NME Radar: Breakout

Chloe Moriondo: Gen Z pop-punk hero on her ‘Jennifer’s Body’-inspired cannibal anthem

The Michigan native introduces her grisly new era with new single 'I Eat Boys'

Each week in Breakout, we talk to the emerging stars blowing up right now – whether it be a huge viral moment, killer new track or an eye-popping video – these are the rising artists certain to dominate the near future

Chloe Moriondo’s latest single, ‘I Eat Boys’, is a cannibalistic fantasy. Inspired by late ‘00s cult-classic Jennifer’s Body – a comedy horror flick starring Megan Fox as a possessed high schooler who kills and eats her male classmates – the pop-punk takes us on a trip into 18-year-old Moriondo’s vibrant imagination.

“Don’t look at me like that, eyes on the pavement” she starts, depicting an anxious reaction to on-the-street harassment over breezy acoustic guitar line. But she twists the narrative and warns: “Hands off, kid, or you’ll wake up in my basement/and all of the feds have to break in”. A gnarly carnivorous daydream soon follows.

Inspired by British YouTubers like dodie, Moriondo began posting stripped-back covers on YouTube when she was 13 and built up a huge following with ukulele renditions of everything from Panic! At The Disco’s ‘Death of a Bachelor’ to Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ – her account now sits at a tasty three million subscribers.

Moriondo released her lo-fi debut album ‘Rabbit Hearted’ in 2018 but now readies her first “big kid album”, from which ‘I Eat Boys’ is taken. On ‘Blood Bunny’, an effervescent collection of Paramore and Avril Lavigne inspired alt-pop songs, she swaps the warm acoustic aesthetic of her debut for full-band, pop-punk belters.

Ahead of its release, we caught up with Chloe, who Zooms in from her bedroom in Michigan, to talk growing up online, moving on from her established lo-fi sound, and her upcoming record.

Hey Chloe! What inspired your new song ‘I Eat Boys’?

“My first inspiration was the movie Jennifer’s Body because that’s what the whole concept was born from. I wanted to write a song about hating annoying teenage boys and guys all over the world who suck and are disgusting and terrible. I wanted to write about eating them, so I did in the form of a Jennifer’s Body tribute.”

Jennifer’s Body has become a bit of a cult classic…

“I’ve been told that it didn’t do well at all when it first came out; but now, all these girls and kids everywhere are so into this concept because it’s sick as hell. It’s early ‘00s, a hot-girl cheerleader killing boys. It’s great!”

Who else has influences your upcoming debut album, ‘Blood Bunny’?

“I feel like I could say a million different people because I listened to so many different people in 2020, and there was so much good new music and so much old music that I was listening to again. I would probably say that my inspirations for that album would be Avril Lavigne and Hayley Williams. They are my two icons. I want to be just like them when I grow up!”

The song ‘Favorite Band’ is about your love for Paramore and includes lyrics like ‘And Hayley, just gets me/the way you never did’. Are you nervous that Hayley Williams could hear that song?

“I would die probably if she heard anything that I did. It would be cool. That would be such a starstruck little moment for me if she ever even knew who I was or listened to my stuff at all. I definitely would be nervous because I’m always nervous and insecure about showing my new stuff to people I admire.”

There are bands that have made songs that I have basically grown up to and now some of those bands follow me back on Instagram. I’ll DM someone on Twitter and they’ll answer me and I’ll be like “Woah!” It’s so surprising to me that there are so many cool people in music that I’ve admired for so long that now I consider friends or acquaintances.”

Who are some of those people?

“The first person who I was a fan of who I then became friends with, who is one of my closest friends in music now, is Robin from Cavetown. I had just heard his stuff and I started doing covers of his music on YouTube, and we did a collab together. It felt like that was the start of everything for me.

“I remember as I started growing on YouTube, I did a bunch of dodie covers, because I was obsessed with her growing up on the internet and seeing all these cover artists and musicians. Now, I’ve been backstage at one of her shows and hung out with her and got to talk to her and see what it was like to make music like hers! Seeing dodie and lots of British YouTubers with ukuleles inspired me to write my own stuff.”

You got really, really big on YouTube. How did your friends at school react?

“It was weird; but not as sudden and crazy as people would expect it to have been. I went to a pretty big high school and things started picking up for me right at the beginning of being in said high school. I kept my circle pretty close during the entirety of school in general. Whenever anyone would recognise me for my music in school, it was always some new random person I had never seen before. They’re like ‘hey don’t you do…?’ and I’m like ‘oh yeah!’ and then we walk away and go to class. That was it. It wasn’t as crazy as it could have been and I’m grateful that I had a lot of cool friends who stuck with me through all that.”

Sharing formative memories online can be a bit of a mixed bag. Do you regret it at all?

“I definitely have thoughts like ‘ugh man, maybe this would’ve been a little bit easier for me if I could do this by myself’; but I think everything happened for a reason, and I’m so unbelievably lucky to do exactly what I’ve always wanted to do so early that I can ignore the bad parts of sharing so much of my life, especially now I’ve gotten a lot better at establishing boundaries with the internet and distancing myself in a more healthy way from it.”

The song ‘Really Don’t Care’ a message about people who make unsolicited comments about you – how much of this do you get as someone who has such a presence online?

“I think there are less people who are mean and rude than you would expect, but I feel like it always stands out the most. Growing up, going from 12-18 on the internet and broadcasting important and sensitive parts of my life definitely has come with consequences. There are people who have been watching me since I was a kid, in my opinion, and now, I still am [a kid] but I’m very different. There are a lot of people who are very surprised that I have changed so much in the past six years but honestly, there are so many people who are kind and supportive and who have changed just as much as I have and are awesome, intelligent, cool, creative people so I just try to have the really don’t care attitude about it.”

Your sound has changed over the past few years, going from stripped-back ukulele covers on YouTube to the pop-punk of ‘Blood Bunny’. Why did you switch it up?

“It was definitely a conscious decision. I played ukulele on YouTube and just in general for a long time. It felt like making songs that are more guitar based and are more band sounding was a way to separate myself from ‘YouTube ukulele cover artist Chloe Moriondo’. Obviously, I’m so grateful and I love everyone who has supported me for my covers and the success I’ve gotten through YouTube, but I think I’ve just wanted to explore newer sounds and make heavier stuff than I thought I was able to make.”

Chloe Moriondo’s album ‘Blood Bunny’ is out May 7