Chelsea Cutler Breaks Down Her Vulnerable Debut Album 'How to Be Human': Exclusive

Chelsea Cutler
Meredith Truax

Chelsea Cutler

Since Chelsea Cutler dropped her first single "Anything For You" in 2015, the pop singer has built a loyal fan base, particularly by giving them plenty of music: three EPs, a Kygo collaboration, and a duet album with her friend Jeremy Zucker. But her latest release may be her most meaningful yet, as How to Be Human, out today (Jan. 17), is her debut album.

How to Be Human is Cutler's first solo project since signing to Republic Records last year, and got its name from the song of the same title, which resulted from a difficult time in 22-year-old's life. But don't worry, the title track -- and most of the 15-track LP -- stay true to Cutler's bouncy, dance-inspired sound, while also maintaining her super vulernable lyricism.

To celebrate the album's release, Cutler reveals where and how she wrote some of the tracks on How to Be Human, as well as which songs were the first and last she wrote for it. The Connecticut-born singer also reveals which track she feels isn't just the most powerful on How to Be Human, but the most powerful in her entire catalog so far.

As you dive into How to Be Human, let Cutler give you a deeper look into all 15 tracks below.

“Sad Tonight”
“Sad Tonight” is the anthemic heartbreak song. I kind of refer to it as the anti-pop pop song. There are so many songs about going out with your friends and partying to get over somebody, so this song is about staying in and indulging in your sadness during a break-up. I'm super excited about this song because I feel like it’s the best representation of my sound in a pop format, and I'm proud to call it the lead single off the album.

“Strangers Again”
I wrote “Strangers Again” in my bedroom about the concept of how it's crazy you can be so close with a person, and then revert back to being complete strangers with that same person. I had a lot of fun writing this one because it has more of a bouncy vibe – so I love that it’s different than a lot of other stuff on the album.

“What Would It Take”
I think this was the first song I wrote for the whole album. I wrote it on vocals and piano in my parents living room. It took me a couple tries to get the production right, but I’m so proud of how it finally came together.

“I Was In Heaven”
“I Was In Heaven” is a really cool song on the record because we kept all the original demo stems for it. The vocals in the song are the original demo vocals I recorded in my bedroom. It captures a lot of raw emotions that I didn't think I would be able to replicate if I re-recorded in a studio. The song is really a frozen moment in time filled with a lot of honesty and raw emotion.

“Are You Listening"
“Are You Listening” is one of my favorite songs on the record because I feel like vocally it’s super rhythmic and fun. I wrote it with my talented friends Jonah Shai and Scott Harris. We were trying to write something that captured my experiences moving to New York, being independent, and being lonely. 

“NJ” is definitely the most powerful song I have ever written. I am amazed with myself at how honest and vulnerable I pushed myself to be when I was writing it. It means a lot to me.  

"Somebody Else Will Get Your Eyes”
I wrote “Somebody Else Will Get Your Eyes” with my good friend Andy Seltzer. It's a super emotive, honest track. The melodies are some of my favorite to sing, so I think it's going to be really fun to play live. 

"You Are Losing Me”
I wrote “You Are Losing Me” on the tour bus when I was on tour last spring. The bus was broken down, and we were in an abandoned junk yard. Instrumentally it's my favorite on the record, I just think it's such a feel-good, fun song. 

“I Miss You”
“I Miss You” really stands out to me because of the outro – I felt like I got to really express my artistry with this one. I feel like the big moments of the song are these giant watercolor moments that wash over the listener, so I love that. 

"The Human Condition”
It’s crazy how I wrote “The Human Condition”: I woke up in the middle of the night at 2 a.m. with the idea for the song, and I wrote it all literally at 2:00 a.m. that night and went back to sleep. I produced it all out and recorded everything the next day. It was definitely a unique experience for me.

“Lucky (w/ Alexander23)”
I wrote “Lucky” a little over a year ago. It’s about being in love because that’s obviously a super important facet of being human. The rumors are true – I did indeed lie and tell my manager I wrote it about my dog, because I didn't want to tell him I was in love.

“I Should Let You Go”
I wrote “I Should Let You” in October 2018, so I wrote it mad long ago, and I've been sitting on it for a while. I'm so excited the world is finally going to hear it, and I think it shows more of an alternative side of my writing and production.

"How To Be Human”
I remember coming up with the phrase “how to be human.” I was in my hotel room on tour, and I just kept saying to myself, “I don’t know how to be a person.” I was going through a difficult time, and I was genuinely asking myself how does this whole human thing work. This is what gave birth to the song and gave the entire project a comprehensive theme.

"New Recordings 28 – Lions”
I wrote this as a voice memo, and I loved the rawness of that, so I decided to keep it in its original voice memo format. It gives a good insight into the writing process for me, since I start recording ideas with my guitar and an iPhone. Again, it’s another track on the record that captures a specific magic moment.

“Crazier Things”
“Crazier Things” is the last song I wrote for the album. I actually wrote it the night before the album was due. We had to rush to the studio to record it all and get it mixed and ready to go, so that was crazy, but I’m glad that it made the record because I think it’s beautiful and a great way to end the project.