Chase Cohl: The Renaissance Woman

Prepare to be wooed—this folk singer’s got a way with words.

Chase Cohl is in a class of her own. As a musician—her sun-drenched voice and soft, acoustic melodies send a reverse shock as soon as she strums her guitar—but also just as a person. One who seems to live and breathe an ethereal dream, designing headpieces for her line Littledoe and waxing poetic about fruit in her Lauren Canyon home. No, seriously. Chase spilled her slight obsession with writing songs about fruit during a show late this summer, and silent fangirling ensued. Perched on a small stage in the corner of No Name Bar in Los Angeles, a space reminiscent of a cozy, open living room, she serenaded the crowd with songs about love and silver linings. A testament to the merit of a poetry degree, if you ask us. Equal parts enchanted and intrigued, we picked Chase’s brain about her new song, “The Way It Goes” (a folksy track about crushing one’s fears), recording her upcoming album in the same studio as Elvis, and a formative experience with The Rolling friggin’ Stones.

When did you know you wanted to sing?

When I was a child. I’ve always sung in choirs and school plays growing up, but teenagers can bully and such, which left me feeling sort of defeated and self-conscious. I never really had the confidence to go for it. Then I fell in love with writing, and it just sort of evolved from there.

You recorded your song “The Way It Goes” at Valentine Studios in L.A., the same place artists like Elvis and Frank Zappa recorded back in the day. What was that like?

I actually recorded the whole album there. Valentine is arguably one of the most special places in Los Angeles. It feels like being in a time warp. The guys who played on it were crammed with me into this tiny room sweating bullets. It was so special and wild. We’re also lucky we got in right at the beginning because a slew of massively successful musicians have since discovered it.

You’ve said that the song is about deriving meaning from difficult times and relinquishing the fear of getting hurt in order to live a fuller life. How do you personally overcome this fear?

I do my best to face it head-on. I’ve recently been trying to adopt the mindset that if something scares me, it means I should do it. It’s incredibly difficult, but always worthwhile. I also like to meditate when I can find the time.

I read that the process of making your upcoming record has been cathartic for you. Did you go into it with a clear idea of what you wanted to talk about or has it been a gradual process?

It was definitely gradual. Anyone who knows me knows I am constantly writing. I didn’t realize this particular collection had such a clear narrative until we were agreeing on songs for the record. The album story sort of unfolded itself for me.

Your style is deeply rooted in the ‘60s and ‘70s. What about that era moves you?

I think aesthetically it was a pretty beautiful time. The youth was disruptive and unafraid—people were involved, educated, and open to exploring the expansion of their minds and the world. It also seems to me that people valued education and knowledge more—fought for it more—which is something that is declining so rapidly in today’s younger generation it terrifies the hell out of me. Plus, at the end of the day, I’m a sucker for a great pair of bell bottoms.

You moved to New York to study poetry, but you also assisted the stylist Kate Young, started songwriting, and then launched your accessories line Littledoe during your last year of college. As an artist, do you feel like your curiosity is constantly pulling you in a dozen different directions or is songwriting your main pursuit?

They really can’t be compared. Songwriting has my whole heart, but I really enjoy the balance of doing a number of things. Fashion has always felt very natural to me as a pursuit. I love clothing and the design process—creating beautiful things. Luckily, in today’s age, we don’t have the same pressure to pick one thing that our parents’ generation did. I think there’s beauty in being a renaissance person. It’s important to me to always be learning.

How do you think your love for and study of poetry has shaped you as a lyricist?

I love to tell stories through songs. Language is such a beautiful thing, and it’s so dead in so much of our culture—the way we talk, text, abbreviate everything. I think it’s why the true lyricists are all my biggest heroes. Music is as much about sharing in experiences as anything else.

Your father was a concert promoter, so it’s safe to say that you spent countless hours around some incredible bands. Are there any memories or lessons from that time that have stuck with you and informed the way you approach your own music today?

My love for ’60s and ’70s music and the style I explore in my own music is a direct reflection of that. As a child, I was given a copy of The Ronettes’ greatest hits album by one of The Stones and told it was viciously important that I learn it front to back. It’s still one of my favorite albums.

What do you have coming up?

I am about to head out for a couple of shows opening for Cameron Avery from Tame Impala. Then I have to get making music videos and hopefully find time to get back in the studio to record a ’60s pop side project I’ve been writing. And release more music! I just want to keep it coming.

Stream “The Way It Goes” on Spotify and catch up with Chase on Instagram.