When I go to a music festival I always do my best to discover new music. It’s one thing to go and hear your favorite bands but, unless you knew every act on a lineup, more than likely you’ll have gaps in your schedule. What I’ll do is chat up some of the crowd or some of the local photographers and ask who’s a performer I should check out today? It was Capitol Hill Block Party (CHBP) 2018. Of the people I spoke to, many suggested I check out Claire George. Prior to that CHBP performance, I had not heard of Claire, but after seeing her set I was mesmerized. Her set was a mixture of great vocals interplayed with synths, fascinating lyrics, and danceable beats. I was instantly a fan. Recently, I reached out to Claire and had an opportunity to do a short interview. Here’s my short interview with Claire George:
1.) The first time I saw you perform was at Capitol Hill Block Party 2018 as a solo artist, but through research it looks like you were the lead singer of an indie rock band called HEARTWATCH. Hearing your work as a solo artist and the music presented by HEARTWATCH, I’d say the two present very different music styles. Was it a challenge to transition to a solo artist, or was your solo work always something you had in mind and were hoping to get out?
It was definitely a challenge to create my solo work as I had never made music on my own, but I definitely feel it better represents my musical tastes and my life more. Learning how to produce electronic music on my own presented a lot of challenges for me but also felt the most rewarding because I put so much more of myself into making it. I felt pretty worried about the reception of the solo work after the band’s material, and there were definitely some fans who want me to make something less dark, but I feel in general my solo work feels more true to who I am as an individual.
Capitol Hill Block Party 2018
2.) Your latest release, “Alone, Together” and it’s quasi remix “Alone, Together (Forever)” are fabulous both in composition and message. “Alone, Together” was described on your site as the different seasons in the lifecycle of a failed relationship. I personally love how the song ends with a sense of hopefulness. On the flipside, “Alone, Together (Forever)” carries some of those same feelings, but is more reminiscent of Robyn’s “Dancing on my Own” in that it’s very danceable but with a very relatable message. Would you mind speaking to the creation of both songs?
I wrote the first version as a piano ballad by myself, but when my friend Josh from Yumi Zouma saw me perform it live he asked if he could help me produce it out. When we got into the session the song took on a whole new light and I loved it so much that I wanted to share both versions with the world. I like that the version that I wrote solo feels pretty isolated and intimate and the version with Josh feels much more collaborative and dancey, something you want to listen to with another person.
3.) Regarding your 2018 EP, Bodies of Water, one song in particular that pulled my attention was Orbits where you have these poetic lyrics of what sounds like recognizing potential but you also mixed in references to the Voyager space program (which launched a literal Gold Record into space). When it comes to song writing do you approach each song with intention in that “with this song I hope to convey (blank)” or do you let each song flow into what they eventually become in that there’s no real plan, it comes together on the page? How would you describe your approach?
I create both ways, sometimes with a general intention, sometimes with a phrase or idea in mind, and sometimes with a whole concept in place. Orbits came out with an intention for sure, and I knew I wanted to connect the romantic idea of the Golden Record into the song. A lot of my music comes from just sitting down and letting things spill out of me though. Sometimes when I try too hard to have a plan or intention behind it, it can feel forced, so I try to let things flow however they want once I sit down to write.
Barboza, October 2019
Something I like to do to create a through-line for all the folks I interview is I ask the prior interview subject to provide 3 blind questions for the next interviewee with no knowledge as to who I would interview next. These next 3 questions were provided by my last interview subject Icelandic Singer Songwriter Asgeir. Asgeir asks: (Claire: Love this!)
4.) When you were young – What did you want to become when you grew up?
Mariah Carey, but my own version haha! I was obsessed with her. I wanted to be a pop star when I was little, but that got buried for a long time and the desire to be an artist only came bubbling back up for me after college.
5.) What was the best advice someone gave you?
Start now, you will never again be younger than you are today.
6.) How do you think popular music will sound in 50 years?
I think we will be even more integrated with technology and perhaps there will be machines assisting in creation of music but I don’t like to think that they will take over the process completely. Perhaps we will have machines that can tune into our emotions and feelings and adjust/create music that suits us. I think there will be even further development in electronic music but will get the hang of making things sound more natural. We will probably have even busier more distracting lives so the songs may be even shorter and to the point than they are today!
7.) As my final question, I follow you on Instagram, and earlier this year you shared your first “Clairetoon”. Were these “Clairetoons” something you’ve always done, or something new you wanted try and share? Can we expect more “Clairetoons” throughout the year?
This is something new I’ve wanted to try out and share, and yes! I will definitely be sharing more throughout the year 🙂
(I want to thank Claire George for taking the time to answer my questions. Check out Claire’s latest single, Alone Together, and the song’s remix, Alone Together (Forever), on all streaming platforms. Also check out Claire’s debut EP, Bodies of Water, also on all streaming platforms.)