Q&A: Claud takes bedroom pop out of the bedroom and on a national tour

Calling in from the road, the artist spoke about getting signed, their debut album “Super Monster” and their favorite deli order.

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Claud is a 22-year-old singer-songwriter from Chicago. WSN sat down with them to discuss their debut album “Super Monster.” and being signed to Phoebe Bridgers’ music label. (Photo by Angela Ricciardi)

Yas Akdag, Music Editor

If you were around for the bedroom pop wave circa 2018, then chances are you know who Claud is. Since dropping out of Syracuse University, the formerly half-green-half-blue-haired artist has been making a name for themselves through their music, which falls somewhere between bedroom pop and soft rock. Unabashedly queer and undeniably Gen Z — their website’s home page features a Jonas Brothers poster and a TV with the Netflix “Who’s watching?” page open — it’s no surprise Phoebe Bridgers wanted Claud to be the first act to sign onto her artist-friendly label, Saddest Factory Records. Now, with a hit album and national tour under their belt, as well as an international tour lined up, Claud is settling in for what’s sure to be one hell of a ride.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

WSN: Was music a big part of your childhood? Was there a specific genre or certain artists that were played around your house that you would say inspired you?

CLAUD: I wouldn’t say music was a huge part of my childhood. My parents aren’t musicians. We always listened to CDs in the car — my mom would like Sheryl Crow and that kind of thing and my dad liked old rock music — but it was never a huge thing in my house. It was more when I started getting into pop music in middle school that I wanted to learn on my own.

WSN: Would you say there was a primary instrument you gravitated towards?

CLAUD: At first, I wanted to learn how to write songs and just accompany myself singing. I felt like the easiest way to start doing that was with a keyboard, because we had a little keyboard in my basement and I had taken some piano lessons when I was a kid. So I felt like that was the easiest way to start. But I always wanted to learn guitar. I didn’t learn how to play guitar until later in high school. 

WSN: You went to the Bandier music business program at Syracuse for a little bit. What was the music community like — you met Clairo and Josh Mehling there — and would you say it’s helped shape your approach to music and writing music?

CLAUD: For sure. The music community at Syracuse was definitely the reason why I do music now. When I got to Syracuse, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an artist or figure out a way to learn more about the music industry and if I even was interested. When I got to school, there was this house venue on campus called Space Camp and every weekend, there would be one or two shows and a bunch of bands would come play. Most of the time it was DIY touring bands. That’s really when I started playing shows — I would play there in their living room or their basement. It was such a good community and supportive community of people that it gave me the confidence to put my music out on SoundCloud or Bandcamp and play more shows.

WSN: How did you know it was the right time to drop out? I’m sure that was a big decision to make.

CLAUD: I got asked to go on a two-week tour with a band called The Marias and a band called Triathlon. It would’ve been during my first semester of my sophomore year. I found out about it the summer before my sophomore year. So I remember being like, “What if I just don’t go back this year? What if I take the semester off?” And there was a lot of hesitation from my parents, even from some of my teachers — they were like, “Whoa, that’s a big decision to take a year off or a semester off and potentially not come back.” And I was like, “I just feel like this is something that I really have to do.” When I went on that tour, I got offered another tour and another one and I just never really went back.

WSN: What was your favorite part of the writing process for “Super Monster?” Are there any songs on there that had a particularly special writing process?

CLAUD: Hmm… I think “Rocks At Your Window” was a fun one for me to write. It’s a really short song and I never thought to change it — I just kept it that way. I wrote it in 20 minutes on the floor of my room and I worked on the production for that one for a while. I wanted to be the only one who touched it — I don’t even think that it was really properly mixed. That was a really fun production exploration song for myself.

WSN: You released “Super Monster” on Saddest Factory Records after becoming the first signee. What was it like working with Phoebe Bridgers and what made you feel good about joining her label?

CLAUD: There were a few reasons why I joined the label. I was pretty much independent before — I had worked with a couple distribution companies, like The Orchard and stuff — but I had never had an actual label and an actual team of people helping me with my music. It was usually just me. I was really hesitant as to whose hands my music would fall in — if they were understanding of what I was trying to do. When I met Phoebe, I was already a really big fan, but the big motivation for me to sign with her was that she completely understood what it was like to be in my position, because she was in my position. It just felt like the right decision.

WSN: Who is one musical influence we would expect and one that we wouldn’t?

CLAUD: Ooh… I think one that would be expected would be The xx. And one that wouldn’t be would be Kelly Clarkson.

WSN: Yeah, I definitely would not have expected that. So, any new music on the way? Does it sound any different to your previous stuff and if so, how?

CLAUD: I’m in the process of writing and hopefully trying to finish some sort of album. It sounds like “Super Monster” in the sense that my writing is still my songwriting. But my production choices are very different and I’m a bit more explorative. It’s just fun and playful and creative.

WSN: You live in New York City when you’re not touring. What’s your go-to deli order?

CLAUD: Bacon, egg and cheese, but no cheese. On a roll. With ketchup.

WSN: What are you most excited about for your show on Monday and what can fans expect?

CLAUD: Oh my gosh. I’m so excited. I’ve really been thinking about it this whole tour. Well, my dad’s gonna be there, which is always a hilarious time because he’s definitely gonna be screaming the entire time. The shows have been very, very, very high-energy and really, really fun. Obviously it’s a performance but it’s not very performative — I don’t try and fill the spaces between songs. I’d rather talk to people in the audience or let there be that silence. Nothing about it is perfect — my guitar’s always fucking out of tune — but I kind of like that. It just feels very live and very fun and very interactive.

Claud will be playing at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on March 28. “Super Monster” is available on all streaming platforms.

Contact Yas Akdag at [email protected]