We get to know the coolest new name in dream pop.
Growing up on the outskirts of Chicago, emerging dream-pop sensation Claud’s formative years were shaped by a slew of different musical genres and interesting people that clearly defined a path away from everyone else.
“My dad was super into rock, like The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Police. I gravitated towards that kind of music, and that’s what got me to pick up a guitar,” Claud says.
Claud’s love for creating happened a little differently than other artists, it happened back in school, as a “form of rebellion against sports.”
“I took a trial keyboard lesson, and the teacher showed me a Feist song, I fell in love with that song and that type of music, and then that was it for me.”
This vast love of acts from Feist to The Who is undoubtedly evident in Claud’s work on their debut album Super Monster, presenting 13 vastly different tracks that somehow weave into one another seamlessly to make for a sensational listen.
“When I was writing it, I didn’t have in mind I was writing a record until the very end,” Claud says of their unlikely creative process.
“What was really important to me about this record is that every song could stand on its own … I didn’t want to think about it as a cohesive process until the end.”
On top of this vast spread of influences, Claud also attributes a lot of their dreamy sound to classic coming-of-age movie soundtracks.
“I watched a lot of John Hughes movies growing up … We naturally gravitated towards watching them like Home Alone, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and The Breakfast Club of course. Those soundtracks had a huge influence on me for sure.”
The old school influences that informed Super Monster didn’t just end with the songwriting, with Claud describing the lengths they went to in the studio to encapsulate the nostalgic hues of the record.
“We used some older pianos, and a couple of cool vintage microphones. It was recorded in a modern way, but made to feel like you were listening on a record player.”
Super Monster also marks the first ever release on Saddest Factory, a brand new record label run by renowned singer-songwriter, Phoebe Bridgers. Despite Bridger’s own rising influence within the independent scene, Claud notes that there was a little bit of hesitation about moving onto a label.
“It wasn’t hesitation with signing onto Saddest Factory, it was hesitation with signing to a label in general,” they say. “I was really excited to sign to Phoebe’s label. I still have full creative control, I was worried about losing that, essentially.”
“It took me two or three years to decide whether or not I actually wanted to sign to any label, and then when Phoebe reached out around a year ago, it felt like a pretty natural decision.”
Phoebe’s input into Super Monster wasn’t just on the business and A&R side, with Claud noting a number of creative contributions to the project as well.
“She definitely has a lot of creative input, but the record was pretty much completely recorded and mixed by the time I signed, so a lot of her help went towards visual roll out and stuff like that.”
In addition to spotlighting Claud’s own songwriting, Super Monster is jam-packed with cameo appearances from acts like Clairo, Nick Hakim and guitar virtuoso Melanie Faye, as well as Blu DeTiger, Noa Getzug, Josh Mehling and Jake Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. They were all involved in some way during the creation of the album, and brought in so they could each carry a certain flair in areas that Claud needs.
“I try to bring people in where I feel I’m lacking in, so if I start a song, and I just can’t get the chorus down, I’ll think, ‘Who’s really good at catchy melodies that I can all up?’ and I’ll get some help with that.”
“When I started the album process, I really didn’t know how to produce music that well, so a lot of my production was highly collaborated on. Towards the ends of the process, I was almost able to completely produce a song myself!”
An artist born into and shaped by the digital world, Claud’s adaptation into an all-tech life in 2020 while preparing Super Monster wasn’t much of a big change.
“I have a lot of internet friends, so it’s pretty normal for me to have an entire friendship that just exists online,” they say.
“I think since the record is a collection of songs over the last few years, the pandemic affected the process, but I was so in it already that it just relocated me, it didn’t really stop my flow creatively. It actually made working remotely normal,” Claud laughs.
These “collection of songs” on Super Monster clearly means a lot to Claud, with the young artist describing exactly what they want listeners to get out of the album.
“For those who are going through heartbreak; it’s a little comfort and reminder that they’re not alone, and that my music is there for them. And for somebody that hopes to fall in love one day, who’s never found it yet, who knows it’s out there but is just waiting for it, I want to give them hope that it is out there.”
Super Monster is out now via Saddest Factory.