The Chloes are no strangers to Oklahoma. The Dallas-based quartet recorded much of their debut LP, Vanish, at Bell Labs Recording in Norman, and have made numerous trips up Interstate 35 for live shows in the metro, including a spot at last spring’s Norman Music Festival.
The all-woman indie pop-rockers will rekindle their fledgling Sooner State love affair Saturday at Kamp’s to celebrate Vanish’s release, but it’ll also be a different type of homecoming, as guitarist/vocalist April Wenzel and keyboardist Lysandra Chapman have familial roots planted here. The mere thought of a return elicits positive thoughts.
“Oklahoma people: You stay friends with them forever,” Wenzel said. “They’re just warm, warm people. So we never lost those connections.”
One significant connection, Bell Labs’ Trent Bell, proved especially influential. The producer helmed what was an edifying recording experience for the group — one able to capture its shimmering, guitar-laden sound on which The Chloes have built their reputation, albeit mostly in a live setting.
That said, the process wasn’t free of challenges.
“Laying down your tracks in the studio is a different animal,” Wenzel said. “On one hand, you have the luxury of layering a bunch of different sounds — things that you can’t do live — and getting more out of your sound. However, I think you really lose that power and that magic of blasting live onstage.”
Makes sense, as The Chloes have an engaging and commanding stage presence. Wenzel’s voice soars, the guitars and keys often drift even higher. But, as is the case with any all-female band, the inherent pressure to look good lingers.
“We definitely feel the pressure to look good visually onstage,” Wenzel said. “But I think male performers have that same challenge. I think we’re right in the same boat.”
However, she believes the band’s gender-driven identity can and does work to their advantage. Girl groups are often seen as a novelty, yes, but if that’s what lends someone’s ear to The Chloes, they couldn’t be happier.
What the listener will find are four immensely talented musicians — sassy, fun-loving maidens who put on a show most dudes would envy. In this male-dominant industry — one in which appearance and sexuality can, alas, have a hand in success — The Chloes remain steadfast in their approach.
“To be honest, the biggest challenge is within the musician’s heart,” Wenzel said. “Because a lot of being successful, from what I’ve seen, is your level of confidence. And I think not having very many historical influences who are female tends to get a girl down. Where’s our female Jimi Hendrix? Where’s our history? Where’s our page in Mojo magazine?”
On the cusp of 2013, opportunity and exposure are more attainable than ever, regardless of gender. With the rise of social media and DIY rebirth, a girl who once emulated Liz Phair riffs in her bedroom has more access and motivation than ever before.
The Chloes know this. They’re living proof.