Stars Under Contract is the new solo album by Chloe Alison Escott, renowned as the frontwoman for Hobart, Tasmania’s cult post-punk duo the Native Cats. Today Chloe releases the first single I Know the Soul By Its Presence in Others, with a video directed by Izzy Almaz.
About the video, Chloe says “Izzy Almaz and I shot this video around Hobart a month and a half ago. The idea was to complicate the meaning of the song and offset its downer vibes a little, using the clip Lana Del Rey directed for ‘Video Games’ way back when as a reference point. Friends have since told me the song doesn’t have downer vibes at all; it’s such a relief to finally misunderstand my own songwriting this way.”
Stepping away from the propulsive bass rhythms and sharp declaimed vocals of the Native Cats, Chloe delivers a starkly arresting album of solo piano and reflective songwriting. Stars Under Contract was recorded start to finish in one day in February. It places more focus than ever before on Chloe’s imaginative, incisive, and often dryly amusing lyrics.
Chloe says – “The concept of Stars Under Contract is that I’ve had an eight-album career fronting a band – not the Native Cats, but a different, imaginary band, let’s say a six-piece with a regular string section – and now I’m revisiting this nonexistent band’s best songs solo, renewed and more confident than ever, surrounded by ghosts and shadows. I wanted it to be like John Cale’s Fragments of a Rainy Season, except that the haunted, spacious piano versions are the only versions. These songs are questions of transformation and shame and self-acceptance over a long, lonely night.”
Since the late 2000s, the Native Cats have cultivated pockets of fervent followers around the world, releasing four albums and a swathe of singles on labels from Tasmania to Boston. They’ve had praise from NPR, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan and many more.
Stars Under Contract was recorded and mixed by Evelyn Ida Morris (formerly of Chapter artists Pikelet) and mastered by Becki Whitton.
“Escott lays her life on the line in abstract, but extremely personal lyrics” – NPR
“Juxtaposes sincere expression with sparse, anxious instrumentation” – i-D
Stars Under Contract is out 16 October 2020 on cassette and digital.