Bossing it

She’s got a new single out, a presenting spot on the BBC’s MOTDx and plays for Fulham FC Women; a Liverpool fan, she’s even sung with Mo Salah’s daughter. Life at the moment is “just a dream” for Chelcee Grimes

INTERVIEW Rebecca Hopkins | PHOTOGRAPHY Keiran Perry

Music
Meeting up with Chelcee Grimes in London’s Shoreditch, it’s clear she’s a woman going places – and fast. Thoughtful and easy-going, she impresses with her charm and patience during a two-hour photo shoot. She’s still full of energy when she joins me to talk football and music, her two great passions.

Grimes plays for Fulham, has worked with Kylie Minogue, Dua Lipa, Little Mix – it’s a long list – and is now enjoying acclaim as a solo artist. There’s also a burgeoning media career and a spot on the BBC’s new football show, MOTDx. Ask about her highlights of the past 12 months, though, and the conversation turns to her beloved Liverpool FC. Watching your team win the Champions League is a dream for any fan, but to sing in front of 60,000 supporters before the game and then duet with Mo Salah’s daughter at the Reds’ after-party – you’d have to pinch yourself to believe it.

What was it like to sing in Madrid in front of so many Liverpool fans?

I walked out on that stage and it was just a sea of red. It was a bit weird because I’d just started to perform my set and the police shut the sound system down because it was getting too wild. The mic was off and I was stood there in front of 60,000 people, so I whipped my guitar off and I just starting singing Liverpool chants. It was incredible. Then the sound came back on, I finished the set, which was amazing, and I went on to watch the match. I was just in dreamland. And then obviously we won the game.

You then also sang for the team after the final?

The club asked me to perform for all the players. Every single player who I love is in the room. Mo Salah’s daughter got on stage with me, she’s three or four, and we sang her dad’s song: “Mo Salah, running down the wing.” She got on the mic and it was just like a dream come true! I brought my cousin and my uncle along too, I snuck them in, and I said: “You’ve got to be calm. Don’t act like you’re a fan, just chill!” I’d shot an advert with Jürgen two weeks before that. He was in a crowd of people and I didn’t want to go over to him, but he’d seen me and he was like: “Chelcee!” The whole area just stopped and my cousin and uncle had a gasp of like: “Jürgen Klopp knows you by name!”

As a Liverpudlian, were you always a red?

Yeah, it’s in your blood. If you’re born a blue, you’re born a blue. And if you’re born a red, you’re born a red. My whole family have been red. It’s just instilled into you. I think the first gift you’ll get as a Liverpool fan is a babygro. You’re in it!

“The club asked me to perform for all the players. Every single player who I love is in the room. Mo Salah’s daughter got on stage with me, she’s three or four, and we sang her dad’s song: ‘Mo Salah, running down the wing.’ She got on the mic and it was just like a dream come true!”
“I walked out on stage and it was just a sea of red. I was stood in front of 60,000 people and I just started singing liverpool chants”

It’s one thing to watch football but another to play. What made you take up the sport?

I was an only child – I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. If I wanted to play out, it was only lads in the street, so they just played football. And I just got good quickly. I would be the first one picked in the team. My grandad had seen an Ian Rush Soccer School in the newspaper and he said: “Why don’t you go down for that?” It was a week and I was the only girl. The stars kind of aligned, because that’s where Liverpool Ladies trained and they had trials that same week and they picked me out. I signed my first contract with Liverpool at nine and stayed there for six years. I was at Tranmere Centre of Excellence with a lot of the England team now: Fara Williams, the most capped England player over all men and women, Izzy Christiansen, who’s now at Lyon. Nikita Parris, Alex Greenwood – I grew up with a lot of those girls. Music came later, I didn’t start music until I was 16.

How did that happen?

To be honest, I fell into it. It was GCSEs and I had to choose my last option. It was between subjects I was awful at, like Science, Geography or History. So, I was just like: “I’ll do music, it’s a bit of fun; let’s try that.” I picked up piano really fast and I started writing songs and my music teacher was like: “You’ve got a real talent for this, you should carry it on.” I started playing open mic nights and more and more people turned up. Kids started coming, and they started dressing like me a bit, and they’d have tattoos of my lyrics – just songs that I wrote in my room. I got a manager in Liverpool and he sent my songs down to London and I got my first record deal at 18. So, it was quite quick.

Music is so creative. Is there any crossover with your football?

I’m a number ten, the playmaker, you’re creative on the ball. When I play on the pitch, I express myself. I’m always trying to pull out a trick or two and trying to beat players. Football instilled in me at a young age about never giving up – which is something you have to take into music. Whether you’re acting, singing, song-writing – it’s not an easy job. Music is kind of like football. A new boss can come in, you’re not his signing or you’re not his kind of player. I got dropped from my first label before I even released a song. So that was quite hard. But it’s just about the attitude of not giving up. When that happened, it was OK. I was just like: “It’s half-time.” It’s about knowing you can go and score another four goals and come out at 90 minutes and win. It’s just that mentality of not stopping.

You’ve worked with some amazing names, such as Dua Lipa.

As a songwriter, you’ll get artists come through. People will email you and say: “We’ve signed this girl, do you want to write with them?” And her voice just struck me straightaway. She had something super unique about it. We got in, wrote songs, you never know what’s going to happen. You know, what she’s achieved, she’s just won the Grammy for Best New Artist. I’m working with the best artist in the world right now. I can’t even begin to say what that means to me. You know, I started in Liverpool in my room. I picked up my guitar and piano, and thought: “I’m going to write songs!” I don’t know where I got the audacity to even think it was possible, but I just did, I just knew it. I’d stand against my blank wall and imagine there’s people looking. It starts with an idea but if you believe in yourself enough, anything could happen.

Your solo career is also going well. I was watching your music videos and noticed a lot of football in there. Was that down to you?

Yeah! I always try to get some football in. Growing up I never really felt represented by anyone. I grew up on Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez, Britney and Christina – all that 90s era. Everyone was quite sexy, and I just never really felt like [they were like me]. I’d never seen a girl playing football in a music video, or if they had, it would be over-sexualised. I just thought, there’s so many girls playing football now. And I just felt like it represented me a lot. It’s a huge part of my story.

­­Your song Girls also contains a message about being a woman today.

I’m in a place now where I can represent another kind of woman. People say: “Oh you do football, you do music, you’re a songwriter” and they try to box me into one place. But I’m the new generation of woman and we don’t have to be one thing. In the lyrics of Girls – “So many shapes and sizes, covered in colours, always full of surprises, mothers and daughters” – that comes through. My dad died when I was a kid and my mum was my best friend. And I wanted to pay homage to that as well, about the relationship between a mother and daughter. I just didn’t feel it was spoken about right now, so I wanted to throw that into the mix. So yeah – every single girl in the world – we are all so different, but we are all boss in our own way.

We can’t let you go without talking about the Women’s World Cup, which you reported on for the BBC.

Yeah, I got really emotional the first game actually. It was France vs South Korea and there were 45,000 people in the stadium to watch women’s football. I got goose bumps and was almost brought to tears. I’ve played for so many years, just looking at the parents on the sideline, and maybe going to women’s games where the stadium is a quarter full. It was just such an experience. I think it changed a lot of opinions.

Grimes plays for Fulham, has worked with Kylie Minogue, Dua Lipa, Little Mix – it’s a long list – and is now enjoying acclaim as a solo artist. There’s also a burgeoning media career and a spot on the BBC’s new football show, MOTDx. Ask about her highlights of the past 12 months, though, and the conversation turns to her beloved Liverpool FC. Watching your team win the Champions League is a dream for any fan, but to sing in front of 60,000 supporters before the game and then duet with Mo Salah’s daughter at the Reds’ after-party – you’d have to pinch yourself to believe it.

What was it like to sing in Madrid in front of so many Liverpool fans?

I walked out on that stage and it was just a sea of red. It was a bit weird because I’d just started to perform my set and the police shut the sound system down because it was getting too wild. The mic was off and I was stood there in front of 60,000 people, so I whipped my guitar off and I just starting singing Liverpool chants. It was incredible. Then the sound came back on, I finished the set, which was amazing, and I went on to watch the match. I was just in dreamland. And then obviously we won the game.

You then also sang for the team after the final?

The club asked me to perform for all the players. Every single player who I love is in the room. Mo Salah’s daughter got on stage with me, she’s three or four, and we sang her dad’s song: “Mo Salah, running down the wing.” She got on the mic and it was just like a dream come true! I brought my cousin and my uncle along too, I snuck them in, and I said: “You’ve got to be calm. Don’t act like you’re a fan, just chill!” I’d shot an advert with Jürgen two weeks before that. He was in a crowd of people and I didn’t want to go over to him, but he’d seen me and he was like: “Chelcee!” The whole area just stopped and my cousin and uncle had a gasp of like: “Jürgen Klopp knows you by name!”

As a Liverpudlian, were you always a red?

Yeah, it’s in your blood. If you’re born a blue, you’re born a blue. And if you’re born a red, you’re born a red. My whole family have been red. It’s just instilled into you. I think the first gift you’ll get as a Liverpool fan is a babygro. You’re in it!

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!
“The club asked me to perform for all the players. Every single player who I love is in the room. Mo Salah’s daughter got on stage with me, she’s three or four, and we sang her dad’s song: ‘Mo Salah, running down the wing.’ She got on the mic and it was just like a dream come true!”
“I walked out on stage and it was just a sea of red. I was stood in front of 60,000 people and I just started singing liverpool chants”

It’s one thing to watch football but another to play. What made you take up the sport?

I was an only child – I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. If I wanted to play out, it was only lads in the street, so they just played football. And I just got good quickly. I would be the first one picked in the team. My grandad had seen an Ian Rush Soccer School in the newspaper and he said: “Why don’t you go down for that?” It was a week and I was the only girl. The stars kind of aligned, because that’s where Liverpool Ladies trained and they had trials that same week and they picked me out. I signed my first contract with Liverpool at nine and stayed there for six years. I was at Tranmere Centre of Excellence with a lot of the England team now: Fara Williams, the most capped England player over all men and women, Izzy Christiansen, who’s now at Lyon. Nikita Parris, Alex Greenwood – I grew up with a lot of those girls. Music came later, I didn’t start music until I was 16.

How did that happen?

To be honest, I fell into it. It was GCSEs and I had to choose my last option. It was between subjects I was awful at, like Science, Geography or History. So, I was just like: “I’ll do music, it’s a bit of fun; let’s try that.” I picked up piano really fast and I started writing songs and my music teacher was like: “You’ve got a real talent for this, you should carry it on.” I started playing open mic nights and more and more people turned up. Kids started coming, and they started dressing like me a bit, and they’d have tattoos of my lyrics – just songs that I wrote in my room. I got a manager in Liverpool and he sent my songs down to London and I got my first record deal at 18. So, it was quite quick.

Music is so creative. Is there any crossover with your football?

I’m a number ten, the playmaker, you’re creative on the ball. When I play on the pitch, I express myself. I’m always trying to pull out a trick or two and trying to beat players. Football instilled in me at a young age about never giving up – which is something you have to take into music. Whether you’re acting, singing, song-writing – it’s not an easy job. Music is kind of like football. A new boss can come in, you’re not his signing or you’re not his kind of player. I got dropped from my first label before I even released a song. So that was quite hard. But it’s just about the attitude of not giving up. When that happened, it was OK. I was just like: “It’s half-time.” It’s about knowing you can go and score another four goals and come out at 90 minutes and win. It’s just that mentality of not stopping.

You’ve worked with some amazing names, such as Dua Lipa.

As a songwriter, you’ll get artists come through. People will email you and say: “We’ve signed this girl, do you want to write with them?” And her voice just struck me straightaway. She had something super unique about it. We got in, wrote songs, you never know what’s going to happen. You know, what she’s achieved, she’s just won the Grammy for Best New Artist. I’m working with the best artist in the world right now. I can’t even begin to say what that means to me. You know, I started in Liverpool in my room. I picked up my guitar and piano, and thought: “I’m going to write songs!” I don’t know where I got the audacity to even think it was possible, but I just did, I just knew it. I’d stand against my blank wall and imagine there’s people looking. It starts with an idea but if you believe in yourself enough, anything could happen.

Your solo career is also going well. I was watching your music videos and noticed a lot of football in there. Was that down to you?

Yeah! I always try to get some football in. Growing up I never really felt represented by anyone. I grew up on Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez, Britney and Christina – all that 90s era. Everyone was quite sexy, and I just never really felt like [they were like me]. I’d never seen a girl playing football in a music video, or if they had, it would be over-sexualised. I just thought, there’s so many girls playing football now. And I just felt like it represented me a lot. It’s a huge part of my story.

­­Your song Girls also contains a message about being a woman today.

I’m in a place now where I can represent another kind of woman. People say: “Oh you do football, you do music, you’re a songwriter” and they try to box me into one place. But I’m the new generation of woman and we don’t have to be one thing. In the lyrics of Girls – “So many shapes and sizes, covered in colours, always full of surprises, mothers and daughters” – that comes through. My dad died when I was a kid and my mum was my best friend. And I wanted to pay homage to that as well, about the relationship between a mother and daughter. I just didn’t feel it was spoken about right now, so I wanted to throw that into the mix. So yeah – every single girl in the world – we are all so different, but we are all boss in our own way.

We can’t let you go without talking about the Women’s World Cup, which you reported on for the BBC.

Yeah, I got really emotional the first game actually. It was France vs South Korea and there were 45,000 people in the stadium to watch women’s football. I got goose bumps and was almost brought to tears. I’ve played for so many years, just looking at the parents on the sideline, and maybe going to women’s games where the stadium is a quarter full. It was just such an experience. I think it changed a lot of opinions.

Grimes plays for Fulham, has worked with Kylie Minogue, Dua Lipa, Little Mix – it’s a long list – and is now enjoying acclaim as a solo artist. There’s also a burgeoning media career and a spot on the BBC’s new football show, MOTDx. Ask about her highlights of the past 12 months, though, and the conversation turns to her beloved Liverpool FC. Watching your team win the Champions League is a dream for any fan, but to sing in front of 60,000 supporters before the game and then duet with Mo Salah’s daughter at the Reds’ after-party – you’d have to pinch yourself to believe it.

What was it like to sing in Madrid in front of so many Liverpool fans?

I walked out on that stage and it was just a sea of red. It was a bit weird because I’d just started to perform my set and the police shut the sound system down because it was getting too wild. The mic was off and I was stood there in front of 60,000 people, so I whipped my guitar off and I just starting singing Liverpool chants. It was incredible. Then the sound came back on, I finished the set, which was amazing, and I went on to watch the match. I was just in dreamland. And then obviously we won the game.

You then also sang for the team after the final?

The club asked me to perform for all the players. Every single player who I love is in the room. Mo Salah’s daughter got on stage with me, she’s three or four, and we sang her dad’s song: “Mo Salah, running down the wing.” She got on the mic and it was just like a dream come true! I brought my cousin and my uncle along too, I snuck them in, and I said: “You’ve got to be calm. Don’t act like you’re a fan, just chill!” I’d shot an advert with Jürgen two weeks before that. He was in a crowd of people and I didn’t want to go over to him, but he’d seen me and he was like: “Chelcee!” The whole area just stopped and my cousin and uncle had a gasp of like: “Jürgen Klopp knows you by name!”

As a Liverpudlian, were you always a red?

Yeah, it’s in your blood. If you’re born a blue, you’re born a blue. And if you’re born a red, you’re born a red. My whole family have been red. It’s just instilled into you. I think the first gift you’ll get as a Liverpool fan is a babygro. You’re in it!

“The club asked me to perform for all the players. Every single player who I love is in the room. Mo Salah’s daughter got on stage with me, she’s three or four, and we sang her dad’s song: ‘Mo Salah, running down the wing.’ She got on the mic and it was just like a dream come true!”
“I walked out on stage and it was just a sea of red. I was stood in front of 60,000 people and I just started singing liverpool chants”

It’s one thing to watch football but another to play. What made you take up the sport?

I was an only child – I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. If I wanted to play out, it was only lads in the street, so they just played football. And I just got good quickly. I would be the first one picked in the team. My grandad had seen an Ian Rush Soccer School in the newspaper and he said: “Why don’t you go down for that?” It was a week and I was the only girl. The stars kind of aligned, because that’s where Liverpool Ladies trained and they had trials that same week and they picked me out. I signed my first contract with Liverpool at nine and stayed there for six years. I was at Tranmere Centre of Excellence with a lot of the England team now: Fara Williams, the most capped England player over all men and women, Izzy Christiansen, who’s now at Lyon. Nikita Parris, Alex Greenwood – I grew up with a lot of those girls. Music came later, I didn’t start music until I was 16.

How did that happen?

To be honest, I fell into it. It was GCSEs and I had to choose my last option. It was between subjects I was awful at, like Science, Geography or History. So, I was just like: “I’ll do music, it’s a bit of fun; let’s try that.” I picked up piano really fast and I started writing songs and my music teacher was like: “You’ve got a real talent for this, you should carry it on.” I started playing open mic nights and more and more people turned up. Kids started coming, and they started dressing like me a bit, and they’d have tattoos of my lyrics – just songs that I wrote in my room. I got a manager in Liverpool and he sent my songs down to London and I got my first record deal at 18. So, it was quite quick.

Music is so creative. Is there any crossover with your football?

I’m a number ten, the playmaker, you’re creative on the ball. When I play on the pitch, I express myself. I’m always trying to pull out a trick or two and trying to beat players. Football instilled in me at a young age about never giving up – which is something you have to take into music. Whether you’re acting, singing, song-writing – it’s not an easy job. Music is kind of like football. A new boss can come in, you’re not his signing or you’re not his kind of player. I got dropped from my first label before I even released a song. So that was quite hard. But it’s just about the attitude of not giving up. When that happened, it was OK. I was just like: “It’s half-time.” It’s about knowing you can go and score another four goals and come out at 90 minutes and win. It’s just that mentality of not stopping.

You’ve worked with some amazing names, such as Dua Lipa.

As a songwriter, you’ll get artists come through. People will email you and say: “We’ve signed this girl, do you want to write with them?” And her voice just struck me straightaway. She had something super unique about it. We got in, wrote songs, you never know what’s going to happen. You know, what she’s achieved, she’s just won the Grammy for Best New Artist. I’m working with the best artist in the world right now. I can’t even begin to say what that means to me. You know, I started in Liverpool in my room. I picked up my guitar and piano, and thought: “I’m going to write songs!” I don’t know where I got the audacity to even think it was possible, but I just did, I just knew it. I’d stand against my blank wall and imagine there’s people looking. It starts with an idea but if you believe in yourself enough, anything could happen.

Your solo career is also going well. I was watching your music videos and noticed a lot of football in there. Was that down to you?

Yeah! I always try to get some football in. Growing up I never really felt represented by anyone. I grew up on Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez, Britney and Christina – all that 90s era. Everyone was quite sexy, and I just never really felt like [they were like me]. I’d never seen a girl playing football in a music video, or if they had, it would be over-sexualised. I just thought, there’s so many girls playing football now. And I just felt like it represented me a lot. It’s a huge part of my story.

­­Your song Girls also contains a message about being a woman today.

I’m in a place now where I can represent another kind of woman. People say: “Oh you do football, you do music, you’re a songwriter” and they try to box me into one place. But I’m the new generation of woman and we don’t have to be one thing. In the lyrics of Girls – “So many shapes and sizes, covered in colours, always full of surprises, mothers and daughters” – that comes through. My dad died when I was a kid and my mum was my best friend. And I wanted to pay homage to that as well, about the relationship between a mother and daughter. I just didn’t feel it was spoken about right now, so I wanted to throw that into the mix. So yeah – every single girl in the world – we are all so different, but we are all boss in our own way.

We can’t let you go without talking about the Women’s World Cup, which you reported on for the BBC.

Yeah, I got really emotional the first game actually. It was France vs South Korea and there were 45,000 people in the stadium to watch women’s football. I got goose bumps and was almost brought to tears. I’ve played for so many years, just looking at the parents on the sideline, and maybe going to women’s games where the stadium is a quarter full. It was just such an experience. I think it changed a lot of opinions.

WIN KNOCKOUT TICKETS
Win tickets to watch
Your team
enter now