Stand Out Stories: In Conversation With Chelcee Grimes

Stand Out Stories: In Conversation With Chelcee Grimes

Is there anything Chelcee Grimes can’t do? The songwriter turned singer turned footballer joins us to tell her stand out story in collaboration with Love Moschino.

Why do you think it’s important to have so many tools on your belt and why do you love it?

For me, I just think we’re seeing a new generation of women now. We can do so many things. I think the old mindset of just having to do one thing and be really good at it is so outdated. I do what makes me feel good. If one day I want to write a song, I’ll write a song. If I want to do a TV show or a radio show, I’ll do just that. That’s how I feel fulfilled.

Who was your most influential figure growing up?

Ian Rush and everyone at Soccer School. That’s where I got scouted for Liverpool. I turned up for my trial and it was the first time I felt like I truly fit in. Before that, I was the only girl on the school team. So, turning up to the training ground and seeing a sea of girls with the same passion as myself was just amazing.

How do you go from playing football with your grandad to rubbing shoulders with the likes of Dua Lipa?

I was at Tranmere Centre for Excellence along with most of the girls that make up the England squad now. People like Alex Greenwood, Fara Williams. I realised at the age of 15 or 16 that there wasn’t really much money in football. So, I figured it would be a great idea to go and start at the very bottom of the music industry instead! [laughs]

I took music at GCSE and I absolutely fell in love with it. I learned to play the piano through YouTube and before long I was performing. Word caught on and my music started resonating with people. I was being approached by kids who had my lyrics tattooed on their arms despite the songs not having any big releases yet. I became aware that things were really catching on and gaining momentum, so I got a manager. He started sending out demos and that took things up a notch. By the time I turned 18, I was signed to Sony.

Where did you get your self-belief?

Watching Liverpool in the 2005 Champions League was the most important thing I’ve ever seen. That was the moment when I started to believe that anything was possible. I remember crying at half time because we were three-nil down. It was the first time I’d ever seen Liverpool get absolutely battered. But before I knew it, we’d turned it around in the second half. It was magic for me, and I carry that magic with me now. That belief. Whenever the chips are down, I just think to myself ‘it’s only half time, anything can happen’.

What was it like coming up in the music industry at such a young age?

It’s a weird situation, to be just 18 and to be hustling and selling your own tickets one minute and being signed by a major record company the next. To suddenly find yourself in a boardroom with 15 guys in suits telling you that if you want a disc on the wall like Britney or Beyoncé then you have to go about things a certain way. Or to be put in a room with someone you’ve never met before, someone who has the biggest hit on the radio right now, and to not immediately gel with them. They might want to take things in a different direction to the way you would have done things yourself. It’s a lot of pressure. And coming from a working-class background can make that pressure feel all the more daunting. But I’ve learned that if I believe in myself then things tend to work out for the best.

Did your football experiences help with your music career?

Being a ten-year-old and being the only girl in a boys’ team means you have to make the most of every shot you get. You really have to drive the point home. It’s not always nice but it does give you a thick skin. It’s meant I’ve been more prepared for any negativity or any trolling I’ve received as my music career has developed. It’s all water off a duck’s back. I was always the underdog. I thrive on that.

How did you deal with coming back?

Looking back, it was a terrible time. But it was absolutely the best thing for me because it pushed me into becoming a songwriter. I got a publishing deal with Pete McCamley, a bit of a veteran on the scene – he signed the Spice Girls. He told me he’d listened to all 300 of my songs and thought there were two or three hits in there. He offered me a deal. I wasn’t great but it was the only thing on the table so I grabbed it. Within a week he’s put me in a session and I wrote my first song for Kyle Minogue.

I never thought I’d be a songwriter. I always wanted to be on screen. But it taught me the value of patience. Pete used to use a lot of football analogies with me to get the point across. He’d say ‘You’re on the youth team again; you’ve just got to get on the bench and earn respect and your time will come’. So yeah, it’s something I didn’t expect to be doing. But I’ll write songs forever now! I love it.

Is football a meditation for you?

Absolutely. It’s sheer clarity. All I have to do is concentrate on getting that ball in the back of the net. Simple. It’s honestly been the best thing for my mental health over the years.

How inclusive do you find women’s football as a whole?

Everyone is there for a good time. Even the players are so happy to sign autographs at the end of a game. It’s a totally different experience. Even families go. Entire families. It’s just a different vibe, and I do think that’s where the women’s game truly does excel, in its exclusivity.

How inclusive do you find the music industry to be for the LGBTQ+ community?

Very inclusive. The likes of Lady Gaga have taken tremendous steps in terms of LGBTQ+ representation. It’s amazing to see how far things have come. Pop music used to appeal to a particular demographic, it spoke of and to particular people. Now it’s much more open and representative.

How do you keep your head screwed on after so much success?

Good family, great mates. They never let me get too big for my boots. If I ever tried giving it beans, they’d put me right in my place. My success has been such a roller coaster, such a hustle. I appreciate it all because none of it came easy. I was always chomping at the bit as a kid, waiting for someone to slack off so I could take their place. I know there’s a long line of kids with the same fire in their belly just waiting to do the same to me if I miss a beat. That keeps me humble. That keeps me hungry.

Shop the edit with Love Moschino here and watch the full  interview edit across on our YouTube channel.

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