When Chelsea Collins hit a stressful patch in her life, the singer-songwriter went to an unorthodox place to vent her feelings in song: the imagined headspace of her musical idol.
“I was going through a lot,” Collins said. “I had some really shady friends and some opportunities had fallen through.”
After a particularly tough day, Collins went to her musical collaborator and co-writer and let it all out.
“We weren’t even writing at first; I was literally just venting,” Collins said.
To find a little calm, as well as some inspiration, Collins channeled one of her favorite artists in Britney Spears. Collins said she watched Spears’ music videos and paparazzi videos—anything to relax and use as a diversion from the outside stress she was feeling.
“You can’t create music sometimes when you’re just in a weird space,” Collins said. “You have to do things that make you happy.”
After going down the Britney rabbit hole, Collins looked to channel that stressed-out, volatile energy that Spears experienced in the mid ’00s and turn it into something positive.
“Just watching the videos of her at Starbucks; she just had so much attention. That’s where the [lyric] ‘All eyes on me like ’07 Britney’ was born,” Collins said. “But also, I feel like a lot of the time out here [in Los Angeles] you can get discouraged and not really want to go after your dreams.”
Collins said Spears is her embodiment of overcoming challenges to find acceptance in a chaotic world.
“It was a very weird day,” Collins said of her writing session. “I feel like she subconsciously was in my heart that day.”
The song’s video taps into the Britney energy with a number of visual references of various points in Spears’ career, but also showcases Chelsea Collins’ bouncy personality. Collins recalled filming just days before the state went into COVID-19-caused lockdown. She said that the unusual emptiness added to the mood.
“It felt very apocalyptic at that point, when everyone was mass-buying the toilet paper and staying inside, even before the lockdown started; that was the scariest part,” she said.
Collins called on her creative director, and they immediately went to work because of the time crunch to get the video filmed before shelter-in-place orders went into effect.
“I just brought, literally, suitcases of clothes to my creative director’s house and we just picked out some outfits,” Collins said. “We … ended up having like a day to get the rest done.”
The pressure to work quickly made Collins and her team work better, knowing they had to get everything right without multiple reshoots. Collins said the empty streets visually helped drive home the message.
“I feel like Hollywood is such a really busy city with so many people, but it can still feel pretty empty, and that’s really what this song is about, so it all kind of made sense in the end,” she said.
Collins said she reminds herself that being a star in L.A. is a process of trial and error, and to not get too down if an opportunity doesn’t come together. And while she likes the opportunities to interact with so many creative people in Southern California, the lifestyle also goes against her nature.
“I wouldn’t say I’m antisocial, but I just like minding my own business a little more,” Collins said. “L.A. is very social—go to the parties, go to the beaches—and I’m just, like, ‘I want to stay home!'”
On top of playing several instruments, Collins also produces much of her music. She said it was a passion that was born from her songwriting at a young age.
“When I was younger and didn’t produce, it was harder to execute what I wanted surrounding the writing, and a lot of times you would have to wait months for production to be done on a song, so there’s no better option than to just teach yourself and be able to execute it,” she said.
Writing and producing is in part what has kept her sane through the months of extended quarantine days. She hasn’t let the quarantine leave her with idle time.
“I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have production,” Collins said with a laugh. “There’s a lot of stuff that you start that you never finish, and this has allowed me to go back and rework some things and not let things get lost. … “Sometimes you’ll hear a song you did even two years ago and remember that you loved it and wonder why you never finished it. You hear so many stories of songs that have broken through and gone top 10 that people originally shit on and said were terrible.”
Like many artists, Collins has dug into live-streaming throughout the lockdown, connecting with fans in different ways. She’s even had there time to respond to some online to show her gratitude.
“I love my bathtub; I just want to do a whole series of me singing all my songs in my tub with my guitar,” Collins said. “It has a really dope view, so I think it’s going to be fun series.”
Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.