On the eve of the release of his new song “Cold,” Alec Chambers takes some time to chat with me on the phone. He is sitting in the stairwell of his doctor’s office (his car outside is too cold to sit in).
Chambers has been filming YouTube covers on and off since his freshman year of high school. Many of the older videos took place in his bathroom at home where the acoustics were optimal. “Don’t watch any of them,” laughs Chambers. “The toilet paper is in the background. It’s just a weird vibe.”
A multi-instrumentalist, Chambers plays the piano, drums, and guitar. His dad was a guitarist and was always in bands. Chambers grew up playing the Beatles and Elton John on the piano; Elton’s intricate playing later helped him get creative with his renditions of songs. Today, he listens to the best of pop, from Lauv infectious anthems to LANY’s heart-melting synth tracks.
When TikTok was born in 2018, he was invited to share shorter versions of his videos there by one of its founders. His covers gained great exposure, so much that Halsey herself saw Chambers’ cover of her song “Without Me.” His cover was featured in Glamour’s video series “You Sang My Song;” the episode showed Halsey’s reaction to Chambers' rendition of her song. After the video’s release, Chamber’s cover went viral.
In his performance of “Without Me,” Chambers did far more than just cover someone else’s song. The pain in his voice is visceral, and people noticed (Halsey included). “Without Me,” tells a tale of loneliness and feeling used. Chambers’ voice makes the lyrics believable in a way that few can.
Now, he has just released his second original song, “Cold.” The track, he says in a TikTok, is about realizing you could love someone while also acknowledging that you weren’t meant to be together. “I was in a long-term relationship,” says Chambers. “It was just not a healthy thing. I stayed in it for a lot longer than I feel I should have… A lot of the time, I give people the benefit of the doubt even when I know it’s a toxic relationship. In the song "Cold," in order to get out of the relationship, I just had to be cold and sort of shut off my emotions and that’s sort of what the song’s about. It’s not like me to be cold but I have to be in order to get into the place in my life I feel like I want to be. I still love that person obviously, but we were not good for each other.”
His first single, “Boston,” instantly clicked with him when it was pitched his way. While he didn’t write the song, it was a perfect fit; he had just gone through a breakup and his ex had moved to Boston. “They wrote exactly what I wanted to say,” recalls Chambers. He also released a remix of the track with singer Sammy Adams, a Boston native.
We can expect a lot more from Chambers this year, as he plans to release a new original song every six weeks. “I spent a lot of the last year writing, writing, writing,” he says. “I’m trying to become my own artist. I feel like I’ve been doing the cover thing for so long and it’s been so great and it’s been so good to me, but I have a lot to say that I haven’t really gotten to say because I’ve been singing other people’s songs for so long.”
In the coming months, Chambers will be preparing to release new music and planning shows in both New York and Los Angeles. He has a lot to do, but before he leaves the doctor’s office stairwell, the social media mogul heads to the bathroom for a mirror selfie.