Singer/songwriter Clairity is making waves in the music world with her hypnotic sounds and perfectly crafted lyrics. Her cover of Coldplay’s “Don’t Panic” got worldwide attention during the Super Bowl in the trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse, and she has upcoming new releases that you won’t want to miss. Justine caught up with this Tennessee native to find out more about her musical influences and her inspiration for songwriting. Check out our interview with Clairity below!
Tell us about your musical beginnings. “Music has always been more of a means of catharsis than anything. I started doing it because it felt natural to me. I was a little awkward growing up, and I didn’t really know how to carry myself. But I sort of learned to use music as a means of communication with other people. What I couldn’t say to my peers, I holed up in my room and wrote a song on the piano.”
What inspired your unique sound? “I’d say my sound is dependent entirely on what I’m saying. Because I’m a writer first and foremost, that’s always been the most important thing for me. The lyric is the focal point of the emotion I’m trying to convey. Almost like you would need the right score for a certain tone in a film, I need the right score behind my lyric and story. Alienation has lots of energy. I wanted it to feel very good and uplifting and empowering. Some of the newer stuff is a little bit moodier, but like I said, it just kind of takes shape around the song.”
Have your Tennessee roots impacted your music? “I think it was incredible to grow up in an environment with such a great community of songwriters. It was certainly really inspiring as a kid to see all that going around. I learned to craft stories after spending so much time with so many writers down here. I feel like [songwriting] is such an underrated craft, and it’s a brilliant one.”
Who are your musical influences? “That’s a tough one because I listen to a lot of music, and I try to take in a little piece of everything and incorporate it into what I do. But I’d say my favorites would probably be Radiohead, Bjork, Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor and Imogen Heap.”
What made you decide to cover Coldplay’s “Don’t Panic”? “I actually learned piano in middle school by watching YouTube tutorials for Coldplay songs on piano. That was one of my favorite songs growing up, and it just felt right. I thought it would be interesting to interpret a song with a male vocal. I have a lower range, and I thought it would be fun musically as well. About a month out from the Super Bowl spot we got an email saying that we had a shot at it, and everyone was just losing their minds. There was something about doing a song that was really important to me on a personal level, but also knowing that Chris Martin heard it and approved it. It was like getting your hero’s approval. That seems so silly and childish, but that’s what it felt like for me. It was a really special moment when I heard that he approved it.”
Is performing outside of your comfort zone? “I mean, it is, but when I perform it’s more about inviting people inside. I definitely don’t have that magnetic energy in an extroverted way. I just kind of suck people in with my voice and bring them inside my world, instead of pushing it out. It’s a little more intimate. I’m inviting them in, but it’s more of a wavy sort of energy where I take people into my world and tell them my stories. My performance is about showing all the kids that want to share their music with the world that they can perform, because I’m doing it. I’m definitely not the obvious candidate for that, but I still get up on stage and share my songs because I love my songs and I love creating.”
What’s up next for you? “Lately I’ve been pushing some of my music into the film and TV worlds. I’ve always had a special love for the marriage between music and film, and that’s definitely a pretty big long-term goal for me. So just curating more of those opportunities and writing more music. I never really stop writing, so it’s kind of just an ongoing process for me, just uncovering gems in my head. Doing more shows, for sure, which is really exciting. So lots of things.”
For more with Clairity, check out the April/May print issue of Justine here!