COUCOU CHLOE Is Awake in 'Fever Dream'

COUCOU CHLOE Is Awake in 'Fever Dream'

By Erica CampbellNov 20, 2023

French-born London-based artist COUCOU CHLOE (aka Erika Jane) has zero issue mining inspiration from life, even the parts that feel more like a dream than reality. Her latest project, FEVER DREAMdoes just that, allowing her to express the nuance of existence because as she puts it, “Almost everything I’ve experienced has become material for me to share.”

FEVER DREAM alsodisplays the evolution of COUCOU CHLOE’s production, seeing her lean into a club-driven sound while also utilizing her voice more than in past projects. The collection opens with the distorted, warbling beats of “Drift,” a track that spirals against echoing sirens before landing on the final words, “Let me figure out.” As she tells us, the fidgety opener acts like a bridge to a new sonic era, one marked by free-flowing lyricism, deep connection with listeners and the creative contentment to let the world perceive her as they wish.

Here COUCOU CHLOE talks to PAPER about the inspiration behind FEVER DREAM's creation of energetic and aggressive tracks and how “everything is a question of perception.”

Jumpsuit: Diesel

I read that with FEVER DREAM you wanted to explore time and loss. What was going on with you emotionally in the lead-up to the mixtape that made you want to explore those complex aspects of life?

It’s been intense in a lot of different areas so that question for me seems easy to answer and so complex at the same time. [There were] a range of different experiences that fed me. I wouldn't be able to pinpoint one thing in particular because everything always moves so fast. I'm grateful I captured those experiences instead of letting them slide, but I didn’t express one specific moment. I express all those nuances in different ways through the [mixtape].

You’ve talked about not expecting fans to feel intensely about every song but hoping they feel at home, understood, or anything at all — whether it’s good or bad. Now that FEVER DREAM has been released, do you feel you've achieved that?

I do. I don't really have many occasions to check messages, I’m not on Twitter and I don’t see the reactions. So, this is something I really get to experience live. I started touring the day it was out. It's something I really get to discover and experience live and so far it's been really beautiful.

You’ve said that with FEVER DREAM you wanted to express things more with words than in previous projects. Why did you want to make that shift?

I don't think this is something I would be able to explain with words. I feel like it's been a process. It’s happened in a really natural way. At one point I was like, “Oh, I've got more things to say on that one” instead of what I was doing before which was repeating one sentence. Sometimes I still feel like I just need two sentences and I don’t need to say more, or I’ll surprise myself and be like, “I want to say all of this right now and let it make sense later.” It’s something I started to develop years ago, this concept of automatic writing. I don't try to make it make sense straight away or make it rhyme. I’m just trying to spit how it is. That’s what I find interesting, because with this release I know I’m still going to discover things I’ve written, they’re going to make more sense once I step back even more from them. I get to see how they resonate in me and how it was living in me at the time I expressed it.

Jumpsuit: Diesel, Boots: Shayne Oliver x Ugg

You decided to start launch this project with the lead single “Drift.” What was it about that song that you felt made it a good introduction to this new era of music?

I wrote that song around the same time I wrote my other song “Wizz” which was club-driven. I wanted to come back with a club song because it felt like a bridge. It felt similar to what I’ve done before. I also wanted to have an energetic feel, some of the other tracks are aggressive and dark in the record. So “Drift” seemed like an open door and a nice bridge to what’s to come.

I read “TITN PART 2” was a track that you’d previously released but then decided to share again on this project in its original form. Why made you decide to do that?

I released a track a few months ago with Kelvin Krash called “Thief in the Night” and most of those lyrics were lyrics I wrote for ["TITN PART 2"] but with different vocals. I changed them before I released them on a previous record and I don’t know why but I still had this song in my head and I was ilke “Shit, I want to release it how I wrote it at first” so I took it down from platforms. I just wanted to release the song how it was supposed to be even though I’d already released the lyrics with Krash.

You also talked about experimenting with the perceptions of others in “Fever Dream” saying you could be “goofy or super grotesque.” In what other ways do you play with this project?

Mainly everything is a question of perception. The way you get what you give is mainly perception. It’s a big part of how you take in an experience but you can never really have control over how you’re going to be perceived. For example, what I said about grotesque, using a caricature for the cover instead of showing a picture of me or whatever, even if its physical, I wanted to show how I’m being perceived by someone I don’t know. What type of essence will they perceive from me? Even if it’s not the real thing they will see because they’re not going to capture my full essence. You have a perception of everything and people are going to have them as well and in the end you can play with them. That’s why I called my project FEVER DREAM, because you can get so overwhelmed by perceptions wen you wake up from a fever dream and everything feels so real but at the same time it’s a slightly distorted reality. I’m just trying to question reality.

Coat and jeans: Josh Rogers

I know you’re currently on tour right now. Where are you excited to perform next?

Everywhere really. Honestly, I’m really excited to be playing Bangkok and Tokyo. I’m really looking forward to those places in China because I’ve been twice and it was really intense and amazing and I don’t get to visit those places often. I’m going to play for the European crowd and I can feel myself in that crowd it feels like an encapsulated moment. I look back on those memories and I’m like, “Shit, that was really something,” so I’m really looking foward to those [shows] too.

Are you still focused on FEVER DREAM or are there any new projects you’re working on?

I already have all the next songs lined up. They’re not done yet just drafts that I’m finalizing, but there are already seven tracks I’m working on. It’s been hard to work on tour but as soon as I get some free time and some rest I’m going to finish this.

Coat and jeans: Josh Rogers

Before we go, is there any message you hope people receive from this project?

I'm happy for people to misinterpret what I'm saying. I don’t want to drive the way they’re going to listen to the project. I want people to just listen to it and hear what they want to get from it and make it their own. You don’t need the manual to listen to Coucou Chloe. I don’t want to fully explain the songs I’ve made. I could talk about it in detail but I don’t think it’s necessary. I just make music and let people take what they want from it. I can’t control that and I don’t want to.

Photography: Reece Owen
Styling: Luca Wowczyna
Styling assistant: Mei Cheng
Hair: Chrissy Hutton
Chie Fujimoto