Interview: Five minutes with Clara Mae

            Image credit: Jonathan Perlmann

Now don’t tell anyone but we’ve got a soft spot for the elegant pop artists who are currently making their way out of Sweden. Take Clara Mae, for example, with her breathtaking new single, ‘Crash’ released less than a week ago via Universal Music Sweden. The single, written in collaboration with Cassandra Ströberg, Johan Lindbrant and Madelene Eliasson, has already surpassed 100 000 plays on Spotify, with features on Fresh & Chill as well as Chill Pop improving that number by the minute. Clara Mae herself has been responsible for co-writing songs with the likes of David Guetta, Tiesto and Martin Jensen as well as featuring in songs by R3HAB and Frank Walker, amongst others.

Stream / Download ‘Crash’

However, the singer has earned her stripes as an independent artist as well, as her debut EP, Sorry For Writing All The Songs About You which has earned millions of streams across the globe. ‘Crash’ continues to pair endearing tones with lighthearted, cheerful notes that will prove to be timeless in the years to come.

Join us as we learn more about the singer in the exclusive interview below.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

For me, there has never been anything else. Since I was a kid I always wanted to pursue my music dreams: it was either that or become a veterinarian. Realizing that was too many years in school, music was the obvious choice. Music gives me meaning and takes me through so many tough stages in life. I’m so thankful for getting to work with something like it. 

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

It’s different each time. I do like to have the idea and concept of the story before starting with melodies. But sometimes the melody comes first and when that happens, I find it a little harder to write the lyrics. 

Does your material feature any collaborations?

I have done a bunch of collabs through the years. Such as Russell Dickerson, Gnash, Jung and R3hab. The goal is to have one for my next EP as well. 

I have an undying love for duets. 

What’s on your current playlist?

Holly Humberstone has been on there for a while, I’m obsessed! I also love Lany.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

Right now it feels like I haven’t seen them in years, which I haven’t. But looking back at it gives me so much joy, to see and to realize the music I wrote also meant something for them. I love to hang out and talk to them after the show, and I have a few that has come to so many of my shows and that I almost consider friends now.

And to see that in their eyes when they sing along to the lyrics, is priceless. I miss it so much and hopefully, I’ll get to see that again very soon. 

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I started out with a very typical Swedish pop sound, I was very inspired by Robyn. But throughout the years and growing with my music, I have experimented with some more organic sounds. And I think I finally found my home. The lyrics have always been such an essential part of what I do, but I’ve also missed singing, like really singing. Not the quiet pop whispery singing, so that’s what you will hear from me in the future. More organic sounds, descriptive lyrics and singing my heart out. 

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

My day always starts with a long walk with my dogs where I try to come up with what I wanna write about that day. I like to come prepared and to have a concept and a story to tell in mind. When I come to the studio it’s usually a cup of coffee and some catching up together with a producer and sometimes also another top liner. We talk about what we want to write about and then we play around with some chords and singing some melodies. If we like them, we record them on our voice memos. When we have all the parts, we start completing the lyrics. When we are ready I’ll record my vocals, comp them and then I usually sit down with the producer giving some notes on the production. And that’s usually it. A few days later, I’ll get a bounce and I almost always feel straight away if it’s a song for me or if it’s not. 

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

As I said before I felt that very early. But it doesn’t mean I doubt it sometimes, The music industry can be a very tough environment to be in 100% of the time. Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to just have a 9 to 5 job, and if that would make me feel less pressure. But then I remind myself I am very lucky to do this, and a world where I can’t be creative wouldn’t make me happy at all.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Nothing particularly special, just always a bottle of water. 

Any emerging artists on your radar?

I think Masie Peters will really blow up soon. Also, Holly Humberstone. Go UK.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Books, movies, tv-shows and life in general. I also dig into my past and I try to remember how things felt and how I got through it, it’s a little bit like having therapy sessions with myself.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

On stage, I have my band: a guitarist on both acoustic and steel guitar, a keyboard player and a drummer. We also have a few things on track. We use in-ears because we need to have a click for the tracks. If it’s possible, I have some visuals for an LED screen. If not, I usually mix dark, edgy lights and some smoke. 

Any side projects you’re working on?

I write a lot for different artists, sometimes it feels good to dig into someone else’s brain instead of my own. And also experiment with different types of music. I’m also writing a novel and have been working on it for some time now. I don’t know if it ever will see the light of day, but it’s def one of my “close to heart projects”. 

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I started very young and not knowing who I was, what I wanted to do and what made me unique. I learned that along the way. I didn’t really have a red thread in the beginning, I was a little bit all over the place. And that’s only natural when you’re into a lot of different types of music and you write a lot of different types of music. I guess I just had to try all of them before finding my place. One day I just wrote a song and I immediately felt, this song is mine I can’t give it away to anyone else. It also turned out to be the song that first got me signed. 

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

Some new material that is different from what you heard me do before. Organic songs, a mix of pop and country music. I’ve worked so hard on all of these songs they all have a special place in my heart. 

Famous last words?

If you lose someone but find yourself. You won.

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