artist.

The track, she tells Rolling Stone UK, has attracted a legion of fans who have identified their own struggles – from abuse to toxic relationships – with the song’s central theme of taking a stand against people who need to be cut out of our lives.

“It’s a fuck you song and a liberation scream,” she says. I think that’s what it’s about and the feeling of biting your tongue for so long and then screaming, which is something I feel like I do quite often in my life.”

Another theme central to the pop artist’s music is empowerment, she explains. Both in the slew of defiant pop songs she’s carved, but also in her own trajectory as an independent artist who has shaken off the shackles of a major label deal. “It’s been the best fucking thing ever,” she proudly attests.

Now, firmly on her own path and fresh from releasing her latest single MF Diamond (view that below), Chinchilla is determined to become of pop’s most exciting new voices.

Hello, Chinchilla! How’s your 2024 been so far?

Brutal, but good! I’ve got a meeting with my managers on Friday and we’ve just been like OK, let’s do it in a spa. Things have been really busy so we’ve just said let’s have a meeting in a hot tub. I feel like that’s very necessary.

It’s no surprise, really. ‘Cut You Off’ has been a massive TikTok moment.

It has, but ‘Little Girl Gone’ was the song I released before it and the one that changed my life. So I feel like the follow-up was always going to be a weird thing that I was slightly nervous about.

But it has felt like a great one to follow-up with, I really loved it because there’s a good mix of big belting choruses and a slight nonchalant cool vibe too, I think I nailed it with that song.

I think the way it’s connected with people is amazing too. A lot of people reached out and told me about the people they’ve cut out of their lives and this song is really getting through to a lot of single mums who had to cut out their partners. I have a lot of messages from women who have been through a lot of abuse. It’s really dark, but also an amazing thing that they have reached out to me. I really don’t take that for granted.

What was the story behind that song for you specifically?

I have a bit of a thing with this song where I don’t like to say exactly what it was about because I feel like when I released it, it became meaningful for so many women and it was really special they had found something that liberates them in it. It’s a fuck you song and a liberation scream. I think that’s what it’s about and the feeling of biting your tongue for so long and then screaming, which is something I feel like I do quite often in my life.

That’s where all my best music comes from, when I’m not biting my tongue anymore. I love that sense of putting it all out there and being unapologetic.

This is our PlayNext series, where artists are given the chance to be introduced to our readers. How would you describe yourself and your music, Chinchilla?

Well, it’s sometimes hard to put yourself in a box but I think the biggest word that ties together my whole sound and project is empowerment. That’s the word I always like and the one that means the most to me and what I want to do with my music. The artists I love, that’s what I feel with them. Beyonce is my everything and she’s like that. Empowerment is always my main holy grail. In terms of my music, I’d say it’s like feisty pop. Someone once described it as ‘Tarantino Pop’ and I laughed at that.

You were signed to a major label, but you’re now finding success on your own imprint. Does that fit into the empowerment theme?

It’s been the best fucking thing ever. I just had a really awful year in 2022. I split with my management and had a really tough situation there and then I split with my label. It was a year of just not good things. I found myself approaching managers and sending demos and they’d just send feedback saying ‘this is what you need to do’, or ‘this one is cheesy’. I got to a point where I’d had too many meetings of being spoken at and I just wanted to get a placard made that said ‘I’M NOT FINISHED’ because people interrupted me so much and drove me crazy.

But eventually I just became fed up and turned into this sort of Albert Einstein in my bedroom, with flip charts and calendars everywhere, just working away and planning my whole career.

It was hard work, but the best thing for me. I burnt any yearning for the industry’s approval to the ground and that’s when it all started working, I was totally in charge and in control and then people started to resonate with what I was doing and it massively blew up. Then I was suddenly running a global campaign single handedly- I needed to recruit more people to help me, but I was in a different headspace where I knew what I valued in people and I think that helped me maintain control. I’m signed with Universal now – releasing my songs under my imprint, Chinchilla Music Ltd. I’m driving my project – and the right people around me only empower me to do that more. I love that. It’s a completely different ball game.

I wanted to ask about your close friendship with Ren, who we’ve featured on Rolling Stone UK. His independent artistry is quite something – a Number One album under his belt and quite the ardent fanbase.

We’ve known each other for years and we’re very close. We were on the same management for a while and and we’ve done like a few songs together, so I feel like we’re musical siblings.

We’re very tight and musically quite similar too. We come up with a lot of the same ideas and things like, quite literally the other day, I met him and it turned out we’d designed the same merch!

But our relationship is good and his fans are amazing, they will just do whatever for him, in a great way, they really have his back. And I think I feel that with my fan base as well. A lot of our fans are very die hard and there’s something special about going through this journey with them.

You can’t buy that loyalty. Thanks for your time, Chinchilla!