A sister duo from Edina, known as Chasing Lovely, may just shatter conventional images of Nashville country music makers. Taylor and Chloe Turner ventured to Nashville in 2010 to make their mark on the country music scene. Unlike many would-be country musicians, Taylor and Chloe hail from north of the Mason-Dixon line and are of Asian ancestry.
“There are not a lot of Asians in Nashville,” Taylor admits with a sweet but discerning smile. “But Chloe and I view it as an advantage because people remember us.” Twenty-year-old Taylor and 18-year-old Chloe are of a generation that understands that no single ethnicity can lay claim to any musical genre.
“People are drawn to familiarity,” Taylor says. “But variety is awesome. And if Chloe and I can represent for Asians who love country music, well, that’s awesome too!”
In fact, Taylor and Chloe’s mom, Kat Turner, was born in Korea but was adopted as an infant by a farm family in Iowa. Taylor and Chloe grew up in Minnesota. Their roots are as connected to country music as any other American family from the heartland. This duo’s musical journey began while attending Edina High School. Chloe had sung in choirs since the third grade and was a varsity choir member at Edina High School. She took up guitar at age 12 and taught herself primarily by watching YouTube instructional videos. Taylor is a writer. She had written many unfinished novels and encouraged Chloe to write her own songs. When Chloe showed little interest, Taylor decided to learn guitar and write the songs herself.
“I wrote my first song, 'Glass Slipper' in February, 2010,” says Taylor. “Friends from Edina still remember and request it.”
The girls’ interest in making music together began to build. But between high school talent shows and a stint with a campus theatrical production, Taylor was also visiting colleges. Belmont University in Nashville was on her short list. When Taylor and her mother headed south to check out Belmont, Chloe tagged along, toting her guitar and a folder filled with new music Taylor had written. The girls performed at several open mike nights while in Nashville and also spent time recording at a family friend’s studio. The studio manager was impressed.
“That’s when we began to believe music could be our career,” Taylor says. “And that maybe we should both move to Nashville.” But moving to Nashville wasn’t an impulsive decision. “Keep in mind,” their mother says, “Chloe was only 15 at that time. She was very involved at Edina High School, including being a member of its nationally ranked cheer squad. Choosing to leave Edina High School and join Taylor in Nashville was a big sacrifice.”
After many family discussions, Kat left the final decision to Chloe. But the horse was already out of the barn, so to speak. These girls had fallen in love with creating and performing country music. The only question was how far they were willing to go to reach their dream. Chloe says, “We understand hard work and we haven’t been indulged. If it’s possible to make music and to live at least as well as we did growing up in Minnesota, then we want to be musicians. We believe it is possible. We are committed.”
Taylor graduated from Edina High School in 2011 and enrolled at Belmont University as a music business major. Chloe transferred to a high school in Nashville. And Kat packed up their Minnesota home and moved with her daughters to Tennessee. (Taylor and Chloe’s father lives in Chicago and supports the girls’ relocation.) Chasing Lovely has since recorded its first Kickstarter-funded CD, Breathless. Some renowned talent who participated in the production include members of Martina McBride’s band, Blake Shelton’s fiddle player and pedal steel players who have performed with Garth Brooks, Reba McIntire and the Dixie Chicks.
Chloe graduated from high school this year and has also been accepted to Belmont. The girls are making 2013 a gap year to promote Breathless and to further their music career.
One of their first stops was back in the northland at the Edina Art Fair in June. We spoke with the pair recently.
Why country music?
Taylor: Our dad was obsessed with 1990s country music. We especially liked the Dixie Chicks and Alison Krauss or anything with banjos and fiddles. We had a karaoke machine at home and would make our friends and babysitters listen endlessly to our singing.
Chloe: I didn’t care for country music at first. I was young and still into Hilary Duff. But Taylor was frustrated with pop radio stations. The songs were so often about nightclubbing. We were teenagers who couldn’t relate to that. And the more she listened to country, the more I began to like it too. There are still a lot of country songs about trucks. But mostly, country music is about real people’s real lives.
What inspires your songwriting?
Chloe: Taylor does 95 percent of our songwriting. Being a songwriter in Nashville is an advantage because many venues require musicians to perform their own songs.
Taylor: I write songs about themes I care about, issues in society, things I wish would change. Body image, for example. It seems perfection is the goal and people are so judgmental. It’s not right and it gets me revved up. So I wrote a song about it called “Barbie Doll.” It’s on our Breathless CD.
Why are you named Chasing Lovely?
Chloe: For a few months in 2011, we went by Chloe & Taylor Turner. But that doesn’t stand out. We felt lost in a sea of other musicians' names. I started flipping through the dictionary trying to find an Internet domain name that wasn’t already taken.
Taylor: Meanwhile, I also have an interest in fashion and have kept a fashion blog for some time. When naming my blog, I wanted to say something about fashion beyond what’s visually appealing. The word “lovely” means beauty that appeals to the eye and the mind. Our mom liked the concept and thought it applied to our music as well.
Taylor: Being able to make music, play live, record and hopefully make a living beyond breaking even.
Chloe: Having a strong work ethic. That’s why we’re taking a year off from school to tour the Midwest. We could never accept giving less than our best in academics or music. So we’re minimizing distractions and dedicating our lives to our music right now. A musician’s lifestyle is tough. But we understand what it takes to become successful.
What’s your favorite place to eat when you’re in Edina?
Chloe: Tavern on France for $5 sliders.
Taylor: The Original Pancake House.
Tour dates and more information about Chasing Lovely can be found at chasinglovely.com