Remember the kid who went viral performing Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi in 2010? The one who went on to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show? He’s all grown up now, and he has some harsh words for DeGeneres, who at one time signed him as the first artist on her record label eleveneleven. “I’ve never met someone more manipulative, more self-centered, and more blatantly opportunistic than her,” Chance tells Rolling Stone in a new interview.
Being “discovered” by the powerful talk show host was, of course, a dream at first: he remembers her telling him, “I’m going to protect you. I’m going to be here for you. We’re going to do this together.” But her investment in his career “became domineering and way too controlling.” He describes her micromanaging his outfits and performances, and berating him and his mother when he hadn’t yet watched the Justin Bieber documentary DeGeneres sent him.
When Chance experienced a career lull, including poor sales of his EP Truth Be Told, Part 1 in 2012, DeGeneres “completely abandoned” him and stopped taking his calls. Yet even after the label dropped him she continued to invite him on her show to promote his work. Their conversations mostly took place on camera. “When I look at the interviews and I look at my eyes, I can see so much anxiety. I can just see so much PTSD because I’m there holding on for dear life going, ‘I need this TV gig,’“ he shares. “I was 100 percent faking it, and [I felt like] she’s 100 percent faking it with me, too.”
During his last appearance in 2019, “She came out during soundcheck and she looked at me, hugged me,” he recalls. “And she said, ‘How have you been?’ And that just killed me inside because I was like, ’What do you mean how have I fucking been? Where have you been?”
When Chance was offered a spot during DeGeneres’ final week of shows, he declined. “I turned down a national-TV gig on the eve of an album release, which is probably not a smart thing to do,” he says, “but I had to do it for my integrity.” Chance’s story can be read in full over at Rolling Stone.