Shaed will be a Saturday night headliner band at this year’s Utah Pride Festival. They open for Coldplay earlier in the week at FedEx Field in Washington DC and hop on a plane for Salt Lake City.
The indie-pop trio, whose name is pronounced like “shade,” is lead vocalist Chelsea Lee with her husband Spencer Ernst and his twin brother Max. The twins are multi-instrumentalists and vocalists.
Their song, Trampoline, hit number one in the U.S. Alt-Pop Billboard chart and reached 3x platinum and platinum awards in 2018. The official music video has over 68 million views on YouTube.
They recorded a music video for “2 in a Million” with Steve Aoki and Sting in 2019 which has a million views.
The twin brothers grew up in Maryland and formed a rock band called Upslide while in middle school. They performed locally in the Washington, D.C., area for several years and attracted the attention of a New York-based management company, and secured a publishing deal with Cherry Lane Music. The brothers went on to form a pop duo called Trust Fall while in high school, which toured the country.
The brothers met Chelsea Lee in 2007 while they were performing at a club in Washington DC. Two years later, Lee signed as a solo artist with Atlantic Records.
Max’s Coming Out
Also in 2009, Max, at 19 years old, told his brother and Lee that he is gay.
At that time, Shaed didn’t yet exist. He and his brother grew up with “really liberal” parents, but something about being raised in a “conservative” Catholic community meant that, for a long time, Max felt a mental block about opening up to the world about his sexuality.
“It was a very different time then,” Max told PinkNews. “I felt very pressured to kind of stay in the closet because of my career. It was really, really tough to come out.”
Max realized, though, that he could never be truly authentic in his songwriting until he came out.
“We were on a long drive after going to see a concert, and I’ll never forget that moment when I told him. It was so powerful for me and for Spencer too. I hid it pretty well, so he had no idea. He was actually pretty shocked. I couldn’t even verbalize the words and I kind of had to make him guess what it was. His first guess was, ‘Max, did you kill someone? Did you murder someone?’ He’s like, ‘I’ve got your back. If you did, we’ll figure it out.’
“His second guess was if I was in love with Chelsea Lee (Shaed’s lead singer and now Spencer’s wife), and I was like, ‘No, I’m not in love with Chelsea.’ And then finally he was like, ‘Dude, are you gay?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah,’ and then it was just this incredible feeling for both of us just having that out in the air. It just kind of connected all the dots of why I had been going into my shell. He could sense that something had been eating away at me for a while there.”
Telling Chelsea was also “super powerful,” Max said. “She could just tell it was a tremendous weight that had been lifted when I told her. And a couple of weeks later, [Spencer and Chelsea] started dating, so it was kind of this pivotal moment in our relationship. It just really changed the dynamic between us three and it just brought out a whole other level of honesty and closeness between us.”
The group started Shaed shortly after and released a project around their song “Colorful” — a powerful anthem about the joys of being queer.
A full bio of the group will be in the Pride Guide in the next issue of QSaltLake.