Since she was three years old, CLAY has been creating in one way or another, whether participating in the San Francisco Girls Chorus or producing line drawings in the sketchpad she takes with her to every studio session. Hailing from the legendary state of San Francisco, the 23-year-old singer-songwriter is making sure that her message is heard through the raw, uncensored nature of her music. Even over the phone, CLAY’s “craving to perform” is almost palpable as she explains how she’s “always been a performer. Maintaining creative autonomy is key, as is making sure nothing gets lost in the sauce and keeping that radical vulnerability alive. Having that level of honesty is so important.”
Despite only having three tracks under her belt on Spotify, her emotionally expressive lyrics and attitude-laced vocals already reflect the essence of who she is as an artist: “For me, recording is not about perfection. I’m about a three takes max kind of person meaning I usually won’t re-record vocals because there’s a vibe captured and I don’t want to perfect something on top of that.” Reflecting on where she now finds herself with as she moves into this new chapter of her life, CLAY reveals: “I’ve remained independent in order to create my foundation whilst also trying to build a fan base. I haven’t really released enough content to do this yet, but that’s the plan for the next six months”.
Armed with such a palpable excitement for what the future has in store for her, it’s hard to imagine how anything or anyone could stand in her way. However, growing up surrounded by such rich diversity and nuanced personalities, moving to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music was one of many “bubble-popping moments”. “Living in San Francisco, you’re surrounded by people who agree with you and are so open-minded. Moving away from that, you suddenly realise that people are homophobic, sexist and racist and are so open about it too.” For some, this rude awakening to the outside world would be enough to deter them from expressing with freedom and boldness for fear of rejection or being met with an icy reception, but not for CLAY.
Her new, Pop-inspired single Orange points out to listeners in a beautifully roundabout way how the tangerine-tinted tyrant of the US is slowly ruining something that was already great. “I was just walking down the sidewalk one evening, looking at the sunset when I thought to myself ‘oh my god, all I can think about is our president’. I bottled up the emotion I felt at that moment and then wrote a song about it.” While it could’ve been easy enough to write an Eamon-esque diss track against Trump, CLAY explains how “it was important that there was an agenda but that it wasn’t blatant. He doesn’t deserve for me to say his name. I think of Orange as a sugar-coated pill that allows me to infiltrate through Pop music but with a poignant message.”
Adamant to retain her wokeness and ability to appeal to the masses through her heartfelt lyrics and experimental style, there’s no doubt that more treats are in store for listeners, both new and old. “Before the EP is released in February, there’ll be another song or two that will come out. It’s been a really long time coming and has been in so many iterations and forms – there’s never just one genre that comes out – so whether it’s hip-hop or something super alternative, there’ll be something for everyone.”