Main Character Energy: Cole Bleu Is Living Her Truth

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Cole Bleu is only in her early 20s but she’s already been on a journey. Life took her from the United States to Liverpool, essentially re-tracing The Beatles steps in reverse. Studying at LIPA, she formed a pop group with one of her best friends, the delightfully named The Get Go.

A full mixtape and some piledriver singles followed, before Cole Bleu realised she needed to step out on her own. Last year’s excellent solo mixtape ‘Delete My Feelings’ saw the singer embrace her unique path, and she opened 2023 with a pair of ambitious singles – anti-Valentine’s ‘Heartbreakers’ and the paean to moving on that was ‘Homewrecker’.

Set to play the Clash stage at the Great Escape this weekend, we dialled in to Cole Bleu’s living room over Zoom. If you London office was beset with rain, that was simply a direct contrast to the light beaming in through her windows – a manifestation of Eurovision hype in her adopted home of Liverpool? Or a sign of her beatific energy?

Guess we’ll find out.

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It looks glorious where you are!

Since it’s been sunny I can actually get things done! Whenever it’s all gloomy in England, and in Liverpool, I just don’t do too much… I can’t get creative! So I’ve been making a lot of music today, which is really nice.

Is Liverpool in the throes of Eurovision-mania?

Oh my gosh it is CRAZY! I didn’t even know what Eurovision was until I moved here… but it’s crazy! Everyone is insane for it. People are huge fans, the whole city is blocked off.

How have you found solo energy as opposed to being part of a group? Is it daunting?

It definitely feels right. But it is also… very scary. When you are making music with someone there is always something to fall back on. But now, I feel as though there’s no safety net. I mean, sometimes I still go to my friends and ask for advice. At the end of the day, it’s cool that it’s just me… and the only person who can catch me if I fall is me!

That’s a Taylor Swift lyric right there.

For real!

There is a bigger project incoming. Did you intend for this to represent all the different sides of your personality?

It definitely feels very pop star energy, and very main character energy. I wanted to tap into this. And take people on a story that would really be mine. I’m excited for people to hear it.

‘Heartbreakers’ was unleashed – aptly – on February 14th.

Now ‘Heartbreakers’ was actually the hardest song to write for the record. Not just lyrically, but musically, too. I had the song, and the drums… and that was it. And it didn’t sit right with the rest of the songs. We knew we had something, and then literally re-made the song in five or six different ways. Looking back, it’s so obvious that this is what it was! It’s THE BREAK UP SONG. It’s very much a personal anthem, and putting it out on Valentine’s Day was just because… that’s sick. It’s a sick statement. I’ve been sitting on that song for two years now, and most of the EP is about a very toxic ex I had back in the States. So that’s why I went with this one as an opening statement.

Do you tend to pull your tracks apart like that?

I do! With this one, it just wasn’t sitting. We did a slow version, we tried a Taylor Swift vibe, a more alternative rock energy. Then we let loose the reins a little bit, and tried sounds without a reference point… and that’s when it came together.

Followed up by ‘Homewrecker’… wait, ‘Heartbreaker’, ‘Homewrecker’ – is this a country music EP?!

I mean (laughs) I listened to a lot of country growing up. Especially T Swift! I like the narrative sense of her songs. The core of what I want to do is be a great storyteller.

Do you spend a lot of time over your lyrics, or is it more instinctual?

This sounds so silly but… I love being really poetic, and descriptive with my lyrics. Showing people a feeling with an image. As if they’re watching a film, or something. I want to be able to see a song.

Has your main character energy been unleashed by this new solo iteration?

Oh 100%. And I think that’s why it’s quite daunting. At the end of the day, it’s encapsulating your own main character. I’m looking to late 90s and early 00s films – like 10 Things I Hate About You. I wanted to encapsulate the main character energy of those films, and bring that to life. Going solo made a difference, though – it made it all authentic.

Well, those films are modern cinematic classics that touch upon hitherto unexplored aspects of the human condition… but they’re also fun. Were you having fun in the studio while making this?

Of course! They’re very heartfelt, And in all those films, there’s always a moment with a sad montage, and the character is really upset… but it comes back up to a party at the end!

The video for ‘Homewrecker’ was shot in your Virginia hometown – how did it feel to do that? Was it a full circle moment?

It was very interesting because that song is very much about my ex… I was in a relationship for three years with this guy, and almost immediately afterwards I started a new relationship with the same guy I’m seeing now. So I feel like I never gave myself time to cope with it. These songs are all coming out now, from that relationship… this is telling me how I felt five years later! Like, it’s strange. ‘Homewrecker’ is definitely the most vulnerable I’ve been in a song. It felt right to drive along the same streets we used to drive on. It was super weird, and very emotional for me… I genuinely didn’t know how to feel. It was a weird closure thing, in a way.

Does music bring you that cathartic feeling generally?

Music is healing for me. My last project – ‘Delete Your Feelings’ – was me figuring out who I am as an artist. And here, it was me going into a new phase with my music. It was definitely a healing journey. It helped me to allow those feelings to come to a close. But it’s also scary, but I’m really vulnerable. I was terrified to put it out… but I’m glad I did!

So, what’s in store for fans at your Great Escape stage? Shooting down evil ex’s with your ray-gun of pop…?

We’ve been working on it for the past few weeks. It’s very main character, pop star energy. I want it to feel like a show and not just a gig. 

I’m expecting horror movie, final scene, the badass girl survives.

Oh you’ll get film quotes! It feels like a film, and that’s what I wanted to do.

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Cole Bleu is playing The Great Escape in Brighton this weekend. Catch her at the Clash stage, SHOOSHH on May 11th.

Words: Robin Murray
Photo Credit: Charlotte Alex