For many solo musicians, working is an isolating experience, and Princess Chelsea is no exception. The singer writes, records and produces her music almost alone in her home studio.
But recently, she felt it was taking a toll.
"To be able to do what I do, I've had to be a bit of a workaholic and neglect certain friendships and relationships in my life," she says. "When I'm recording in my house, I pretty much spend nearly 100 per cent of my time devoted to that, so I won't leave the house much. I won't socialise and I feel like I'm not necessarily taking time to enjoy moments with friends.
"I think it's really great to achieve a lot and work hard but there's a balance there that you need to have, to be able to just to sit back and enjoy time with people doing nothing."
Princess Chelsea – real name Chelsea Nikkel – processed that realisation by doing what she does best; making music about it. Her new album, The Loneliest Girl, explores the psychology behind being a musician, and how that falls back on to the relationships in her life.
"I feel like a lot of people use whatever art they're doing, or music, as some form of self-therapy," she says. "So when you're doing that, I think it can help to reflect on why you're doing it, and I think in this case, I've pretty much decided that I'm going to try to get a bit more balance in my life from here on."
The Loneliest Girl further explores the sound Nikkel has made a name for herself with – arranging fairytale, cartoonish production around bright melodies, with her vocals delivered in a childlike croon. It's charming at first listen but the sweetness soon curdles, revealing darker, more upsetting undertones.
"Sometimes if you want to deliver a dark, serious lyric, but it's set to really beautiful, happy music, it almost makes the line hit harder," she says. "I like to do little tricks like that in music to confuse people, but then make them think about things more."
For Nikkel, those contradictions speak to the way we feel emotions. "My music's a bit of a muddle and that's what feelings are like. You're never 100 per cent happy or 100 per cent sad; you're a mixture of all these different feelings at once. It's a convoluted mess."
In October, Nikkel is taking The Loneliest Girl around New Zealand for her first shows at home in nearly three years. The tour hits the same venues that label-mate Jonathan Bree, with whom Nikkel collaborates and performs, will be lighting up in November. She describes the vibe of the tour as a "trippy Disneyland" extravaganza with lasers and smoke – and she's even more nervous about playing here than she is for her European tour.
"When I play overseas, I'm playing to a bunch of strangers … but when I play these homecoming shows, I find them really intimidating, because as much as I like to think I don't care what people think, I totally do," she says.
"I should be hopefully really good because I will have just played like 30 shows in Europe. It's going to be hopefully a victory lap for me. I get to do everything justice."
Who: Princess Chelsea
What: New album The Loneliest Girl
When: Friday September 21
Fri Oct 26 - Auckland, Hollywood Avondale
Sat Oct 27 – Leigh, Sawmill Cafe
Sat Nov 10 - Wellington, San Fran
Sat Nov 17 - Christchurch, Blue Smoke
Jonathan Bree, Sleepwalking Over NZ tour:
Fri Nov 2 - Auckland, Hollywood Avondale
Sat Nov 3 - Leigh, Sawmill Cafe
Fri Nov 9 - Wellington, San Fran
Fri Nov 16 – Christchurch, Blue Smoke