Rising pop sensation CLAY has captivated audiences with her unique blend of heartfelt storytelling and sultry melodies. Hailing from San Fransisco, the multifaceted artist channels their diverse and politically potent upbringing to craft music that seeks to open, liberate, and heal listeners.
CLAY’s latest single, “Poison,” is a deep exploration of a passionate, yet destructive relationship. The emotionally charged track speaks not only to a tumultuous love from the singer’s formative years but also to their internal struggles with self-doubt and deprecation. Through mesmerizing lyrics, the singer-songwriter aims to create an immersive experience that allows listeners to reflect on their own emotional journeys.
The artist’s recent EP series, starting with Breathing into Bloom, showcases an optimistic take on healing as a process. With collaborations featuring Alessia Cara, Stint, and Yakob, the EP garnered significant acclaim, amassing several million streams across streaming platforms alike. Their upcoming second project, holy silence ‘fore the spring, is set to delve deeper into more melancholy themes, reflecting the introspection that occurs during moments of quiet contemplation. Slated for a Spring release, the EP will be followed by CLAY’s first-ever headline tour in the States.
Discover the emotional depth and powerful artistry of CLAY by listening to their new single, “Poison,” and be sure to check out our exclusive interview below for an in-depth look at their journey, inspirations, and the creative process behind their music.
Hey, CLAY! Your new single “Poison” explores a passionate yet destructive relationship. Can you share with us how this song reflects your personal journey and growth as an individual?
I actually wrote this song about the destructive relationship I have with myself. like so many of us, I’ve struggled with self-love and acceptance all my life and often find that I am my own worst enemy and harshest critic. Writing the song has helped me call out that self-deprecating voice in my head and disconnect from her, instead nurturing and healing the beautiful connection I have with self.
Through your music, you aim to create an atmosphere that opens, liberates, and heals listeners. How do you approach your songwriting to ensure that your music resonates with people on such a deep level?
I let the songs come to me and try not to force them. I always have to make an environment that reflects the one I’m trying to create with my music. I have to feel safe, heard, and free. I have to feel like anything and everything is okay and welcomed and no idea is “good” or “bad” or “right” or “wrong.” with lyrics especially I challenge myself to get to the heart of whatever sentiment is coming through. sometimes they flow in right away and sometimes I have to get really quiet so they can be whispered to me.
You mentioned that “Poison” has taken on new meaning as a message to the parts of you that feed self-doubt and deprecation. How has this shift in perspective influenced your relationship with yourself and your music?
I have always been very hard on myself. I was severely bullied from a very young age and throughout my life until about 17 when I became more of a recluse and dove into my art (which at the time was primarily visual). It was in my early 20s when I realized that despite being physically and communally removed from my bullies I had taken on some of their cruelty. so used to being misunderstood, put down, ostracized, and judged, I had become my own bully.
This song makes the most sense to me in that context, calling out the poisonous and venomous words I’ve said to myself. I wrote this song years ago and yet it continues to hold meaning as sometimes self-deprecation continues to rear its ugly head as I attempt to become my own best friend, confidant, and champion. self-acceptance has been the biggest challenge yet most rewarding journey of my life.
Also, your upcoming EP, holy silence ‘fore the spring, explores more melancholy themes compared to Breathing into Bloom. How do these themes reflect your emotional and creative journey between the two projects?
I think it’s a reflection of the healing journey being non-linear. there are always ups and downs regardless of how well you’re doing. holy silence is a dip back into solitude and sadness along the journey. an important moment of peace reflection and tears. As someone who doesn’t cry often and who processes emotions in a different way than most, I treat tears as sacred. essential to water your garden.
What are you most looking forward to about your first headlining tour later this year?
All of it. I will relish every single moment
Breathing into Bloom focused on the optimism of healing, while this new project is slated to explore deeper, melancholic themes. Can you tell us more about the creative process behind each EP and how they complement each other in the series?
The EP started with “letting you go” where I finally processed my first romantic heartbreak. Oof… that was sad. And then I felt so inspired by my digging into myself in a new way that I decided to create an EP around both the sonics and the sentiment of the song. I worked on the entire thing with just two friends and collaborators over the course of about a month and we meticulously sat and got every sound to match the lyrics. I love when the music and composition itself sounds like the words, sentiment, and theme of the song.
Earlier this year, you were featured in a worldwide campaign with Tinder that highlighted queer love. How important is it for you to use your platform to promote visibility and representation for the LGBTQIA+ community?
So incredibly important. anytime someone can see themselves in me and feel a little more safe and free and emboldened to be themselves. I’ve accomplished my purpose on this earth.
As your career continues to flourish, what are your aspirations for the future, both as an artist and an advocate? How do you envision your music evolving in the coming years?
I hope that after releasing these next couple of EPs and can finally discover what my debut album looks and feels like. I hope to tour the world, sing in front of people and create a safe space at my shows for those who have felt like they have never had one. I feel I am on this earth to heal and liberate people and will continue my endeavors to align with that purpose.