by Kaylie Felsberg
photography courtesy of Shervin Lainez
“I was able to start making the music I wanted. Max and Spencer were a huge part of that evolution as well."
The Washington-based electro-pop trio, SHAED, keeps it all in the family—literally. Comprised of twin brothers Max and Spencer Ernst and Chelsea Lee, the trio make songs swelling with infectious pop melodies. They’re the perfect brainchild of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Bishop Briggs, and the rest of the world seems to agree.
The trio’s single “Trampoline” was featured in the MacBook Air ad and then went on to climb to #18 on Alternative Radio. Following this success, SHAED released the EP, Melt, a combination of delightful dance music and pop music. The tracks imbue the feeling of a melting ice cream cone on a hot summer day.
Currently on their first-ever headlining tour, we chatted to frontman Chelsea Lee over email about the band’s history, creative processes and touring.
Q: Music has pretty much been all you’ve known, what was your first experience of it?
Chelsea Lee: We all grew up in very musical households—our parents adore music. Max and Spencer have been playing music together since the beginning. They use to write songs for Santa Clause every year—(I've seen the home videos and they are amazing!). I was a pretty hyper child so my parents would chill me out before bed by popping in some Frank Sinatra. I would dance around the room and sing every word.
Q: Where did the band’s name come from?
CL: We love reading. We share books like a book club. We all read this amazing fantasy series called The King Killer Chronicles—the main character is given a shaed, which is a protective cloak woven by a goddess. It was a perfect fit.
Q: How did the band come together?
CL: I’ve known Max and Spencer since high school. We became best friends very quickly after meeting at a DC venue—Max and Spencer were opening a show at the 930 club, and I instantly fell in love. We've been inseparable since. For a while we messed around with music as friends, but didn't start SHAED until a couple years ago.
Q: Where does the inspiration for your songs come from?
CL: From everything.
Q: What was the first step in writing Melt?
CL: This is the first song we wrote when we moved in together. We started the song on piano, and the melodies/lyrics came.
Q: All of your songs are personal, but the title track, ‘Melt,' feels especially candid and exposed. Can you tell me about writing that one?
CL: That song is about my experience as a solo artist. I was signed to a major label for a while and hadn't fully realized who I wanted to be as an artist, or as a person for that matter. It was a pretty dark time for me and really shaped how I approach the music industry today. Thankfully, I was able to get out of that deal with the help of my family and friends, and I was able to start making the music I wanted. Max and Spencer were a huge part of that evolution as well.
Q: How did you all decide on what kind of sound the band was going to have?
CL: We naturally gravitated towards indie pop. We knew we wanted to make songs that felt genuine and natural for us—balancing big female vocals, harmonies, and smooth productions—this is us.
Q: The band is currently on its first-ever headline tour, what excites you most about performing?
CL: Performing is one of my favorite things. We get to go on stage and take our audience on a journey with us. It's the best.
Q: How do you plan on bringing the songs alive?
CL: By using our tracks, lights and vibes to give the audience an experience.
Q: Speaking of performing live, which festival are you most excited to play this year?
CL: Hmm we haven't played many festivals so we're excited about them all!
Q: Which song, off your album, do you think showcases the band the best?
Watch the music video for “Trampoline” here.