Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: CHLOE BODUR

The London-based ‘R&Bossanova’ pioneer chats her new EP “RÜYA”, an ode to divine female energy.

Chloe Bodur

Photography by Eliot Henri Morris

Chloe Bodur
Photography by Eliot Henri Morris

“I wrote “RÜYA” from the perspective of the woman I exist as in my dreams,” Chloe Bodur tells us of her freshly-dropped third EP. Translated from Turkish as “dream”, “RÜYA” sees the gossamer vocals and languid grooves of Bodur interlaced into ethereal bliss, driven by R&B, bossa nova, and jazz – termed by Bodur “R&Bossanova”.

Her third EP, following 2020’s “Panties & Loafers” and last year’s “MAVI” features cuts like “Why U Always So Mean?” where she implores a man simply to treat her like the goddess she is. “I make me so easy to love,” she coos, her voice intertwining with her band of five years who she built the EP with. Another integral force was her cousin and long-standing collaborator, JD Reid, an accomplished producer himself for artists like Celeste, Mabel, and slowthai.

Chloe’s not lacking in co-signs from musical heavyweights herself, however. A recent jamming session with Thundercat, seal of approval from Sampha, and regular praise from tastemaker DJ Jamz Supernova were seemingly only the beginnings of her inevitable integration into music’s most respected ranks. Recently adding DJ to her talents too, Bodur launched a radio show on the underground station Balamii where she reverses roles, interviewing and championing fellow nascent talent.

For now though, we asked Bodur the questions on everything “RÜYA”, shooting a music video with her cat Amelie, and of course, that jamming session with Thundercat…

Where do we find you on “RÜYA” compared to previous ones “MAVI” and “Panties & Loafers”?
I think it’s the most accurate depiction of my sound so far because it’s the first time I’ve been able to make a project with my full band and my cousin. Me and my band have been playing together since I was 18, so for five years, and we recorded some of our early stuff, but when I started doing longer projects, that was when covid happened, so that was mainly just me making beats with my cousin and getting people to send stems, but we weren’t all in a room together. Whereas with this project, for the first time we’ve been able to get the whole band and [JD.] in the room and make music together, and a good 80% of the project just came from us jamming in the studio. So, musically it just happened.

How would you describe the project in a few sentences?
I would say this is my first concept project. I wrote it from the perspective of the woman I exist as in my dreams. I pushed myself lyrically out of my comfort zone and adopted a character voice to tap into a different type of lyric writing than I have before.

We love “Kitty & I”, can you tell us the story behind it?
I was having a lot of conversations with girls over the years, specifically, girls talking about how they weren’t getting much pleasure out of their sexual experiences, with the straight men they were sleeping with, and so it was basically about that. I made it with my cousin, basically, I played him a few songs I’d been working on and he said that he wanted to do that one and then at the end of recording it, he was like, “we’re never making a song like that ever again.” And I was like “you picked it. You didn’t have to pick that one.” But he liked the demo. So yeah, that was funny.

We read that “Kitty & I” was inspired by Beyoncé’s “Kitty Kat”! Tell us about your relationship with that track?
I love that song. I got the B’Day album when it came out. I think it was 2006, so maybe I was like nine or something and I was obsessed with that album. I had the DVD of it as well and I learned all the choreography to all the songs. “Kitty Kat” is Neptunes-produced and I still love that song today. But as I got older, I was like, ‘oh, Beyoncé’s saying like: “let’s go little kitty cat, he don’t want no mo’. And I was like, “we’re gonna change that” so I just wanted to write something that was a bit more empowering for the girls, so I flipped it.

The visuals for “Kitty & I” feature your cat, the one and only Amelie! How did she feel about her starring role?
I’m never working with animals again, that was so hard. She didn’t forgive me for like a month, she didn’t trust me. She hated it. We had much bigger plans for the video than just me sitting there, we had more shots we wanted to do, but she was actually running away and hiding constantly so I had to sit there the whole video and just hold her down. I’m looking like I’m stroking her but I’m really just holding her down. But, it’s a nice memory, although we put it on YouTube when it came out and I was like “Amelie look…” and she actually freaked out a bit when she heard the song, I think she has like PTSD.

Compared with your previous projects, what do you think you’ve learned from making “RÜYA”?
I think I was quite scared of talking about certain subjects on this project and policing myself in terms of what I say. I was quite nervous of talking about sex or using certain language because of how my family would respond, but they actually have been super chill and I don’t know why I thought they would be any other way. So I think that’s been quite freeing, and going forward, I can probably do whatever I want and they’re not going to care. Like my nan’s been listening to “Kitty & I” and my mum’s like to her, “Do you know what that’s about?” And she’s like, “Yeah, but I still like it.”

You refer to your music as R&Bossanova, and you’re clearly not afraid of transcending genre boundaries. Do you feel like you’re on a journey genre-wise, is there a particular direction you feel like you’re moving towards?
I think people will be really surprised by the next stuff they hear that I’ve been working on. It’s quite a lot more electronic-orientated and uses bigger sounds. It’s very N.E.R.D inspired in terms of like, quite intense electric guitars and beats. The way I think is that I want to play bigger venues, so I start writing a bigger sound. Like, if you keep writing for a small jazz bar or a small pub, then that’s where you’ll reach, but if you start writing for arenas, maybe you’ll get to play arenas. That’s my thought process.

You’ve found your way onto some big Spotify playlists like Soultronic and Fresh Finds. If you could be on any celebrity’s playlist around the world, who would it be?
Pharrell’s! If I was on Pharrell’s playlist I would retire.

What song do you think he would add?
I think maybe “Kitty & I”, I feel like he might like that one.

Speaking of big names, we read you were jamming with Thundercat. Tell us more!
I ended up jamming with him at a jazz jam night and he came through and jumped on the bass with his drummer and his keys player. The mic was open and no one really got up cause they were a bit shy so I was like, I have to take this opportunity. I actually sang the lyrics from “Why U Always So Mean?” from the project. I just had these ideas of lyrics in my head so I was kind of playing around with them in the jam, and so that’s what I sang with Thundercat and now it’s a song.

Tell me about your Balamii show! You sound very at ease on the other side of the whole interview scenario?
I just try and get on a different artist each month and we curate the music together and I interview them and we just talk about them basically. A lot of people don’t ask artists good questions, they all ask the same stuff, so I like getting an artist in and digging quite deep into what they do.

NEW NOISE: CHLOE BODUR

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