Sir Chloe Is The Cathartic Release Your Ears Are Craving

The band’s lead Dana Foote sheds light on her songwriting influences, Sir Chloe’s debut album I Am The Dog, and how getting stoned makes you a better consumer of music.
Sir Chloe
Photo by Grant Spanier

With a debut album ready to drop and a massive European tour on the horizon, rock and roll band Sir Chloe is ready to make a splash both on and off the stage. The group—which was formed by lead vocalist, songwriter and guitarist Dana Foote in her college dorm room and consists of Foote, Emma Welch, Teddy O’Mara, Palmer Foote, and Austin Holmes—has become known for their electric live performances and is eager to share their music with more of the world. “We have a new tour starting May 18th and we’re really looking forward to the album coming out,” Foote said.

The album—I Am The Dog—is Sir Chloe’s debut record, dropping everywhere May 19th, and is the next evolution of the band’s experience and sound. In a conversation with Foote over Zoom, we explore her journey of experiences—moving from visual arts to music—and the factors and inspirations that have gone into crafting what Sir Chloe is today. Foote sheds insight into her creative process, finding a sound that resonates, and how using cannabis as a tool to feel an experience with music can be replicated on an emotional level through music itself.

High Times: Growing up, did you always know you wanted to pursue music?

Dana Foote: I always enjoyed music and I come from a very musical family. My dad was a guitar player, my uncle is a composer and my brother [Palmer Foote] is a drummer who actually plays in my band now.

I was more into visual art as a kid—very into drawing and painting—and was hoping to go in that direction, but I was also in bands in high school. In college, I started Sir Chloe, started studying music my sophomore year, and began pursuing music more aggressively after that.

High Times: What was it about music that swayed you from visual art?

Dana Foote: I think I just felt more touched by music and I also felt music had more of a toolbox. There’s a lot of elements. Even with painting—I painted with oils and acrylics in college—if you were feeling something and wanted to make a painting, you’d have an hour of preparation before you could actually start making marks on the canvas. With music, you could just pick up a guitar and start getting your ideas down. Even something as simple as that made a really big difference to me.

The community around music was also really strong. A really close friend of mine from college—Jack Labbe—who puts out music today under the name Rodeo Doctor—started a club at school called Songwriters Circle, where all the songwriters on campus would get together and show what we had every week. It felt like I’d gone into school thinking about music in kind of a narrow way, but after taking a few classes and learning more about music and sound, I think I had underestimated how broad it actually was and it connected with me a lot more than visual art had been connecting with me.

I think music welcomes collaboration in a unique way and I think it’s one of those things that can be a lot of different things. It can be the center of the room or something that’s going on in the background, but either way, it’s one of those things that you notice when it’s there.

High Times: After pivoting from visual art to music and forming Sir Chloe, was there a moment or experience where you realized music was going to be the thing you pursued full-time?

Dana Foote: I think it was certainly the goal to make [music] a full-time job from the beginning. I loved hanging out with my friends and playing music together. It’s a great feeling and I wanted to do it all the time. Once we started taking it more seriously, our song “Animal” had a moment online in 2019 and we went from complete anonymity—playing totally empty bars—to actually having an audience and people engaging with the music almost overnight. I think that’s when we were considering [music] as something that actually had potential.

High Times: It made a career in music seem more tangible.

Dana Foote: I think having people engage with something in the way that they were engaging with that song really validated what we were doing. We went to college in the middle of nowhere in Vermont, so the shows we were playing in school were just for our friends—we didn’t have a music scene or anything that we were a part of. Suddenly, creating a little bit of an audience around us, it felt like what we were doing had more of a purpose.

High Times: In terms of purpose, where is the creative inspiration for Sir Chloe derived from?

Dana Foote: The stuff from early on was…I remember listening to a lot of Velvet Underground at that time. Honestly, all of that stuff was written almost ten years ago, so it’s hard to remember what exactly went into it. When you’re writing these songs, you’re not thinking, “Seven years from now I’m going to be having a conversation with High Times about this song that I wrote in my dorm room [laughs].”

At the time, I’d been playing by myself for about seven years. It was me and my guitar with sort of stripped, moody, melancholic songs. What I was writing about was changing a lot and I wanted playing music to feel different. A big reason why I got Sir Chloe together was to have a sound that felt more cathartic to perform. I was a little bit hungry after playing with just the guitar and voice—it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. So a lot of the inspiration behind just getting the band together and figuring out that sound was making something that felt good to play live, and I think that’s stayed true throughout our writing process for our upcoming album, I Am The Dog.

We’ve always been a live band and have never played to tracks or anything. We love playing live, we love touring and playing with each other, and a lot of these songs were written with “how are these songs going to feel to play and listen to live” in mind and just creating an enjoyable, cathartic experience.

We’d done a lot of growing up since those songs we’d recorded a while back and we were listening to a lot of different music with this album. I’d gone through a real shoegaze phase when we were first starting the record and was very into the Cocteau Twins—specifically their album Four Calendar Café—Lush, Mojave 3, and even some later Pile albums where they have synths in addition to guitar, which had more texture. What the synthesizer provides with a lot of these sounds is the feeling of being held by the music. Our music was a little more raw before and we wanted to make it sound a bit more lush, have a little bit more dimension, and feel like it wasn’t just a singular experience.

High Times: So widening the scope of what the audience and listeners were experiencing.

Dana Foote: Totally, though originally I think it was selfish. It was, “What do we want to listen to? What do we want to make?” But then ultimately you’re thinking about, “What are the kids going to like?” I think we ended up having a healthy combination of music we wrote for ourselves and music that we wrote specifically with the consumer in mind. It was our first album with a label, so we definitely got a lot of feedback on what types of songs we were “supposed to be” writing, and I think we have a healthy combination of songs that are our babies and songs that are the label’s—or the people’s—babies.

High Times: In what ways is cannabis part of your music creation or day-to-day life?

Dana Foote: I go kind of in and out of imbibing. I think cannabis is one of those unique substances that works on a lot of different fronts. It makes things taste better, it makes flowers prettier, and it makes music sound better—or at least makes people like me a more attentive listener. So I was imbibing with the purpose of listening to music in mind.

I do think it changes perspective on ingesting music because a lot of what it did was show me “this [music] is making me feel like this,” and I wanted to recreate that feeling. More so than a sound or anything, just the way that something makes you feel and really falling in love with the feeling and then trying to recreate that—not sonically or anything—I just want something that makes me feel this way.

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