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Vocalist Chelsea Lee finds satisfaction in Shaed

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Chelsea Lee and twin brothers Spencer and Max Ernst are Shaed. (Courtesy Shervin Lainez)

It’s taken awhile for Washington, D.C. alt-rock trio Shaed (pronounced “Shade”) to find its identity. Its music is fluid and artfully panoramic, as exemplified by the billowy 2018 hit single “Trampoline,” which recently was licensed by Apple for its MacBook Air campaign. Yet another more pop track, “Name On It,” was commandeered for a Victoria’s Secret commercial. “It definitely has been a journey,” says vocalist Chelsea Lee, who married Shaed co-founder Spencer Ernst in October. They currently reside in one studio-equipped house with Ernst’s twin brother, bandmate Max.

You and the brothers have had one long serpentine path to stardom.

Yeah. I was kind of a loser in high school. I had a couple of friends, but I really wasn’t very popular, and I was a very shy person. But then my dad signed me up for vocal lessons without me knowing it when I was 15, and I just fell in love with singing ever since then.

How did you meet the twins?

We actually met when I was 15, so 15 was a big year for me. The twins were actually playing at the 9:30 Club, which was one of our favorite local venues. So I meet them, and we become best friends right off the bat. We became inseparable after that.

You actually got a solo recording contract with Atlantic?

I was playing a bunch of clubs at 16, and I had a residency at the Rockwood Music Hall in New York. And then I got signed at 18, but I didn’t really love the major label vibe. I was struggling with my own feelings of who I wanted to be and what kind of music I wanted to make. But I did release an album.

But it wasn’t you?

I was always hanging out with Max and Spencer, and we would write together just for fun. And that was such an amazing feeling, because I wasn’t getting the same satisfaction from writing with other people for Atlantic. Then I started seeing Spencer, although we were all still living with our parents then. Then, three and a half years ago, we started working on Shaed.

What was your eureka moment?

It kind of happened over time. The twins were writing Americana music for their band The Walking Sticks. But then I came in, and I’ve always had a much bigger vocal, so the Americana thing wasn’t working. But then we found an old Casio keyboard at a yard sale, and we started writing on that. So just writing our first EP “Just Wanna See” was our a-ha moment. It was so much fun.

IF YOU GO
Shaed
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. March 15
Tickets: $15 to $17
Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.eventbrite.com

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