Q+A: 5 minutes with Klay Cartier

American singer Klay Cartier is difficult to categorise. His music spans from the warm, romantic notes of R&B to the brash, thrashing grit of rock. Delving into new territory, his latest release, ‘Good For Nothin’, is precisely a combination of these elements. Listening to the way he hum-sings over the emoting kicks and squelching guitar begs the question: what is it, exactly, that catalyses his process? In our interview with Klay, he touched on this, plus music as a healing force, hugging fans, and his legacy — Read all about it:

Stream / Download: Klay Cartier – ‘Good For Nothin’’

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

I’ve been around music since the day I was born, and when I was at my lowest music saved me. I have this thing where even when I wake up I hear a song. No lyrics. No instruments. Just a melody. It’s different every day, but it keeps me going. I’ve always had this natural inclination for the arts, but music really soothes my soul.

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

Definitely the sound, the idea comes immediately afterwards.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

Besides the producers I work with, I normally don’t do features outside of that.

What’s on your current playlist?

As of late, it’s been a mix of R&B, Rock, and Rap.

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

Believe it or not, I actually haven’t been on stage in about 4 years. Last time I performed I did have 4 people who waited for my set to be over, and they asked if they could hug me, and they told me how much my songs meant to them. It was euphoric to me. It truly meant the world to me that they related to something I wrote and performed.

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

I use different tones and inflexions. I even use accents, or I try to keep my jaw and my mouth as loose as possible. That’s when I can get comfortable and find that sound.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Before any studio session, I’m usually doing vocal exercises and drinking lots of warm tea. In the session, I talk to my producers about what I’m feeling and what I’m looking for, and then we go through a selection of loops, or they’ll ask me to hum a melody, and they’ll build a beat around my melody. From then on, as they’re making the beat with input from me, I begin writing. There have been times when I finish a song in one session, and then there are times when we might be on a “hot streak”, and we’ll just keep making song after song.

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

My final performance in high school, I performed ‘Sure Thing’ by Miguel with my best friend and now producer Tim Ogutu, and I just remember feeling so nervous like I was going to pass out and throw up at the same time, but once those lights hit and the music started, I felt this sense of Home – my whole life I’ve always felt like I never belonged anywhere, but when I’m singing and performing I finally feel like I belong.

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

Room temp water, warm Tea, and mints.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Francesca Fulmini, Bam Keith, Davin, The Epitome, SPIRITSAVER, and SIPHO..

What gets your creative juices flowing?

A really good beat, solitude, or nature. Some of the best songs I’ve written I wrote while I was outside in a peaceful environment.

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

I don’t really have any.

Any side projects you’re working on?

Modelling, getting back into acting, and personal training.

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

I’m definitely a better writer than I was before, and I’m a better singer too. Any singer who thinks they don’t need vocal coaching or practice is insane. I’m also more hands-on when it comes to my production and my vocals.

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

I’m taking over R&B, and I’m making it sexy, seductive, and fun again.

Famous last words?

This world will remember me. Whether it was for my music, my kindness, or my confidence, I will be remembered.

Watch/Listen to ‘Good For Nothin’’:

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Image credit: Rachael Baker @RWPhotography