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September 05, 2017

KLOE

Sequestered away in a north London cafe among a maze of recording studios, 20-year-old Chloe Latimer, AKA Glasgow-born, dark-pop practitioner Kloe, is struggling to focus. A very serious-looking man with a laptop a couple of tables down keeps eye-rolling in her direction and it’s throwing her off her game. To be fair to him, a quiet cafe isn’t Kloe’s natural environment: her sweary outbursts mix loudly with the sort of unvarnished opinions pop stars aren’t meant to give these days.

Asked if she’s annoyed that the nuanced pop of her debut EP Teenage Craze, or the fizzing follow-up singles UDSM and Liability, failed to earn her a spot on the BBC Sound of 2017 longlist, she gives the kind of answer her label Columbia might not want for the press release. “I couldn’t give two fucks, honestly,” she says, a mischievous grin on her face. “I’m not going to rush my music out to get on a fucking poll and wank off Radio 1 for a bit.”

Bored senseless by school (“I didn’t like being patronised”), Kloe studied her musical heroes, mixing an early love for Taylor Swift with her dad’s recommendations of Joni Mitchell and Bowie. “I’d sit with all their lyrics and chords and just study them. I think songwriting is so fascinating.” An early acoustic singer-songwriter phase led to a Britain’s Got Talent audition at the age of 13 (thankfully, she didn’t get through), while a YouTube channel still exists of her covering her favourite band, the 1975.

Keen to keep her musical exploits secret “at one of the worst schools in Glasgow”, she took on dual roles: “I was like Clydebank’s Hannah Montana – on the weekends I’d drink cider in the park with all the cool kids and then in the week I’d lock myself in the music rooms and write songs.”

As she got older, her musical tastes evolved, taking in intelligent, emotion-led pop music by the likes of Charli XCX and Lorde; the latter she credits with “changing the game and making a new lane for people like me”. In 2015, she landed a record deal and her 2016 debut EP was given a huge lift after the delicate Grip, inspired by a drunken fumble with a band’s frontman at a festival, was played by Zane Lowe. As with all Kloe’s songs, Grip’s magnetism comes from its lyrical honesty. “You know you get revenge porn? Well, I do revenge songs,” she says, before outlining a self-imposed ban on writing any more songs about boys.

With her debut album currently taking shape between London and LA, Kloe is pragmatic about her current position in the pop cosmos. Well, sort of. “I am BeyoncĂ© in my own head – I’ve won five Grammys, I’ve toured the world, played arenas – but no one knows who the fuck I am yet,” she cackles. That’s categorically about to change.