Things melt away, but they can also melt together. Washington D.C.-based electro-pop trio SHAED chose to call their second EP Melt because of this duality—and because it’s the story of their band.
Way before Melt, before finding a house to live and record in, before tours with Bishop Briggs and Marian Hill, and before their critically-acclaimed debut EP Just Wanna See, members (and twin brothers) Spencer and Max Ernst started writing songs with Chelsea Lee, a friend from high school. Combining the brothers’ producing prowess with Chelsea’s expansive vocal range yielded powerful results. In 2016 they formed SHAED, the name a reference to a fictional cloak woven out of shadow.
Their music moves between dark and light, too. On one hand SHAED trades in infectious, deeply danceable electro-pop, cut with glittering synths and the spirit of ‘80s R&B. But Chelsea’s voice—which can swing between ecstatic, Madonna-like highs and growling lows—lends their songs surprising emotional depth. And unexpected instrumental touches—a ghostly whistle in “Trampoline,” orchestral strings at the end of “Melt” (the EP’s glorious title track) —further distinguish their sound from their pop counterparts.
The band has always been uniquely close (Chelsea and Spencer are getting married), but things were taken to a new level when they all moved into a house together last fall. After months of touring the country, pinging between venues and vans and Airbnbs, the group found solace—and creative rebirth—in having a space of their own. This is where the EP truly came together, where their previous lives (day jobs, sharing songs from afar) melted away, and where a new vision of the band formed in its place. “For the first time, we got to wake up every day and make music together,” Spencer says. “It’s changed everything.”
Melt presents a more refined version of SHAED’s work, with pared-down production clearing the way for Chelsea’s vocals. “We wanted the tracks to highlight the power of her voice,” Max says. Alongside guest vocals from snny and production from first-time collaborators Manatee Commune and Alex Mendoza, the EP’s five distinct tracks represent their most ambitious effort yet—and an exciting glimpse at what’s still to come.