20 Questions With Shaed: Creating Their Debut Album & Transcending 'Trampoline'

Jared Zagha


Shaed’s debut album High Dive, out May 14 via Photo Finish, has been a long time coming.

The trio (Chelsea Lee, Max and Spencer Ernst) technically formed in 2011 as The Walking Sticks, and changed their name to Shaed in 2016. A debut EP followed, and in 2018, their breakout hit “Trampoline” took them to new heights.

A MacBook Air ad placement led to unprecedented exposure for Shaed, who went on to tour worldwide both as a headliner and at festivals. Eventually, Zayn hopped on a remix of the track, and “Trampoline” peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 2019.

By early 2020, however, Shaed was feeling the burnout, along with the pressure to be more than one song. The pandemic offered the band a chance to recalibrate. "We finally had a moment to breathe," the alt-pop group's Lee tells Billboard of returning home to Silver Spring, Maryland after roughly five straight years of touring.

The band finally had the time to decompress -- and to write. “This album is a reflection of the ups and downs of this past year,” she adds.

Ahead of the release of Shaed’s album, Lee answered 20 questions for Billboard. "Dive" in below.

1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?

It was an *NYSNC CD that I bought from Tower Records with my allowance.

2. What was the first concert you saw?

Dave Matthews -- I watched a drunk old man pee on the woman's purse in front of me. I was in 4th or 5th grade, and was totally scared.

3. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid?

They were and still are settlement agents for a real estate company.

4. Who or what made you realize you could be an artist full-time?

Frank Sinatra and a karaoke machine.

5. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?

Playing Red Rocks.

6. How did your hometown/city shape who you are?

The DMV [D.C., Maryland, Virginia] area has cradled us in their hands for years. When we first started playing, the community welcomed us with open arms. They loved and supported us when we were a crappy trio playing covers for hours in a pub, [and as] a real band playing originals to a sold-out 9:30 Club. This place will forever be our home and I don't see us leaving any time soon.

7. What’s the last song you listened to?

“Haine Colorée” by Tayc featuring Christine and the Queens.

8. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?

Julie London or Frank Sinatra.

9. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd of one of your sets?

I haven't seen anything too crazy, other than one show where a kid in the front row was holding his phone towards me the whole set with a picture of a scary ass clown on it. I remember being so weirded out that I avoided going to that part of the stage all night.

10. What was one of your favorite moments or opportunities that the "Trampoline" whirlwind brought?

Going to Japan for the Summer Sonic Festival. Japan was an absolute dream. One of my favorite places I have ever been.

11. Why did you scrap a whole album's worth of new music when the pandemic hit?

We finally had a moment to breathe and really took a look at this body of work, and realized it wasn't true to us anymore. So we made the hard decision to scrap it and start all over again, which was both terrifying and freeing. We got the chance to start over and now we have an album that tells our story.

12. What do you want fans to take away from High Dive?

High Dive is really an expression of our mental health this past year. We want fans to know that they are not alone in feeling anxious and/or depressed. This album is a reflection of the ups and downs of this past year.

13. Two Feet and Zayn both feature on High Dive songs, and you worked with producers like Ariel Rechtshaid and Josh Fountain. What do you look for in a collaborator?

We really try to work with genuinely nice people that inspire us. We honestly had a blast working with every collaborator on this album.

14. Who do you want to collaborate with next?

THE LIST IS ENDLESS! Yebba, H.E.R., Christine and the Queens and Tame Impala, to name a few.

15. What are the challenges of releasing an album during a pandemic?

Not being able to play an album release show for fans in person.

16. What are the benefits/positives of releasing an album during a pandemic?

We've been able to take all the anxiety, depression, and confusion we've been feeling over the past year and pour it into writing songs.

17. Outside of creating music, how else have you stayed inspired over the past year?

I really love to cook and over the pandemic I've been trying to make new things. We obviously haven't been able to go out much so I've had to really get creative -- making bread, pancakes, homemade pasta... obviously, all carbs.

18. Do you have a favorite track on the album?

I don't have one favorite, but I really love “Visible Woman” -- it's about me falling back in love with myself and finding the confidence that somehow was lost over the years.

19. What do you miss most about performing in front of a live audience?

I miss the energy you feel when performing on a stage and connecting with an audience more than anything. You just don't get that same vibe through a computer screen.

20. Do you have anything else in the pipeline for 2021?

For right now we are most anxious to get back on the road... It's been way too long!