They’re not coming out anthems, but the nervous thrill of somebody figuring out their own sexuality. Clairo is no longer the DIY, online-only artist that her legion of devoted fans initially connected with.
clairol professional – Artist Of The Month August 2019
We already tallied up the 100 best albums of the 2010s That in itself was a gigantic feat, a product of dozens of writers voting, compiling and re-listening to hundreds of albums. Clairo: It just happened to be the time where we were supposed to do it. Landing on Coachella is a big moment, but it ended up happening that way. We played the songs for the first time at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles on Thursday. People seem to like them, so I’ll be interested to see how Coachella reacts, but so far so good.
Clairo, the musical identity of 21-year-old Claire Cottrill from Massachusetts, first found success after her lo-fi, deadpan music video Pretty Girl” went viral. Immunity holds many of that song’s charms – mumbled vocals, barely there melodies, crisp drums and wry distance – but adds more intricate production, maturing lyrics and moments of surprise. The boldest songs come as a hat-trick: the vocoder-laced Closer To You” is a masterclass in disorientating, frustrated longing: angry and distant one moment, tender and soulful the next. The anxious electricity of North” layers light, floating vocals over distorted fuzz to tentatively explore a stalled relationship. Lead single Bags” starts with a simple, propulsive combo of drums, bass and vocals, before steadily building contrasting textures that blend together.
BK: I think they are! With the help of music, they definitely are. Music is a form of expression and for myself, I see music as a way to get rid of feelings that bug me a lot. It’s very therapeutic. I think the more people speak out about it, the more people will start to listen and take us seriously.
Backstage at Coachella, Clairo was giggly and excited, gushing about how Rosalía is the best performer of our generation, but when she takes the stage or talks about female empowerment and trans rights, a calm inner wisdom shines through. During her set, she stood strong and proud, guitar in hand, in a shimmering beige suit with embroidered roses and rhinestones. Fans were treated to four new songs from Clairo’s forthcoming project, which aims to push her production techniques forward and dig deeper than the usual love songs to tell a more complete human story. And she’ll be sharing more soon on an arena tour in support of her friend Khalid , which kicks off in Phoenix on June 20. Ahead of her Coachella debut, we caught up with Clairo to hear more about her journey.
Once someone on Reddit realized Geoff Cottrill was Clairo’s father, armchair skepticism began to ping around the internet. Although I enjoy her music and I think she is an inspiring, aspiring, talented, and gifted songwriter I do not understand how her connections to the music industry hasn’t been mentioned in a SINGLE interview,” went one widely shared post. Others have called her an industry plant,” alleging that her homespun, indie” ethos was just a marketing ploy engineered by her dad and his cronies. All the while, Clairo got ever more popular. Though it doesn’t have quite the same charm as Pretty Girl,” her follow-up video, Flaming Hot Cheetos,” has racked up more than 3 million views. Even if she was an industry plant,” her fans didn’t seem to think it mattered.
After Pretty Girl” happened, Cottrill made an EP of similar bedroom pop, Diary001. She’s since distanced herself from internet aesthetic and kitsch-y videos (the original video for Flaming Hot Cheetos,” featuring dancing Cheetos has been removed from the internet). Before Immunity, people talked about my writing as very surface level, and I agreed,” she critiques now of her releases last year. I wasn’t writing about anything that made me emotional.” When it came to rip the band aid off, she did not hesitate, but you can sense the winces on Immunity. Every song captures the prickliness of learning. Take the R&B softy Sinking,” which is sultry on the surface, but an ode to her insecurities surrounding arthritis. I feel like I’m not desirable when I’m dealing with pain. I’m not sexy,” she explains. Ironically then, she made a slow-jam to discuss why the idea of sexual intimacy terrifies her.
A quick Clairo catch-up, for the still-uninitiated: Claire Cottrill began making music at the age of 13. Throughout those early days, she wasn’t shy about uploading her works (and works-in-progress) to sites like YouTube and Bandcamp.
Immunity is a smoothly-produced pop record about queer relationships—there’s no discounting the value of these stories in the lives of queer people and the population at large. Her sultry confidence and steadfastness, even in the face of anxieties and insecurities, is empowering. Immunity has just enough unforgettable glimmers to justify Clairo’s buzz. The question is whether listeners who weren’t already head over heels for her previously released music will hop on board too.
Clairo stayed true to sharing her new music even though fans begged for her older, upbeat hits, chanting sing Pretty Girl!” — her most popular song with more than 74 million streams on Spotify. She delivered, ending the night with Pretty Girl,” 4EVER” and her latest release with Mura Mesa I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again.” The crowd danced and sang every word with her.
Claire has grown more dramatically between Diary 001 and Immunity than almost anyone probably expects. It’s not an accident. Eschewing the spontaneity of her come-up, Claire was incredibly deliberate and meticulous about crafting Immunity. A music business major who’d always been brutally honest about the chances of failure in the industry — who “didn’t think it was in the cards for me” — she had no intention of squandering the chance to release an album to millions of fans at age 20, or relying on the gods of the algorithm. Far from the maverick confidence you might expect from someone who vaulted over the music industry to success, after her EP, Claire realized she didn’t have the tools to make an album of the caliber she was imagining. “Your first record is pretty difficult when you don’t know how to make an album,” she says. So she slowed down, shut her laptop, and decided to get really good at making music.
Pretty Girl,” which she initially recorded for an indie-rock compilation benefiting the Transgender Law Center , was organic and took off without any marketing muscle or shortcuts, Clairo insisted. I put it on YouTube, and then the algorithm just ate it up,” she said, which led to interest from major labels, including Columbia, RCA and Capitol.
Dream pop artist Clairo performed at San Diego’s House of Blues Nov. 2. Clairo finally feels like herself. Following her debut at Coachella earlier this month, the 20-year-old “Throwaway” singer is ready to share her truth with the world.
Since Clairo’s started being more open with her sexuality (I still don’t know what my label is and I don’t even know if I should have a label on it,” she says), her family and friends have been incredibly supportive and Immunity ‘s album art pays homage to each of them — the musician proudly displays a tattoo on her arm of their initials. While she has plenty of love songs in her repertoire, Clairo’s new record includes a number of intimate tracks about dating women and though some of them are heartbreaking, they take negative experiences and turn them into positive situations.
Claire Cottrill, or better known as Clairo by her fans, is a 21-year-old Massachusetts native. Like many young and aspiring artists, Clairo took to YouTube to start her career by uploading covers and original songs. In 2017, she uploaded an original song titled Pretty Girl” with very simple production and a video description stating the inspiration behind the song was a bad relationship. However, this video launched her career and went viral and currently has over 38 million views, which she credits to YouTube’s algorithm.
Clairo: They are. I can’t give too much away but, yes, I definitely have a collection of songs. I’ve been hiding away for a little bit. I feel like these new songs are talking a lot about my personal experiences outside of relationships, like my sexuality, my arthritis – it’s very strong. I have a weird mutation in my genes, I guess. I’m talking about things and diving deeper with my struggles and what I’ve been going through in the last year, so I connect a lot with the music and it feels a lot more like me as a person. And I’m working really hard on the production to make it reach its full potential and not just putting out songs because they sound like a good enough demo to post. I’m really taking my time, so I’m really gassed about it.
It’s an ethos that reminds one of early hip-hop or ‘90s riot grrrl. Her poppier stuff is what caught people’s ears, though. When Pretty Girl” exploded, the major labels came running. She got offers from RCA, Capitol and Columbia, but went with something far subtler: FADER Label and a 12-song deal. Jon Cohen, co-founder of publication The FADER and its label, was a family friend. It’s unfortunate that accusations of nepotism have dogged Cottrill’s origin story online, because so much of her background chimes with tales of resourcefulness, of figuring things out by trial and error.
Stand-outs like ‘ Bags ‘ and ‘ Sofia ‘ are powered by infectious melody and elegantly restrained atmosphere. Her voice never sounds like it’s straining, but offers a wealth of emotional discord as she plumbs the depths of teenage angst and confusing outsiderdom on songs that are worlds unto themselves.
Cottrill is a master at penning lyrics that make you feel like you’re listening to hushed secrets from a friend, but she also has a knack for crafting melodies and rhythms that make you really feel what she’s going through in any given song.
As with many songwriters in her Gen Z cohort — including Soccer Mommy, Phoebe Bridgers and L.A.’s Cuco, a one-time duet partner of hers who just put out his own excellent debut, Para Mí” — Clairo’s thematic obsession is love: its pleasures, its torments, its tendency to stymie the woke idealist’s dream of an equitable society.
There’s a slight defensive streak to several tracks that could well be the result of suspicions about Clairo’s success so far. After Pretty Girl” took off, some observers pointed with disdain to the fact that her father has worked as a high-level marketing executive for Coca-Cola and Converse — youth-oriented brands whose dark arts of persuasion, the thinking went, likely informed her seemingly off-the-cuff presentation.
After spending a few hours with Claire, I start to see what they mean. Claire is a tiny 20-year-old with Instagram filter freckles, a round face and long reddish-brown hair, that she recently dyed Flaming Hot Cheeto orange in honor of one of her signature songs. She moves her arms and body in the slightly slack, crooked way of a younger person, and favors that particular aesthetic of oversized crewnecks, large sneakers, mom jeans and kitschy jewelry, that you might find many sizes smaller on a child.
We’ve certainly seen no shortage of such artists in recent years, with pop culture accelerating into hyperspeed and disparate tributaries merging with increasing frequency. Many of the names racking up insane streaming numbers right now represent new archetypes. Billie Eilish seamlessly blends Lorde and Lana and Tyler and SoundCloud rap into goth hypebeast trap-pop. Post Malone turns sing-song pop-rap into a soupy new kind of meat-and-potatoes classic rock. Rosalía stylishly converges flamenco with reggaeton and Latin trap and cutting-edge R&B. Lizzo is an unstoppable rapping, singing, twerking, flute-playing whirlwind. Even when the influences are obvious, you feel like you’re hearing some new chapter in pop music — an impression that solidifies as more and more listeners rally around the artist in question and legions of imitators begin to arise.
Clairo broke out in late 2017 with the heartwarmingly DIY viral video Pretty Girl ,” and her lo-fi productions and raspy whisper have since captured the attention of elder tastemakers and Gen Z superfans alike. The 20-year-old singer-songwriter has the sharp mind of a woman and the warm soul of a folk hero. She’s a humble but powerful presence, taking each chance to speak her mind, nurture her voice, support her peers, and stay open along the way.
It’s hard to get away with intense wistfulness unless you have a strong sense of melody and a voice that helps the listener sulk in the gloom, and Clairo has no problem in either department. On Alewife,” Clairo sings of the time a friend stopped her from committing suicide in eighth grade, and though the lyrics hold a heartfelt bluntness on their own, it wouldn’t cut as deep if her voice wasn’t so consoling and nonjudgmental.
Clairo’s new album Immunity is out now. The 20-year-old singer, whose song ‘Pretty Girl’ went viral on YouTube, releases a debut album that stays true to her work’s quiet lushness and emotional impact. Beset by viral fame and equally viral backlash, Clairo entered the album-making process with more to worry about than just boosting her streaming numbers or pleasing a record label.
Yet Pretty Girl” was originally released on a compilation from The Le Sigh , a decidedly underground taste-making publication spotlighting female-identifying and non-binary artists. Her music was quickly embraced by fans of vaporwave, the chillwave-adjacent microgenre retrofitting ’80s and ’90s mood music into surreal capitalist satire, which is I guess how her face ended up on a onesie for infants Regardless of whether Clairo ever qualified as a so-called industry plant,” she has clearly forged a connection with her audience. Online and onstage she presents herself like a Lana Del Rey who has subbed out old Hollywood glamour myths for a distinctly Gen Z sensibility, and like Lana, she’s become not just a recording artist but a cult of personality. The clamor around her is loud, enthusiastic, and genuine.
Produced by former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij, Immunity is steeped in warm acoustics, a sharp pivot from the synth palette that Clairo has previously favored. Disparate elements—muted guitar strumming, watery piano, harpsichord—are integrated harmoniously throughout the album. Although they employ a variety of timbres, the songs’ meticulous arrangements shy away from polyphony, permitting only one instrument to take the lead at the time. The effect is impressionistic, paradoxically austere and lush. Up close, each texture is isolated and distinctly separate from the next, but take a couple steps back and everything coalesces into a seamless, highly chromatic composition.
On the music front, Claire is known by the monikers Clairo and DJ Baby Benz. She started out on the BandCamp platform followed by SoundCloud. Since her debut, her SoundCloud fanbase has grown to more than 133K followers. Clairo released a 31-track playlist called originals” in July 2013. Her EP, Do U Wanna Fall in Love?, dropped in December 2014. Other BandCamp releases include Late Show (2015), Metal Heart (2015) and Moth Girl (2015). A joint project with Keel Her was released in 2016. In 2017, Clairo collaborated with Brennan Henderson, Hans, and Jakob Ogawa. She began turning heads with the single Pretty Girl.” The song became a viral hit on YouTube, racking up more than 23 million views.
At the center of it all, though, is Cottrill herself. Her characteristically impassive vocal strikes a poignant contrast with her lyrics. She may be keeping her head cool, but her heart is ablaze. On White Flag,” her voice icily glides over curlicues of reedy guitar and synth as she laments, I was 15 when I first felt loneliness.” Dense synths often drowned out the vocals on her earlier work, but Batmanglij foregrounds Cottrill’s voice here, amplifying it through doubling or distorting it with Auto-Tune. Her vocal style eschews genre¬-fication, hinting at R&B on Sinking,” where her voice takes on a honeyed tone and tackles gentle runs, and redolent of trip-hop on Closer to You,” where vocal effects crystalize her belts over sputtering hi-hats.
In a message posted to Nick Cave’s online portal The Red Hand Files , a woman named Malina asked a hard, raw question: My husband died some years ago but I feel him all around. How can this be?” Cave replied that, for those who’ve lost someone, Sometimes these intuitions hold more truth than the rational world can ever hope to offer—when we are faced with a world that has long since stopped making sense and, indeed, lost its reason.” Released four years after the accidental death of the singer’s 15-year-old son Arthur, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’s Ghosteen explores those intuitions with immeasurable generosity, acknowledging the line that separates magical thinking and faith, and the contradiction between the individual pain of grief and the universality of death.
Another viral sensation, folk-pop singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers expressed her frustration to the New York Times when people ascribe her song “Alaska” as “that song Pharrell made for you,” and how she feels underestimated as a woman in an industry where her success is often attributed to men.
Cottrill is a master at penning lyrics that make you feel like you’re listening to hushed secrets from a friend, but she also has a knack for crafting melodies and rhythms that make you really feel what she’s going through in any given song. Sometimes that means your body surging with adrenaline, your heart racing and limbs fidgeting, as is the case with ‘Bags’. Written about having feelings for a close friend and the dilemma of whether or not to to tell her, it’s full of nervous energy, epitomised by the unintentional noises escaping from Cottrill’s guitar. As she moves her fingers up and down her fretboard, the sound of her skin on the strings causes a series of deep squeaks that sound as if she’s anxiously taking big gulps or gasping for breath.