Discovery: Lorine Chia

Published October 30, 2013

ABOVE: LORINE CHIA.

Lorine Chia had a false start: earlier this year she was credited as appearing on Kayne West’s album, Yeezus. The voice marked as Chia belonged to Nina Simone. Chia, however, is undeterred. This week, the 20-year-old R&B singer released her album Naked Truths. While she has yet to work with Kanye, she has collaborated with other hip-hop class of 2013 favorites such as Chance the Rapper, and has dreams of collaborations with King Krule (“he’s amazing”), James Blake, and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. What would a Chia/Vernon album sound like? “Just a bunch of awesomeness.”

AGE: 20. I know. I’m a baby.

HOME COUNTRY: Cameroon. I’m from the English-speaking part.

CURRENT LOCATION: Cleveland, Ohio. There are a lot of talented musicians in Cleveland, but there are not too many opportunities out here. I guess the best part about Cleveland is you have time to perfect your craft. You really have time to sit there and do it and then you can go outside of Cleveland and make it happen.

STYLE OF MUSIC: My style of music is a little bit of everything, really. It’s just me. I guess it’s like hip-hop and R&B and alternative and acid jazz… everything. I listen to other people’s songs and get inspired. I listen to Drake a lot, Travis Scott, James Blake, Amy Winehouse.

MY SONGS…: Are moments in time. I wrote a lot of songs when I was depressed; I wrote a lot of songs when I was happy. I feel like they all continue to represent me because if I thought it, it’s going to be a part of me forever.

THE BIG MOVE: I moved to America when I was six. I used to live in Baltimore. Then I moved to Cleveland when I was 13. Do I remember living in Cameroon? Absolutely. I remember a lot of things. My daily life, all that.  I really want to go back soon—due to passport issues and stuff like that, I can’t go yet. I feel like I’m going to move there when I’m in my late 20s. It’s very different coming to a whole new country and seeing a whole new culture and environment and seeing snow for the first time, that’s crazy.

MUSICAL HISTORY: My dad is actually a musician. He plays the guitar extremely well. He was my first motivation: he would sit there and just freestyle and play the guitar and I’d be like, Yo, I’ve got to learn how to do that. He didn’t even teach me; I had to learn myself. I think it’s because he learned himself, so he pretty much figured I’d learn myself. And it was a good way to do it, because I actually did try and I learned and now I’m writing songs and I’m doing it.

SCHOOL CONCERTS: The first song I learned to play was “Give Love a Try by The Jonas Brothers. I performed it in front of my school’s poetry slam in 10th grade. It was great. They loved it. My teacher was like, “Lorine, I didn’t even know you could sing like that.” I was like, Hmmmm, maybe I should really get into singing and playing this guitar. I’ve been singing my whole life. I’ve always been in choir and band and stuff like that, but it was just a school thing. I just thought, I sing in school choir, who cares? I guess at that age and that time I was like, yeah, maybe this is actually serious and I should start writing songs and stuff.

COLLEGE DROPOUT: I tried college for a semester. I didn’t get to go back because I couldn’t afford it. I came back home, super depressed because I didn’t get to go back to school and I was sitting there, really going to the studio every day and making songs. As soon as I finished my first album, I figured, this is the rest of my life.

JESUS, YEEZUS: Everyone thought I was Nina Simone onBlood on the Leaves.” I think that’s pretty dope. I sound like Nina Simone, I guess. [laughs] One day I was online and I saw this track list of Yeezus and I was like, “Wait, why am I on this tracklist? And who knows me to be putting me on this tracklist?”  I’m here thinking, “Oh my god, Kanye West just used my voice out of nowhere!” To find out it was Nina Simone. I thought he was just being Kanye, all secretive and pay-you-after and all that. But no, it wasn’t even me. [laughs]

A lot of people actually were saying, “Congratulations! You finally made it, you’re famous!” I’m like, “I’m not on Yeezus, guys.” People still hit me up and say, “Congrats on the Yeezus album.” I’m just like, “You know what, thanks. Thank you.” [laughs]

KANYE, A FRIENDSHIP YET TO BLOSSOM: I tried [to befriend him], but he doesn’t hit anyone back up on Twitter. I tried several tweets. I was like, “Yo, Kanye, tell me if I’m on this album or not.” Like, all these other things. Just putting links to the tracklist and stuff, and no response. No response at all.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: I braid hair on the side. I like to make people look pretty. I hang out with friends, I shop, I like to take pictures.

STYLE ICON: M.I.A. She is everything.

SUCCESS IS…: Really just your happiness. If you’re happy, then I think you’ve achieved some type of success because that’s what we all look for in this world, happiness, right?

NAKED TRUTHS IS AVAILABLE NOW VIA iTUNES. FOR MORE ON LORINE CHIA, VISIT HER WEBSITE.