Interview by Jordan Edwards
LA based singer-songwriter CLAY released her latest EP Breathing Into Bloom on May 4. The lush six-song set includes the singles "Artery" and "WTSGD," a collaboration with Alessia Cara.
After releasing a couple of early singles, CLAY gained a following in 2018 with the viral song "Orange." The track, which later appeared on the hues EP, has racked up nearly 12 million Spotify streams.
We talked to the musician about Breathing Into Bloom, working with Alessia Cara, and her unique brand of soulful, atmospheric pop.
Do you have a favorite song from the new EP?
I love each of them for different reasons but I would have to say my overall favorite is, "Undertow." We have history. I wrote the song about six years ago, so I’m happy it’s finally out in the world.
It includes a collaboration with Alessia Cara, "WTSGD." How did it come together?
Alessia and I have been friends for years now, and of course I’ve always been a fan of her work. During quarantine, I asked if she wanted to try writing together. We hopped on FaceTime, and this song just flowed out! It was natural and a beautiful process.
There are a lot of great little details in your songs that create an atmosphere. How much do you think about the mood of a song in addition to the melody and lyrics?
Thank you! I think a lot about every detail. I would say I used to be a perfectionist and now I am a lot more gentle with myself and the process. However, I am very particular and meticulous. Because I care so much about the lyrics, I want to make sure that the soundscape is so visceral that it actually makes you feel what the lyrics are saying. That's my overall goal.
How involved are you in the production process? I feel like the production is very specific to you.
Thank you, yes I am very involved in the creation of each song from start to finish. I love working with collaborators who are open to at least trying out all of my ideas.
I love the vocal effects on the song “Numb.” What inspired those sounds?
Thank you! It was just an idea that came up in the writing session and worked so well for the song and sentiment.
When did you know it was time to leave the Bay Area? Was it tough adjusting to life in LA?
I went to college for a couple years out of state before moving full time to LA. It was definitely a tough adjustment, as I didn’t know anyone and had these big dreams with no idea where to start. I also learned to drive here, and for those who know what driving is like in LA, that itself was a wild adjustment haha.
Do you do anything special to take care of your voice?
Yes, I am pretty strict about maintaining a diet that is not acidic, resting my voice for the day if I’m not using it in a session or show, and doing vocal warm ups/cool downs.
What have you been listening to lately? Do you keep up with new music, or do you listen to older stuff more?
I definitely gravitate towards the classics with some newer music sprinkled in. However, I do love stumbling upon new inspiring music. Lately I’ve been loving the music of Amaarae, Dua Salah, Mereba, FKA twigs, Tems and more.
What are your plans for the rest of the summer?
This summer I plan on finishing another EP as well as creating all of the visuals for it. I plan to delve further into my creativity with this one and really create a world!
CLAY - WTSGD (with Alessia Cara) (Official Visualizer) www.youtube.com