Claire Brooks is no stranger to the transformative power of music. With the release of her latest single, “Heartbeat,” the multi-talented singer and songwriter presents an entrancing symphony that symbolizes the vitality of life itself.
Unveiling a sonic landscape that’s as poignant as it is compelling, “Heartbeat” ushers in the first chapter of her much-anticipated EP, The Human Experience. The narrative that Claire weaves is an exploration of the human condition. She coalesces the warmth of live instruments with the nuanced textures of the Juno 106 synthesizer, crafting a retro-futuristic soundscape. It’s an invitation to an introspective journey—an emotional, meditative exploration led by Claire’s ethereal vocals and captivating melodies.
Claire’s distinct musicality is a testament to her eclectic background. A Stanford University graduate in mechanical engineering, her affinity for math and patterns seeps into the melodies she composes. Each lyric, note, and beat is steeped in her unique perspective, displaying her seamless fusion of technical skill and creative intuition.
As you listen to “Heartbeat,” be sure to check out our detailed conversation with Claire Brooks below. We took a look into her world, discussing her innovative approach to music, her thoughts on artificial intelligence, and much more.
Hey Claire! How would you introduce yourself, and your music, to someone who hadn’t come across you before?
Hi! My name is Claire, and I am a 23-year-old multi-hyphenate artist. Currently sound-bending, singing, producing, writing, and performing, but I’m also a mechanical engineer and dabble in studio art when I can. All of this being said, music is the most powerful form of expression I have. If I had to pinpoint my current soundscape, I would say it’s somewhere along the lines of electronic-psychedelic-indie, with r&b/jazz vocals. Witty, silly raps and existential metaphorical lyricism.
You’re soon to release a brand-new single, “Heartbeat,” which you have described as a very emotional and in-depth track. Congratulations! What was the recording process for this?
It was exciting! It was me getting back to myself, to an artistic headspace I hadn’t been able to get to for months. At the time, I had been so stressed with school, taking too many engineering classes, and leaving no time for music, that the idea of getting back into it intimidated me.
But I set up some music deadlines for myself, and once I jumped into it, it felt exhilarating and familiar — I found some chords I liked and immediately heard that hypnotic vocal loop (hold a breath in it, feel the heartbeat, fall in love with it, for your body) over them in my head. I wrote the lyrics in the passenger seat of my friend’s car the day before I said I would finish the song, and layed down the vocals later that night. It was so amazing to get back to the flow state of creating that I had been running from for so long.
As a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, which of the two do you find comes easier? The songwriting process or producing?
I started writing songs almost 15 years before I started producing my music. Writing music was my way of keeping a diary/idea log growing up. It’s a very safe space for me in my head. I only picked up instruments as a way of further expressing those emotions I was attempting to communicate through words. The production feels like a very heavy door for me to open, and I still feel like an imposter when I sit down in front of a new Ableton set.
Similarly, beauty tends to be a big part of our everyday lives. Do you have a particular skincare or makeup routine that you live by?
Okay, here’s my big skincare secret. I stopped using everything I wash my face with any soap I have available and don’t moisturize. I suffered from terrible acne growing up, and my skin completely cleared up once I stopped using products.
I don’t have a particular makeup routine I live by. The bare minimum routine I have is filling in my eyebrows (they’re naturally blonde) and putting concealer on my chin because I accidentally darkened it with too much steroid cream when I was 16.
Bringing it back to your debut EP, what themes and emotions can we expect throughout this project?
The Human Experience is my attempt to explain what it means to be alive to a non-sentient being, whether that be artificial intelligence, an alien, a rock, etc.
The listener is introduced to our squishy physical form and thrown into our world full of sunlight, chemicals, and pheromones. It dances with nature and the divine. Once the body dies, the non-sentient being returns it back to earth where it belongs. It is quite an emotional rollercoaster sonically, but I hope for it to be more thought-provoking and inspiring than anything. However, that’s for the listener to decide! I’m excited to hear their thoughts.
I believe previously you mentioned the topic of AI and explaining the human body to a non-sentient being—what are your thoughts on artificial intelligence as a whole as it continues to pervade into the music industry?
When ChatGPT first came out, I remember walking around my neighborhood feeling physically nauseous as a creator. However, AI is ultimately a collective dataset of human intelligence. All of the knowledge it synthesizes took the human mind to create in the first place! As long as we don’t bottle-feed AI babies, I think we will be just fine. Just a bit more noise for us to cut through.
Generally speaking, as creatives, we typically have a target audience in mind when we create or a demographic in particular that we hope our work will speak to. For you personally, who do you create music for?
Here’s a butchered John Mayer quote I love: “I make half of the songs on a record for myself and half of the songs for my fans.” The act of making music has always been for me, but I want to build a relationship with my audience where they feel comfortable searching for their own answers in my music through the questions I asked myself before creating it.
While still staying authentic to yourself, do you have a clue of where you want your sound to go next?
I like that I have no idea of what’s going to come out of my head. However, lately, I have been drawn to more storytelling through music and want to tap into that for my next project. But maybe I’ll fall in love or something. Who knows what’s to come.