The three-piece band SHAED consists of the artists Chelsea Lee, Spencer Ernst, and Max Ernst, each of whom provides vocals while the twin brothers lay down production. They released their debut EP, Just Wanna See, on September 8, 2016. Twelve days later, in the at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix, AZ, they sat down to do a quick Q&A sesh before they ran off to LA to continue their tour, on which they open with Vérité for Marian Hill
William Weinstein: First off, when did you get your start musically?
Chelsea Lee: I think we’ve all been doing music all our lives, we grew up within music and having music around, and so we’ve been doing this for a while.
Spencer Ernst: Chelsea started singing Frank Sinatra songs when she was five. We started writing songs for Santa Claus when we were really young, so that’s how we got started.
William:What’s it been like performing with Marian Hill and Vérité?
Chelsea: It’s been really great, we’ve been having a really fun time. This is our first tour, so we’re really excited for the opportunity and it’s been a great group of people.
Max Ernst: It’s also the first time that we’ve been able to see this whole country and it’s just been really beautiful to see different necks of-
Max: Just different, uh-
Chelsea: Terrains, areas.
Max: Terrains, yeah.
William: What’s been your favorite place to play so far?
Max: Honestly, Phoenix was pretty dope.
Chelsea: Yeah, we had a good time in Phoenix.
Max: We got great crowd response here, too. Austin was super fun. Orlando was. I mean, everywhere has been pretty good, though.
William:The crowd seems to really like to dance to your music. Is that what you look for in an audience? Do you like to have that kind of audience response?
Chelsea: We would love for them to dance with us, to get silly with us. We’re all about that for sure.
William:How has this tour, and seeing what you’ve seen so far, how has it shaped the way you perform?
Spencer: I think the more you play every night, the more comfortable you get on stage and the more fun you have, so we’ve just been really blessed to be able to play night after night and develop our show.
William:What does the songwriting process look like for you guys?
Max: It’s really collaborative. We produce all our own stuff so Spence and I will produce a beat and send it to Chelsea and she’ll come up with ideas but probably the most fun thing we’ll do is we’ll set up a microphone in our little makeshift studio and just kinda like dance around it and sing different melodies until something sticks.
William:That sounds like a really fun process. I noticed onstage, you blend the beats and the synths and the vocals really well. How long does it usually take to come out with something like that?
Spencer: Really depends. We played a new song tonight that only took us a couple days to record. Other times we’ll spend like a month or two just really coming back to it and fleshing out the idea. It just really depends.
William:How did the band meet? How did you guys come together?
Max: We all met in high school at a show in DC and we were friends for a long time and then- but we were in different projects when we met, so it wasn’t until a couple years ago that we really were able to start writing a lot together and developing the SHAED sound.
William:Do you have any pre-show or post-show rituals?
Chelsea: Yeah, pre-show they will be in this room and they’ll be kicking – like, high kicks –
Chelsea: Yeah, they love to jump. And be like… (laughing, punching) Getting in the mood.
Spencer: Chelsea does it, too, sometimes.
Chelsea: But it’s really more them.
Spencer: She likes to make fun of us as we do it, so that’s part of her ritual.
Chelsea: We like to try and dance and get ready for the energy that’s gonna be on stage.
William:And I take it there is no footage of this that is ever gonna get released?
Chelsea: No, no, I hope not.
Spencer: We’re not dancers, we’re performers.
Chelsea: They really are not.
William:You mention on your site that you make “colorful music.” What does that mean?
Chelsea:(pointing to Spencer) It’s your turn for this question.
Spencer: We chose the name “SHAED” – I mean, one of the reasons why we picked the name is that we like the concept of different shades of color… “Vibrant” come to mind when we create.
Max: And we like to make vibrant tracks. Then another fun part of our process is once we finish a song, we will find complementary colors for that song and then program it into our light show. So we do that kind of thing, too.
William:Who would you say your influences are as a band?
Chelsea: I think collectively our favorite album is Kid A by Radiohead. That’s our all-time fave. But right now we’re listening to Tame Impala, we always love Sylvan Esso, (and) we’re listening to this new band called Kllo, K-L-L-O, that’s really great. So we’re kind of getting into a bunch of stuff.
Spencer: We listen to all kinds of music.
William:Have y’all ever thought about doing a collaboration with Walk the Moon? Their energy and the whole color thing seems to be a lot like you guys.
Max: (to Chelsea) Didn’t you like that band?
Chelsea: No, no, that was Mansions on the Moon. I don’t know that we’re familiar.
Spencer: Walk the Moon? Come on! You know Walk the Moon. They got that one song-
Spencer + Max:(Sing) Shut up and dance with me!
Chelsea: Oh, shit, yeah!
Max: Yeah, we would love to collaborate with them.
Spencer: Chelsea’s eyes just lit up, like, “wha?!”
Chelsea: Sometimes I’m not good with names. Oh, yeah.
Spencer: Yeah, for sure, that’d be fun.
Chelsea: That’d be awesome.
Spencer: They’re super talented, that’d be dope.
William:Are there any other artists that you would think about collaborating with or maybe even performing with?
Spencer: We’re really into Anderson .Paak right now, and we’ve got a new track that we thought it’d be awesome for him to lay some vocals down on, collaborate.
Max: We’d also like to maybe go on tour with Christina and the Queens.
Chelsea: We have a lot of fantasies, here.
Max: Yeah, a lot of fantasies.
William:What was your favorite song off of the new EP?
Chelsea: I think that we have different favorites, like I really like “Perfume.”
Spencer: I kinda don’t really have a favorite song on the EP, they’re all-
Chelsea: Kinda like babies.
Max: Those are your children.
William:Which one’s the most fun to perform live?
Spencer: I don’t know, I think “Name On It” has been really fun on this tour, but there’s another new one that we’re playing out that isn’t on the record that we’re having a lot of fun with, too.
William:Does it have a tentative name yet? Like something you’re workshopping?
Max: I mean, the chorus is, “Call me crazy,” and people have kinda thrown that around, but… Spencer: We’re not really sure yet.
William:Towards the end we’ve got four to just loosen up a little. You’re on a deserted island. What are the three things you need to have with you?
Chelsea: They’re obsessed with water.
Max: Chelsea would probably make that choice in real life so we’ll let her do it.
Chelsea: Okay, let me see. First, I would need to have The Fifth Element on VHS because I’m obsessed with Bruce Willis and a small TV that I could watch it on-
Spencer: So that’s two things-
Chelsea: And a plug that I could plug the TV into.
Max: That’s all three.
Spencer: I’m a fan of Bruce Willis, too, so that’d be pretty solid.
William:What book are you currently reading?
Chelsea: I’m reading- What book am I reading? I’m reading a book that’s been taking me forever.
Spencer: Do you know the name of it?
Chelsea: I don’t know the name of it. I have it in my bag.
(Max starts searching Chelsea’s bag)
Spencer: Chelsea is bad with names, apparently.
Chelsea: Is it in there?
Chelsea: Aw, maybe not. I had it somewhere.
Max: What else are you reading?
Chelsea: I just recently read…
Max: What was the one that we saw, the pretty, the big liars, in the hospital-
Chelsea: Oh, Little Big Lies?
Spencer: That’s kinda cool.
Max: It’s gonna be on HBO.
Spencer: Not to change the subject, but the name SHAED actually came from a fantasy novel that we all read called Name of the Wind. The spelling of the word “SHAED” is in the book, so that’s where we first saw it.
William: So the book was a common denominator?
Chelsea: Oh, yeah. We’re obsessed with this book and this series, so we saw the spelling there and it felt right.
William:How did that come up? How did you all found out that you all loved the same book?
Chelsea: Well, we needed a book for something and Spencer did countless hours of research. He previewed the book and did this whole thing. And so he read it, then I read it, then Max read it, and then there’s a second book that we all read because we loved it.
Spencer: It’s a great series, check it out.
William: Comfiest item you brought on tour with you?
Chelsea: Oh my God, I brought these socks, these are the fuzziest socks you’ve ever imagined. They’re lotion socks, they’re so good, I don’t even know what is going on-
Max:(laughing) Lotion socks.
Chelsea: Literally, I’m wearing them right now.
Max: They’re just, like, wet all the time, it’s so good.
Chelsea: No, they’re really good!
Chelsea: They’re just the softest thing in the world.
Max: Chelsea has a neck pillow.
Spencer: Her neck pillow, she does not lend that out. It’s thing that goes around your neck and you can sit-
Chelsea: It’s like an airplane pillow.
Spencer: It’s so nice.
Max: We don’t have that, Spencer.
Spencer: I don’t know. Boxers? Pretty comfy.
William: Super important.
Max: Boxers are crucial.
William: The final one. Which would you rather fight: a hundred duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck?
Spencer: A hundred duck-sized horses. I gotta wrap my head around this.
Chelsea: Okay, I would say the hundred tiny horses because they don’t bite. I feel like ducks would nip and if you had a horse-sized duck, that chomper would be deadly.
Spencer: Horse-sized duck, that’d be pretty tough to defeat.
Chelsea: But I mean, you have all of these tiny little horses. I wouldn’t want to fight ‘em, I’d make peace.
Spencer: I think I’d want to see the giant duck before I die.
Chelsea: You wouldn’t want to see the miniature tiny horses?
Spencer: I don’t know, maybe.
Max: We practice a lot of kicking before the show, so we’d probably do better against the little horses.
SHAED live is as much a visual experience as it is an auditory one. Their sound is polished and bright, and the band is lit by constantly pulsing multicolored lights. The young talents perform loosely, getting the crowd to dance along and sing the hooks with ease. Songs like “Perfume” and “The News” bring a jazzy pop feel to a dramatic, high-quality production. The vocals and the backing tracks compliment each other well, and Chelsea’s lyrics get sampled liberally. The young band sounds radio-ready, clean, and colorful. Catch them before they blow up.