sautereau is the brand new musical project of singer/songwriter Chloé Sautereau. Born in Switzerland and now based in New York, she stole our hearts at Indie Top 39 when we first heard her single ‘Conversation Hearts’. She recently released another brand new tune called ‘What If’, and we can’t help but feel that this talented young musician is heading straight for the top! We were thrilled when she agreed to be interviewed by us, and talk about her lockdown experience, who she grew up listening to, and what her “off” days look like. Please give a big welcome to sautereau.
Hello and welcome sautereau! We’re thrilled to reintroduce you to our ever-growing audience. I know that your musical journey started at a very young age. Can you tell us about some of the events that have led you to where you are today musically?
I think I’ve always loved singing and telling stories. From my years dancing and figure skating, to writing a lot of prose in school and taking part in musicals, those things were always a part of me. I didn’t really put them together until I picked up a guitar again when I was about 13. I was lucky enough to record my first song at 15, and I fell in love with the process. I released my first EP, As I Keep on Dreaming, at 18 under the name Cee which was picked up by many Swiss radios. From participating in contests earlier on and putting on shows back home in Switzerland, I was understanding there was nothing I loved more. Today, I’m studying at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music in New York, and being in this environment daily, from my peers to the city itself, is so inspiring and broadening my vision and overall very musically enriching.
I first discovered your music when I heard your single ‘Conversation Hearts’, and I have to admit that I still listen to it on a very regular basis! It’s just such a beautiful and euphoric tune. What made you choose it as the very first song to introduce yourself to the world?
Thank you so much, I’m so happy to hear that!! I think it felt temporal and like it needed to come out when it did. Sonically it was the first time I think I came close to what I had envisioned for a while with acoustic, recorded elements as well as programmed sounds. This minimalistic approach turns grandiose when it needs to.
It’s one of those songs I wrote in a half-hour on my couch at the end of my first year of college (through covid) and it just felt really honest.sautereau
I also love the music video that you put together for ‘Conversation Hearts’. It has such a natural and unpretentious vibe to it. Is the visual aspect of being an artist something that you think about a lot? And how important do you think it is in today’s world?
I think it might be somewhat less of a necessity today, in that for example YouTube does not feel as much of where our main focus is, at least not as much as it used to. I remember being 12 and listening to songs for the first time with the music video and being really excited about it when a new one came out. I think today it serves more simply as a promotional device, but not in a bad way or in a manner that takes away from its value. To me, it feels like an extension of the art and an opportunity to share more with my audience as it contributes to building my world and inviting them to dive in. I love working with a camera, and putting images to sound, so it’s a lot of fun to do for me personally!
OK now moving on to your brand new single, ‘What If’. You’ve done it again 🙂 I absolutely love it! It’s so infectious and optimistic. I imagine this is like asking you to pick a favourite child, but which tune are you most proud of to date?
I think ‘Conversation Hearts’ will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the product of both sonic and artistic exploration for me (with Toby May back home in Geneva) and it’s the track that led me to wrap my head around starting this new project. But ‘What If’ has a somewhat more “out there” energy which I love too. I’m also onto the next already and I’m writing as much as I can so I try to see each of them as stepping stones and enjoy their moment hoping that people continue to carry those with them and that it resonates, as I continue to move forward.
I’m always intrigued by artists who decide on lowercase lettering, be it in their name or their songs. will.i.am, k.d. lang for example. Is there a story behind your choice?
I always thought my last name would be the one thing I couldn’t use because it’s French and it’s hard to pronounce. But that actually came back around to me and I thought it might be just the reason I should use it. I rebranded because I wanted something that was more “me” and to create a world truer to myself than I had been able to before just because I’m growing up and it felt like I could hardly be more myself than that. The lower case is a bit of an instinctive thing if I’m honest. If I have to think about it probably reflects some sort of delicacy and rawness I try to channel through the essence of my project.
Hopefully, we’re over the worst part of the worldwide pandemic, but with everyone’s lockdown experience being very different and personal, what sort of effects did the world shutting down have on you? Musically, mentally, physically?
I was really stuck at the beginning – I probably didn’t write for a bit and just played other songs, despite a lot of people saying “there’s so much time to write now” and maybe had songs pouring out of them. I think I’m inspired by all the little things in life – from the daily mundane ones to the extraordinary – so when everything stopped, in spite of being lucky to have a vast array of memories to pull from, I was missing the little daily triggers that would plunge me in the thoughts I dig into to write. But music itself definitely played a big part in getting me through it and I started playing concerts from my balcony to my neighbours. That was probably among the most heartwarming and humbling moments I’ve experienced.
Your musical influences and inspirations are obviously quite widespread and varied, but you have credited artists like Finneas, Joni Mitchell, and Jessie Reyez. Who else would you credit for shaping your overall soundscape and who did you grow up listening to?
I grew up to really eclectic things but looking back it might make sense… There was a lot of James Blunt, Pink, and Anastacia. French chanson as well – Patrick Bruel and Florent Pani was my entire childhood. And some Brazilian music too; I love bossa nova. Big classics weren’t as consciously present for me until I was a little older, but I grew to know many and appreciate them so much. Today I love Queen, Elton John, and beyond that understand more about the entire singer/songwriter movement of that time too, with some of my favourite artists being James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, etc. In more recent terms, Ed Sheeran is definitely part of the mix. At the moment, I think I listen to more alternative and indie than I end up creating but I think it supports the storytelling nature of the writing I like to do.
What do you love most about being a musician? And on the flip side, what are some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced so far?
Sharing stories and being able to connect with people… Be it just one person, there is no feeling like that of having someone sing back words you’ve written in your bedroom to you.
That feeling of belonging that comes from identifying with music and stories is unparalleled to me and the slightest hint of actually offering that to those around me is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.sautereau
What’s challenging is that being a musician is obviously so much more than that, which is normal on the one hand, but I think especially with our fast-paced environment there’s a pressure that you need to be able to do everything yourself and that you need to be constantly “connected” and seeking out your audience, which all adds a type of pressure that feels so removed from the essence of making music itself. It gets a little overwhelming, especially when it’s driven by forces that feel quite out of reach.
With every artist being different and unique, we’re always intrigued with their creative processes, and how they take an idea and transform it into a finished product. Could you tell us a bit about your creative process?
I mostly start writing on guitar or piano – playing around with chords and putting words to them in melody all quite simultaneously. It’s often a bit of a push and pull energy between lyrics and music for me. I usually write on paper so I have a plethora of notebooks and my voice memos are pure chaos but there’s a lot in there. Then the song usually has a vibe for me and I envision what instruments would help me bring it to life. Recently I’ve worked with Toby May, a producer and songwriter back home in Geneva, who’s helped me execute and elaborate that vision and with whom it’s been a thrill to develop the sound I had in my mind. I’ve been doing vocals last and really honing in on delivering the best performance I can, trying not to lose that freshness and intuition/spontaneity of the songs’ story-telling. The vocals for ‘Conversation Hearts’ and ‘What If’ were done at Cove City Studios in New York with John Arbuckle who also mixed and mastered the track. Mixing is one of my favourite parts of the process because it’s just tying everything together and giving everything its place until things feel just right.
I came across your cover of ‘Always Remember Us This Way’ on YouTube. It’s a quality rendition of one of my all-time favourite tunes! What drew you to the song?
Thank you!!! I think that song has unparalleled depth and emotion. It has a poetic aspect in the words and its nonchalant-ness that makes it so human. And grounding and humbling. There’s something cathartic about singing it. I adored the movie too and as much as I love ‘Shallow’, this one just has something extra special I can’t really describe 🙂
When you’re not creating music, what keeps you busy? Walk us through a day in the life of Chloé Sautereau.
Probably get up and make coffee, have something for breakfast or go to a coffee shop; I love trying out new spots in the city (New York) and getting some work done. I have a full schedule of classes from production to marketing and songwriting and psychology studies I’m also following. It’s a balance of doing the work for those and taking as much as I can from them for my work as an artist. I’ll also definitely go to the gym, or for a run outside by the river if the weather allows (but remember rest days are essential)! It’s a really important part of my day though, an outlet. I love going to concerts, and I’m so happy they’re somewhat back because there is just nothing like live music to me. Going with friends or out to dinner, just hanging out, sometimes jamming, I’m really grateful for everyone in my circle.
If I stole your cell phone and opened your streaming service of choice, who would I see under your recently played section?
Right now: GAYLE, Dijon, Maude Latour
And recently those I turn to repeatedly are probably Del Water Gap, FINNEAS, and Gracie Abrams.
You’ve been given the chance to collaborate with any musician or band. Who do you choose and why?
FINNEAS – I just have little words to say how much I appreciate and resonate with his work. It’s like every word he sings I think “I wish I’d written that”, but also I’m so happy it’s coming from him because it makes sense that way. I can’t speak for how he is but he comes across to me as so grounded, not only not taking himself too seriously, but society as a whole. His mix of societal criticism, sensuality, and both musical subtlety and boldness is something that inspires me a lot and I’m always curious what he will bring to us next.
I have no doubt that there are many many more songs to come from you, and I can’t wait to hear what else you have in store! But in a broader sense, what do you hope for in your musical future?
As I continue to build a world and audience around my music, I dream of headlining a tour in the future, however big it may be right now, but just expanding who I get to share what I do with. For now, there’s an EP in the works, and more live dates to come, so stay tuned.
Thank you so much!!
We added sautereau’s ‘What If’ to the playlist of all the artists we interviewed so far.
Don’t be shy to give it a listen!