- Golden Globe Awards
A Conversation with Chloe Flower: A “Golden Hour” for the 80th Golden Globe® Awards
Pianist, composer, and producer Chloe Flower will take to the stage on January 10 at the 80th Golden Globe Awards, where she will perform her new song “Golden Hour.” Known for her self-created sound, “Popsical,” Flower continues to bridge the gap between classical and pop music.
Born in Pennsylvania, Flower found her love of music before the age of 3. By the age of 12, she was studying at the Manhattan School of Music and pursued this path at London’s Royal Academy of Music. Discovered by none other than singer, songwriter, and producer Babyface, she has collaborated with eclectic artists like Il Volo, Celine Dion, Questlove, and Johnny Mathis. In 2019, Flower’s performance with Cardi B at the 61st Grammy Awards became an instant social media sensation. Two years later, Flower released her eponymously titled album.
Her interests range from fashion to humanitarian issues, and in October last year, she received The Last girl’s Impact Award for her work in anti-human trafficking.
The trailblazing multi-hyphenate star, who continually breaks barriers, speaks excitedly on the phone about her upcoming Golden Globe performance.
You must be getting ready for the Globes.
Yes, I’m finishing a fitting right now and at the same time I’m writing all of the commercial intros and outros, the opening theme song, and the closing scene. We’re using iconic movie themes and doing solo piano versions. I’m basically a piano DJ and I’ve had to write over 40 different piano versions of different music. Things are changing all the time. I need a clone!
Tell us about the single “Golden Hour.”
“Golden Hour.” Oh, I’m so excited about it. It’s a song that I wrote and it’s very cinematic. I love film music, especially instrumental and classical. I feel like a lot of times as a classical student, we were taught Schoenberg’s famous saying, ‘If it’s for the masses, it’s not art. And if it’s art, it’s not for the masses.’ I feel like film music has this exception. It can be almost classical, but it still has that accessibility and that’s why I love listening to film scores. I love how people appreciate film scores. I went to Seth McFarland’s holiday party, and I’ll never forget it. He had a full orchestra at his house in the backyard. They were playing theme songs from Indiana Jones and Star Wars. People were dancing as if it was like Cardi B playing! They were on the tables and on the sofas dancing like they were at a club. It was such an interesting moment for me. I was like, ‘This is how I wish all instrumental music could be appreciated.’ So, “Golden Hour” is a tribute to Hollywood music.
You’re making instrumental music more accessible to the masses.
If instrumental music was more accessible, people wouldn’t feel like they had to understand or analyze it. It can be consumed however you want to consume it. That’s how I want people to consume “Golden Hour.” If they want to study it or sleep to it, that’s totally fine. I think in classical music, that’s often looked down on. They think that you shouldn’t be sleeping or studying to my music. You should be listening to it and appreciating and analyzing it, but I don’t believe in that philosophy. I think that’s dated. I started to really feel strongly about that when I saw people dry humping to Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Your music has been described as a redefining of classical music.
I don’t know if I would say I’m redefining. The ultimate goal for me is to get kids excited about learning an instrument. My whole life revolves around music education. For me, showing people, whether you’re a kid or you’re an adult, showing them that classical music or being a pianist doesn’t have to look a certain way. Doing the Grammys with Cardi B almost redefined it because it’s the first time you have this huge audience looking at a pianist on a crystal piano, to hip hop. It was on Instagram a lot.
Tell us about “Popsical.”
I created “Popsical.” It’s a combination of pop and classical, this idea of a genre, because I like the pop aesthetic and I like wearing feathers on stage if I want to, or leather or whatever I decide to wear. But my core is classical, my music is still classical. I’m not the first person to add beats to a song. In fact, Tania Leon, who I performed for at the Kennedy Center honors recently, actually started experimenting with electronic music and classical 30, 40 years ago. So it’s not the first time. It’s just the first time I think it’s being accepted more.
At what age did you discover you had this musical gift?
I think I was 3. I did my first concert at a nursing home. I sat on a telephone book and a pillow because I wasn’t tall enough and I played just a basic minuet, something very easy. I remember everybody in the audience was asleep. Nobody was paying attention to me, but I remember it was a pivotal moment for because I remember thinking, ‘Oh, they still want me here, because music makes people happy.’ That was the idea of music therapy germinating in my three-year-old brain.
Are you very disciplined?
Yes. I think I have a level of self-discipline. I love pressure, I love a challenge. I think that’s an innately human thing. I don’t think that’s unique to me. I just work well under pressure. I love a challenge and I love a goal.
You’ve worked with everyone from Celine Dion, Cardi B, Questlove, and Il Volo. What experience stands out the most?
Well, I think obviously the Cardi B performance with the Grammys was really what elevated my career to another level. I was so happy to work with her because that was the first time I did live television and she was so nice. She was so sweet and gracious and really empowering. I think I expected to be in the background and I expected to play a black Steinway. I told her days before we went live, ‘Liberace has this crystal piano in Vegas, which isn’t so far. I don’t know, it’s just a thought if you wanted to use it.’ They were like, ‘Yeah! That’s great! I want you to have a moment.’ So she paid to have that piano altered so that she could stand on it and she paid to have that repaired and shipped to LA and then back to Vegas. It was just so supportive. I was like, ‘This is how I want to be.’ It’s how I want all women to be, supportive of each other. Obviously, it went viral, so it was great for me.
Did you feel the spirit of Liberace while you were playing on his piano?
Absolutely! I have one of his pianos in my apartment right now, the glass one that he toured with. Sometimes in the morning, I’ll be like, ‘Hey’ [laughs]. I was Liberace for Halloween. I used the Michael Douglas costume from Behind the Candelabra. They flew it out for me this past Halloween for Heidi Klum’s party.
What can the audience expect from your performance at the Globes?
I think it’s going to be totally different from what I’ve been told. I’ve been watching them since I was little, but up until this Golden Globes, I’ve never seen a live musician playing. I think it’s really cool and it will be an intimate vibe, solo piano only. I’ve never done anything like this. The Globes have never seen anything like this. I think it’s going to be such a unique experience for them to see a live musician.
Is there anyone you’re particularly looking forward to seeing?
I am the biggest horror movie fan. I am in multiple horror movie clubs and people call me about horror movies every time a new one comes out to ask my opinion. I’m really excited to see Jamie Lee in this.
Well, you mentioned Heidi Klum. She’s coming as well.
Oh, is she? I didn’t even know that. Oh my god. I was there for her worm costume.
We know you’re a fashion icon as well. You must love the red carpet.
The red carpet is new to me. I’m a pianist, so I’m actually not shy, but I’m definitely an introvert. It’s a little bit challenging in the sense that it’s like, ‘Oh my God, so many pictures!’ But I love fashion and I love giving fashion a moment. I think that part of what makes my music resonate more with people is that it tells a story through fashion too. I don’t have lyrics in my music, so it’s important for me to tell the story about my personality and give more personality to not just my sound, but to my whole brand through fashion. I’m really excited to do the carpet. I’m going to be wearing Stéphane Rolland. I’m so excited.
You’re an advocate for women of color in the music industry. Do you think things are improving?
Absolutely. Especially that the Grammys have made a huge effort, especially in the last few years, to really activate females and females of color too. I did a lot of stuff over the last few years with the Grammys, specifically talking about women in music. When I worked with Babyface, I was always in the studio. Every time I was in a session, I was the only girl. I would think, ‘Where are all the female writers? Where are all the female producers? Where are all the female instrumentalists?’ I know there are more people out there than me. It always stuck with me and I noticed it and I never forgot it. When organizations like the Golden Globes, Oscars, and Grammys are being more inclusive, it helps. Eventually, the idea is I don’t even want to be called a woman of color in music. I just want to be a musician. That’s the eventual goal. I don’t want to be labeled. We’re humans and we’re all humans.
You also do a lot for human trafficking. Can you talk a bit about your involvement?
I started working in anti-human trafficking in 2006. I considered myself very educated, and well-traveled, I watched the news and in 2006, when I flew to Cambodia, I learned about child prostitution and trafficking, and slavery. I was just so appalled that I had never heard of it before so I decided that I would come back to New York and start these small little groups of events raising awareness. Luckily now, the awareness campaign is not as necessary, because people are very aware of human trafficking. Now, I focus primarily on prevention. I do prevention through music education and I partnered with the United Nations.
Is it ever too late to learn an instrument?
Learning an instrument is one of the top three ways to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. Diet, exercise, and learning an instrument. It’s like push-ups. It’s an exercise for your brain. I get so sad when people come up to me and they’re like, ‘I wish I never quit.’ And I’m like, ‘It’s never too late to start.’ That’s like saying, ‘I’m not going to exercise because I don’t want to become a professional athlete.’ It makes no sense to me. It’s an exercise for your brain. You can start anytime