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#LetTheGirlsPlay: Chloe Gilligan Working to Escape an Island

Chloe-Gilligan
Katie Williams

Will the real Chloe Gilligan please stand up? In a world of “first comes fame, then comes music,” the 21-year-old from just outside Atlanta is both thriving and struggling.

Google her. Her Soundcloud bio and Twitter link come first, but after that it’s two pages of impostors. Is she Chloe Gilligan, Etsy owner specializing in ink and watercolor? Definitely not. Freshman tuba major at the University of Kansas? Mediocre soccer player at University of California Santa Cruz?

“I did play soccer from the age of four to 12, so … it could be me?” she says, laughing at who else comes up on the search engine. Granddaughter to M. Fay Gilligan in Junction City, Ohio? Nope, which is good because Ms. M. Fay is dead. “Chloe Gilligan” shows up in an online obituary.

Chloe-Gilligan-Let the Girls Play
Madi Clark

With graduation from Belmont University on the horizon, country music’s Chloe Gilligan is working hard toward her future. She’s careful not to jinx it, but a publishing deal could come as soon as August. New music (the Post-Summer EP) arrived last fall, but she continues to write and record songs like “Jade” and “Blow Your Cover.” To find fans and expand her influence she tirelessly posts to social media and feeds the need for visual content. Many of her songs are attached to original music videos on YouTube. July’s #LetTheGirlsPlay artist of the month is nothing if not a 360 thinker.

“(With) social media, you see people really spike up and it’s so discouraging sometimes,” she tells us after a Song Suffragettes show earlier this month. “Like, how? I wanna know how they did that.”

“It’s so overwhelming because you feel like you’re getting behind a lot. But in the same sense that randomly happens to so many people you could be one of those people.

Zero-to-famous stories are rare and often fleeting, and Gilligan appreciates that her one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach will lead to more long-lasting success as an artist or writer. Right now she’s pursuing both opportunities and you need only a single song to understand why. On stage she’s a charismatic storyteller with an infectious laugh. Then she’ll giggle her way into a heartbreaking pop-folk song. “Jade” is about a friend who after two years admitted he’d long been crushing on her. “Blow Your Cover” is about the night she met him at a bar and quickly learned his new girlfriend had no idea who she was.

“I won’t blow your cover / I know you don’t love her / Cause by now you would have told her about me,” she sings at the chorus.

It’s complicated.

Watch Chloe Gilligan Sing “Blow Your Cover”

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Like her No. 1 influence, most of Gilligan’s songs are true to life. “Sometimes too much I think, but yeah, they’re definitely real stories,” she says, again laughing and smiling. Lyrics to “Blow Your Cover” were written in realtime, as she was watching this new girlfriend party with her former good friend-turned-almost-boyfriend. The chorus and hip-hop beat came during a Nashville co-write, but few truths were omitted in the name of art.

“If you listen to most of my songs there’s one thing that ties them all together, which is probably bad,” she jokes, noting that she’s only dated a few guys through high school and college. Some may say she needs to be less specific to be accessible, but she rejects that theory on the grounds of another of her influences.

“Like Ed Sheeran for example,” Gilligan says. “There’s some songs you just totally can’t relate to at all but there’s two lines in it where you’re like ‘Oh, I relate to that.'”

Colbie Caillat is another artist she’s compared to, partially because of the tone and patter of her vocals. But she’s still a work in progress, and there are more stories to be written.

Next: Meet Lainey Wilson, May's LTGP Artist

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