Gear Talks: Claud on their album Supermodels, creative process and go-to gear

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Gear Talks: Claud on their album Supermodels, creative process and go-to gear

Words by Isabella Venutti
Photos by Angela Ricciardi

Claud took the time to sit down with Mixdown to chat all things Supermodels, go-to gear, and more.

Right now, it’s pretty damn good to be Claud. Following on from their debut record Super Monster, the first official release from Phoebe Bridgers helmed label Saddest Factory Records, the 24-year-old guitar-driven pop wunderkind has returned with a beautiful new album packed with the sweetly-sung, irresistibly hooky, diaristic songwriting that has won them fans the world over.  Cleverly, and aptly, named Super Model, Claud’s newly pared back compositions and penchant for acoustic instrumentation make these tracks saunter with the confident ease of an artist gracefully maturing and coming into their own. Plus, there’s a Paul Rudd starring music video accompanying lead single “A Good Thing” (OMG).

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Hot off of this fantastic release, Claud took the time to sit down with us to chat all things Supermodels, go-to gear, and more importantly the creatively energising power of looking at puppies.

I’d love to begin by asking you a little bit about the sonic shift perceptible between your 2020 releases and this new record – it seems like production wise, you’ve opted for a far less, or less boldly, affected aesthetic. On “Every Fucking Time” for example, the vocal sits up front in the mix and sounds pleasingly bare, and there’s these lovely hi-fi acoustic guitars that harken back to early 2000s pop-timisim. Was there a conscious decision to treat this new body of songs differently in the studio? What kind of palette were you working from when you began recording the album?

I wrote most of Supermodels on acoustic instruments, where as Super Monster was much more Ableton/Logic production based. About a year and a half ago, I started working every so often with an engineer in a studio I was very comfortable in, and my writing and production really changed and expanded. The process would be bringing a homemade demo into the studio and recording it with an engineer using pretty much all live instruments. That’s why you’re hearing live drums and horns more often on this record as opposed to a drum machine and plug-in synths.

Having been the first official signing to Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records – I’d love it if you could speak to whether you think that this artist founded foray into the record industry has fostered an especially talent-friendly environment, and sense of community, for yourself and the other wonderful creatives involved?

Yes absolutely, there’s nothing quite like Saddest Factory. I wish all existing labels could be like this. It’s such a supportive environment, and I’d love to see all musicians fostering this kind of uplifting community. 

Moving on to the, pardon the pun, gear talk, could you tell me a little bit about your unique little guitar? What drew you to the Fender Player Series Lead II? Considering that it’s a model that gets significantly less air time in the realm of indie rock when compared to, say, the Tele, Strat, or Jag, what first drew you to the instrument? Have you always played Fender guitars?

I’ve always played a Fender, and I’ve had a Strat since I started playing guitar. A few years ago, Fender actually invited me into their warehouse to play a bunch of different guitars, and I was just so drawn to the Lead II. It’s so smooth and also so versatile. Also, like you said, it’s little. I am a tiny person with tiny hands and I feel much more comfortable playing it for an hour every night at a concert then I do a Tele or Jag, because those are slightly bigger instruments.

Can you tell me about your songwriting process – is it a collaborative affair, do you tend to tinker alone and build from those skeletons, or is it a combination of both?

It’s both. I love collaboration, I feel like my best material comes from working with the right person who knows how to draw it out of me and vice versa. I do think reflective alone time as a songwriter is just as if not more important too. To feel like I’m achieving my full songwriting potential, I can’t go too long having one without the other. 

Talk me through your recording workflow from demo to track completion. Do you begin in the bedroom or head straight to the studio? Any preference of DAW/special demo set up that goes the extra mile?

When I’m producing a song myself, I start by making all my demos in Logic Pro X. Then I bring it to a studio and flesh out the rest with an engineer, and we use Pro Tools. Usually the producers I collaborate with use Ableton. It’s been super important to me to learn these three DAWs as well as I can to be able to communicate exactly what I want. 

Which pieces of equipment are the most integral to you when it comes to translating the project’s essence from a recorded to a live context? Are you trying to replicate your studio sound when you perform, or do you prefer to let the songs breathe and find their own live groove?

I try and replicate my studio sound as much as I can in my live show. When I play live, we use a midi keyboard that runs through Ableton, and depending on what song we are doing, the keyboard will use the same plug in or synth sound that is on the record. I also have a TC Helicon vocal pedal I use for songs like “Climbing Trees” and “Guard Down” when the pitch shifts. My drummer used to use an SPD, but now since there’s mostly live drums on Supermodels, we’ve gotten rid of the SPD. My guitar runs through a pedal board that has chorus, reverb, and Boss Super Overdrive pedal on it I use like my life depends on it. My bass player cuts through and is loud in the FOH mix, but not in a subby way. That’s pretty much it.

How do you recharge your creative batteries? What in your life inspires your music that isn’t music? It could be as logical as watching a film or listening to records, or as obscure as gardening or taking a long walk.

Taking a long walk everyday, thinking about puppies, and watching stand up comedy. 

To wrap things up, how has the tour with boygenius been? And what exciting things do you have on the horizon for the album roll out?  

The boygenius tour earlier this summer was awesome. I’m now on a headline tour in the US and Canada touring my record until Oct 20. 

For all things Claud, head to their website.